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Gym does double duty on Sunday

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Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship is one of five churches in a partnership to help homeless people in the Tri-Cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, near Vancouver. Each month, churches take turns housing homeless people in their gyms.

With their sanctuary project not quite finished, Eagle Ridge had to wake patrons on the gym floor in order to get ready for the Sunday worship service there. All in a week’s work – serving the community as well as the church.

Pastor Doug Monkemeier says some 70 Eagle Ridge members provide food and help out how they can, along with other volunteers from neighbouring Hyde Creek Community, Heritage Mountain Community, Coquitlam Chinese Baptist, and Hillside Church.

The interdenominational partnership is unique in Canada, says program coordinator Rob Thiessen. Other host churches include Coquitlam Alliance, Calvary Baptist, Northside Foursquare, and St. Andrew’s United. “We’ve laid out 1,400 mats since December,” he says.

Aside from being able to help people who need it, says Monkemeier, one of the unexpected benefits of the program is that “we see who the homeless are – up close. For example, some must get up early to go to work. Many are mentally ill. Some are seriously ill because they’ve abused their bodies so badly that they’re beyond remedy.” Doing this work, he says, helps Eagle Ridge be a loving church.

—Barrie McMaster

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