As you approach the corner of Stony Plain Road and 153rd Street, notice the three pawn shops that surround the intersection. Are businesses such as these emblematic of thriving neighborhoods, or do they point to a certain level of poverty and hardship? As you’ve walked a couple blocks down Stony Plain Road, you may have noticed other signs of poverty and homelessness. Perhaps you have seen someone sleeping on the sidewalk, picking through the garbage, or pushing a cart full of belongings. These are visible signs of poverty that if you had driven down this street instead of walking it, you may have missed.
As the homelessness epidemic has expanded beyond the downtown boundaries that once confined it, vulnerable and marginalized individuals have moved into surrounding areas, including the area immediately surrounding Stony Plain Road. As such, many organizations have moved into the area to fill the gaps of available social services in other parts of Edmonton. One of these organizations is the Fusion Fellowship, located a few steps north of Stony Plain Road on 153rd Street, and the second stop along our journey. Birthed on March 1, 2008, Fusion Fellowship came about as a merger of three churches: The CD Community Church, Living Springs New Testament Church and West End Vineyard Christian Fellowship. The name “Fusion Fellowship” came as a prophetic confirmation of this merger.
One of the ministries of Fusion Fellowship is community outreach, which focuses on sharing the love of Christ through serving the community. Through this ministry, they offer free bagged lunch to those in need on Mondays and Wednesdays between 12pm and 1pm. They also host groups of expecting mothers from the Jasper Place Wellness Centre every Thursday by providing a meal, parental education classes, childcare, and health services. The ministry also partners with community businesses such as Cobs Bread Store and through their generosity, they can deliver $500.00 dollars’ worth of bread and baked goods to Brightview Elementary School. They do this every other week for the students to take the donations home to their families.
Continue North along 153 Street and take a left turn into the alley immediately behind Stony Plain Road. There you will find the colourful painted patterns of the health clinic of the Jasper Place Wellness Centre, where we will uncover the barriers that prevent many in poverty from getting access to health care and treatment, a massive issue normally, but one with dire consequences during a pandemic.