The Scott Mission first came to my attention in the late 1990s when I worked in the Salvation Army’s public relations department in Toronto. At the time, I saw the Scott as one of the myriad of Christian social service ministries serving those in need in the city.
Reading Toronto-area freelance journalist Ben Volman’s new book, More Than Miracles: Elaine Zeidman Markovic and the Story of the Scott Mission, gave me a new appreciation for the Scott, its ministry and the people who have served there.
Volman, with the eye of a journalist and heart of a pastor (he’s also the Toronto director of Chosen People Ministries and the spiritual leader of Kehillat Eytz Chaim/Tree of Life Messianic Congregation) tells of the triumphs and trials of the Scott and those closest to it: the Zeidman family.
A challenge of those writing histories is the delicate balance between glorifying the subject or tearing it apart. Volman manages to balance hagiography with the reality of the Scott’s struggles (especially after the untimely death of Alex Zeidman, its second director.)
While other histories of the Scott have been written – a fact noted by Volman – More Than Miracles recounts its history through the eyes of Elaine Zeideman Markovic, one of the four children of mission founders Morris and Annie Zeidman.
Markovic, along with her brothers Alex and David (who both became directors) and sister Margaret, all contributed in some way to the ministry of the Scott. In her 50-plus years of working at the Scott, Markovic filled a variety of behind-the-scenes roles and Volman sensitively recounts her own struggles with her place in ministry and her ultimate resolution to serve God in whatever role He chose.
One of the strengths of More Than Miracles is Volman’s choices as a writer. As someone who has also written organizational histories, I know the challenge of choosing which document or interview to quote from and how much should be quoted. Volman as struck the right balance between narrating the story and choosing from the myriad of Scott Mission’s ephemera and interviews he’d held. Volman has an uncanny knack for knowing when to speak as the author and when to let a diary entry, letter or person speak.
This sensitivity has led to a well-written book that was a joy to read. Whether you are familiar with the Scott Mission, or just have a passing knowledge of the “Miracle on Spadina,” More Than Miracles should take a place on your to-read list.
For more information on More Than Miracles check http://castlequaybooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=101