In the fall of 2015, members of the neighbourhood community association asked if they could use our lower auditorium at Foothills Mennonite Church here in Calgary for a group of seniors for an exercise program.
Kate Janzen was the church's outreach trustee at the time, and she helped facilitate the request. Two University of Calgary students volunteered to be in the instructors. Rudy Wiens and I, members at Foothills, volunteered to set up the chairs, make coffee and clean up for the weekly morning session.
Since then, this group effort has become an important time for our church to connect in a great way with our wonderful community. Various instructors have made the hour of exercise a healthy preoccupation for seniors in our neighbourhood community.
Several people have reported that the exercises have helped in a number of ways. In my case, when we started I usually had to sit down for part of the exercises when we did not use the chairs to hold on. With my age and mild diabetes, I had a balance problem when we started. Now after getting four years older, I can do those exercises when we do not use chairs. The question of balance is nearly gone, or at least significantly reduced.
Looking over the many name tags we have used since 2015, there must have been more than 80 people from the community who have joined us at one time or another. The average weekly attendance is 20-30 people.
I think the relationship to people in the community is very important. They find out that we are a Christian congregation and just normal people. During the coffee time, we sit around the tables, and frequently the conversation takes on personal comments, faith concerns and church-related questions. We inform them of our special programs, and invite them to join us.
More and more of the community people join us at our Christmas Choir Program. Last week, our junior youth raked leaves for seniors in our neighbourhood. Routinely they contribute items for our Mennonite Central Committee bins.
This is a very meaningful relationship between the church and our neighbourhood community.
Erwin Strempler is a retired principal and teacher, and longtime member at Foothills Mennonite Church. This article originally appeared in the MCA Communiqué.