The History of Oasis Café
For her accreditation with with C&MA, Julie Neufeld wrote on the history of Oasis. The following in an excerpt of her research paper.
"With its strong missional vision, under the pastoral leadership of Ken Shigematsu, Tenth Church began the ministry of Oasis on March 10, 1999. This strong vision was inspired by the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25, where He calls His followers to serve “the least of these” and motivated the congregants to provide food for those with less as a response to this powerful message. For Tenth, this went beyond feeding the hungry and was also a way to care for guests both spiritually and emotionally. With this purpose in mind, Oasis began in a small room within the church, offering hot drinks and snacks to anyone who came. Over time the program adapted as it grew, moving around the church from room to room to host more and more guests, as the church’s vision for the Oasis ministry continue to expand.
Under the program manager, Julie Linden, Oasis moved away from exclusively serving snacks and hot drinks, to offering hot meals twice a week. In this new model, lower income guests were invited to come Monday evenings for dinner and Tuesday afternoons for a filling lunch. This new design mimicked the classic blueprint of a soup kitchen, where a person would line up for her or his food, be served, and then asked to find a place to sit. At this time, Oasis was run by Tenth Church congregants, and some volunteers from surrounding churches would also give of their time.
Besides the normal growing pains of any new ministry, the first documented dispute began in 2005 when Tenth applied for a construction permit to expand their building. Although Tenth had a church-use permit, and other city departments were aware of Oasis, the Planning Department of the City of Vancouver decided that Oasis was not a part of the church realm, and that a “social services” permit would be required. During a public meeting on June 6, 2006, Mr. Bob Adair, a representative of the City of Vancouver, acknowledged that the correct permit that was needed was a grey area for them, and that many churches in the area were feeding the poor without the social services permit. In this same letter that documented the public meeting, Mardi Dolfo-Smith, the Tenth Senior Associate Pastor at the time, informed the Director of Planning, that they were willing to apply for this new permit but did not feel it was required."
The rest of Julie's research can be read here.
Ultimately a permit was not required, and the extension was built. And with time an internal shift in structure also occurred. What began as faith-inspired meal service evolved into a ministry centered on relationships and internal transformation. Breaking down barriers of you verses me was a crucial and necessary step. In 2014, the service model was redeveloped from the typical soup kitchen to become a sit-down community meal. Guests were welcomed by a host, metal cutlery was given out, meal options were provided, names were learned, and conversations were had. Such a shift also paved way for employment at Oasis Café, where guests with barriers to employment could find opportunities here.
Over time, after weathering challenges, and changes, Oasis Café has become the community it is today. In 2019, Oasis celebrated its 20th anniversary. An average of 150 meals are served each week with people of various faith backgrounds and communities coming together to make this community a reality.
Oasis began March 10, 1999, led by Aundrey Orton, Berdi Larson, Ken Kessler and overseen by Pastor Don Cowie. It began with just serving coffee, tea and snacks with only 12 people attending in a small room.
Out Of The Cold begin with the intention to provide a meal and overnight stay as patterned after Grandview Calvary and First Baptist. Pastor Don Cowie and Brent Alward, Kevin Haakstad were the first overseers after spending some cold weather nights at First Baptist.
Debbie Hawker and two other volunteers begin a Bible Study at Oasis Café.
Vanessa Galloway establishes the Healing Garden at Tenth Church. The intention of this garden is to foster community with our neighbours in Mt. Pleasant, care for the environment and grow local organic food for our meal & shelter programs.
Under Program Manager, Karen Giesbrecht, Oasis Café transitions to a community meal and begins offering employment to those with traditional barriers to employment.
Oasis Cafe celebrated it's 20-year anniversary!