Heard, known, cared for, loved – and transformed at House Blend
“It’s never been just about the house,” says Rachel Twigg Boyce, founder and executive director of House Blend Ministries. Seeking sustainability for another 10 years of fostering compassionate community, the ever-evolving ministry is selling the ministry house in its 10th anniversary.
“We’re always learning, and because of that, we’re always changing and growing,” says Twigg Boyce.
With vision and mission unchanged, House Blend’s board and staff will strategize operational possibilities over the next months while ministry continues in temporary facilities. The sale of the house is projected to pay off the mortgage with funds left to seed new initiatives.
The community of “in-housers” and weekly potluck participants marked the 10-year milestone Feb. 24, 2017 – the anniversary of the day then-Dream Manitoba director Russ Toews committed the Manitoba MB conference to pray about ministering to people who are poor.
One result was House Blend, mandated to develop a ministry that would become self-sustaining and work ecumenically. The original name, Hope Winnipeg, quickly changed to House Blend because so much of Twigg Boyce’s work happens over a cup of coffee. It was incorporated on July 9, 2010.
House Blend Ministries has an incarnational model of being the church without being a church, says Twigg Boyce. One of its modes has been a residential building in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood, but its vision of caring community began without a roof and extends beyond the four walls.
“Safe housing is important, [but] it’s harder to find a sense of love and belonging,” says community pastor Kathy McCamis. That’s what House Blend provides to some 30 individuals who drift in and out of the loving community. “Knowing that you matter, that people will ask about and pray for you – that’s as much a concrete need as housing and it takes a lot more investment.”
A visioning group about “ordering lives to more easily do good” birthed the idea of obtaining a house so there would be a space to bring others home. The target resident has been redefined as interpersonal and practical dynamics evolve.
One of the lessons the house taught is that space doesn’t equal capacity. The available eight bedrooms could not be filled with high-needs residents – struggling with mental health or other issues putting them at risk of homelessness – and remain a safe space. Furthermore, being landlords “negatively impacts our ability to do ministry,” says Twigg.
“When you can’t pay your rent because you did something foolish, you can’t talk to your pastor about it if she’s the one who takes your rent cheque.”
“House Blend continues to relate to the people we have served through the house, and we look forward to expanding that community,” says House Blend board chair Dan Nighswander. “God is doing amazing work in our neighbourhood; we are excited about discovering new ways to be part of that work.”
Creating caring communities among people whose lives include poverty and homelessness can be wearying and confusing, but McCamis finds encouragement in the stories about the difference House Blend has made. “[The people I minister to/with] are transformed by the experience of being heard, known, cared for and loved.”
House Blend Ministries AGM is April 24, 2017. Learn more here.