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One year later: Recognizing community partners after the Ottawa tornadoes

On the late afternoon of Friday, September 21, 2018, a severe Storm Watch was issued in the Woodvale area of Ottawa.  As Joe Nyenhuis, Executive Pastor, and Mark Scarr, Lead Pastor at Woodvale Pentecostal Church were discussing the need to cancel a planned event, one of the six tornadoes to hit Ottawa that day touched down right next to the church.  Reverend Mark remembers:

“Our building was minimally impacted.  We lost light posts, windows and the siding were damaged, and power was lost, Overall our building was not as damaged as the neighbourhood”. 
Pastors of woodvale infront of church
The daily commitment of the church to the community did not change, just the game plan. In the early hours of Saturday morning, meals were prepared and distributed in the affected areas.  The following morning, the 60-member men’s group was mobilized and sent into the community to cut up downed trees and assist with the clean up. Without power on that Sunday, the ministry went directly into the community.  

When power was restored, the church immediately opened its doors as a reception centre and accommodated the Canadian Red Cross volunteers who worked to ensure the needs of anyone impacted by the tornadoes were met.  The congregation and staff openly welcomed the Red Cross personnel and the community into their facility for over two months. Reverend Joe recalled:

“We really enjoyed just having the opportunity to host the Canadian Red Cross.  They had an incredible team. It was just amazing to see people that are volunteering and so dedicated to helping those in their community get connected with resources they needed to recover.  That was such a powerful thing”.

And Reverend Mark added:

“It was exciting every day to come to the church seeing an army of peoplePhoto of pastors from Woodvale and Red Cross volunteer from the Red Cross here reaching out and helping the community.  It was a cooperative effort, us together doing what we can to help our neighbourhood.”

The Canadian Red Cross recognized the Woodvale Pentecostal Church as a true “Partner in Humanity” in June 2019.  The church demonstrated Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence and most of all their Humanity in not only providing a working space for the Canadian Red Cross, but in how they welcomed and assisted all who came through their doors.     

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