By Katie Stoneman
Kevin Makins grew up on the Hamilton escarpment. After being married to his wife Meg for about a year, the couple felt their connections to the downtown core of the city drawing them to move there.
“I worked at Beasley Park when I was in high school and I fell in love with Beasley Park and I fell in love with downtown,” said Makins.
Makins left the program he was originally enrolled in at Redeemer University, where he met his wife. He later returned to finish with a Masters Degree in Divinity, a religious studies program. After his wife finished her program, the couple decided they wanted to buy a house downtown.
“We were living at Sanford and Wilson. In an area not everyone would find highly desirable, but we didn’t care. We loved it. We still love the area,” said Makins.
Makins, a self-proclaimed lover of all things Hamilton, is a pastor (and one of the founders of) at the Eucharist Church. A church highly centered on sharing their believe in the goodness of people. A church where a belief in God means a belief in humanity, and that the good deeds that people execute are a derivative of God’s work.
The church gathers to share a meal, as the site says, “That meal is the Eucharist. For thousands of years people have been gathering to share the Eucharist meal, and at the table they’ve found healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. What we need is a table big enough to seat the whole world.”
“The idea of that equalizing table being the place where God calls us to live became a huge thing for us, as a Church,” said Makins.
A refreshing look at religion, this church isn’t highly organized. It is more a group of good-intentioned people; meeting to form a community, where some goodness can be injected into Hamilton’s downtown.
“We love downtown Hamilton and we really felt like we wanted to invest ourselves here. And we wanted to see what it might look like for something grassroots to come up,” said Makins.
At the time, Makins was working at a church in Toronto but kept meeting people connected to Hamilton who had big questions. He kept hearing about how some identified as spiritual people, but not necessarily religious, or that they hadn’t been to church in years. Makins recognized a desire to explore their beliefs and offered to have a gathering at his Hamilton home.
“We eat together and talk about these things. We’d outgrown our living room and decided to rent out a studio and meet there. We’ve been gathering outside of the living room for four years now,” said Makins.
The church is involved in a network of about twenty different churches in Hamilton from all different backgrounds.
“They would totally disagree on all sorts of little things, but we get together to do largely justice work. So, immigrants and refugee justice, poverty reduction and education, that kind of thing,” said Makins.
Some members of the Eucharist church have formed their own grassroots charity causes, including one group who went out to Barton Street at night to hand out water and, as Makins said, just be friendly to the women out there. The group went out to spread kindness and humanity in a very personal and direct way.
“The best thing we can do I think, is to create a space where these things can just emerge. It’s like a garden, you kind of just have to maintain it but you’ve just got to let it grow,” said Makins.