Tasty sandwiches and warm socks aren't the only things handed out to people in need at the Monday morning drop-in run by the cathedral's outreach committee.
Archdeacon Pat Drummond always gives a blessing of praise and thanksgiving to start the morning's activities. At first, the clatter of dishes and chatter of voices would continue. But now everyone stops respectfully to listen to her.
Later, amid the hubbub of people in the great hall who are enjoying refreshments, live music and a selection of used clothing, she announces a Bible study will begin shortly in the nursery.
She first offered such a session in the autumn of 2015. Only one or two people took part at first, but now several usually attend weekly.
"Those who participate say they really enjoy it and would miss it if it didn't happen," Pat said.
Last year they read the Gospel of Mark, but now they are examining Genesis. On a recent Monday they read about the birth of Jacob's sons, the ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel.
"We always look at a bit of background for the story we are about to read," she explained. "We talked about the language spoken by the people of the day, since the names of Jacob's sons have meanings in Hebrew. We talked about the position of women in that society. Then we read the story in a modern translation such as the Message."
Some of the people in the group are regular churchgoers, some had a religious foundation in childhood, while others are curious seekers. Pat involves everyone in the discussions.
"We discuss things in our own lives which have impacted us and bear relation to the story," she said. "Today, for example, it was how many children were in our own families and our position in the family. We talk about issues in the story such as the relationship between Jacob's wives and the slaves who also bore his sons. And we discuss how we solve or have solved our own family issues."
We need to be where people's hopes and fears intersect with those of God ...
Bishop David Edwards has said that the church needs to look for new ways to share the presence of God in communities where it has traditionally been established.
"We need to be where people's hopes and fears intersect with those of God, and to provide ways in which people can connect with God when they need to," the bishop wrote in a recent column in the NB Anglican.
Charles Ferris from the cathedral regularly attends the Monday morning drop-in as a friendly visitor. He has found that many living in poverty have health or social problems, and they can either be extremely withdrawn or very eager to tell their troubles. He often joins Pat's Bible study.
"The quiet space and the learning opportunity Pat provides is like church for some of these people," Charles said. "They're searching for a sense of community and spiritual connection, and they find it here."
After the Bible passages have been covered, Pat always goes around the circle to see who would like prayer and for what purpose.
"I think they particularly enjoy finding out more about their comrades through our talks," she noted. "They appreciate the prayers for forthcoming doctor's appointments, surgeries, moves, etc. We pray and always finish with the Lord's Prayer."
The Bible study is not the only beyond-handouts activity the outreach committee has supported. Members have accompanied some Monday morning guests to court and visited others in the hospital. The pastoral care committee has also done the latter.
"We like to reach out compassionately to people where they are, which won't necessarily be in a pew in the cathedral on Sunday morning," outreach committee treasurer Doug Milander said. "The weekly Bible study Pat prepares and offers here is an important aspect of efforts to share God's love beyond the church walls. Her time is greatly appreciated by those who attend and by this committee."