BY FAYE MOFFATT,
IAN SLOAN and
When churches become civic minded, communities are
transformed for the better. Churches exist to be in solidarity
with the poor: those in poverty, and people without homes.
While it's appropriate that church folk and others support
food banks and serve Out of the Cold dinners as a way of
responding to the immediate needs of those facing poverty and
hardship, it is appalling the number of people requiring these
services in Sudbury and throughout the country continues to
Churches do more than serve their communities: they act as
agents of transformation within them. They work with others to
find lasting solutions. When they do this,the impact on the
well-being of the community is significant.
Churches are not the most rapid deployment organizations
found in communities. But when churches begin to move, the
movement is authentic, and the reverberations across the
citizenry and in the well-being of the community are not only
seen, but felt.
Such movement may be noticed to have begun in the recent
events that took place when the United Church of Canada brought
an award-winning play about child poverty and homelessness,
Danny: King of the Basement, to Sudbury March 23.
Danny, King of the Basement, a winsome, entertaining play by
David S. Craig and produced by Toronto's Roseneath Theatre,
invites us to confront the challenges of homelessness and
poverty. Ten-year-old Danny "Delco" Carter has moved eight
times in two years.  He has become so resilient he can
make a friend in a morning and a best friend in a day, and so
imaginative that every life event becomes part of a game.
One performance of Danny was given to 500 students from four
elementary schools in the school district in the afternoon of
March 23 at Lockerby Composite School, and a community
performance was given in the evening to 250 people of all ages
at St. Andrew's Place that same day.
After the evening performance, about 100 people participated in a post-show discussion organized by a newly formed organization, the Manitou Intentional Learning Community.
Twenty-one local sponsors, including businesses, unions, and churches, were identified on the evening performance playbill.  The Sudbury Social Planning Council prepared an insert on hunger and homelessness in Greater Sudbury.
Fourteen organizations that work with, and for the poor, were asked to give out tickets to clients, volunteers and staff.  It is estimated that 25 percent of the evening audience would have been people who live in poverty.
It was a good thing that Danny has a sense of humour and an
imagination, but an imagination cannot keep him warm on a - 30
C night on the street, even if he imagines his "supercoat"
blows out hot air to warm his hands and melt the snow above and
the ice below. And an imagination that tells wonderful stories
is great, but when it makes Danny act out in school to cover up
his inability to read, that imagination just gets him sent to
the office.  Perhaps it is the audience that needs the
imagination.  This play calls us to have some vision,
compassion, and imagination in trying to alleviate the poverty
and homelessness in our midst.
The actors fielded questions following both performances of the play.  Perhaps the most striking comment they hear from school children is, "I'm Danny."  When the play is presented to the broader community, people say, "I'm one or two people away from Danny," or "one or two pay cheques away from Danny."
Faye Moffatt is a member of Trinity United Church, Capreol; Ian Sloan is minister of St. Luke's United Church, Minnow Lake and Trinity United Church in Garson; and Gillian Schell is a member of St. Peter's United Church, Sudbury.