Minutes for Mission 2012

 

Legend

These symbols indicate Minutes that are

       a global story

±       a Canadian story

#       for multiple readers

½      for a young reader

é       available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”

>       matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”

 

Contents

January 1—Water for Gold ●.. 3

January 8—Children’s Rights ●, é. 4

January 15—Come to the Table ±, >. 5

January 22—Hope for HIV/AIDS Patients ●, >. 6

January 29—Changing Lives ±. 7

February 5—The Journeys of Black Peoples ±, é, >. 8

February 12—M&S Goes to University ±. 9

February 19—Silent Worship ±, >. 10

February 26—Thankful Living, Joyful Giving ±, #. 11

March 4—A Hand-Up ●.. 12

March 11—A Friend in Anxious Moments ±. 13

March 18—Caring for Children in the Philippines ●.. 14

March 25—Just Solutions ±, #, é. 15

April 1—A Safe Place ±. 16

April 8—Shout of Hope ●.. 17

April 15—Tax Time ±, é. 18

April 22—Investing in Farming ●, >. 19

April 29—Advocacy ±. 20

May 6—Getting Healthy ±. 21

May 13—Caring for Mothers ●, é. 22

May 20—M&S Kids ±, ½... 23

May 27—Walking the Path Together ●, ±. 24

June 3—Into the Wilderness ±, é. 25

June 10—The Other Half ±. 26

June 17—Getting to Know One Another ±. 27

June 24—All God’s Children ±, >. 28

July 1—Learning about Neighbours ±, é. 29

July 8—Ecumenical Church Loan Fund ●, >. 30

July 15—Get Cooking ±. 31

July 22—Food for Life ●.. 32

July 29—With Schools, You Build Communities ●, é, >. 33

August 5—Emergency! ●, ±, >. 34

August 12—Toonies for M&S ±. 35

August 19—Global Personnel ●, ±, >. 36

August 26—From Nowhere to Nowhere ●.. 37

September 2—A Church with a Boat ●, >. 38

September 9—Life Lessons ±, >. 39

September 16—Together in Life and Ministry ±, é. 40

September 23—Options ±. 41

September 30—Speaking Out Together ±. 42

October 7—Thanksgiving ±. 43

October 14—Food for the Month ±. 44

October 21—Mission and Service Angels ±, é. 45

October 28—Los Quinchos ●, ½, >. 46

November 4—Silent Violence ●.. 47

November 11—Speaking with One Voice ●.. 48

November 18—Supporting Children and Families ±, é. 49

November 25—Water for Life ●, ±, #. 50

December 2—Hope ±. 51

December 9—Peace in the Family ±. 52

December 16—The Wheels on the Bus! ±, é. 53

December 23—At Home ±, >. 54

December 24/25—We Have Seen His Star ●, ±. 55

December 30—Creative Generosity ±. 56

 


January 1—Water for Gold

 

We are called to seek justice and to resist evil, and a key to doing so is awareness. Mission and Service partners and global personnel share stories from communities around the world and call us to action. Global personnel Lynn Macaulay writes from El Salvador.

 

Miguel works near me at the Santa Marta Economic and Social Development Organization. His brother was one of four people tortured and murdered because they campaigned against a Canadian company mining in Miguel’s home town. El Salvador has significant water shortage—much of the water is highly contaminated and many people have no access to drinkable water. The Canadian mine would use in one day the amount of water a household uses in 20 years. Claims that the returned water will be clean have proven false in other countries.

 

“People need water, not gold,” says Miguel. He passionately explains the grave concerns echoed by many civil organizations, churches, and the scientific community. They have had some success but a moratorium on mining has resulted in a $100-million lawsuit from the Canadian mining company through its American subsidiary.

 

The United Church asked for a complete investigation into the assassinations and death threats and for increased protection for those who continue to be threatened. We seek the best way to influence change and consider carefully our church investment policies.

Through Mission and Service, we become aware of injustice, and together we speak out against it. Please give generously to the Mission and Service of the church.

 

 


January 8—Children’s Rights

 

Here’s a story about a Mission and Service–supported program for children in Kenya.

 

Forget soccer, drama, or music—it’s children’s rights that are important to kids in Kenya. There are about 200 Children’s Rights Clubs in schools throughout the country focusing on understanding and promoting justice for kids. The clubs are also active in food drives, hospital and orphanage visits, and environmental clean-up days.

 

The Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR) is a Mission and Service partner that represents 12 organizations working directly with children across Kenya mainly through their Children’s Rights Clubs. The clubs are making important strides in guaranteeing rights for children at a political and local level, as well as with the kids themselves.

 

Friendship Gavula Primary School is in the hills an hour outside Kisumu, Kenya. The teachers find that club members are more disciplined and get better grades than other students. Members are also raising funds to help fellow students buy uniforms or pay fees. At nearby Kisumu Girls’ High School, club members address the challenges they face as African students: HIV/AIDS, poverty, nutrition, child labour, abductions, drug abuse, and social stigma.

 

Stella is studying business administration in Nairobi, Emmanuel is studying law, and David is a pastor in a small church in Nairobi. They are all club graduates who maintain ties to the rights movement. The clubs have left an indelible impression on them, and they have become young adults who are already leaders for a better community.

 

Your Mission and Service gift supports children’s rights in Kenya and paves the way for change for kids in the future.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


January 15—Come to the Table

 

Mental illness and homelessness are serious problems that the United Church addresses through Mission and Service. Here is one example from Manitoba.

 

Ed had been homeless for about seven years. His life as a husband, father, and truck driver fell apart because of depression, alcohol, childhood trauma, and a marriage breakup.

 

In the midst of this turmoil, Ed discovered Oak Table Community Ministry in Augustine United Church, Winnipeg, and started to visit regularly. He became a “street dad” to the kids who showed up homeless, looking out for them, and pointing them toward supports like Oak Table.

 

Oak Table referred Ed to a research project focused on mental health issues and homelessness. After completing the program, Ed moved into his own, furnished apartment and is looking into becoming an Oak Table volunteer. Ed is absolutely thrilled, transformed, and grateful.

 

Oak Table serves between 40 and 60 people daily, many of whom are homeless. Some struggle with mental illness; some are kids with addictions fleeing abusive or unhealthy homes. Oak Table offers food, pastoral care, telephone and internet access, and special activities and events. With a local health unit, the ministry also offers workshops on nutrition and healthy living.

 

The need is great. Oak Table is the only community ministry in its part of Winnipeg. Oak Table counts on Mission and Service to sustain its ministry of hospitality. Your gifts helped Ed regain control of his life, and your continuing gifts to Mission and Service will help many others.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]

 


January 22—Hope for HIV/AIDS Patients

 

The United Church has a strong history in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. Here’s a story about the ongoing work of a Mission and Service partner in Tanzania.

 

The Christian Council of Tanzania promotes the spiritual unity of churches in Tanzania and speaks for member churches on the spiritual, moral, and socioeconomic welfare of Tanzanians.

 

HIV/AIDS strikes hardest at the poorest and most marginalized. For those living on the edge of survival, food is a particular challenge because malnutrition limits the effectiveness of antiretroviral drug therapies. As a result, people in poverty become more seriously ill or die, leaving families at even greater risk.

 

Through its HIV/AIDS department, the Christian Council of Tanzania has developed income generating programs such as small-scale pig and poultry farming. Such programs, relatively easy to establish and sustain, have very positive results. In the short term, family nutrition is immediately improved. In the long term, there is an opportunity to increase family income.

 

The coordinator of the program reports, “We have witnessed a positive transformation from hopeless men and women to happy families with success and ambitions.”

Your gift to Mission and Service helps people facing hardship and disease. Through Mission and Service we help families and communities in Tanzania find health and hope.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


January 29—Changing Lives

 

Mission and Service supports an award-winning program in Nova Scotia that helps women. Here’s a story about its work.

 

Lisa has turned to Coverdale several times in her life, first as a young incest survivor and again as the mother of a troubled son.

 

“At Coverdale, I received emotional and mental support,” says Lisa, “and I made some lifelong friends.”

 

Lisa has serious issues that make her life an ongoing struggle. She has worked with many of Coverdale’s programs, and today she feels she has her life back. She has her own home, and has learned many life and employment skills. “Coverdale has been there for me and still is.”

 

Coverdale staff and volunteers provide direct services to women of all ages who appear before the courts, as well as counselling for the issues that have brought them to this point in their lives. Crime prevention, risk reduction, and empowerment programs help women and girls make positive changes in their lives.

