The McCain’s, of french fries fame, have donated a million dollars to the Metropolitan Church in Toronto. This is pretty significant news in my neck of the woods. Wallace McCain who made the gift referred to the connection back in New Brunswick that he had with the MCC’s pastor, Brent Hawkes. Seems that the Hawkes family grocery store and subsequent restaurant were only a few miles down the road from the McCain plant. And in New Brunswick these kinds of connections are a big deal. There can be a down home family feel in the densely wooded, sports inclined, slower-paced but hard-working milieu one finds in places like Florenceville.
In fact, I have my own Wallace McCain story. After having finished my undergrad degree at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, I started my career working at the YMCA. It was a good entry-level learning position, but it didn’t pay much. I became an in-home care-giver to Wallace’s 90-something spinster aunt who lived just a few houses away from the YMCA. Wallace interviewed me for the job in his Florenceville home, told me stories of the growth of the family business, and while always ensuring that we were well stocked with McCain frozen meals, wanted to ensure that I was making regular home-made meals for his aunt. He readily acknowledged that she could be a challenge – but was also protective and concerned for her well-being.
As I think about this family’s generous gift to MCC a few things come to my mind. Over the years, I haven’t really had direct interaction with Toronto’s MCC. I know people who have – and they’ve had a variety of stories to tell. My understanding is that Brent Hawkes has had a negative view of New Direction – which would have been understandable given our ex-gay history. I’ve wondered from time to time about connecting with him for coffee – but it didn’t yet seem to be the right timing. When asked about gay people going to MCC, my standard response over the years was that I hoped and prayed that they would encounter the love of God there – and that where they ended up was up to God. And, indeed, I have heard stories of those who came out of very closeted and painful experiences in more conservative churches who felt their hearts come back to life in the warm welcome they received at MCC.
I think this gift speaks to the general heart attitude of openness and recognition of the need and importance of equity. Wallace McCain seems to understand that when “I diminish you, I diminish myself”. The million dollar gift, in addition to helping to pay off the mortgage on the church building, will be used