Now, Parkdale United Church is full of people from all different races and backgrounds who serve homeless people food every Saturday and enjoys a bustling children's program.

When Rev. Anthony Bailey took over the congregation in 1999, it was a different story.

The dwindling church was attended mostly by older, richer, white people from the Civic Hospital neighbourhood to the south, and not many from the challenges of Hintonburg and Mechanicsville to the north.

"It was not just about ethnocultural or racial diversity," he said. "It was about economic and class diversity . . . 12 rooming houses within a close area to the church."

Upon his return from the crime-filled streets of Kingston, Jamaica, Bailey took it upon himself to bring the communities together.