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Published September 2020
By Kristine Abramoff

Darryl Reckman Executive Pastor

Gil Cleland -Teaching Pastor
Sanctuary London was founded in 2011, starting out of the work that Darryl Reckman and Gil Clelland were doing with Youth for Christ. Sanctuary London began its work with the same people, but expanded the role to that of a full church for the homeless and the broader street community. The aim was to be available for people who were broken, impoverished, and hurting.

The very first Monday, only four people came to gather around a meal. Since then, they have grown to include four staff and hundreds of community members, with two meal drop-ins a week, a Sunday evening worship service, and a variety of different kinds of outreach, including one that meets the needs of the LGBTQ community in London.

Many of the people in Sanctuary London’s community are precariously housed. This includes people who do not know where they will be sleeping each evening. Since housing is not affordable in London and there is just not enough low income and geared-to-income housing available, a substantial number of folks from impoverished situations struggle to find a home. Those who do have housing find issues with bugs, broken appliances, and absentee landlords. Some people have broken and messy lives and are simply looking for a welcoming and accepting community, while others from a variety of backgrounds just feel at home with the church.

Sanctuary offers a welcoming atmosphere of love and justice, and many people find that this is where they meet Jesus.

Sanctuary was established to be a place of home, welcome, and gathering, and this was hampered when COVID hit. The meal program was reduced to just handing out a meal and having a minute long conversation while people waited in line. Now, as things have reopened more, Sanctuary has an outdoor patio as a meal location, which has helped bring the community together again and re-establish relationships. People can grab a meal, sit down, and enjoy conversation with one another under donated patio umbrellas.

Sanctuary staff can reconnect and help people resolve issues with housing, finances, educational, or other issues.

One outreach program that has been adapted to the COVID situation is the art drop-in program, which could not continue in its traditional indoor form. Sanctuary London has instead been taking groups downtown every week to draw on the pavement, and others often join in on the drawing and conversation. This outreach reaches all social and economic classes, which is exciting. Even though COVID has encouraged Sanctuary to re-define what art is, people are still able to express themselves and their pain through their drawings.

Gil explains that even though it is amazing to see how people take on the challenges COVID has thrown at them, there are still significant challenges, high points, and low points, sometimes all happening within the same day. Gil has recently spoken to many who are desperately in need. One person described spending most of their government cheque on housing, but having to sleep during the day because the bed bugs were so bad at night. He has had to throw away most of his furniture and even kitchen things because the bed bugs are so bad, but the landlord is slow to respond. Another person has been cut off from government assistance without an adequate explanation, and as rent comes due, he knows he cannot expect assistance. The weight is bigger than we can imagine. However, moments of encouragement shine through; as Gil shared the frustrations of a broken system with those who attended the Sanctuary Bible study that afternoon, one of the men who has struggled immensely with mental health and addiction issues spoke up: “but you also have to remember how far you’ve come.” This was a wonderful moment as this individual spoke prophetically into Gil’s life affirming his work at sanctuary and celebrating how far God has already brought Sanctuary.

Sanctuary London – 531 Talbot Street
Even though organizations like Sanctuary have done so much to alleviate the suffering of the marginalized in London, there is still work to be done, and Gil says that the injustice of poverty and homelessness is made particularly obvious during the COVID pandemic. Many people have been unable to remain separated in small spaces, and many people without homes have had to camp outside. More of us are gaining a greater understanding of structural issues and a broken system that should be helping people but is not. Gil encourages the people of God to respond to this and realize that there is injustice, and that God’s people can come together to create positive change.

As the challenges of COVID continue to make obvious the areas of injustice in London, Gil encourages Christians in the London community to find an injustice that strikes their heart and get involved. The first step is simply listen and learn from those who are suffering. There are many injustices in London, and there are great organizations to partner with. Find something that is not the way it should be in God’s good world, and then go to those places and listen. Pay attention to the people impacted by injustice, and realize that righting these wrongs is at the core of who God is.

We invite you to get involved!
Programming Times
Monday Lunch 11-3
Monday Bible Study 3-4
Wednesday Drop-in 2-8:45, Dinner @ 5:30
Thursday Art 1-3
Sunday Worship 5:30

Sanctuary is a fully registered charity, and therefore we are able to give charitable tax receipts for most donations.

Facebook Page
Stay updated with what’s happening more regularly with Sanctuary's Facebook page where we share news, announcements and fun photos a little more regularly.

Sanctuary London
531 Talbot Street
London, ON N6A 2S5

To contact:
Darryl Reckman - Executive Pastor
Phone: 519-280-8895

To contact Gil Clelland - Teaching Pastor
Email: Phone: 519-902-9774