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Jan Rothenburger, YSM Evergreen Centre, Toronto Christian homeless support

Jan Rothenburger: The People’s Pastor

In 1991, after recently coming to faith, Jan Rothenburger found herself at a unique church service at YSM’s Evergreen Centre. The church served as a safe space for community members to call ‘home’, especially those not comfortable in other faith communities. 

Jan attended Evergreen’s services weekly while connecting with street-involved youth and women, some of whom attended the church and other Evergreen programs. That began her 30-plus-year journey of loving and caring for community members often forgotten by our society, living on the fringes. 

Jan volunteered as part of Evergreen’s summer team. Then in 1996, she was hired as YSM’s church community outreach pastor, to support struggling community members. It was the beginning of Jan’s three-decades-long YSM ministry as a pastor, street ministry worker, prison chaplain and confidant for hundreds of youth and women. 

In her time with us, Jan supported many community members through the prison system, instilling in them a sense of hope and a vision for their lives beyond mere survival. She humbly viewed herself as being inherently the same as the neighbours she served, journeying alongside them as they overcame barriers. 

When YSM focused its mandate on ending chronic poverty in a generation, we needed a fresh approach to engaging adults living in poverty. Jan developed what was to become YSM’s Bridges program, offering care management and self-development courses to prepare community members for employment, and ultimately to better their lives. 

On December 31, 2022, Reverend Jan officially retired from her role as YSM Care Manager. We sincerely thank her for her gracious decades of service. To our great joy and delight, Jan will continue on as a volunteer Community Pastor Emeritus at our Church at the Mission, where she will work with the pastoral team to provide our community with the best possible long-term spiritual and practical care. 

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