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Author: unitedchurchfoundation

Congratulations Bob Haverluck!

We are pleased to share that past McGeachy Senior Scholarship recipient Bob Haverluck has been named a Mentor by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Bob and the other Mentors chosen are representatives of the highest level of achievement while serving as audacious public educators. Furthermore, they are distinguished leaders who made extraordinary contributions in their respective fields and who will share their knowledge and expertise under the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s scientific theme Technology & Ethics over the next three years.

You can read more about this significant accomplishment on their website here.

Congratulations Bob!

$3M Grant to the United Church’s response to COVID-19

We are pleased to be able to offer The United Church of Canada a grant of $3M to support communities of faith during COVID-19. This grant is possible because of the generosity of many United Church people from across the country who made gifts in their Will. We are so grateful for these thoughtful, planned gifts that people who have gone before us made for the future work of the Church they loved.

This grant will form part of the emergency loan program the church is putting in place to help communities of faith meet their financial obligations during the pandemic. More information is available about The United Church of Canada’s response to COVID-19 at https://www.united-church.ca/covid-19

Impacts of COVID-19

Friends in Christ,

Life has certainly changed in the past few weeks. Change is hard and the uncertainty surrounding the impact of COVID-19 makes it even more difficult. We encourage you to uphold the principles our leaders – both in the church and secular spheres – are requesting. Stay home and stay safe.

Our staff are doing the same, working from home and trying to balance family and work while doing so. This does mean some of our services are affected. For example, we continue to be able to make grants via wire transfers or direct deposits in a relatively timely, albeit some what slower, way.

Grants made by cheques will take longer than usual. If you are an organization that normally receives your grants via cheques, we encourage you to send us your banking information by email or voicemail so that we can provide support in a more timely way.

If you are an organization that receives an annual grant, we anticipate sending out these during the usual time frame which is in late April or May. Again, if you normally receive a cheque, please send us your banking information so we can get the grant to you in a more timely way. Grants made this year are based, as usual, on a two-year average of the fund balance. That means in 2020, grants are based on the average balance between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2019 of the fund the grant comes from. Any prolonged effect of COVID-19 on the markets and economy will impact the 2021 and 2022 grants.

If you are a donor, we encourage you to do all you can to maintain your support of your congregation. You can make gifts online directly to your congregation via CanadaHelps; simply search for your congregation by name on https://canadahelps.org

If you are a donor and would like to modify your grants for this year given the current emergency, please call or email us to discuss options.

If you are a church leader, United In Learning, The United Church of Canada’s distance learning portal, has a series of upcoming free webinars that may help you in your work: https://www.united-in-learning.com/index.php/webinars/upcoming-webinars and you can find information on the church response here: https://www.united-church.ca/covid-19 .

The United Church of Canada’s Philanthropy team has also created a resource to help you continue to encourage generosity in the face of this pandemic. You can find that resource here: https://www.unitedchurchfoundation.ca/wp-content/uploads/Generosity-in-Unprecedented-Times-Mar28-20-v2.1.pdf

We offer you this prayer by The Right Rev. Richard Bott:
In this time of COVID-19, we pray:
When we aren’t sure, God,
help us be calm;
when information comes
from all sides, correct and not,
help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe,
and anxiety seems to be the order of the day,
slow us down, God;
help us to reach out with our hearts,
when we can’t touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected,
when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can,
knowing that “perfect love casts out all fear.”
For the doctors, we pray,
for the nurses, we pray,
for the technicians and the janitors and the
aides and the caregivers, we pray,
for the researchers and theorists,
the epidemiologists and investigators,
for those who are sick,
and those who are grieving, we pray,
for all who are affected,
all around the world…
we pray
for safety,
for health,
for wholeness.
May we feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked and house those without homes;
may we walk with those who feel they are alone,
and may we do all that we can to heal
the sick—
in spite of the epidemic,
in spite of the fear.
Help us, O God,
that we might help each other.
In the love of the Creator,
in the name of the Healer,
in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all,
we pray.
May it be so.

A Note from an Investment Partner

Frontier Capital Funds, the division of Canoe Financial that serves United Church investors, has provided us with their perspective on the market impacts of COVID19.

They say: “The recent flood of coronavirus headlines has triggered excessive volatility in markets around the world, which has many investors worried. It is important at junctures like these to step back and assess the broader context. We at Frontier Capital Funds Inc. wanted to provide you with some information to help you do just that.”

You can find their full statement here.

2020 Spring Granting Cycle is Open!

The spring 2020 Seeds of Hope granting cycle is now open and accepting applications for all project types! Applications are due by 8 pm EST on April 15th, 2020.

Last year, the Joint Grants Committee reviewed over 250 applications and granted over $1.2 Million to 96 United Church organizations and leaders through the Seeds of Hope granting program. Click here to learn more about some of these successful grant recipients.

There are also a variety of scholarships and academic award opportunities like The W. Norman McLeod Scholarship, The Clifford Elliott Rural Ministry Award, and The McGeachy Senior Scholarship. Scholarship applications are due March 15th, 2020.

Please visit the granting section of our website or contact us grants@united-church.ca for more information.