 

Coverdale has been nationally and internationally recognized for its long-standing and exceptional service to female offenders through leadership, support, counselling, and advocacy.

 

Your Mission and Service gifts are life-giving and life-changing. Please give generously.

 


February 5—The Journeys of Black Peoples

 

February is Black History Month. Here is one of the ways Mission and Service supports anti-racism work in the church.

 

In 2005, The United Church of Canada held a national consultation called The Journeys of Black Peoples in The United Church of Canada. The Journeys of Black Peoples network came into being out of that consultation because of members’ concerns and the desire to live out the church’s anti-racism policy. That policy states we will participate fully, organize for diversity, act justly, and speak to the world.

 

The Journeys network continues the consultation’s work, aiming to achieve specific goals, including having national gatherings in 2007 and 2010. The Journeys of Black Peoples addresses the unique concerns of Black peoples in the United Church, dealing with inclusion, and advocating for justice to enable Black peoples to make more meaningful contributions to the whole church.

 

People who attended the 2010 national gathering reflected deeply on what it means to be African-born, Caribbean-born, and Canadian-born, to share a common racial identity, common cultural characteristics, and yet multiple identities. The group also considered relationships between Black and Aboriginal communities. They affirmed that Journeys is indeed intercultural because of the multiple cultures represented.

 

This network of Black peoples can alleviate some of the isolation and marginalization that many Black peoples express and will help us become a racially just church. The church’s policy and the network gatherings and programs are all supported by Mission and Service. Together, we can fulfill our vision for the church.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


February 12—M&S Goes to University

 

The United Church reaches out to all ages through Mission and Service. Here is a story from Kevin J. Bourque, Protestant Ecumenical Chaplain at the University of New Brunswick.

 

What an exciting year of campus ministry here at the University of New Brunswick! In response to the ever-challenging question of how to make this ministry relevant for university students, we decided to move in a radical new direction.

 

For many, a campus ministry office can be a daunting place to visit, so we took the chaplain to someplace more comfortable—the university pub. “Thursdays on Tap!” was a pleasant success as students from across the campus became regular participants.

We also responded to students’ high levels of stress by offering the “Student Exam-time Stress Buster Social.” Phew, that’s a mouthful! In the middle of exams, we offered a timeout with free food, conversation with the chaplain, and a chance to take a break from the stress of studying. It was a huge success because it gave us an excellent opportunity to meet hundreds of students, learn about their experiences, and talk with them about campus ministry! Really exciting!

 

The weekly gathering and exam-time social were only two aspects of a Christian ministry that is visible, compassionate, and present. In the coming years, we will continue to provide diverse and imaginative ways of drawing students to campus ministry and ultimately to God!

 

This ministry continues to thrive thanks to United Church Mission and Service. We are abundantly grateful that you support student ministry with your Mission and Service gifts!

 


February 19—Silent Worship

 

The United Church celebrates and supports diversity. Here’s how Mission and Service supports a ministry of personal growth and outreach to the Deaf community.

 

Those of us who can hear would be able to follow the Sunday morning worship at Quinte Deaf Fellowship (QDF) since services follow a format similar to those we regularly attend. Most striking for the hearing would be the absence of music and the use of American Sign Language. The congregation joins in worship as the leader signs the songs. Sermons are videotaped at QDF and kept in the church library for people to take home. Drama is a very effective teaching method, and everyone can get involved in practices, props, and acting.

 

Quinte Deaf Fellowship began in 2006 and has moved into facilities in Belleville, Ontario. Part-time pastor Helen Bickle, who was born Deaf and is therefore considered culturally Deaf, says, “We are still small in number and our offerings do not meet the need. The lack of funds could limit our ability to further reach out to the Deaf Community. QDF is grateful for the financial support of the Mission and Service of The United Church of Canada.”

 

The mission of Quinte Deaf Fellowship is to grow in relationship to Christ and to one another and to tell the good news to the Deaf community. Through Sunday morning worship services, weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings, leadership training, and pastoral counselling, each participant has witnessed tremendous growth.

 

Your gifts to Mission and Service help bring worship and unity to the Christian Deaf community.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


February 26—Thankful Living, Joyful Giving

 

One: The Margate Pastoral Charge, Prince Edward Island, shares its story about giving to Mission and Service.

 

Church member Donna Cobb returned home from the annual meeting of Maritime Conference with a beautiful handmade quilt with the Mission and Service logo surrounded by a sea of squares in the M&S rainbow colours. The quilt had graced the meeting space in Sackville and been auctioned off as a fund-raiser for Mission and Service.

 

Two: The quilt gave Donna an idea. At worship on the first Sunday in Lent, members of Margate Pastoral Charge found the quilt hanging on the wall but covered in dark fabric divided into blocks, each with a dollar figure. If people wanted to see what was underneath, they had to pay! The hope was to have the whole quilt uncovered by Easter Sunday.

 

One: A large decorated can received donations, and a thermometer on the wall measured weekly progress. The Sunday school children brought gifts each week. The youth raised $300 with a bake sale and challenged the Official Board to match it. Inspired by the children and youth, adults donated generously. Each week there was anticipation as money was counted, the step ladder brought out, and blocks uncovered.

Two: By Palm Sunday the waiting was over, and all blocks were unveiled. The congregation enjoyed the beautiful gift throughout the season of Easter and celebrated the $2,300 joyfully forwarded to our United Church Mission and Service.

 

Both: How will we celebrate Mission and Service this Lent and Easter?

 


March 4—A Hand-Up

 

Here’s your Mission and Service gift at work in Kenya.

 

The food smells good at Lucy Nanjiru’s “hotel,” really a take-away and cafe. Started with a loan of $1,000 that’s been repaid, Lucy’s “hotel” now employs two others and sells more than 23 kg (50 lbs.) of grilled meat each day.

 

Down in the market, Joyce sells used clothes—clothes that won’t sell at thrift or second-hand stores in Canada and are sold to her “sight unseen.” Joyce almost always makes a profit, though sometimes it’s slim. She can’t afford a real kiosk, so she rents a tarpaulin on the ground. Yet even with slim profits, Joyce paid back her loan with interest, so the fund can grow and help others.

 

Lucy and Joyce are just two women in their micro-finance collective, which administers loans to help support diverse businesses—potatoes, eggs, used car parts, fish, cooked food, second-hand clothes, and even hairdressing.

 

The women support their families, often employing others, and even extending charity. Their generosity and spirit are compelling; their collaboration overcomes the difficulties of gangs, tribal fights, and the destruction of a decade of violence. Lives are transformed by what many North Americans would spend on theatre tickets or dinner out.

 

Joyce noted, “When we have the good fortune to be helped by The United Church of Canada, then we can give a hand-up to others, so they can have a better life, too.”

 

This collective is possible because of Mission and Service partner the National Council of Churches of Kenya. Your Mission and Service gift gives a hand-up to hundreds of women like Lucy and Joyce.

 


March 11—A Friend in Anxious Moments

 

We are called to love and serve others. With Mission and Service, we do just that. This is a short story about how your M&S gifts care for the sick.

 

They say that in the second half of life people begin to look inward, not outward, for meaning.

 

The Rev. John Taylor finds that the number of people requesting spiritual support is increasing. He meets them in his work as Coordinating Chaplain for the Rouge Valley Health System, in Toronto, Ontario. The Rouge Valley Health System is one of the most diverse multi-faith, multicultural health care facilities in Canada with over 500 patient beds.

 

When older people are hospitalized, and particularly during end-stage illness, they ponder the meaning of their life and of dying, and they seek peace, observes Taylor.

 

In the midst of anxious moments, the hospital chaplain is a companion for both patients and their families, offering emotional and spiritual support. The chaplain provides a listening ear and an understanding and accepting presence—a friend in anxious moments.

 

Mission and Service provides the support needed for two pastoral care assistants at the Rouge Valley Chaplaincy. This ministry is a reality thanks to the generosity of Mission and Service donors. Thanks to your gift, this ministry is a blessing for those in hospital.

 


March 18—Caring for Children in the Philippines

 

Through Mission and Service, the United Church supports programs around the world that care for children and protect their rights. Here is an M&S story from one of our partners in Asia.

 

The Barangay Roxas District in Manila is home to many poor and vulnerable families. It is also home to our Mission and Service partner the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and its Faith Bible Congregation. As outreach ministry, the Faith Bible Congregation works with children and their families to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support where it is needed most.

