‘Kindness explosion’ hosted by Christian churches in Esquimalt, View Royal

Party in Memorial Park to include inaugural outdoor church service

Sydney Jackson

Kindness will soon be overflowing in Esquimalt and View Royal.

“I think you can never give enough kindness,” said Youth With A Mission Victoria director Graham Jackson, who initiated the first Love Your City gathering eight years ago. “It’s a tough world out there. You need lots of kindness.”

This year’s edition of the free family-friendly outdoor event, spearheaded by several Christian churches, has been expanded to two days in honour of Esquimalt’s centennial, happens Saturday and Sunday (June 23 and 24).

A “kindness explosion” Saturday at Esquimalt’s Memorial Park will feature a bouncy castle, face-painting, free hot dogs, children’s crafts and live music from noon to 3 p.m. The same day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. a barbecue and car wash happens at the Canadian Tire store at Admirals and Craigflower roads.

A church service will be held for the first time in Memorial Park on Sunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by a picnic and more family fun from noon to 3 p.m.

“The underlying concept is to have the churches from the Christian community show acts of love to the larger community out there, (without) any strings attached,” said Rev. Lon Towstego, who leads the Anglican Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Other churches involved in Love Your City include HarbourView Community Church, Temple Yeshua and Esquimalt Church of the Nazarene.

Similar Love Your City gatherings happen elsewhere in Canada, the U.S., Australia, India and England.

“I think it’s a display by the churches of a genuine feeling that we do pray and care for our communities,” Towstego said, adding that churches have historically played an important part in bringing residents together.

But times are changing, and more people consider themselves spiritual than religious.

“It’s no secret that the 18- to 55-year-old age group today is finding alternatives to church, and we’re trying to show them that church is still a viable option for them,” Towstego said.

The hope, he said, is that by showering residents with kindness, a more compassionate society will emerge.

“Ideally, we’d like to see (random acts of kindness) happen every day.”

Everyone is welcome for the weekend events. For details, search ‘Love Your City’ on Facebook, visit esquimaltcentennial2012.ca or call 250-386-4040.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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