On Feb. 22, St. John the Evangelist, Port Hope co-sponsored its first Repair Café with Port Hope for Future (PH4F), a local environmental group. Hundreds of people, young and old, took part in the event in the parish hall. More than 200 items were repaired and kept out of landfill sites.
One of the parish’s strategic and missional thrusts is partnering with other organizations, and PH4F was a perfect fit. This group mainly comprises young families concerned about climate change. They advocate for local initiatives in the community that build capacity and awareness around green issues.
“On so many levels Repair Café was a great success, and we were proud to host such a diverse array of residents from the town,” says the Rev. Jesse Parker, incumbent. “We use our hall for a weekly community dinner that feeds nearly 100 people, and we have a seasonal used clothing store, and this event seemed a great extension to these initiatives. We are building the stewardship capacity in this community!”
The parish hall was abuzz all day as about 30 “fixers” worked to restore as many items as possible for their owners. Even though it seemed the community had been intrigued by the concept of Repair Café before the event, those involved were thrilled by the steady stream of people who arrived bearing broken treasures in search of a second chance. Transferring skills from one generation to another occurred naturally as people sat and talked over the repair of their sweaters, chairs, lamps, toasters, guitars, bicycles and suitcases. Among the skilled repairers were a knife sharpener, an upholsterer, computer specialists, bike mechanics, seamstresses and electricians. A drop-in yoga class ran all day, as did activities for children. The local library had a booth. Activists who were determined to save a local old growth woodland from development were there to discuss the issue with folks and there was a petition handy for signatures.
St. John’s is determined to rise to the Fifth Mark of Mission by becoming a better steward of God’s creation and looking for opportunities to work with the broader Port Hope community on the issue of climate change. The original Repair Café happened in Amsterdam in 2009. Since then the movement has spread. In 2019, there were 2,000 Repair Cafés, mostly in Europe and the United States but also in Asia and Africa, as well as Canada. The Repair Café organization was extremely helpful. “We followed their approach and it worked out beautifully,” says Penny Nutbrown, the organizer. “It was a fun and natural way to connect with people from the community, and everyone loved the church-lady sandwiches that were available all day!”
The response to the first Repair Café in Port Hope was so positive that the church plans to hold a second Repair Café on Aug. 22. While similar to the first, this summer Repair Café will have a back-to-school theme and will include a children’s clothing swap. The beginning of the school year often leaves young families with credit card debt as they struggle to meet the needs of their children. This Repair Café is determined to help alleviate some of that stress by helping people find ways to re-use and repurpose items rather than purchase new ones, says Ms. Nutbrown, adding “Repair Café is just one way that St. John’s is bringing the living gospel out from behind church walls and into the community.”
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