Angels In Crows Nest
I walked past Eliane this afternoon, I was determined to get out and get a photo but the weather is keeping people off the streets and it was in between showers that I spied Eliane writing on the blackboards outside Northside Baptist Church. Eliane is the youth pastor (I went to church as a teenager was drawn there by the youth group activities. My youth pastor was bald, short and slightly overweight, times have changed) at Northside and was writing up this weekends youth activity on the board outside when I asked her for a photo.
I will be completely honest I hadn’t at any stage considered photographing someone from the church, though I walk past the building each and everyday on my way to work. To be fair I hadn’t seen anyone there but also I hadn’t gone in and if Eliane wasn’t there writing up her activities I wouldn’t have bothered to have gone in and asked for a photo. This is interesting as I feel quite comfortable to go into a bar, restaurant, cafe or shop and ask for a photo but not the church. I didn’t even consider it and I think that shows a bit of my biases. I am not a church goer anymore and at times I can be a bit critical and harsh on the humble church. Yet the church did provide me with some of the best times and great mates. Reflecting now after my conversation with Eliane it isn’t the church that I am no longer engaged with but rather organised religion and I think there is a huge difference. But this isn’t about me and my beliefs it is about Eliane and Crows Nest.
Northside is vastly important to the Crows Nest community. While Crows Nest continues to transform itself and is the hub of hospitality on the Northern Beaches, Northside has been there longer than any one cafe. It has seen the changes, seen shops open and close, restaurants move in and wine bars open, all the while Northside has continued to provide the community with pastoral care and a place to worship. In this day and age some people would ask is this important, well I believe to the people who believe its vastly important.
Eliane talked about how geographically the church is at the centre of the community, and in that way its like the beating heart of the community. And the church provides and important service to the community whether you believe in God or not. It runs mothers groups, youth activities, outdoor services e.g. Easter time and a monthly free breakfast for the disadvantaged to name but a few. Now while it is easy to attack religion and the church as a whole, its hard to argue with the good works of its individuals, its local members and staff who do what they do because of their beliefs.
Eliane was passionate about her beliefs and I can tell you its infectious. When I hear a person passionate about what they believe in I’m drawn into their story, whether its car sales or brain surgery passion is a hook and there is an attractiveness in passionate people, you want to be around them, they radiate life.
I think its this passion for life in Eliane is why she also sees this in the Crows Nest community. When I asked her to describe Crows Nest she talked about the energy and vibe of the place. To her Crows Nest is buzzing with life. Now that is what I call beauty in a community and I think what she sees in Crows Nest is what is inside of her, she projects her energy and life into the community, thus giving it that energy and life. If the community is its people then Crows Nest is a better place because of Eliane.
I was interested to hear a bit more of the Crows Nest Church experience especially with young people and how is the church going at attracting young people and Eliane was really open and honest about this. She talked about how the young people involved with the church are really passionate and have a real relationship with God. The challenge is moving further out to their friends and connecting them to the church. I know this isn’t easy, especially in Australia where religion isn’t as strong as in the US etc. But I think with Eliane passion for what she does Northside stand a pretty good chance of connecting to the local youth.
I also mention this because Eliane isn’t from Australia, she moved her from Canada a number of years ago. To make it just a little more challenging Eliane was from rural Canada. When I asked her to contrast this to Crows Nest she loves the vibe of being in a city, but still with a community feel. And her journey to Australia has lead her to an “Aussie bloke” whom she has married. Now Australia and more importantly Crows Nest is home.
I don’t know if there is a God and Heaven but I do know in Crows Nest there is a special Angel working hard to make a positive difference in the lives of young people and for my money you don’t get much better than that!
Thanks Eliane for sharing your Crows Nest,