 

The congregation offers a preschool program, a summer music and theatre arts program for older children, and a one-week vacation Bible school. The entire community joins in a Festival Day of Celebration showcasing the children’s achievements through dramatic and musical presentations, food, and community worship.

 

Faith Bible Congregation also supports families through a family feeding program, a medical and dental mission offering basic care, and a Christmas program sharing worship and gifts of food and essentials. This is in addition to ongoing pastoral care, support, and worship within the community.

 

Your Mission and Service gifts support many partners like the United Church of Christ in the Philippines that are ministering to children and their families.

 


March 25—Just Solutions

 

One: Here’s a story about Mission and Service help for newcomers trying to make their way in Canada.

 

Some of the work supported by Mission and Service helps newcomers to Canada make a better life for themselves. One partner is the Montreal City Mission, which runs a program called Just Solutions.

 

Two: Some people come to Canada to escape dangerous situations. One woman said, “As soon as we came to Just Solutions, we felt that God was with us this time. It was the first time in eight years! Thank you Just Solutions for everything!”

 

Three: Another client at Just Solutions wrote this note: “Just Solutions and the Montreal City Mission were always there for me. They were patient, kind, and understanding and tried to help in whatever way they could. I really appreciated their help.”

 

One: The Just Solutions staff are always inspired by the perseverance and determination of their clients as they tackle the many obstacles along the way. Just Solutions gives information and assistance to help newcomers turn the safe haven Canada has offered them into a permanent home.

 

Two and Three: A program like Just Solutions is a blessing for people trying to find a safe and better life for their families. Please give to Mission and Service to continue supporting this good work.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


April 1—A Safe Place

 

Across the country, Mission and Service supports those who are living in poverty and who face a multitude of challenges in their lives.

 

“Can I stay here? I don’t want to go home.” Eleven-year old C. had fled a chaotic home where addictions sometimes dominated the lives of her mother and stepfather. She needed to save herself, so she sought refuge in the Southdale Chaplaincy in London, Ontario.

 

Working in a large public housing complex, Southdale Chaplaincy helps connect people with resources and acts as an advocate for Southdale families. The chaplaincy runs afterschool programs that may include a hot meal, a free store, and Internet access for job searches and homework. The chaplaincy established a community garden and a dental clinic, and advocated for the re-establishment of a family health clinic. Southdale Chaplaincy has an emergency food cupboard and babyfood bank and also sponsors kids at camp.

 

But sometimes even all that isn’t enough. Sometimes the chaplaincy becomes a safe haven as it did for C. She knew that at the chaplaincy she would receive care, love, support, and, most of all, safety. She knew this, because she had been participating in the chaplaincy’s programs for two years. Now in the care of Children’s Aid, C. is doing very well.

 

The financial support of Mission and Service helps make all this work possible. Thank you for your continued generosity.

 


April 8—Shout of Hope

 

This is a story about a collective in Nairobi, Kenya, supported by Mission and Service with the Organization of African Instituted Churches. The collective’s goal is to bring people together to work for a better life and for peace.

 

Welcome to the Kiambio-Deuteronomy collective, a group of micro-entrepreneurs with businesses such as restaurants, chemists, bicycle repair, and kiosks for selling mandazi (fried bread), fish, used clothing, fruit, and vegetables.

 

The collective’s main work is the administration of micro loans and mutual support for its members. When inflation threatened their livelihood, members started to purchase supplies such as charcoal in bulk. Because water was expensive and inaccessible for some businesses and many homes, they pitched in to get a water spigot installed, and now provide water to members and the public.

 

Members are advocating for a new school so the local kids won’t have to walk miles to the nearest one. In the meantime, they’ve set up a childcare for two- to six-year-olds, so mothers can get to their jobs.

 

Not far from the members’ shops is a low mud and corrugated-metal building with a bright-blue front and bold signage: “The Great Glory Cathedral: All Are Welcome!” Its very name and colour are a shout of hope and optimism amid the grey sheet-metal and muddy-brown streets surrounding it.

 

Kiambio-Deuteronomy, a Mission and Service–supported collective, is itself a shout of hope and optimism in one of Africa’s largest slums. Please make a generous gift to Mission and Service to keep that hope alive.

 


April 15—Tax Time

 

You might be surprised by what you make happen when you give a gift to Mission and Service. Here’s an example of M&S in action.

 

It’s that time of year again—gathering receipts, filing your tax form, writing the cheque, or hoping for the refund! Not filing an income tax return can have serious implications for people. For some, the challenges of filing can be harder than you can imagine.

 

Those who are mentally or physically ill or those who are deeply addicted find filing a tax return almost impossible. Others with active psychosis and those who are illiterate, lack records, or have periods of homelessness struggle greatly with the process. Yet not doing so might mean being deprived of income assistance.

 

Brunswick Street Mission in Nova Scotia is able to offer an income tax return service with a qualified volunteer for those who live in poverty or on the streets. In 2009, Brunswick Street Mission helped 200 clients file over 408 tax returns. One client had over 10 years to claim and not one document!

 

Yes, living out the call of Jesus Christ can involve filing tax returns!

 

We support Brunswick Street Mission through gifts to Mission and Service. Please make a gift to Mission and Service to support Brunswick Street Mission and other Canadian outreach programs that offer a ministry of care.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


April 22—Investing in Farming

 

These days many of us are investing in seeds and plants, expecting to see great results over the coming months. Mission and Service is investing in agriculture in a bigger way. Here’s a story about conservation farming in Zimbabwe.

 

Christian Care, a Mission and Service partner in Zimbabwe, is part of an exciting project helping farmers produce more maize on less land and also work independently of global farm corporations. All that’s needed is mulch and a hoe.

 

Farmers in Zimbabwe have faced seven droughts in eight years. Their soil is less viable, and they have become dependent on chemicals and unreliable hybrid seed on the bad advice of commercial seed corporations. As a result, up to 80 percent of households have needed food aid donations in recent years to survive.

 

The Christian Care conservation farming program has significantly improved the situation for over 500 families by training farmers and organizing farm exchange visits and community seed banks. The results have been extraordinary. The farmers produced ten times as much, even in drought conditions, and were able to save and share huge amounts of seed. The techniques are simple: create an organic layer of mulch over all the ground; fertilize with manure; and prepare the fields well during the dry season for planting. Another partner supported by United Church congregations and Mission and Service, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, collaborated with Christian Care in this project.

 

Your gifts to Mission and Service are supporting conservation farming in Zimbabwe. Together, we can focus on people’s right to food.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


April 29—Advocacy

 

The United Church of Canada has a long history of active participation in the public arena in Canada. Through Mission and Service, we continue to speak on issues affecting Canadians.

 

Through the temperance movement of the late 1800s to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s to the current day, our church lives out our faith in the world.

 

The United Church prays, speaks, and acts for a moral, sustainable economy and a peaceful world. At each triennial General Council, church members consider the issues of the day and form the policies that guide ongoing action and witness.

 

As people of faith we have a deep commitment to justice and peace that calls us to speak out about the burning issues of today, adding our voice to Mission and Service ecumenical partners—groups and causes we support. We have a deep commitment to speak for vulnerable communities and people living at the edges of society wherever they may be in the world. We count on our Mission and Service global partners to share their lived experience in local communities, and we are informed by the wisdom of our Mission and Service partners around the world.

 

Advocacy is a way to publicly and prophetically witness to our belief in the reconciling love of God for all creation found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service supports the United Church in being a voice for justice and peace.

 


May 6—Getting Healthy

 

Mission and Service is the way the United Church loves and serves others. Here is one story about how we are improving health for Canadians living in poverty, thanks to the gifts you make to M&S.

 

Chalmers Community Services Centre is part of the emergency food network in Guelph, Ontario. At two outlets, one can obtain clothing and household items, refreshments, and a caring community.

 

Chalmers is unique in its approach to food services. First, guests choose what they want to fill their supply box. Chalmers thinks that people should be able to choose their food and meet dietary restrictions.

 

Second, Chalmers made a conscious decision to improve the quality and nutritional value of its food by lowering salt content, monitoring fats and sugars, and most importantly, providing fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

The centre has also developed community gardens on the property of Three Willows United Church and plans to have collective kitchens where individuals cook together for their families. By sharing in the purchases, people can also take advantage of bulk buying, and they can store food in the kitchens’ freezers, too.

