Wear your jeans, bring your coffee – to church

Message delivered through Common Ground gatherings

Reverend Lon Towstego leads the Common Ground Service in St. Paul’s Historic and Naval Garrison Church.

Wearing his clerical collar, Rev. Lon Towstego stands beside two tapered candles flickering on an altar, and smiles.

“If you know anything about church history, we’re making it right now,” he tells the 26 people who gathered last Saturday for the atypical church service in the hall of St. Paul’s Historic Naval and Garrison Church in Esquimalt.

For the first time at the Anglican church, twice-monthly Saturday afternoon services, known as Common Ground gatherings, have been added to the roster.

It’s a progressive move that Towstego hopes will build the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul in Esquimalt, which was formed last November after five former parish churches closed. Today, about 110 people make up the congregation.

This afternoon people are wearing jeans and T-shirts. In future, people are welcome to bring their musical instruments and poetry for open-mic performances – and don’t forget to bring your cup of coffee.

“I’m willing to take a risk to engage the congregation,” Towstego says, adding there may be potential to offer the gatherings on a weekly basis. “For me, this is what church is all about – doing new and different things.”

In addition to offering interactive prayer, during which people can call out the names of people they wish to pray for, the hour-long services will include singing and sometimes a video. On Oct. 1 there will be a live dramatic presentation of a Bible story.

“I think it went really well,” says Drew Brazier, an Esquimalt retiree who has been going to the church for six years.

He enjoyed wearing jeans to the service for the first time, but says, more importantly, the casual gatherings are a way to reach out to people who may be searching for something, hurting or feeling empty or alone.

“I’m quite excited about that,” Brazier says.

Common Ground gatherings happen at 4 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of the month at St. Paul’s Historic Naval and Garrison Church, 1379 Esquimalt Rd. For details, please call the church office at 250-386-6833, or visit www.stpeterandpaul.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three rescued after canoe capsizes near Oak Bay

Private vessel finds canoe, brings people ashore

Victoria councillors want city greenhouses used for food production during COVID-19

Couns. Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday are proposing new food security strategies

UPDATED: Crash snarls early morning Malahat traffic

Incident backed up commuters near Okotoks Drive

Greater Victoria charities organize physically distanced tent, sleeping bag drive

Neighbourhood Response Team accepts sleeping bags, mats and tents Saturday in Victoria

COVID-19: Access school resources with new virtual education hub

Shaw and EVERFI create online learning resource for Canadian youth

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

Controversial Cowichan tiny house still in place after removal deadline

Cowichan Valley Regional District had ordered it removed by March 15

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

No April Fool’s jokes from Black Press Media

Only factual stories to be printed, despite day calling for hilarity

High cost, limited coverage for asthma medicine a concern during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man says he skips puffs to save money, but others have it worse

Vancouver Island’s ‘Project Draw Breath’ expands and diversifies to battle pandemic

Grassroots team working to up supplies of ventilators, other equipment during COVID-19 crisis

Trudeau says Parliament needs to sit to pass expanded COVID-19 benefits

Wage subsidy program has been greatly expanded since it was first approved

Most Read