Love, acceptance, faith - this is what the new pastors at the Salvation Army's Caring Place Ministries hope to bring to their congregation.
Josh and Jen Ivany arrived in Maple Ridge in July, and they have spent their first half year building relationships with the congregation at the Caring Place.
Many people forget that the Caring Place is also a church, Josh pointed out.
With Darrell Pilgrim continuing as the director of the centre, the Ivanys take over the pastoral duties at the Salvation Army church.
The Caring Place Ministries is known in the community for their shelter program, emergency shelter in the winter, and free daily hot meals.
And while the social service aspect of their job is important, first and foremost, the Ivanys have been appointed as pastors of a church, the couple emphasized.
At Christmas, the Caring Place reaches out to their clientele to help make Christmas a happier time.
"This is a time of year that's hard for people," Josh said, adding that Christmas is always associated with family and for those who have nothing, it can leave them feeling alone and vulnerable.
This year the Caring Place held their annual Christmas dinner earlier in December and a children's Christmas party this past weekend, and the message the Ivanys want to get out to their congregation is "we are their family - they are loved and accepted," Josh said.
Based on the Methodist philosophy of doing hands-on ministry, the Salvation Army church reaches out in each community based on local needs. Most Salvation Army churches deliver social services, and this will depend on where they are located and what the needs are.
The Caring Place serves a population that is largely marginalized, many of whom are low-income and homeless citizens of Maple Ridge.
Often churches have been in places where the poor weren't welcome, Josh said, and yet "these people need a place."
The congregation is diverse at the Salvation Army facility, Josh added, with about half staying at the shelter, some homeless, and others just low-income people.
But the church has a "very family-like atmosphere," Josh said, and everyone is welcome and accepted.
The couple would like to do more in the way of children's ministry at the Caring Place, and their own children are active participants.
"Our kids are always in the front dancing and having fun," Josh said of their Sunday morning services.
They want to spread the word that the Caring Place is a safe place to come to and is family oriented.
The services at the Caring Place are very interactive, Josh said, and congregation members have the opportunity to share.
To prepare for a career ministering in the Salvation Army, the couple cut their teeth in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, taking part in the "War College," a two-year training for hands-on street ministry - an urban mission.
"For both of us, it was a life-changing experience," Josh said.
They lived at the Empress Hotel among those people whom they were reaching out to.
It was a huge cultural shock for both of them as they lived day to day with people who were so unloved and marginalized.
But the amazing generosity and sense of community among the population surprised the couple, and they learned a lot about humanity during the experience.
"The people taught me so much," Josh said.
But many people who live on the streets have developed survival instincts, and know if someone is a good person or if they're just going to rip them off, said Jen.
Many of them have trust issues because of the lack of consistency in their lives, Josh said, adding that "we realize it takes time to gain that trust."
In order to do so, the couple said they are trying to be as transparent as possible and to love the people who frequent the Caring Place as best as they can.
Josh is a fifth generation Salvation Army officer, and, for her part, Jen is continuing the tradition of her parents.
The Ivanys brought along their two young boys to Maple Ridge, Aiden, three, and Liam, two, and two weeks after arriving, their daughter Sadie was born.
They have been settling in during their first half year in Maple Ridge, and Jen said they like the town they have been assigned to.
"We really like that it's a city, but it's the perfect size city where you can see the same person twice [in a day]," Jen said.
@ Copyright 2013