 

Chalmers contributes to people’s health and well-being in other ways. For instance, four times a year the centre holds dental days when every guest gets a toothbrush and toothpaste. At Christmas, gift bags are distributed with dental supplies and other personal care items.

 

Chalmers Community Services Centre is supported by the Mission and Service of the United Church. Your generous gifts are needed to continue this and other food programs in Canada.

 


May 13—Caring for Mothers

 

Here is a Mission and Service story from our partner the Christian Council of Tanzania, which offers programs that address rights and concerns of women, as well as women’s health.

 

Maternal health is a terrible problem in Africa. About 1,500 women on the continent die every day in pregnancy or during or after childbirth.

 

Mission and Service partner the Christian Council of Tanzania operates the Morogoro Women’s Training Centre. In an effort to improve maternal health, they are working with the Tanzanian government to develop a program to train and equip 250 community-based maternal health care workers each year for the next three years. The workers will care for women from remote communities in Tanzania and will act as first-response community health care workers.

 

The Christian Council addresses other women’s concerns as well at the Morogoro Women’s Training Centre. Residential courses support women in leadership roles within their communities. These courses focus on practical skills immediately useful in women’s daily lives. Looking at both short- and long-term skill development, the centre offers training in home-based businesses, such as tailoring, or longer-term programs such as computer skills or business management.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service cares for new mothers and mothers-to-be in Tanzania. Your Mission and Service gifts help women improve their skills to care for their communities.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


May 20—M&S Kids

 

Mission and Service stories are filled with the exciting work that we do together in the United Church. This Sunday school teacher has a story about her Mission and Service kids.

 

Ms. McLuskey is the Sunday school superintendent at St. Paul United Church in Westville, Nova Scotia. Every Sunday the 35 children in the Sunday school hear the Minute for Mission, and they decided that they could do something as a Sunday school to help raise money for Mission and Service work.

 

“We started our project after Christmas with a notice in our church bulletin that the children were raising money for M&S and that for every dollar they raised they would get an angel on the wall in their classroom,” described Ms. McLuskey.

 

“The senior class made the angels, but they soon couldn’t keep up. They made special $50 angels for some of the classrooms because they had collected so much money. One student even brought in $73 on her own!

 

“The adults wanted to help the kids and gave the children envelopes of money and even socks full of change that they had been saving. We collected money until Easter Sunday and that day we gave Mission and Service a total of $470.78! That was not even including the regular gifts from the congregation and Sunday school. We were amazed and proud at how well we did.”

 

Congratulations to St. Paul’s Sunday school for their Mission and Service fundraising. Even the youngest can make a difference, and when we give to Mission and Service together we make the biggest difference in the world.

 


May 27—Walking the Path Together

 

Where in the world is M&S making a difference? Here’s a story about our Mission and Service work in Africa.

 

“During difficult times, the Église du Christ au Congo and The United Church of Canada have walked along the path together, a sign of solidarity of the children of God,” says the Rev. Nzeba Kalombo Berthe.

 

Mama Nzeba, as she is called, was on a Face to Face visit to Lindsay Presbytery in Ontario. She coordinates her church’s work for women and children affected by the continuing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Women and children suffer violence and sexual assaults that can leave them traumatized and cast out of their families. Église du Christ au Congo creates employment and microcredit systems for women and encourages women’s leadership throughout the church. They educate children to understand and support gender equality.

 

Mama Nzeba brought a powerful message to the church and to political leaders. She discussed small arms and global debt; she called for churches to be more actively engaged with the Canadian government in speaking out against the pillage and polluting of mining companies.

 

Your gifts to Mission and Service support our strong partnership with the Église du Christ au Congo, and you support women and children in this war-torn country. You enable mutual sharing such as this visit by Mama Nzeba.

 

With Mission and Service, we are walking the path together. Please make a generous gift.

 


June 3—Into the Wilderness

 

We support struggling church congregations with Mission and Service, keeping a church presence where it is strongly needed. This Mission and Service story is from Fort Nelson, mile 300 on the Alaska Highway, a place surrounded by trees, bears, and stars.

 

Hillcrest United Church in Fort Nelson is a mission church kept alive—and kicking—for the past five decades through determination, strength, and pioneering spirit. Hillcrest is a shared Anglican-United sanctuary, and it is supported by a Mission and Service grant.

 

Fort Nelson supplies the oil and gas that drives much of North America’s desired needs. The minister and congregation of Hillcrest know that Mission and Service dollars are also a resource, just like the trees, the water, the oil, and the people’s spirits. They want you to know that they appreciate the support of Mission and Service as they tenaciously hold on to what’s deeply special about the United Church.

 

The newly settled minister from the Prairies sent you this message:

As I look around, I am proud that this is where The United Church of Canada chooses to continue, striving in a secular, deeply materialistic world to live out who it is: joyful, challenged, justice-based, and deeply incarnational. Thank you.

 

Your Mission and Service gifts help keep God’s word alive in areas of the country where the church is needed. Your M&S gifts are making a difference in Fort Nelson.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


June 10—The Other Half

 

The Rev. Wendy MacLean shares a Mission and Service Minute today about an experience she had while visiting another congregation.

 

While visiting a small country church, I was listening to the Minute for Mission when something yellow caught my eye. Tucked into the shelf with the Bible and an extra hymnbook, was a small pile of envelopes. Actually, they were only half envelopes. One half had been used for offering. What was left was the half of the envelope designated for Mission and Service.

 

Sometimes when I have encouraged giving to Mission and Service, I have heard the comment, “Charity begins at home.” My question is, “Should it stay at home?” On the contrary, the future of our local churches depends on the breadth of our vision.

 

Jesus calls his disciples out into the world to share the good news. The more generous we are in the world, the more our local church is blessed by the abundant gifts of the great family of God. Our neighbours both far and wide are included in the gifts we bring, and we become rich in ways we cannot imagine.

 

My home church encourages 50-50 giving. Half of what we give helps to support our local church. The other half supports the work of the church across Canada and around the world through our Mission and Service. With M&S we participate in the work of the Spirit in ways beyond the strength and resources of our own congregation.

 

I put my Mission and Service offering in one of those yellow envelopes. Thanks to whoever left them, others will feel the blessing.

 


June 17—Getting to Know One Another

 

In 2000, then-Moderator the Right Rev. Bill Phipps said that the work of justice and right relationships with Aboriginal people would be our church’s great work for the coming decades. Here is an account of one program that we support through Mission and Service.

 

Knowing each other and building trusting relationships are at the heart of living justly in peace together. Tatamagouche Centre is a United Church education centre in Nova Scotia. The Peace and Friendship Project there offers opportunities to build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

 

The Peace and Friendship Project develops cross-cultural programs about treaties, legal issues, Aboriginal culture, peace-building, language, and spirituality. An Aboriginal participant noted, “When I went to Guatemala, it was the first time I felt at home, because being indigenous meant being in the majority. At the Tatamagouche Centre was the first time I felt at home in my own country.”

 

One opportunity in the project is a four-day Peace and Friendship Gathering that explores leadership and relationship-building to strengthen peace and justice. One United Church participant remarked, “For me, it is a really hopeful moment to be together with First Nations neighbours in peace and friendship. It encourages me to see the possibility of what can be.”

 

Your Mission and Service contributions open up opportunities that make a real difference to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Please continue to support the Mission and Service of The United Church of Canada.

 


June 24—All God’s Children

 

Interculturalism is part of our Mission and Service in the United Church. We celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day, June 27.

 

The United Church is committed to being an intercultural rather than multicultural church. Multiculturalism may be a celebration of fun, food, and festivals, while interculturalism is a reciprocal sharing of racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic gifts.

 

Mission and Service creates opportunities for the church to celebrate and grow in its journey toward becoming an intercultural church. Since 1993, Sounding the Bamboo events have created a safe space for diverse racial-ethnic minority women and Aboriginal women in the United Church to gather and connect. Racial justice workshops are offered to ministers in the church, face to face as well as online.

 

Mission and Service supports The United Church of Canada’s major conference on intercultural ministries. Behold! is always an exciting event with intercultural worship and workshops, keynote speakers, and many ideas for ministry.

 

As we focus this week on our intercultural church, consider these words from a Behold worship service. BEHOLD: be compassionate, examine assumptions, harbour honesty with yourself and others, open both hearts and minds, listen deeply, and delight in God’s presence!

