Most Winnipeggers who read this blog will know who Harry Lehotsky is, but for those just tuning in, Harry is a local Winnipeg pastor I’ve mentioned recently when the news broke that he’d been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, and he was given as little as six weeks to live. I’m hoping that by mentioning him again, people from a wider sphere will become aware of Harry’s story. I say this not beause he’s lacking attention beyond what the pastor of a small inner-city church should reasonably expect — quite the contrary, in fact. No, I say this because Harry’s story is a picture of a race well run, and a community well served, and also because I hope that his story will impact and inspire others, so that readers of this blog might be reminded to fire off a few up-words on his behalf. Basically, prayer is, in fact, what he’s down to.
Harry Lehotsky’s example is one of ministry to a community that’s based from the local church but doesn’t get sidetracked with that red herring that the ministry has to be done in the church and focus solely on those who convert. No, Harry simply selected a community, moved into it, then set out to change it. Not only did he start a church in the neighbourhood, but the church started an alternative kind of cafe, The Ellice Cafe, which was called a success a year into its operation, even though it was losing money. CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers recently interviewed Harry on the radio show Sounds Like Canada. Unfortunately, the interview is in RealAudio only and not MP3; it’s summed up on the CBC Website as follows:
Reverend Harry Lehotsky (runs 19:08)
Reverend Harry Lehotsky is changing the urban landscape of Winnipeg, one derelict house and drug dealer at a time. The community activist joins Shelagh this morning on Sounds Like Canada, to discuss his life-long dedication to helping improve Winnipeg’s west end, and his belief that love and commitment can turn any neighbourhood around in time.
This spring, the provincial government announced a community activism award in Harry’s honour, the “Rev. Harry Lehotsky Award for Community Activism.” Something like that ought to cause you to suspect you’re making a difference. He continues to write a regular column for the Winnipeg Sun. This weekend’s column This weekend’s column was naturally about Father’s Day, as were many around the Internet today. Harry’s reflections on Father’s Day this year can’t help but strike the reader as especially poignant.
You can now send your messages directly to Harry Lehotsky at a new website “Friends of Harry Lehotsky” — I located it by doing a googlesearch putting in those key words “Friends of Harry Lehotsky”. You can leave a message for Harry, and you can also view the messages left by others — some of whom like me have been privileged to know Harry and to work together with him to heal our neighbourhood, some who may never have met him but have been touched by the power and passion of his ministry of caring on a very direct and down to earth level.