SAINT JOHN – An Anglican who runs a “tool library” says an untapped opportunity for growth in the Church could lie in social enterprise. Brent Harris, a member of the city’s Church of the Resurrection, recently launched the Saint John Tool Library & DIY Centre, which allows its members to borrow tools as they need them. The centre charges money for memberships and for how-to classes that it offers the public. It is a social enterprise, Mr. Harris says, because it sees its success not in profits but in serving the public and “helping people see an embodied gospel.”
If the Church were to foster the growth of such enterprises, he says, it could both attract more young people and reduce the social isolation of its elderly members, by engaging retired Anglicans to volunteer to teach young people new skills, and by increasing the presence of the Church in the community.
“Social enterprises need volunteers during their start-up phase, and for the next 10 years, we will have a huge influx of retirees who will want to connect with their community in a tangible way,” he says. “There is a track here for the Church to be in the business of turning strangers into neighbours, and that will cause people to say, ‘What’s this about?’” he says.
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