Jim Anderson was a good friend of Five Oaks. For each of the past 5 summers he relished every work project he requested during his retreats here, from spreading wood chips on the trails to moving stones by the creek.
It was a shock to receive Eileen’s call on the morning his body was found, asking for our prayers.
Last Tuesday we said farewell to Jim at a poignant memorial service marked by prayers not only for him and his family but also for the man who’s charged with Jim’s murder – and his family.
Jim has been coming to Five Oaks with Circles of Support & Accountability (a program of the Mennonite Central Committee) and Dismas. These groups form a remarkable community of wide hearts with whom Five Oaks is pleased to partner in supporting those who have returned to society following prison time, keeping both returnees and the broader community safer.
With the support of this community, Jim never re-offended. And what a worker he was! All of the photos of him displayed at the service had been taken at Five Oaks – during one of his few days here every year for which he longed in the other 362 days.
The community that gathered on Tuesday demonstrated how deep grief over the loss of a good friend can be held along with compassion for a murderer. They promised prison visits and care.
Harry Nigh asked the question:
“Lord Jesus, your first real saint was a thief who died beside you in your agony and you promised him paradise. Will you remember these two men too? Is there room in your kingdom for them too?”
We are grateful that there’s room in God’s kindom to bring together all kinds of people seeking – and making – peace and reconciliation, together at Five Oaks.
Our board recently adopted a statement of vision for the centre which Eileen, Harry, Jim, Eusebia, and others, are helping us live into:
“Five Oaks is a sacred meeting place for learning and renewal where people are inspired to participate in God’s healing of the world.”
Thank you, Jim, for helping us participate in God’s healing of the world.