Community & Mission

Community and Mission

The Kirk and members of its congregation are actively doing God’s work in Charlottetown, our region, and in the wider world. We are committed to sharing our time and resources with our neighbours.

Cross Comforts: We have a cross erected on the front lawn of the Kirk, and a box of supplies nearby, with which members of the community can submit prayer requests to the church. These requests are honoured on a regular basis. During the winter, we pin winter comfort items like toques, scarves, mittens and ear muffs to the cross, and invite those who need these comforts to take them. During the summer months we pin sun screen, lip balm, bandanas and ball caps to the cross, and likewise invite those who need such items to take them. These items are of particular comfort to those who are experiencing housing insecurity in our community.

UPEI Food Bank: The Kirk collects non-perishable food stuffs on an ongoing basis, and regularly delivers these to the UPEI food bank, to assist members of the campus community who are facing food insecurity.

The Upper Room Soup Kitchen: On the first Saturday of each month (summer excluded), a team from the Kirk cooks and serves a nourishing meal to clients of the Upper Room Soup Kitchen. On average, 70 individuals are served. The chocolate chip cookies we provide for dessert are always a welcome treat. In October, we usually also provide pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving treats during our meal time. In December we supplement our meal with festive fruit cake slices. During Advent, we also collect a wide variety of goods with which to make up Christmas gift bags for the clients of the Upper Room. Items donated often include warm socks, mittens and toques; hand towels and face cloths; toiletries; seasonal treats; and gift cards to places like Giant Tiger, the Dollar Store and Tim Horton’s.

Christmas Hampers: Another way that we reach out into our community is through our Christmas Hampers campaign, which collects monetary donations to provides the makings for Christmas season meals to those in need. Started in 2010 as a replacement for our White Gifts program, the Christmas Hampers campaign is a partnership with the Salvation Army church in downtown Charlottetown. Held at the beginning of Advent this campaign reminds us that it is indeed better to give than to receive.

Baby Needs Collection: In 2022 the Kirk began to collect baby needs for at-risk mothers and their new babies, through a partnership with the Island Pregnancy Centre. Many of these mothers are single mothers or have very limited social support networks to assist them in caring for their new infants. Each year in the lead up to Mother’s Day, we collect diapers, baby wipes, baby toiletries, baby clothing of all kinds, board books, plush toys, soothers and similar items, to create gift bags for new mothers. This mission is also supported generously by the Synod of the Atlantic Provinces, which has provided $1,000/year in support to this worthwhile cause. In 2024, the Kirk also provided some of the furnishings for new mothers’ rooms in the newly opened Island Pregnancy Centre “Hope House” in Summerside, PE.

Refugee Support: Over the past few years, the Kirk has cooperated with Central Christian Church in sponsoring refugees from the Middle East. We first assisted a large family from Iraq, helping to renovate and furnish a home for them and provide the family with toiletries, Arabic-English dictionaries and comforts. We also donated a wide variety of tools so that the father could earn income doing odd jobs. The following year we assisted a family whose home was destroyed during the civil war from Syria. We provided many of the furnishings for their first apartment, car seats for the children, Arabic-English dictionaries, toiletries for their home, and a computer to assist with school work and job searches. After that, we assisted a mother and daughter from Jordan, helping to furnish their apartment and providing a computer so the daughter could do on-line school work during COVID.

More recently, we are assisting a family that fled religious repression in Iran. We have provided them with financial assistance, some light furnishings, assistance integrating into Charlottetown society, a computer for the oldest child to use for school work, and assistance navigating the process of applying for religious asylum in Canada.

Presbyterian World Service and Development: PWS&D is the mission arm of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, doing a wide variety of mission work around the world. Each year the students of the Kirk Sunday School collect funds to support a PWS&D mission. For the past two years they have raised funds to send a child from a disadvantaged overseas family to school for a year. In 2023, they raised enough to send two children to school. In 2024, we will have raised enough to send three children to school. Additionally, individual members of the congregation make personal donations to the missions of PWS&D. The Kirk further supports the work of the Presbyterian Church in Canada by making generous annual donations to Presbyterians Sharing, which support grants for initiatives in various congregations, national and international advocacy, the National Indigenous Ministries Council, ecumenical partnerships and support to a variety of missions.

Three evenings a week, the Kirk of St. James hosts meetings of the Charlottetown chapter of Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based organization. They offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working a twelve-step program, including regular attendance at group meetings. The group atmosphere provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for addicts who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. The church also hosts weekly meetings of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA). ACA was founded in 1973 as a fellowship of people who desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.

The Kirk supports the Presbytery of Prince Edward Island’s youth camp, Camp Keir, located at Canoe Cove. Camp Keir’s mission is to provide youth with the opportunity “to grow inside by playing outside.”

The Presbyterian Women are active in faith in a variety of ways. They support the Atlantic Mission Society through an annual church service and offering, which supports outreach in our region. Over the years they have made donations to the programs of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Synod Hospital Worker in Halifax, Camp Keir and other local charities.

Summer Concert Series: Each summer our Music Director, Frances McBurnie, organizes a wonderful series of noon hour summer concerts, featuring a wide variety of talented musicians and singers. They are not to be missed! Donations given during the concerts help to fund our Choral Scholars program, which sees four UPEI voice students join our senior choir for the year and learn a wide range of sacred choral selections.

Kirk Tours: Over the spring, summer and early fall, the Kirk hosts heritage tours of its Sanctuary, as part of an Experience PEI historic churches tour offered to cruise ship passengers. Approximately 70 tours pass through the church, giving people from far and wide a taste of Presbyterian history and hospitality.

Our church frequently hosts workshops for those looking for both fellowship and the acquisition of a new skill. Past workshops have included lessons on basket weaving, rug hooking, rug braiding, making Christmas centerpieces and crafting Easter wreaths. Members of the community are welcome to share these events, which are usually run on an advanced sign-up basis.

Communities in Bloom Flower Beds: For a number of years, the Kirk has been supporting Charlottetown’s participation in the national Communities ion Bloom program. We plant two flower beds on the corners of Fitzroy and Pownal Streets with vibrant flowering plants, and tend the beds during the growing season.

The Kirk is a member of the Charlottetown and Area Christian Council, providing a unified Christian voice on issues of concern in our area.

The Kirk of St. James nominates two members for the Board of the Stamper and Charlotte Residences, which are located on Fitzroy Street and All Soul’s Lane, respectively. These homes provide residents with full scale community care.

The Kirk also appoints one member of the congregation to sit on the Old Protestant Cemetery Committee, which works to maintain this historic cemetery on University Avenue.

Each year the Kirk hosts two events which invite the participation and support of the wider community — its Spring Book and Bake Sale and the Kirk Ceilidh. The Book and Bake sale is usually held in June, and features a delectable selection of freshly baked treats and a wide variety of used books. Also available are raffle tickets for two prizes of cooked lobster, delivered in time for Father’s Day enjoyment.

On the last Saturday in October, the Kirk hosts its annual Ceilidh. This highly anticipated sale provides a wealth of goodies for the shopper, from a range of baked goods to home-made preserves and deli items, including offerings that are gluten-free. The sale also includes used treasures, jewellery, books and many handcrafted items made by the members of the Kirk. There is often a quilt raffle held in conjunction with the Ceilidh.