Hope City Church is a multisite church in Edmonton, Alberta. The church strives to be a beacon of hope, and congregation members want to be known for what they are for—and they are #foredmonton.
This focus has led to dozens of creative ideas—from simple acts of kindness to large events—to show love to the city. One of the many ways the church serves Edmonton is by coming alongside local schools.
Years ago, Hope City’s Mill Woods Campus—particularly Encore, the church’s 50+ group—began a relationship with Meyokumin, a nearby elementary school. Pre-COVID, volunteers from the church visited the school weekly to help with the reading program, pizza days and special events. Several times a year, the Encore group gives teachers and staff a boost of encouragement, dropping off carafes of coffee and goodies from a local bakery. They have also crocheted, knitted, gathered and purchased “winter warms”—scarves, hats, mittens and gloves—to help keep the children cozy during the long Edmonton winters.
Over time, the church has developed a good relationship with the school staff. Many times, staff members have called the church with needs and the congregation has been happy to help. Last year, the assistant principal called the church. She explained, “We have needy families—can you help us?” The church provided grocery cards for one family for four months and provided other families with clothing and food.
School administrators have spoken at Encore’s annual banquet, classes and students have presented the church with thank-you cards, and individual staff members have reached out to express their appreciation.
In an email, one teacher wrote: “Your church does so much for my school and for our community. I wanted to take time to thank you for being such incredible people. In these unprecedented and difficult times, it is nice to see people providing joy. Please know how much you are appreciated.” Another staff member wrote: “We are incredibly grateful to have you as part of the Meyokumin family.”
Mill Woods Campus has a strong connection with Meyokumin and growing relationships with three other schools. They have provided support to needy families and have donated “winter warms” to these schools as well.
Other Hope City campuses are meeting needs in their own local schools. For example, Hope City’s Kingsway Campus is situated two blocks away from a junior high school. During the pandemic, the demand for the school’s breakfast-to-go program increased dramatically and the school could not keep up with the need. Matt Baker, the Kingsway Campus pastor, made contact with the school's community liaison and asked how the church could help. The campus congregation and small groups stepped up, supplying the pre-packaged breakfast items needed. This need is still being met to this day.
In December 2021, Kingsway Campus hosted a free field trip for the entire school by offering a movie on their large auditorium screen along with a snack and drink (purchased by one of the campus families). Over six days, all students and teachers walked to Kingsway Campus and were treated to a fun time.
For over 15 years, Hope City campuses have joined together in the fall to provide hundreds of students with backpacks filled with school supplies. Most of these students’ families are referred to the program through local schools. At Christmas, 200 Christmas hampers are gifted each year; each hamper includes a full turkey dinner, a full lunch and breakfast, and a present for each child 18 years old and younger. These hampers are assembled by the church’s youth department and, pre-COVID, delivered by senior youth.
“We have a high emphasis on the next generation, and on community,” Beth Gaetz, from the church’s care ministries department, explains. “When we give these items to the schools, it’s just a gift in love.”
Photos courtesy of Beth Gaetz and Hope City Church.
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