Arthur Dyck helps connect the church and the community
I manage to sequester Arthur Dyck away from assisting with the lunch program, run every Thursday in the annex of St. Faith’s Anglican Church. The free community meals (also Friday supper and Saturday breakfast) are just one of a dozen or so outreach programs at the church, located at 11725 93 St.
Whatever and whenever the program, he’s in the mix. Even tucked away in his office for this interview, we are continually visited (Dyck would never call it an interruption) by parishioners who just seem to want to soak up his gentle, welcoming manner. “I am the vocational deacon for this parish,” Dyck explains. “In addition to being the assistant to the priest, I am involved in most everything that bridges the church and community.”
St. Faith’s is well known in the hood through sharing its space for the festivals that frequent the Ave. It is also home for Bleeding Heart Art Space, a community for expression of faith and spirit through the arts. But its ministry goes far beyond. For example, Rev. Venerable Travis Enright, the presiding priest, is also Canon for Aboriginal Ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton and district. Locally, St. Faith’s incorporates Indigenous spiritual themes in the third Sunday service of the month, which includes smudging and prayer in the four directions.
But when it comes to action on the street, “Arthur is your man,” says Enright. Dyck’s focus goes to the broader needs of the parish.
“The parish includes all the people that we serve from this congregation,” Dyck explains. “The meals, for example, are shared with over 300 people on any given weekend. Everyone who joins in is part of the parish.” The meal program is so robust that it has drawn support from eight other congregations, as far afield as south edmonton to west edmonton.
Dyck also leads services at care homes, is a visitation chaplain, and addresses spiritual, social and other needs of the parish. The latter responsibility includes helping with identifying and accessing health and residential resources to those on the fringe. “We assist people to find the necessary support on the journey to becoming whole,” Dyck says. “This is not easy in these days of increasing need and diminishing resources. There has been a dramatic increase this past year of people who have accessed meals, signs of difficult times.”
Another ministry which Dyck holds close to his heart is the support group provided to sexual offenders reintegrating into the community. Dyck and the other mentors focus on providing a safe space where men can work through their issues and avoid reoffending.
“Many people have not had a good role model for parenting or being a man. That is our role in this ministry: to offer a model for another way of being male that does not include violence or aggression.”
There has been some pushback from the neighbourhood against the far-reaching social network that St. Faith’s draws in.
Dyck expresses his conviction: “Everyone needs the help of others at some point in their life. This is the place where those needs can be met. They may include burial of a child, holding hands through palliative care, finding a decent place to live that is not full of cockroaches. Or celebrating a birthday and other blessings and joys.” Dyck breaks into his characteristic smile.
It strikes me that as one who has stopped by for coffee on numerous occasions, I qualify as a parishioner as well. When hard times come my way, I will have a place to come. That puts a smile on my face.
Featured Image: St. Faith’s Anglican Church provides free community meals. Arthur Dyck, the church’s vocational deacon, is pictured assisting with the soup. | Aydan Dunnigan-Vickruck