In the Kalpakkam area of Tamil Nadu province, India, the local fishing community is dealing with a very different threat than the one it faced with the 2005 tsunami. A nuclear power plant became a death trap during the tsunami, with several workers drowning within its walls. No one knows how many died for sure, as the government never released a number.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support food, health, and wellness programs at ministries like St. Paul’s Family Resource Centre in 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.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support displaced people in Canada. Dr. Kathy Yamashita reflects on what it means to be a Japanese Canadian in light of the Japanese Canadian internment camps during World War II, and the support of Mission & Service of The United Church of Canada that works with the small Japanese United Church to grow into the multicultural church it is today.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes about God empowering church leaders “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). What are the ways that a minister has helped this community of faith to equip the saints for ministry, or to build up the Body of Christ in this place?
Our gifts for Mission & Service offer hope for those taking chances on alternative forms of farming in areas of severe drought. One example is the work of the National Council of Churches of Kenya with the National Drought Management Authority.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support theological education in seven theological schools, including Emmanuel College in Toronto, Ontario.
Aside from The United Church of Canada ministry training degrees, Emmanuel College offers interfaith programs in Muslim studies and Buddhist studies. These programs have created a more enriched program of study and diversity in the student population. Here is the story of one of these students:
Our gifts for Mission & Service support work with parents and children on the autism spectrum, like Footprints 4 Autism. With programs located in Pickering and Whitby, Ontario, Footprints strives to provide respite care to as many as possible.
Our gifts for Mission & Service give children in war-torn countries a chance to be children in places like Palestine with the help of Defence for Children International. On a mural in Aida Refugee Camp inside Bethlehem are the words of Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The article states the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities, and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
It seems more important than ever for the Christian church to foster intentional ecumenical and interfaith partnerships. The Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) is a pan-African Christian organization that was started in 1959 to build good relations between Christians and Muslims. It brings together communities of faith, in spite of their differences, to work together for justice, peace, and reconciliation.
Millie lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Today she is thankful to have a home, health, and one year of sobriety. Two years ago, Millie was facing eviction and homelessness. Without Bissell Centre’s hot meals, Millie would have gone hungry, and without help from their caring staff, she would have ended up back on the streets.
Supervised ministry education is an intentional learning experience that enables people preparing for ministry to deepen their pastoral identity, reflect theologically, and enhance their ministry skills. Mission & Service supports supervised ministry education by providing a grant to a learning site, like a congregation, for an eight-month placement.
Kenji Marui travelled to Australia as part of the Moderator’s Dialogue on Reconciliation to consult and build a relationship with the Uniting Church in Australia, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, and Indigenous groups in Australia. He reflects on this experience:
Rob Dalgleish, Executive Director of EDGE, says the growth of 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.
In India, Mission & Service partner Human Rights and Advocacy Research Foundation works with fishing communities, urban poor, traditional farmers, prisoners, Dalits (people of low caste), and Adivasis (Indigenous people) in the continuing struggle for economic and social justice.
One of its programs helps children whose families cannot provide essential school supplies. In addition, it educates the children on their human rights. Here are two of the children who have benefitted from this program.
June 5, 2017 marked the 50th year of Israel’s military occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. More than two generations of Palestinians have known no other reality than Israeli military occupation. Staff in the United Church’s Church in Mission Unit recently visited Palestine-Israel, where they were hosted by Wi’am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center.
Globally, human trafficking is the third largest organized crime after drugs and the arms trade. Close to 80 percent of human trafficking across the world is related to sexual exploitation, but exploited labour, sale of human organs, and forced marriages are also linked to trafficking. In Asia, India is considered the hub of this crime. In India, the national government reports that a child goes missing every eight minutes.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support education centres like Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario that offer programs for children, youth, and adults that inspire and inform. The United Church of Canada Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre was the vision of Bev Oaten in the 1950s. The first programs began in the summer of 1952. Five Oaks has gone through many changes over its 67-year history.
We give thanks for over eight years of giving through the Gifts with Vision catalogue. Every gift is developed by one of our Mission & Service partners and each one truly makes a difference! As we look forward to the new Gifts with Vision catalogue, let us hear some of the amazing things that have been accomplished thanks to your giving through Gifts with Vision.
1JustCity at St. Matthews Maryland Community Ministry builds community well-being, works for justice, and nurtures hope in individuals and families in west central Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The program attempts to balance meeting basic needs, enabling personal transformation, and working for social change through a variety of initiatives. These include everything from offering an emergency food program for families, to small collaborative economic initiatives that help people learn employment skills.
Rhonda Johns, Program Coordinator of Nations Uniting on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation in Ohsweken, Ontario, engages with a lot of seniors, many of whom are residential school survivors, and with youth who don’t know who they are and where they belong. Observing this intergenerational dynamic, she realized that many on the reserve needed to experience healing. She asked herself what she could do.
From January 28 to February 10, 2018, a group of youth leaders travelled to Nepal to see Mission & Service ecumenical partner Canadian Foodgrains Bank at work. The Rev. Janet Jones was one of the United Church leaders on the trip. Here, she shares her reflection on the impact of support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank:
For more than two decades, food delivery tricycles supported by United Church Mission & Service partner, the Christian Centre for Reflection and Dialogue (CCRD), have carried meals to elderly and infirm residents in Cárdenas, Cuba. CCRD grows, prepares, and delivers food to more than 100 people every day.
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 people into 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.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support the work of LGBTQ Two-Spirit justice and global partnership. Here’s a story from the shores of Lake Couchiching, Ontario, on the territory of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.
In late 2017, about 40 LGBTQ people, Two-Spirit people, and straight and cisgender allies gathered from 11 countries to support one another and work toward the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in all parts of the world.
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!”