 

Behold, we are all God’s children. Please support an intercultural church with a gift to Mission and Service.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


July 1—Learning about Neighbours

 

The Rev. Ellie Hummel is the chaplain at Concordia University in Montreal. She shares this story about how Mission and Service helps students explore spirituality as part of their university experience.

 

What do you know about Zoroastrianism?

 

The group of students and staff from Concordia University who were invited to a Zoroastrian ceremony last winter knew very little. We followed, with interest and a sense of awe, the colourful ceremony, the prayers and words in a language foreign to us. We thought of our own spiritual traditions and the stories of our faith. Afterward, we were able to ask questions and learn more, and then we celebrated with a feast of laughter, good food, and friendships renewed and formed.

 

As we left, we marvelled that, as much as this was a new experience, we also saw something very familiar: hospitality and welcome, the celebration of sacred stories, and the joy of gathering in community.

 

We have attended other sacred ceremonies: a Quaker worship, a Jewish community centre, a labyrinth, an orthodox church. Every time, we discover something about our neighbours in this great city and in the world, and we learn about ourselves and our own spiritual path.

 

Sacred Site Visits is one of the programs offered by Concordia Multi-faith Chaplaincy that helps students explore ethics, values, faith, and spirituality. Your donations to Mission and Service ensure that this program, and similar ones at universities across Canada, will remain strong and life-giving.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


July 8—Ecumenical Church Loan Fund

 

The United Church supports programs to help people help themselves. Here’s a story of how Mission and Service assists people with their finances.

 

Bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, online banking: most of us use financial services on a regular basis. Yet, an independent research centre* reports that an estimated 2.7 billion people lack access to basic financial services. Without credit or savings, they have little hope of improving their living conditions.

 

Microfinance is one way to support those living in poverty, and it helps families and communities build better lives. Sometimes, even a small loan can help people create their own business, send their children to school, buy medicine, purchase nutritious food, or fix a leaky roof.

 

The Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF) in India gave just such a loan to Ms. Selvi. With it, she purchased a loom to make saris and increased her family income. With ECLOF training, she improved her skills as a business woman. She reports, “I can now handle my own finances independently.”

 

In 2009, Ms. Selvi was one of 10,650 women working with ECLOF India, which is supported by Mission and Service. Together, we use micro-finance as a tool to relieve poverty and restore human dignity. Working with partners in 21 countries across three continents, your Mission and Service gift helps people build healthy families and communities.

 

*Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), “New Indicators of Financial Access,” 2009, www.cgap.org

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


July 15—Get Cooking

 

Our church feeds the hungry and nourishes the soul across Canada through Mission and Service. When you make a gift to M&S you tie on an apron, come into the kitchen, and feed the hungry at Brunswick Street Mission in Nova Scotia.

 

Grocery list for the 18,850 hot breakfasts Brunswick Street Mission cooked in 2009:

10,000 eggs

2,600 loaves of bread

15,000 L of coffee and tea

 

Liam is one of the kitchen staff who gets up early to help cook the breakfasts six days a week. He enjoys cooking, but even more he respects the clients of Brunswick who appreciate his efforts and enjoy a good meal. They take time to say thank you; it means a lot to them and a lot to Liam.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service puts you in the kitchen at Brunswick Street Mission and the many other kitchens like it that we support across Canada. Your gift is a hearty breakfast, a hot cup of coffee, a good start to the day, a lifesaver for many. So, “thank you” from all those who enjoyed a good meal today from you!

 

The organizations that you support with your Mission and Service gift provide services for people who are homeless and vulnerable. Please make a special gift to Mission and Service today to continue feeding God’s children.

 


July 22—Food for Life

 

More and more, the rights of small-scale farmers and farm dwellers are being violated and undermined in South Africa. Your Mission and Service gift supports an organization that works for justice and equal rights in rural South Africa.

 

People should be able to produce or get healthy food and help determine agricultural policies. Yet that is not the case in South Africa. The export-driven model of agriculture there encourages using agro-chemicals, genetically modified plants, and fuels that negatively affect health and the environment. Farm dwellers face evictions or dispossession, violence, human rights abuses, and rural displacement. They are among the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society and face myriad challenges.

 

Mission and Service supports the Surplus People Project (SPP), which works with the rural poor to fight poverty and improve livelihoods. A key to this goal is access to and control of land, water, and seed, as well as access to local markets. SPP also works with farmers to promote ecological agriculture to minimize farming’s effect on the environment and to maximize the use of available and renewable resources.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service supports planning, research, and lobbying; raises awareness through education; and helps South African men and women in rural areas to improve their quality of life.

 

Have you made a Mission and Service gift lately?


July 29—With Schools, You Build Communities

 

Mission and Service supports partners in Haiti providing education.

 

In Haiti, the state is largely absent from education and health care. Our Mission and Service partners are stepping in to provide services.

 

After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January 2010, education became a top priority for local church leaders. The Methodist Church of Haiti runs primary and secondary schools, as well as health clinics. The Methodist Church is rebuilding nine community-based schools and has launched a scholarship fund for postsecondary students with support from Mission and Service.

 

The Karl Lévêque Cultural Institute is another Mission and Service partner in Haiti organizing, training, and supporting grassroots networks to build an economy where employment, housing, education, literacy, and health care are available to all. In the wake of the earthquake, the Institute focused attention on rebuilding rural education. It is working in four communities to rebuild schools, support salaries for teachers, and pay for ongoing costs and supplies.

 

Make a gift to Mission and Service to continue supporting education for children in Haiti.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


August 5—Emergency!

 

When there is a disaster in the world, the United Church is able to quickly contact Mission and Service partners to learn the needs of the community. Through M&S, we can respond immediately without waiting for donations to arrive.

 

Our hearts ache when we witness the devastation of a humanitarian crisis—disaster triggered by climate, political instability, war, or violence.

 

How does the United Church respond when disasters happen? Through Mission and Service global partners working in affected communities who are able to coordinate a response that reaches the grassroots. We also respond through the ACT Alliance that brings together churches and agencies from around the world in response to crisis.

 

The United Church of Canada nurtures long-term partnerships which mean that we are present before, during, and after crisis. Through Mission and Service partnerships, the United Church is made aware of, and responds to, many situations that don’t make TV or newspaper headlines. Thanks to Mission and Service, the United Church is able to commit to partners for the long—and often challenging—tasks of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service strengthens the United Church response to humanitarian crises around the world.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


August 12—Toonies for M&S

 

United Church congregations prayerfully set annual goals for Mission and Service because they know that the work of the church around the world relies on faithful regular gifts. Sometimes a little “fun-raising” can raise both spirits and money. An M&S Enthusiast from Woodlawn United Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, shares a “fun-raising” story with you.

 

Our congregation had not met its Mission and Service goal for several years. To change this pattern, we came up with a project that was simple and easy to carry out.

 

Would you believe that there are still photo centres that develop film? A local centre was glad to save empty film canisters for our project. We decorated the canisters with Mission and Service logos and inserted a label marked with name, address, and offering envelope number for folks to fill out and stick on the canister before turning it in.

 

On a Sunday in late October, folks distributed the empty Mission and Service film canisters with instructions to collect as many toonies as possible for three weeks. About 180 people picked up a canister, and on the appointed day, volunteers carried forward the full canisters to be offered with praise and thanks to God with the regular offering.

Five or six enthusiastic people accomplished the counting in hardly any time at all. The congregation had fun taking part in the project, and over $2,600 was raised in extra gifts for Mission and Service. Yes, indeed, we did meet our goal for 2010.

 


August 19—Global Personnel

 

The United Church of Canada joins with others around the world
in the struggle for justice, peace, and care of creation. You may
not realize that one way the church does that is by sending and receiving people.

 

Mission and Service global partners ask the United Church to send personnel for many reasons. The request may be for a particular skill, such as theological education. It may be providing a Christian presence, such as through the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. Or, it might be a desire to deepen a partner relationship with the United Church. Requests might be for a few weeks—or several years. Whatever the length or nature of the request, The United Church of Canada continues its historic tradition of sending people to support God’s mission in the world.

 

In turn, the United Church may ask Mission and Service partners to send personnel to us. It may be a short-term request for a global partner to live and worship with a community in Canada, exploring issues of faith and justice from a different perspective. Other times, it may be a longer term placement in Canada that deepens our church’s understanding of global mission.

