Here are the many ways your Mission & Service donations are going to work:
Massey Centre, Toronto, Ontario, has been a place of refuge and encouragement for almost 120 years. It was originally housed in the Methodist parsonage and known as The Victor Home for Women. In 1947, the centre was renamed the Massey Centre Home for Unwed Mothers, and it is now known as Massey Centre for Women. While the original home is still part of the footprint, the centre has expanded to include pre-and post-natal housing, education programs, a daycare, and infant mental health programs.
Footprints 4 Autism,Pickering & Whitby, ON. Footprints strives to provide respite care to as many children with autism as possible. Having a child with autism can be one of the most stressful situations a parent faces. Both the child and parent must learn together how to identify, prepare for, and manage the variety of behaviours that make up the autism spectrum. These might include impaired cognition and communication, social deficits, frequent tantrums, and other challenging behaviours that often lead to physical and emotional exhaustion for all involved. Faced with such overwhelming stress and barriers, many parents of children with autism find themselves unable to cope. Respite care can help ease some of the burden on these families, ensuring that, for a few hours each month, they can enjoy a short but much-needed break from the 24/7 care these children require. The respite also allows parents to pay extra attention to their other children, spend some time together, run errands, or just have some down time.
St. Paul’s Family Resource Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia. We tend to think of food banks as something relatively new. This may be true in some places, but not in Halifax, where there is a long history of helping those who need support. For example, after the War of 1812, there were soup kitchens in downtown Halifax. Samuel Cunard (who founded the Cunard Steamship Company, at one time the largest steamship company in the world) worked at that soup kitchen. He and his wife, Susan, donated food and then served it to the hungry. This is a long way from modern food banks, although the need for food is still as great as it was back in the 19th century. The Family Resource Centre, which is an outreach ministry of St. Paul’s United Church in Spryfield, Nova Scotia, offers more services than a food bank: clients can sit at the Food Bank Café and have coffee and a snack while waiting to pick up their order, rather than waiting out in the cold or rain. The centre also offers a volunteer income tax service to those with limited income, and Legal Aid is often on hand to address concerns individuals may have.
Oak Table Community Ministry in Winnipeg, Manitoba – BEACH DAY As those staffing the camp did their due diligence in making sure they had phone numbers and names of next of kin or a friend who could be contacted in case of emergency, they quickly found out that many had no one they could name. No friend, no relative, no neighbour to call if something happened to them. It is hard to imagine that someone could be so isolated, so alone. When Oak Table guests are hospitalized, the ministry is their contact person. When someone goes in for surgery, often Oak Table is the name that goes down as the emergency contact. The ministry’s staff andvolunteers are the ones who miss them when they are not there. They are their family.
PALESTINE – Defence Refugee Camp for Children International. In Article 31 of the UN Convention, the Rights of the Child the right of the child to rest and leisure are defended, to engage in play and recreational activities, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. The refugee camp is less than one km in size and holds more than 5,500 Palestinian refugees. Just around the corner from the mural is a playing field covered by netting. The netting is to protect children from tear gas canisters, rubber bullet capsules, and other debris that Israeli Defence Force soldiers use during their weekly raids on the camp. Children have been reprimanded for playing a game similar to North American “Cowboys and Indians.” The game is called “Palestinians and Settlers.” The difference is that the game doesn’t end with capture; once captured, the “Palestinian” is punched and kicked by the “Settlers.” This is a disturbing normalization of the occupation. According to the Director of the Accountability, Programme of Defence for Children International, Palestine (DCI-P), 150 to 200 Palestinian children are arrested and persecuted in the Israeli military system each year. Each child is exposed to torture, solitary confinement, physical assault, and interrogation to ensure confession to a crime (whether committed or not). DCI-P reports information gathered from its legal team to UN committees and special rapporteurs.
