Comox is the home of many Canadian Forces members. Because of the town’s beautiful surroundings and its mild climate, it is an ideal retirement place for many military retirees. Members of the forces have a long history at St Peter, Comox. In its churchyard, sailors’ graves have been maintained for over a century, and faithful veterans of all branches still attend worship here.
On Nov. 11, the little main street of Comox, with its humble cenotaph, was crowded with people, in and out of uniform, for the big event. Wreaths were laid, the Last Post was played, heads were bowed and silence was held. Afterwards, the crowds dispersed, and many found their way around the corner to St Peter’s hall, where a Remembrance Day open house has been a tradition for many years. Hot beverages, sweet treats and friendly faces greeted those coming in. Old connections in the community were rekindled, while newcomers got a look inside St Peter’s. The open house has become a key event for the church to show its love for the community.
In that same month, our Festive, Funky, Fabulous, and Furry Winter FUNraiser was held in its third year. Nearly 300 items were up for auction to make Christmas gift shopping fun and easy. In the first year when the auction began, we placed items on a website and volunteers collected bids by email, text, phone and word of mouth. This proved to be a challenge even for our small collection of items, but we were delighted to discover how enjoyable it was for people to browse and bid on a variety of things.
In the second year, we researched different options and chose an established auctioneering website for our needs. The site was easy to use, and we placed our items in categories — clothing, jewellery, Christmas goods, fine art, collectables, games, handmade wares and so forth — to make the process easier. With the new system, bidders were alerted when they were outbid, so the auction was fast and furious, especially near the end. Some individuals even used aliases to get surprise gifts for their loved ones!
The event proved so successful that by the third year this November, the number of participants and items had doubled on the website. As an added twist, Mavis, our parish dog, appeared in many of the listings. Bidders were invited to spot her appearances for a chance to win a prize. As all auction items were donated as usual, the proceeds went almost entirely towards supporting the good works of St Peter’s. This year we raised nearly $3,000. The fun, however, that we all had was priceless!
One of our post-COVID-19 initiatives was a free community lunch every month on the first Friday. One of the impacts of the pandemic was the inability to meet and to break bread together — one of the cornerstones of the Christian community. Excitement builds every month as the menu is prepared. We recently connected with an outstanding resource called Loaves and Fishes — a charitable organization that is a network of food producers, distributors, suppliers and restaurants, all working together to feed people in need. It publishes an online menu from which registered users, like St Peter’s, places orders. We also have the support of two local bakeries which offer all types of delicious goods. And last but not least, the experienced caterers and chefs in our own parish make meals, desserts, and beverages all prepared with great care.
Parishioners are encouraged to tell friends and strangers about our lunches. Anyone — young or old, friend, family, or stranger — is welcomed and served. In the summer, we are able to provide a lovely picnic area under the trees in our garden, and in colder times, we use the hall. New friendships are made, old friendships are renewed and Christian fellowship abounds. The warmth is not just from the hot soup we like to serve, but also from the love that is shown. And maybe it’s just a little easier to feel the love of Christ on a full stomach. We are inspired by Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”