 

Your gift to Mission and Service helps the church to send and receive mission personnel in the spirit of global partnership.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


August 26—From Nowhere to Nowhere

 

Your Mission and Service gifts raise local awareness of human trafficking in India and save those at risk.

 

Trafficking is a word used for a contemporary form of slavery. Human trafficking violates basic rights and unfortunately is growing nationally, regionally, and internationally. Political instability in many parts of the world makes the problem worse, and vulnerable communities are at greater risk, especially women and children.

 

The Church of North India is a Mission and Service partner that uses several approaches to combat the buying and selling of human beings. Church members have created and maintain safe houses for adolescent girls called Balika Sanghas. The church also runs popular education programs to raise local awareness of human trafficking issues. Members visit villages and offer training programs for alternate livelihoods. They work with community leaders and nongovernmental organizations to identify prevention strategies.

 

At a global consultation on human trafficking in India, all the delegates unanimously agreed to stand together in opposition to this crime and to declare that trafficking should occur “From Nowhere to Nowhere.”

 

With your Mission and Service gift, we also stand in solidarity against this violation of women and children. Your generosity is needed.

 


September 2—A Church with a Boat

 

The Moravian Church of Nicaragua is a Mission and Service–supported partner. It has established schools, hospitals, and a development agency. Here is a story about how our M&S support is used in a unique way.

 

The Moravian Church of Nicaragua is Central America’s largest Protestant church. Most of its members live in small communities scattered along rivers and the rugged Atlantic coast, and most struggle with poverty—the regional unemployment rate is 80 percent.

The local congregations of the Moravian Church offer worship and meet pastoral needs through trained clergy and specialized ministries. But they are also invested in stimulating healthy local economies.

 

Church members know how hard it is to raise crops for a family with enough extra to sell to make a living. In Nicaragua, transportation is also a serious challenge and expense for farmers living along the coast with few, if any, roads. Boats are often small dugouts that make transport difficult, especially when farmers are concerned about getting the best quantity and quality of crops to market. Likewise, lack of reliable transportation makes it extremely difficult for the church’s development agency to transport portable saw mills and well-drilling equipment to communities in need.

 

The Moravian Church is planning to do the only logical thing—buy a large boat with an outboard motor to resolve these transportation issues.

 

Your Mission and Service gifts help partners find creative solutions to local problems. Please give generously.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


September 9—Life Lessons

 

Mission and Service fosters ministry for all ages, including university students who may be seeking spirituality and missing close family support. Mission and Service chaplaincies include McMaster Campus Ministries Council in Hamilton, Ontario.

 

“Students are keen to try to understand and act on their faith in a world where there are many inequalities,” says the Rev. Carol Wood, McMaster University’s Ecumenical Chaplain. “We regularly share a meal together in a small group where they are nurtured and encouraged to ask questions and to share experiences.”

 

The social justice group meets to discuss food security, wages, and homelessness. In 2010, they coordinated a music night to assist a local food bank and youth shelter. Some students performed in the concert, while others baked for the refreshment table. About 70 kg (150 lbs.) of food was collected for the shelter, and $100 donated to the food bank.

 

When the group later learned that the youth centre needed youth-appropriate clothes, they organized another music night to collect clothing. This event coincided with news about the tsunami in Japan, so “Change for Japan” donation cans were added to the evening, and $351 was donated for Japan.

 

The McMaster Campus Ministries Council has been supported by Mission and Service for 40 years. Mission and Service funding ensures that the chaplain is present to provide pastoral care for individual students and to help group members relate their faith to the world.

 

Your Mission and Service gift helps young adults across the country continue their faith journey.

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


September 16—Together in Life and Ministry

 

The United Church celebrates diversity in the church and in the community. Your gift to Mission and Service supports programs and partners that honour the strengths, assets, and riches of the community.

 

The Jane Finch Community Ministry is in the public housing community of Firgrove, serving the Jane Finch neighbourhood in Toronto. Despite issues of poverty, the community is blessed with the culture and diversity of 110 nationalities in which 70 languages and dialects are spoken.

 

Here’s one example of how this ministry recognizes and responds to the area’s diversity. When a young man was stabbed to death in Firgrove, it sent shock waves through the community. With resident leaders and other organizations, the ministry held two talking circles to bring healing. A First Nations youth from Firgrove smudged the circle to facilitate the grieving process and to help others learn from this tragedy.

 

Jane Finch Community Ministry works in partnership with several networks, providing food days, income tax advice, a learning centre, school supplies, scholarships, and microcredit loans.

 

Funding from Mission and Service contributes to the minister’s salary, administration, and program budgets. With Mission and Service support, Jane Finch Community Ministry honours the diversity of the neighbourhood and stands in solidarity with its constituents.

 

Please make a generous gift to Mission and Service to help programs like Jane Finch Community Ministry.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


September 23—Options

 

Today we hear a story about how through its Mission and Service the United Church helps Canadians who are in trouble.

 

Many of the most hurtful things in our communities are cyclical. Typically, the bully has been bullied, the abuser has been abused, the attacker has been attacked, the one who takes from others has had much taken away. Now imagine throwing all the bullies, abusers, attackers, and thieves together in a confined space. That’s called prison.

Considering that violence and abuse beget violence and abuse, it is not hard to imagine that prison life often intensifies issues rather than addressing them. Some people in our prisons want out of this cycle of pain and self-destruction, but that is hard to do in such surroundings.

 

At Springhill Federal Institution in Springhill, Nova Scotia, options are available. Inside the prison gates, Concilio Prison Ministry operates the St. Luke’s Renewal Centre, a yellow bungalow with a kitchen/dining area, a living room, a meditation room, and five small bedrooms. Here, an inmate seeking to explore and resolve issues can take a half- or full-day retreat and attend workshops on healthy spirituality and relationships. Here, an inmate can find a listening ear and a welcoming heart, a safe place to open up and be vulnerable. Here, an inmate can experience a home-like atmosphere where they are a person rather than just another inmate.

 

St. Luke’s Renewal Centre is an outreach program supported by Mission and Service. Please make a generous Mission and Service gift to keep this vibrant ministry going.

 


September 30—Speaking Out Together

 

Mission and Service supports KAIROS, a coalition of justice groups in Canada. Together, we learn about international ethical issues and call attention to injustice. Here’s one example.

 

Canadian global mining was on the minds of 100 church leaders from around the world. They were at a 2011 ecological and social justice meeting in Toronto sponsored by KAIROS.

 

“It was the world church coming to talk with Canadian churches about the behaviour of some of our resource companies,” said Jim Hodgson, South America/Caribbean program coordinator for the United Church.

 

Canada has led the world in mining exploration spending since 2004, and the outlook for mining in Canada remains strong. However, some Canadian mining companies are involved in human rights violations and environmental abuse. These companies do not respect international law regarding the right of indigenous communities to free, prior, and informed consent.

 

The United Church has a serious role to play in calling these companies to account on matters of human rights and environmental protection. Your gift to Mission and Service ensures we have that voice.

 

The KAIROS meeting was just one way that the United Church seeks to address issues related to justice and environmental issues. Working with groups like KAIROS, we can explore concerns and learn from and support each other. With Mission and Service, we build strong relationships and we speak together on rights for all creation.

 


October 7—Thanksgiving

 

Many people in the world give thanks for the support of The United Church of Canada, while others are grateful for their new life unaware of United Church help. That’s because through Mission and Service, we work behind the scenes with agencies across Canada.

 

Michael got another chance at life when he was 55. It happened at the Claremont House program run by Wesley Urban Ministries in Hamilton, Ontario, which receives funding from Mission and Service.

 

Michael comes from a large, close family and has a good education, as well as success in several career paths. He is also an alcoholic. Michael was a patient of many centres and programs over the years with no long-term success. He consistently relapsed, lost his job, money, and home, and stayed at Wesley Centre for extended periods.

 

In 2010, a social worker recommended the Claremont House program. This special care unit supports people with chronic alcoholism who have had little success with traditional addiction programs. Three weeks after arriving at Claremont House, Michael contacted his son and slowly reconnected with other family members as he learned to moderate his alcohol intake. Today, Michael abstains from alcohol and works to understand his issues and to communicate more openly.

 

Thanks to Claremont House and Michael’s determination, he is rebuilding his life. He knows that it is a long journey, but he feels he is now on the right track and very lucky to have been given another chance.

 

Your generous gift to Mission and Service will allow us to continue funding life-giving programs like this one. Happy Thanksgiving!


