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‘Under the Big Tree’ Concerts Welcome Neighbors

Adjacent to the church and under a big tree, concert goers gathered for music.
Adjacent to the church and under a big tree, concert goers gathered for music.

An old tree provides shade and shelter on summer evenings next to the landmark white church that is home to the First Christian Reformed Church in Vancouver, B.C. And so “Under the Big Tree” seemed a fitting name for a series of six outdoor music concerts hosted by the church this past summer.

Over the years, the church has practiced hospitality including a weekly community dinner throughout the fall and spring. The concerts provided an opportunity to continue that community connection through the summer. Instead of gathering around food, the neighborhood was invited to gather around music. An Innovative Mission grant from Resonate Global Mission provided funding for the series to cover the cost of drinks, snacks and honorariums for the musicians. Anne Duifhuis, the church’s administrative assistant, said while the idea had been percolating for some time, the grant was the impetus needed to make the concerts a reality.

Concert goers included refugee newcomers who live temporarily in the provincial Welcome Centre adjacent to the church. “Music, like shared food, is a great way to overcome language barriers,” said pastor Trevor Vanderveen. Neighbors who share the church’s garden plots, co-op housing residents, church members and a resident of a nearby senior’s home joined on chairs and blankets to enjoy the tunes. Musicians played a variety of music ranging from folk to funk jazz, giving a glimpse into their own faith journeys as they spoke about their lyrics and the songs they chose to share.

“Under the Big Tree” does carry a deeper meaning, “a tip of the hat to Micah 4” said Vanderveen. Living under the shade of a tree is an Old Testament symbol for shalom, creating a place and space for peace and justice—a fitting symbol for community concerts offered in the diverse community of Vancouver. 

Concert organizers have hopes for a second series next summer.

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