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Ackerman’s Store was always the quintessential New England general store, a social center as well as a place where one could purchase almost anything from gas, clothes, food, ice cream, ammunition, animal feed, hardware, lawn and garden items. Ackerman’s store served as the Durham Center Post Office for nearly fifty years.  Austin Ackerman opened the store in 1927. The family business was passed down through the generations, with Ackerman's son, Austin Ackerman Jr., taking over in 1959 and Dick Ackerman taking over in 1992 when his father retired.

As a kid, we used to go there where a. pot-bellied stove held the center of the space and behind the counter was always an Ackerman. for could buy food (you could purchase anything from pepperoni sticks to ice cream), candy, tools, fertilizer, farming stuff, and local gossip. It was a great spot to park before heading down to the Fairgrounds for the Durham Fair and it was a place for gathering.  Ackerman’s was a social institution, a center for the community where people came for whatever they needed from community to information, to friendship to sustenance.

It was also a place where we put into practice what I call Optimizing for the Common Good. Every year in the early Spring a bunch of us young guys would get a call from Ace, (Austin Ackerman III) and he would simply say, “the lime is in.” What that meant is on that weekend, we’d all go down to the store and haul big 50lb bags of lime from pallets in the back storerooms where the truck offloaded them, brought them into the store and stacked them for customers to purchase.  It took most of a Saturday morning and after we’d eat pizza and ice cream provided by “Junie”, (Austin Ackerman II). This event was replicated throughout the year as the seasons changed and deliveries were made. For me, it epitomizes what I want to call Optimizing for the Common Good. 

You’ve heard me speak of the three cathedrals. The parish, the diocesan cathedral and the city’s cathedral.  I see the Cathedral for the city as that center of public space, that safe space where people come seeking refuge, seeking information, seeking a place to heal, to find sustenance, community or Jesus. It acts as an intermediary between society and people, provides spiritual education and is a center of peace in a world complicated by systemic crisis. It’s a safe space and home for the resolution of some of these issues. It is where we can Optimize for the Common Good. 

Over the past few years, I have seen how with our doors open on weekdays, our Cafe offering food and fellowship, our engagement with the regiments, and with other social institutions we are that safe space in the center where people gather. People of all faiths, creeds, ethnicity and national origin. Members of the BC Regiment, whether Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or no religion see this place as their home. People from CrossFit in Kitsilano, from the Vancouver Club, Uber Drivers from Surrey, Pipers from Burnaby, and refugees from Africa, South America and the Far East.  They come to our doors and they knock. They knock seeking solace, community, peace, sustenance, friendship, information, being, Jesus and all the other things present here. When they knock, we too have an opportunity to encounter the presence of Jesus in the stranger.