October 14—Food for the Month

 

Our church addresses the issues of hunger and food security in many ways through Mission and Service. Here is a story about how Mission and Service helps feed the hungry in Canada.

 

For many, balancing the costs of rent, food, electricity, and other bills against the size of the paycheque is impossible. Costs far outweigh revenue, and something has to give. Often that means not enough food for the month. According to Food Banks Canada’s own tracking, nearly 900,000 people, many of them children, visited food banks across Canada in March 2010 alone.*

 

In Ontario, the Minden Food Bank provides emergency food to families unable to purchase adequate food from their income. From a church basement 20 years ago, the food bank has grown into its own rented premises with 30 volunteers and a board of directors.

 

Since 2007, the Minden Food Bank has received an annual grant from Mission and Service that helps serve 75 to 80 families each month, providing each family with an average of seven bags of groceries. Minden Food Bank also contributes to Community Care Meals on Wheels for seniors and the Food for Kids program at local schools. At Christmas, they provide hampers of food and gifts to over 150 families.

 

When you give a gift to Mission and Service, you help feed Canadians in need. With Minden Food Bank, you buy formula for babies, food for 200 children every month, and put groceries in the cupboard for struggling senior citizens.

 

Please give generously to Mission and Service.

 

*Food Banks Canada, “Hunger Facts 2010,” www.cafb-acba.ca/factsandstats.htm


October 21—Mission and Service Angels

 

Mission and Service is the work we do as The United Church of Canada around the world and in Canada, and it is funded by voluntary gifts. Keeping the stories alive and the giving regular are duties of a group of volunteers called the M&S Enthusiasts. Here are two Enthusiast stories from Montreal and Ottawa Conference.

 

Cheerleaders, angels, spokespersons—they go by many names but the contribution is invaluable. Sometimes called “Mission and Service Angels” because of their devotion to Mission and Service, they feel passionate about bringing Mission and Service to life in their congregations.

 

At Riceville-Pendleton Pastoral Charge, Seaway Valley Presbytery, for example, it’s all in the family. For 50 years, Mary Clemens was the faithful Mission and Service spokesperson and now her daughter Karen Hovey has the job. Mary introduced many fundraising ideas over the years, some of which are still on the go. She also suggested that the loose offering on the first Sunday of the month go to Mission and Service. This pastoral charge is fortunate to have dedicated M&S Enthusiasts.

 

Charles Curtis was chair of the Valois United Church Mission and Service Committee in Montreal Presbytery for 33 years and is still an active committee member. Charles helped involve the Sunday school in sharing stories of Mission and Service. The Juniors read a Minute for Mission in worship once a month, and each year they undertake a project to raise money for Mission and Service.

 

How are you supporting the Mission and Service of the United Church, with your talent, time, treasure, or passion?

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


October 28—Los Quinchos*

 

Many children don’t get an education. Sometimes, it’s because they are poor, and without schooling they may continue to live in poverty. Mission and Service partners are working to make sure kids learn.

 

In Managua, Nicaragua, many children support their families by working as street sellers. Sometimes, they also live on the streets. Sometimes, they are helping to earn money because their parents can’t find enough work to look after their family. Our Mission and Service partner, Los Quinchos School, gives an education and job training to 900 such children—children who would otherwise not be able to go to school.

 

Los Quinchos is aware that working children and their families have different problems and needs than regular families. The school has flexible schedules so that kids can work and still go to class. Teachers make special efforts to involve moms and dads in their children’s education. The school offers a meal program because the breakfast or lunch served there is the only meal many of the children will get all day.

 

The Los Quinchos program focuses on basic education and also teaches attitudes and behaviour. The staff try to teach kids to be responsible, to be generous, and to respect rules and other people. They also teach moms and dads how to be better parents and show them how important it is for their children to stay at school.

 

Your Mission and Service gift makes it possible for street kids in Nicaragua to get an education; it makes it possible for them to get a better life.

 

Please give generously to Mission and Service so we can keep helping this important school.

 

*Pronounced “lohs keen chose”

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


November 4—Silent Violence

 

Through Mission and Service, we become aware of global conditions and can better speak out against injustice. With Mission and Service support, Sherry Ann Chapman worked with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel and shares her perspective.

 

The new Jerusalem light rail train (JLRT) has a sleek design and is part of a supposed improved infrastructure in East Jerusalem, but it is a bizarre sight amid the crumbling environment there. Despite paying into the same tax system as people from West Jerusalem, residents of East Jerusalem are watching their area fall apart.

East Jerusalem is occupied, yet through the JLRT, illegal settlers are being given easy access to work, school, and other activities. By creating this people-mover system, the Israeli government is proceeding to annex East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international humanitarian law. To build the JLRT tracks, the Israeli government expropriated Palestinian private property, roadways, and parking spaces, and shoppers are now less able to support local businesses. Only three of the 23 stops on this first JLRT line are in Palestinian areas; the rest serve West Jerusalem and illegal settlements.

Violence is not only about war; it can include control of roads, destruction of infrastructure, and economic exclusion. After three months of riding the bus in East Jerusalem, I see that this is mind-bendingly subtle, silent violence.

 

Through Mission and Service and global personnel such as Sherry Ann, we can hear about these silent forms of violence as much as we hear news headlines. With increased awareness, we are better able to contribute to a just peace as global citizens.

 


November 11—Speaking with One Voice

 

Marking the end of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence, over 1,000 people attended a convocation in 2011 in Jamaica. Thanks to Mission and Service, the United Church was there.

 

Glory to God and peace on Earth form a common dream and prayer in Christian liturgy. “Yet in addition to dreams and declarations of peace,” says the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, “we must do everything in our power to promote justice and peaceful cooperation among peoples and nations.”

 

Peace builders from around the world travelled to Jamaica to declare peace as a gift and responsibility. The conference celebrated achievements of the decade and encouraged individuals and churches to renew their commitment to nonviolence, peace, and justice.

 

Conference participants were unified in the hope that war should become illegal and peace central in all religious traditions. “Our journey must continue,” said the conference moderator. “We shall hold each other accountable. The church is either accepting the call to just peace or it is not the church at all.”

 

A delegation from The United Church of Canada attended the convocation and shared stories of peace building in Canada and contributed to the development of the Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace.

 

Through Mission and Service, we work with others to bring peace to the world. Your gifts to Mission and Service make it possible for the United Church to participate in ecumenical and interfaith events as partners of the church in the world.

 


November 18—Supporting Children and Families

 

The United Church supports the rights of children around the world through Mission and Service. Here’s a story of Mission and Service work for children in Canada.

 

They say that it takes a village to raise a child. That village becomes especially vital if you are a single parent, living in poverty, with no family support, no access to child care, and suffering from your own health or emotional problems.

 

Mission and Service allows us to be part of the village. Centenary-Queen Square Care Centres in Greater Saint John, New Brunswick, use Mission and Service funds to operate a child development centre for socially and economically disadvantaged children.

 

Families living in poverty cannot always provide proper nutrition so that their children develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Centenary-Queen Square provides a well-balanced breakfast, hot lunch, and afternoon snacks, and its child development program has a positive and lasting effect on these young lives.

 

How important are your Mission and Service gifts for this work? The need is great: statistics say that despite great improvements one in eight children in New Brunswick still live in poverty. Children make up more than a third of those served by food banks.* Mission and Service helps cover the difference between the fees for a child development program and the provincial daycare subsidy. Your gifts to Mission and Service make sure that kids in Saint John have a chance at a better life.

 

*Human Development Council and Campaign 2000, “Child Poverty Report Card: New Brunswick, November 2010,” www.campaign2000.ca

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


November 25—Water for Life

 

(You need 4 readers, 4 glasses, and a medium jug of water. At the start of the skit, without speaking, One begins filling glasses but runs out of water.)

 

One:      Oh, great! Now what?

Two:     It’s not really a big deal. The tap is just down the hall! Not everyone in the world is so lucky. Did you know that almost 900 million people don’t have enough clean water daily and that 80 percent of all sickness is because of unclean water?

One:      Yikes! Are we doing anything in church about world water problems?

Three:  Mission and Service partners work on safe water all over the place! One M&S partner, the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, builds cisterns to collect water for Palestinian communities and trains people how to look after them.

Four:     Another Mission and Service partner, People’s Action Forum, works with villagers in Zambia to plan how to find and deliver safe, clean water closer to homes.

