A Winnipeg musician with a passion for faith and philanthropy is sharing his latest project.
Dr. Jonathon Wong is a physician with the Regional Health Authority Palliative Care Program, an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, and a musician. He uses his talents to raise funds for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and St. Mary's Road United Church's (SMRUC)v food bank. His lasted album, Connectivity, has raised over $12,600 so far.
Wong says the project did not being as a charity project but instead was created to help his church worship online during the pandemic.
"As one of the music directors for St. Mary's Road United Church, we were all scrambling to figure out what we were going to do."
For Wong, music brings the Christian community together.
"Worship services are really lacking without a strong musical component."
Following some prodding from SMRUC, Wong recorded classic worship songs for the use of his church.
Using a cello, an upright bass, and a piano, Wong recorded 20 tracks on his album. Taking an hour and a half to record tracks for Sunday worship, Wong liked what he recorded and decided he could do more with his music for the community.
He says the album was "completely by accident and dictated by circumstance."
Taking the original idea and broadening it, Wong dreamt of using the recordings to help his community.
"One morning I just woke up and it was like 'well. Let's raise money for the food bank," Wong says.
The project "ticked all the right boxes" for SMRUC's musical member.
"To take the religious view on it, we are loving the way Jesus taught us to love. We are literally feeding people, but also spiritually reaching out to them and showing them the love and warmth of Jesus Christ as well."
Also recording music from composer Ron Klusmeier, Like a River of Tears, Deep in Our Hearts, and Though Ancient Walls on the album, Wong's use of the Canadian's music follows Klusmeier's lead, as the composer's United Church hymns are often used to raise funds for food banks.
"Charity albums have kind of evolved to be my thing over the years and it is one of the ways that I give back to my local communities."
The musician says that food insecurity is a major problem, and often SMRUC's food bank runs out of food due to high demands. Citing recent economic troubles in Winnipeg, Wong says there is now a strong need for food.
Sharing his music with others, Connectivity is helping feed the souls and the bodies of Winnipeggers through funds raised. He says all funds raised from the album will go towards the church's food bank. Wong says his album can be purchased online through his website.