What can we do in the face of a challenge as daunting as COVID-19?

Some have said we are living through an apocalyptic time. As a man of faith, I’ve reflected on that these past weeks. And I think they’re right.

But an apocalypse isn’t about “end times.” Rather, it means a revelation: pulling back the curtain to see what’s really there . This virus has revealed our society’s inequities: those with wealth are in their protected bubble, while so many live just one paycheque away from disaster. It has also shown how deeply interconnected we all are.

In the face of this, COVID-19 has prompted my husband Tim and me to reflect on the many ways we are fortunate: we can self-isolate in a safe home, we have the means to take care of our needs, we can access technology to keep connected with loved ones. Maybe you can count those blessings, too.

Too many in our city can’t. And in the face of COVID-19, they are at grave risk. Knowing that, we feel called to act, even if only in our own small way. 

Our family has a long history of connection with the Downtown Eastside through First United. I served as Minister there, starting in the late eighties. When our children were young, we’d go to worship, where we felt so welcomed. First United was also the first congregation to sponsor an openly gay person to be ordained as a United Church Minister: That person was Tim. Our faith, and our trust in First United, have everything to do with our decision to donate today to help the people who call the Downtown Eastside home.

We give not just to offer a meal or a safe bed, but to contribute to a larger movement for justice and structural change. We feel the call to be useful in this moment, and making a donation offers us a small light of hope.

The world is full of challenges beyond the scope of any one person, and we cannot be everywhere or do everything. But we can answer the call to justice. We can do our best with what we’re given, tending to the change that is placed at our feet. And we can make a contribution to those working to build a better world. Tim and I can’t be on the front lines against COVID-19, but we can still do our part. In the face of this crisis, we have decided to make a donation to help those in the Downtown Eastside at greater risk. If you are looking for a way to take action, consider joining us with a gift today. 

Wishing you good health,

The Right Rev. Gary Paterson and the Rev. Tim Stevenson

First United Supporters