Two:     A Mission and Service partner in Nicaragua, the Moravian Church, has a water purification plant in the city of Bilwi.

Three:  Our Mission and Service partner, The Ecumenical Water Network, brings together churches to work on water problems in places like Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Four:     Mining companies have really messed up water sources in places in El Salvador, the Philippines, and even in Canada. Mission and Service partners try to prevent it.

One:      Thank goodness, we are trying to make sure people stop dying for a glass of water. Let’s go fill up the jug, and (looks at the congregation) next time you have a glass of water, you might think about what a good job your Mission and Service gifts are doing addressing the world’s water problems.

All:        Cheers!

 


December 2—Hope

 

On this first Sunday of Advent, it is fitting hear a Mission and Service story about hope through The Hope Centre of Welland, Ontario, which has received Mission and Service funds for many of its 37 years.

 

Dave and Sharon, a married couple with their own home, never thought that they would be homeless. The trouble started when Dave was injured on the job and they could no longer make their mortgage payments. With a promise of work for Sharon in Quebec, they packed just the essentials and set off to a job that never materialized.

 

Living from shelter to shelter, they arrived at Hope Centre in Welland, Ontario, where they were helped to finding housing and connected with other community resources. Sharon is now attending an adult learning centre, Dave volunteers in the Hope Centre food bank, and they are involved with a local church. Their life is getting back on track!

 

Hope Centre services include an emergency hostel, soup kitchen, food bank, community garden, housing support programs, and a literacy and basic skills classroom. The area served by The Hope Centre is economically depressed with major unemployment. In fact, some of those who financially supported The Hope Centre in the past now need the services themselves. Mission and Service funds are vital to Hope’s quest to grow to serve the needs of the area.

 

The Hope Centre is grateful for your generosity to Mission and Service and vows to be an intentional, focused steward of the Mission and Service gifts entrusted to it.

 

Give a gift of hope today.

 


December 9—Peace in the Family

 

On the second Sunday of Advent we think of peace. Today’s Mission and Service story is about a young woman who found peace in her life thanks to a Mission and Service partner. She asks that we just call her PH.

 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” PH writes. “I am so grateful for my new life and I know that it is only possible because of the donations of caring people.”

PH and her family moved to Canada from the Middle East, where they were persecuted because of their religion. She and her sister wanted to get an education and to make a better life for all of them. “I made some mistakes,” admits PH. “I was shocked to find myself pregnant and abandoned by my boyfriend. Yet at the same time I knew how blessed I was to be living in Canada with my baby instead of Iran.”

 

“Nothing was peaceful in my life after that,” she says. “My parents were devastated. I tried living with my sister and her family, but there was too much tension and stress. I was in a downward spiral until I found Bethlehem Place.”

 

Support workers at Bethlehem Place found her affordable housing, furniture, counselling, and educational opportunities. Her son is now a happy, healthy baby, and PH is attending night school and getting along better with her family.

 

Mission and Service supports the programs of Bethlehem Place in St. Catharines, Ontario. Please make a generous gift to Mission and Service this Advent season.

 


December 16—The Wheels on the Bus!

 

Today we light the candle of joy. Mission and Service gifts bring joy to people every day. Enjoy this delightful Mission and Service story.

 

Right on time, a bright yellow school bus turned the corner.

 

Overcast and windy, it would have been a dreary day except for the palpable excitement of dozens of Camp Cosmos campers at St. James United Church in Montreal, Quebec.

As the kids scrambled onto the bus and the counsellors did a head count three times for good measure, the sun broke through the clouds. “Look! Train tracks!” cried one camper. “Maybe we’ll even see a train!” exclaimed another. Just as amazing was the contemplation of another, usually agitated, child. Full of wonder, he quietly soaked up the sights as they got closer to Quinn Farm on Île-Perrot. « C’est la première fois que je sors du centre-ville, » he whispered. (“It’s the first time I’ve ever left the city.”)

 

The joy of the bus ride paled in comparison to the thrill of feeding farm animals! The kids were rapt with attention learning about beekeeping and honey production, and they were proud to take home corn that they had harvested themselves. As the bus neared St. James at the end of the day, one camper asked earnestly, “Are we back in Canada already?”

 

This trip offered city campers brand-new experiences of life outside downtown. It filled them with a sense of life, wonder, and possibilities.

 

Camp Cosmos is a project of the Montreal City Mission, supported by Mission and Service. Please give generously and bring joy to a child.

 

[available in French (online only)/disponible en français (en ligne seulement) Visit www.united‑church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.” Visitez le site www.united-church.ca et recherchez “minutes for mission.”]


December 23—At Home

 

Today, as we light the candle of love, we think of a new family in Bethlehem—we think of our own family. Today’s Mission and Service story tells how we are offering family love and support to many who would otherwise be alone and lost.

 

These days, Our Place is a safe refuge for hundreds and a home to 45 men and women—people like Ed who lost touch with his family over the years and has seen his share of hard luck. Ed has been clothed and fed at Our Place and now is in its transitional housing to be near cancer treatment facilities. Our Place is home to Steve who is battling drug and alcohol addictions and who receives support that enables him to continue rehab. It is home to Jim who spent a lifetime working at dangerous jobs and who paid for it with his health and his family. Now despite the falls and accidents and heartbreaks, Jim has found a home at Our Place.

 

Our Place is a Mission and Service partner in Victoria, British Columbia, providing transitional housing and a hand-up to the men and women who inhabit its residential rooms. The dining room and nutrition bar serve over 1,200 nutritious meals a week. The drop-in centre offers a multitude of programs, as well as being a place of welcome and shelter. Sixty people take a hot shower each day at the hygiene area.

Our Place is a place of hope and belonging. Reflecting on his retirement from Our Place, the Rev. David Stewart said, “Affordable housing is vital, but housing isn’t the be-all and the end-all. Having a home is!”

 

[matched with a companion video View at www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada, or download from www.united-church.ca and search for “minutes for mission.”]


December 24/25—We Have Seen His Star

 

Karen and Bill Butt were Mission and Service global personnel who served in Mozambique for 12 years. As they visited the Maritime Conference on their return, they had many stories to share, but they also have a message for us about what they saw in our church.

 

All through Maritime Conference we met enthusiastic Mission and Service supporters in vibrant congregations. Many people said they felt encouraged at seeing how Mission and Service dollars are put to work in Mozambique. We ended our mission education tour encouraged and inspired at what United Churches are achieving.

 

In Matthew’s gospel, the eastern star was about new energy and vision. That was the case for us throughout the Maritimes where United Churches remain strong. The ones we saw keep an innovative sense of mission:

 

Local congregations that hold up the Mission and Service of the church while supporting local outreach and their local congregations; thriving youth groups who actively participate and fundraise; conscious efforts to education and inspire United Church children with Sunday school lessons and vacation Bible schools focusing on Mission and Service; sharing space and events with ecumenical and interfaith groups to share stories of mission.

 

We thank God for 12 years in Mozambique, with all its challenges and blessings, and thank all those who supported that Mission and Service work and who shared our stories through the years.

 

In Mission and Service,

Karen and Bill Butt

 


December 30—Creative Generosity

 

Many individuals and congregations are struggling to cover financial expenses. Many have written to share their stories of abundance thinking. They find that by remembering the needs of others, they find a renewed sense of mission and ministry.

 

Founded in 1835, Plymouth-Trinity United Church in Sherbrooke, Quebec, delights in its long history and its historic building—the oldest church in the city. In the past few years, as numbers and contributions decreased, the congregation began to look at new ways of supporting Mission and Service, as well as paying local expenses.

 

The congregation started a Mission and Service coffee-and-cake time after worship on the last Sunday of the month. The gatherings celebrated those with birthdays and anniversaries in the month, and guests made a special donation in their honour to Mission and Service.

 

After three months, the menu expanded to include a full meal, encouraging more people to stay and increasing donations. Volunteers provide the food, and the menu varies accordingly: chili, macaroni and cheese, soup and sandwiches, tourtière, chicken pie—and always a special birthday or anniversary cake.

 

In less than a year, Plymouth-Trinity raised an additional $1,500 for Mission and Service. Most people at worship now stay for the monthly lunches, enjoying the food and the fellowship. Members at Plymouth-Trinity encourage all of us, even in difficult times, to remember those outside our own congregations by donating generously to the Mission and Service of the church.

 

How do our Mission and Service decisions reflect an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity?