Congregations undoubtedly do amazing work. We have health services, food banks, children’s programming, leadership development, summer camps, long term care facilities, and programming to support every subsector of society with almost any challenge (not to mention supporting our communities with spiritual grounding, emotional support, and connection).
About five years ago, the people of Knox United Church in Kenora, Ontario, had a vision to hire second minister, with two main duties: to work with youth and young families in the church, and to build connections with the wider community. For the past 17 months, the Rev. Meg Illman-White has been doing just that, with encouraging results.
If you are part of a group working to improve the social good of your community — or if you have skills or experience that could help such a group grow and expand — the Social Mentor Network wants to hear from you.
Art has always played an important part in churches throughout the ages, ranging from simple sculptures to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The Rev. Jim Keenan of Bradford United Church in Bradford, Ontario, recognizes the important intersections between art and religion. “A healthy arts community is integral to the spiritual and overall health of the community and the overall well-being of its residents,” he says.
For one evening every month, Grace United Church in Hanover, Ontario, is filled with the sounds of group drumming. Leading the session is the Rev. Micol Cottrell, who has led similar groups at two other United Churches in the last five years.
For Cottrell, Drum Circle Worship is much more than just making music.
Everyone loves a carnival, especially if it is free.
That is exactly what North Bramalea United Church in Brampton, Ontario, has offered to the community every second Saturday in July for the last 16 years. On that day, the Lucas Holtom Carnival Day fills a city park behind the church, with area residents — approximately 5,000 this year — coming out to enjoy the event.
A United Church in Winnipeg has found a unique way to reach out to and engage the surrounding community: through art. For 11 weeks, from late February to mid-May, Crescent Fort Rouge United Church (CFRUC) held art-related activities at the church, complemented by a three-day art show in April.
If you want to see how The United Church of Canada is building bridges to specific groups in Canada, look no further than College Street United in Toronto. For the past 18 months, this downtown church has been home to Pontes de Graça, a lively ministry aimed at Portuguese speaking people in the city.
Attracting young families is a challenge many churches face, but Castlegar United Church in Castlegar, British Columbia, thinks it may have a solution.
Every fourth Sunday, families from the surrounding community are invited to take part in a Worship for the Child Within event. Rev. Greg Powell, minister for Castlegar United, says that Castlegar has tried to design a style of worship that is “engaging for young and old alike.”
On the surface, the British Columbia community of New Denver seems like an odd place to find a grassroots reinvention of church. Tucked away in the Kootenay region in the province’s southeast, 500 people live in the small village, where the pastoral charge has not had a minister in over 25 years. The village’s United Church was recently sold, and when meeting in the sister church down the road proved impractical, the small congregation began meeting in members’ homes.