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Trust Begins with Tea: a Community Transformation Certificate Seed Project

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Servant Partners Canada is now accepting applications for our Community Transformation Certificate! We are spotlighting our previous participants’ journeys and seed projects created to seek community transformation alongside the marginalized in their own communities.

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Kathleen, one of our CTC alumni who moved into the neighbourhood where our Saskatoon team lives, began to wonder what it might look like for wholeness to come - not only in her life, but also among her neighbours. While God has led her to healing and joyful relationships with individual neighbours, in her listening and observing over a few months she began to notice the rifts in trust and hostility between her neighbours from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds despite the shared struggles and challenges of life in a marginalized community.

A small intergenerational team of women neighbours with similar longings began to form, and they wondered together - what might it look like to be catalysts of trust in this place? To be peacemakers and bridge builders here?

While Kathleen had grand ideas for a large-scale project to reach and connect those around her, her neighbours - who’ve lived in her complex for a long time - reminded that because of high levels of distrust within the residents, they needed to start small. Kathleen was reminded to take on a learner’s posture - a key practice of the CTC program - and lay down her ideas as a re-locator to this neighbourhood. While humbling, she shifted to supporting her neighbours’ idea instead: hosting a women’s tea party “to target the isolation and distrust and fear of others felt by women in our community by creating a safe place to gather and get to know each other.”

“...having the wisdom and skill of our inter-generational planning team cannot be understated. They knew the neighbourhood best and are responsible for making the event the success that it was.”

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The team spent a few days connecting personally with neighbours to extend invitations, and on the day of, a total of 28 women and kids went through Kathleen’s apartment, taking a step towards their neighbours and sharing homemade cultural foods and of themselves, despite most being strangers. She shares some glimpses of shalom and transformation in the couple hours with the group of women in her home:

“When our neighbour S. from Sudan came in with her daughter, she dropped her at the kids room, got a cup of tea, and audibly sighed as she sank into a chair in the living room. It was beautiful to see the trust of her leaving her kid in another room to be cared for by a stranger and sit down, so obviously aware that this is a safe place where she can rest.”

“F.’s family arrived all dressed up, with enough Afghani bussarak for 50 people – it was a gift to be offered a treat from their culture!”

“I appreciated seeing new friendships beginning between women who may

have never spoken otherwise. This gathering of women in safety and trust, in a

neighbourhood so divided and isolated, so fearful of each other, so bent on leaving as

as soon as possible, was shalom.”

Through her learning in the CTC, listening and service to her neighbours, God has also been doing the work of transformation in Kathleen by inviting her to wrestle with her own power and privilege:

“The CTC was a powerful experience of unlearning for me. I realized how many assumptions I make, how many racial biases are locked in my subconscious, and even my temptation to claim power over others. I learned that this is not the kind of transformation God is about. In his Kingdom, I am invited to lay down my power to lift up and champion the ideas, efforts, and voices of the women in my neighbourhood, acknowledging them as experts of their own lives and wellbeing.”

Do you also desire to seek God’s shalom and community transformation alongside marginalized neighbours in your city? Looking for a community for hands-on learning and support for your desire for justice? Searching for a space to figure out how to use your power for the good of the marginalized?

Check out our Community Transformation Certificate program and join us in listening to the strengths and groanings of your neighbours and co-create a seed project in response - right where God has you, here and now.

Blog post written by Wendy Au Yeung

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