Erie Street Gospel Centre is a white building on an obscure street in South Oshawa. It has, however, been a significant catalyst in my growth into maturity and understanding of masculinity. You may find it interesting the way it has impacted me.
One of the main challenges for young men is to know who they are. While growing up in Oshawa, my church was predominantly black. At that time I was one of the six black students in my high school of about maybe 1200. I have never (ever) had a black educator (teacher, librarian, principal, professor or TA), subsequently, my church was the one place where I was not a minority.
It was a place where physically (and socially) I fit in. As a person (specifically an immigrant) without a personal “felt” history (be it West Indian or Canadian and definitely not American…), it (my church) satisfied me with a feeling of belonging. Lately, I’ve often reflected on this.
(Mind you, Erie Street has become increasingly more multicultural -since those days- and it provides the opportunity for anyone to fit it.)
Young men have difficulties navigating relationships and are in much need of positive male influences. My church on a regular basis brought me into an environment of relationships. I had many dads, moms, and brothers and sisters.
Although, like most churches, the population of females were higher than that of males, the men who were in my life were masculine, strong and spiritual. (Thinking back, I remember an older man – Mr. Belnavis, who despite his age then and now could dislocate your shoulder with a powerful hand shake!) I never new my own grandfathers, but I think of him as one. I found those relationships in the community of Erie Street.
(It makes me consider that with the population of young men who may not regularly attend church in today’s era, is it a wonder that there is a chronic need for mentorship relationships?)
These were the people (both men and women) who kept me on track and accountable in my everyday life.
By the way, I met my wife at there. Enough said.
The lack of purpose and focus is a labyrinth which threatens to starve many young men before they reach the light of manhood. Growing up, my church promoted (and it still does) a legacy of opportunity, starting with my late father-in-law Bishop Newton Cole. In comparison to other churches, our local church was an anomaly, and perhaps it still is even today.
Our current lead Pastor Kevin M.A. Cole, on every level embraces this way of serving and leading. The mandate is simple, God gets all the glory, and He’s in charge.
To be honest, I’ve never run enthusiastically towards ministry opportunities, but this environment provided a soil which allowed me to grow into my “sweet spot”, which is, my purpose with God –which is connecting, and mentoring and leading males. If you know me, you know that this is what makes me tick. In this place (the white building on an obscure street in Oshawa) I found my purpose and am developing into a “Genesis Man”…
HAVING SAID THAT…
Our third annual “Young Men’s Summit” will be happening Saturday May 23, 2015 at Erie Street Gospel Centre (17 Erie Street, Oshawa) from 1 – 4 PM. Our focus will be on Mentorship and Employment. We will be engaging in a Discussion Forum to explore these concepts and other relevant male issues.
After this Summit, we are looking forward to the birth of our very own Durham Mentorship Network. It will be an entity that will function as an informative liaison to meet the needs of men and young men in our communities. We are looking for various professionals who would be interested in becoming a part of this data base. Email me if you are interested.
Finally, please RSVP your presence to the Young Men’s Summit as soon as possible.
Boys 12 and up, young men, and all men are invited.
By the way, there will be a free lunch.