River Bend Integrated Community Ministries supports programs of healing and reconciliation. The core of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is home to many Indigenous people. Each year, River Bend holds a program called the 10 x 10 project, an art project where people living in the core are invited to paint on a 10 x 10 canvas to be displayed in an art show to all the communities in Saskatoon. Minister and Coordinator Jane Jupe says she has grown so much in her interactions with artists. “I have come to realize how important it is in so many ways; it builds community between artists, and helps people heal.”
Embracing the Spirit, a Mission & Service program, demonstrates that there is an appetite across the church to experiment with new forms of worship and ministry. Embracing the Spirit is a Mission & Service program, learning network, and innovation fund. ‘What do art shows or cooking classes have to do with church?’ It’s about loving your neighbour and the neighbourhood. Changing lives for the better, whether economically, socially, environmentally, or through more traditional spiritual practices, is an act of love. It’s an expression of the abundant life that was Jesus’ purpose.” The Embracing the Spirit learning network consists of more than 300 people receiving guidance from more than 80 mentors. These mentors include retired professionals who are willing to lend their skills and expertise to help others.
Bloor Street United Church in Toronto Complete a Placement at this church and learn social justice in a congregational context. “Ministry is about relationships. It’s about collaborating with others and harnessing the creativity that God has gifted us, while letting it go and flow throughout the church. While at Bloor Street, share in the healing work of storytelling that is often involved in social justice work.
The Living Apology Project Our gifts for Mission & Service support the work of Iridesce: The Living Apology Project. This project was created to encourage storytelling around the 1988 decisions to welcome gay, lesbian and bisexual peopleinto full membership and ministry in the United Church—a welcome that was expanded to include people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in 2009.
Places for People at House of Lazarus, Dundas County is a new affordable housing project for the community. Its Green Food Box program is the largest of its kind in the area. The program provides people with staple and seasonal fruits and vegetables along with simple and nutritious recipes. The House of Lazarus team, which includes 18 employees, nine board members, and more than 100 volunteers, is the driving force behind it all.
National Council of Churches of Kenya The Council advises the agency of the needs in drought-stricken areas and empowers women. Kenya has a number of farms successful in conservation farming which uses mulch to keep the ground moist. These farms give families hope that they can feed their families regardless of weather & many women have taken over the farms from their husbands.
BRUNSWICK STREET MISSION, HALIFAX, NS Jennifer left home at age 16 and quit Grade 12 with only two months to go. But she enjoyed life, held a number of jobs, and had two long-term relationships. Turning 30 for Jennifer was a milestone, so she made a 10-year plan. First, she wanted to get her Grade 12, and she did at age 32. Then she wanted to become a continuing care assistant (CCA). Not in the plan—a single mom when Paxton was born in 2012. Jennifer says, “It was the happiest day of my life so far!” Jennifer knew she would end up on social assistance if she didn’t find a better way to support her son. She still wanted to take the CCA training, but searching for available help was a hard and discouraging process. Then she found Brunswick Street Mission, a Mission & Service–supported community ministry. Agar, the volunteer coordinator of the Benevolent Program there, helped Jennifer create a budget and identify ways around the many barriers.
Dalhousie University of NS, Multifaith Centre Free meals are offered, including vegetarian, halal, and kosher options. Students meet regularly and build trust in one another and the chaplains, share stories and opinions, including personal beliefs and spiritual perspectives.
First United Church Community Ministry, East Vancouver, BC.This community is the epicentre of the converging crises of mental health, addiction, extreme poverty, homelessness & marginalization. The people here literally have nowhere else to go—they may have been rejected by other shelters, mental health supports, hospitals, or their own families. They are among the most regulated and constricted members of our society, and yet as Executive Director Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne shares, “Every day at First United there has been a moment where I’m surprised by joy: Watching two participants in our weekly Spirit Circle move through hostility to forgiveness. “When we shift our view of the notorious Downtown Eastside from the negative to the positive, we receive the joy of seeing growth and community, not just poverty, addiction, and despair. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve this community, and I hope to be always surprised by joy in this place.”
Morogoro Women’s Training Centre, Dodoma, Tanzania This centre offers a variety of courses from legal advocacy to agriculture to maternal health. Their goal is to empower women to make a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. Our ongoing gifts enable core support for the Morogoro Women’s Training Centre.
Our Place Society, Victoria, BC Our Place serves Victoria’s people who are most vulnerable, those who are addicted and homeless, the working poor those who are mentally and physically challenged, and impoverished elderly people. They serve 1600 meals a day and provide hot showers, clothing, health care, and an overdose prevention site. It also cares for people’s spiritual needs. In 2017, Our Place hired a First Nations spiritual leader to better connect with Indigenous members. Healing circles, drumming, and and song help people feel calmer and lighter because they know they are cherished, cared for and prayed for in that moment.
Amity Foundation, Nanjing, China In China, the Amity Foundation offers programs for people with developmental disabilities—people like Zhou Jian, a 34-year-old baker who has been working at the Amity Bakery since it opened in 2007. As a child, Zhou Jian was placed in an institution where he stayed until 2004, when he was given the opportunity to live at Amity Foundation’s Home of Blessings for those who are developmentally challenged. When he arrived at the home at age 21, he did not understand the concept of words or numbers. Slowly, under the loving care of Amity teachers, he mastered these skills. Zhou Jian was then ready to take on another challenge by working in the bakery. He has grown in skill to become one of the main bakers. Zhou Jian is constantly learning new techniques, proudly mastering each new challenge. He displays so much pride in the mouth-watering baked goods he produces that he has become the face of the Amity Bakery. His smiling face can now be seen on billboards and posters around China!
L’Hopital Claire Heureuse, Haiti L’Hôpital Claire Heureuse in Dessalines, Haiti is a rural 43 bed hospital that serves an area of 425,000. The mission statement, “Evangelize, Teach and Heal”, takes a holistic approach to healing the mind, body and soul. Burt & Sandy (Locke) McDonnell serve at this nationally run hospital in the areas of construction, maintenance and administration, sharing God’s love in all they do. We will be collecting donations of sunglasses for the construction crew (from Princess Auto or Home Depot), cosmetic pouches, small samples of shampoo, conditioner soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, wash cloths for infants, and 2 small nap sacks. You can also donate through MSC Canada and support the ministry of “Burt & Sandy McDonnell” or to “Dessalines Haiti Medical Project” to support the hospital for equipment, construction, and benevolent needs. Visit https://msccanada.org/
Back Door Mission, Oshawa The Back Door Mission was established for the relief of poverty and social dislocation in the economic deprived and street population of Oshawa. They welcome donations of ready-to-eat snacks & food items (pudding, applesauce, fruit cups, granola bars, nuts, fruit roll-ups, Goldfish crackers) & personal toiletries. (www.backdoormission.ca).
Affirming Ministry Program, Canada The United Church partner Affirm United offers a process, the Affirming Ministry Program, to help all ministries welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Our gifts for Mission & Service support the Affirming process. Our planning and conversations are made possible by your support for Mission & Service. Camping experiences can offer friendship, faith, and community. But sometimes differences in what should be a fun experience can create barriers. Campers with diverse ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities can be pushed to the side, even unintentionally. This year, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the church’s 1988 decision to welcome LGBTQ+ people into full membership and ministry, all United Church outdoor and camping ministries were invited to consider becoming Affirming. In an exciting pilot project, three United Church camping ministries agreed to incorporate the Affirming Ministry Program. In future, we hope to hear more words like these from a camper at the United Church’s Camp Kidston in Nova Scotia: “….I felt truly safe and free to be who I am. I began to understand that I am part of creation, a reflection of the Divine—all of me—acceptable and loved.” We hope that our United Church Outdoor/Camping Ministries will publicly and intentionally embrace all differences. If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you! Please consider giving to Mission & Service a regular part of your life of faith.