Migration touches all corners of the globe. Some people choose to move in search of jobs, opportunity, or education. Others are forced from their homes by conflict, poverty, inequality, and a lack of sustainable livelihoods. The United Nations reported 258 million migrants in 2017.
The safeguards and protections we afford refugees, migrants, and displaced peoples speak to the foundation of human rights. The strangers among us are God’s people in need of our hospitality and mercy as much as our advocacy for the justice they seek and human rights they deserve.
In these times of change, people are asking, “What’s happening with the Mission & Service of the church?”
Our congregational and our Mission & Service revenues are both declining quite slowly at this point—two to three percent a year—so we have time to make changes, and we have time to do things differently.
The good news is that together we are making important changes, and we are taking the time to do things differently.
Our gifts for Mission & Service offer students an opportunity to gather for a meal in a multi-faith, safe space at places like the large Halifax campus of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. If you visit Dalhousie’s Multifaith Centre on Monday night, you will be greeted with a free hot meal provided by United Church chaplain the Rev. Robyn Brown-Hewitt, and so much more!
We stand on the foundation of a great cloud of witnesses—faithful men and women who answered the call of ministry in an overseas position to preach, teach, and heal in places around the world. We are thankful for the ways they showed us what it means to love your neighbour around the world in loving partnership.
The air was filled with excitement at Oak Table Community Ministry in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as guests who signed up for Beach Day confirmed the details. “What time should I be here?” “How many are going?” “What time does the bus leave?” “What are we having for lunch?” were common questions. A few guests were anxious, wanting to know how their ID would be safe if they went in the water, or how they would get breakfast that morning since they usually go to a soup kitchen.
Our gifts for Mission & Service offer people of The United Church of Canada an opportunity to visit our global partners through the People in Partnership program. An opportunity to “come and see” our Mission & Service global partners can deepen our understanding of what it means to be in partnership.
During a pilgrimage to Colombia for justice and peace organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in February 2018, Christians witnessed the need for peace and justice in the midst of the troubled peace process.
The Longhouse Council of Native Ministry started 30 years ago as an outreach to Indigenous people in Vancouver, British Columbia. Established without a building, today its home is a church in the low-income Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood, and its outreach extends to all those seeking a caring community.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support programs at places like Naomi Centre and Emmanuel House, both part of Stella’s Circle in St. John’s, Newfoundland. For Canada’s 150th celebration in 2017, Stella’s Circle organized a concert. Stella’s Circle Sings for Canada featured the premiere of a song written by the Inclusion Choir with Amelia Curran, and a screening of a film by Roger Maunder about the process. The Inclusion Choir includes many living on the edges of Newfoundland society, blended with staff from Stella’s Circle.
Paul said, “I’m going to die on February 23rd at 10:30 a.m.”
Paul has cancer. He was given three months to live but he has already surpassed that timeline by a month. In the meantime, his body continues to waste away and he is in constant pain. Here is a story from a United Church hospital chaplain about Paul. “I have been visiting Paul for several weeks in the palliative care unit of the hospital. He has called me in on this particular day to tell me that he has requested medical assistance in dying, and the date and time for the procedure are set.
In a nurturing atmosphere of home and family, Our Place serves Victoria, British Columbia’s most vulnerable: people who are addicted and homeless, the working poor, those who are mentally and physically challenged, and impoverished elderly people. This remarkable inner-city centre relates to the people who use it as family members, not clients, with an emphasis on creating a compassionate, caring community.
A row of old houses on Rue MacKay in Montreal, Quebec, is part of student life at Concordia University. One is home to the Concordia Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre. The Rev. Ellie Hummel is the United Church chaplain on staff at the centre, and she works with chaplains from the Baha’i, Muslim, Sikh, Pagan, Buddhist, and Jewish communities as well as various Christian denominations.
Summer can be a wonderful time of year filled with holidays and meals on the patio, but please remember that summer is no vacation for those living in poverty.
Children who rely on hot breakfast and lunch programs through schools are faced with two months of poor nutrition. Families with tight budgets are forced to find money for summer child care, or often take unpaid time off from work to stay home to look after little ones. This leaves precious little left over in terms of money and energy.
Gender inequality has a direct impact on what food is available to families in some African countries. Women often have limited access to land to grow food for their families, and credit to purchase seeds. Women are also frequently vulnerable to moneylenders.
Our gifts for Mission & Service support ministries to those living on the margins, like First United Church Community Ministry in East Vancouver, British Columbia. The community has become the epicentre of the converging crises of mental health, addiction, extreme poverty, homelessness, and marginalization. The people who gather here for help are people who literally have nowhere else to go—they may have been rejected by other shelters, mental health supports, hospitals, or their own families.
The vision statement of United Church Women (UCW) includes a call to continuous prayer and learning, leading to action—and United Church Women across the church have faithfully answered that call for over 55 years!
Our gifts for Mission & Service support ministries like Our Place Society in Victoria, British Columbia, which offers programs for those on the margins that make everyone feel like family.
One of the proudest moments of the Victoria Pride Parade was when a young pre-op transgender woman said that she never felt brave enough to walk in the parade until the day she marched with the staff and family of Our Place.
Thirteen Youth Forum pilgrims were on a journey during the summer of 2018. After work and orientation in their home Conferences, they travelled east to Newfoundland. With their two young adult leaders and a global partner, these dedicated young people visited each Conference of the United Church. They stopped in Oshawa, Ontario, in July to participate as commissioners at the 43rd General Council and then continued their pilgrimage, ending in British Columbia in mid-August.
Many ministries these days are wondering what they can do to serve young adults. In 2015, a small team of youth and young adult leaders in Southern Ontario met at Five Oaks Education and Retreat Centre to envision a resource that could be used by the church to accompany young adults as they discerned questions of vocation and meaningful work.