Grimsby church and community form lasting connections through initiative
"Partnering in developing the skating rink helped us forge a new friendship with the community."
HUNDREDS OF Grimsby, Ont., residents enjoyed skating in Mountainview Church’s backyard this winter, one of few outdoor social activities open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pamela Bowen, a community member who lives near the church, came up with the Operation Ice project shortly after the pandemic began. "In the earlier stages of Covid-19, we would get together a lot in the church because there’s a lot of space, and the kids would be chatting and keeping their distance," she says. After visiting a rink in Niagara-on-the-Lake, she and her friends measured each other’s backyards and looked for other possible locations to set up a rink. She approached Mountainview Church and was ecstatic when they came on board and plans began coming together.
Individuals, families and local companies donated funds and needed materials, and neighbours and the church community signed up to inspect, clean and maintain the rink. As word spread and the rink finally opened after a mild start to the winter, children, families, adults, seniors, grandparents, teens and even a few pets were spotted on the ice.
"It gave us all something to do, talk about, care for and use safely for hours," says Bowen. "The space that the rink was on was beside this tiny hill and it became a winter wonderland of distanced tobogganing, meeting up for coffee on a straw bale, nightly floods and daytime snow shovels."
Thanks to the relationships developed through the skating rink, a few neighbours joined the church’s Community Connections team to collaborate on future projects. "Who better to help us partner with our neighbours than our neighbours themselves?" says Christine Winter, children’s director and Community Connections lead. "For us as a church, we love opportunities where we can use what we have to show love to our neighbours."
The church (www.MountainviewCRC.org) offers Serve Saturdays in the spring and fall where they help people around town with various tasks such as yard cleanup or small home repairs. "Partnering in developing the skating rink helped us forge a new friendship with the community of neighbours around us," says Mike Collins, pastor. "We look forward to growing and building that relationship together."
– MELISSA YUE WALLACE