In memory

Corey Copeland

Today we sadly share the news that board member Corey Copeland died suddenly on Saturday. We understand that he suffered a heart attack while cycling with a friend.  ‎We will greatly miss Corey’s intelligence, curiosity, wisdom and friendship. Our prayers go to his daughter Emma and all of his family members that are coming to grips with Corey’s sudden death. You can learn more about Corey’s life and the legacy he leaves in his obituary in the Globe and Mail

New Beginnings at The Bridge

The United Church Foundation is mindful of our partners who support new beginnings.

Bridge House is a transition home in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, for up to six men who could otherwise be homeless when they finish serving provincial sentences in jail.  In the following blog post, James Bowen, former Bridge executive director, reflects on what happened when the Bridge offered more evening social and educational programming.   

The Bridge’s ministry is unique in being the only local organization that works specifically with men leaving provincial detention centres.  While there are multiple organizations in Hamilton that offer educational programs to the general public, there are certainly no organizations that reach out to offer educational help to this population.

These men may be caught in a cycle of criminal behaviour, incarceration and homelessness, and may not have the ‘pro-social’ skills required to achieve their educational and occupational goals.  They are vulnerable to homelessness, poverty, abuse, institutionalization and isolation, and need ongoing support beyond what is currently being offered.  

Substance abuse, relapses, and acting out seldom occur in a vacuum, but they are rather the buildup of emotional stresses such as grief, anxiety, shame or other emotions. When clients have someone available to talk to, or alternate activities available, they receive the means to deal with these stresses in a healthy way which can lead to alternative decisions.

Our Bridge Education and Social Time (BEST) project enabled us to offer more evening programs and supportive services to build skills and meet particular individual needs. 

We found that more often than not, clients would come foremost for the social relationships that they could develop with each other, staff and volunteers.  Then, they would stay for the educational opportunities…rather than the other way around.   

In this way, we found we are stronger together. We learned in new depth the value of our clients’ abilities to educate each other.

Our clients benefitted tremendously from education and support by Bridge staff, but also from the strength of other community resources in The Bridge’s neighbourhood such as by Mohawk College’s CitySchool and Mission Services.  

Two clients began full-time programs at Mohawk College [and both] intend to move on to McMaster University. Another person participated in his first university course for credit, while two other people took individual courses at Mohawk College.

Five clients attended structured weekly addictions support resources. Seven clients got support in writing resumes and eight found computer support, improved their typing, or learned new internet skills.

One participant embraced this project upon its inception. He helped create its name and

attended faithfully. He enrolled in his first post-secondary program.  Simultaneously, this same person has been enjoying the recreational activities during evenings, particularly developing his passion for board games. He decided to launch Barton Village Games, a weekly Friday night community games night.

We would tell others: make space for people who are ex-offenders to share their gifts and experiences!  

The Changing Shape of Rural Ministry

What will be the new shape of rural ministry?   Rev. Ursula Wiig traveled to an international conference in New Zealand recently to explore this question.  She serves in ministry about 130kms south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at Elbow/Loreburn/Strongfield Hawarden United Church.  The United Church Foundation was pleased to support this experience through The Ann Jentzsch-Bill Bursary for a woman active in lay, ordained, or diaconal ministry.  The bursary supports studies, education, or professional development enhances the applicant’s capacity to provide ministry. 

The financial assistance from the Bill and Anna Jentzsch Bursary to help with the costs of attending the 2018 International Rural Church Association Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand is very much appreciated.

The week-long conference was a tremendous experience.  Nearly 100 people attended.  Most participants were from New Zealand and Australia, but every other continent was represented except for Africa and Antarctica.  Four of us were Canadians, all United Church, and as two were also on the planning committee.

In addition to the theme presentations, worship, and cultural evening s organized by different regional groups, we had tours to local rural churches and farms or agricultural enterprises.  Over and above all this, it was just good to have the opportunity to share experiences, hear some inspiring stories, and pick up helpful resources. 

Despite the geographical, cultural, and denominational differences, it is clear that most rural churches are having to find new ways of doing things.   Increased ecumenical collaboration is one option.  [Churches are] often functioning without the denominational support on which they’d previously relied. 

For example, a Uniting Church minister in Western Australia is concerned that her church will discontinue funding a resource person for the rural churches in that huge region, none of which have paid accountable ministers any more. 

Here in rural Saskatchewan, many rural appointments are only part-time and even pastoral charges seeking full-time ministry personnel are unable to attract them. 

This situation is not unique to Saskatchewan or the United Church.  According to Dave Ruesink from the Rural Church Network, USA and Canada, this is a common trend among mainline denominations in North America; rural ministry is becoming increasingly marginalized with the governing bodies providing fewer and fewer resources.

Those of us in rural ministry know we can’t go back to the “old days,” but hopefully the new structure will include rural and small Church Ministries and innovative ways will be found to support these ministries.  Catherine Christie and I both returned from the 2018 IRCA Conference with a resolve to raise the profile of this type of ministry in our presbyteries, Saskatchewan Conference, and, as of 2019 [when changes will be implemented in the current United Church of Canada national organizing structure], in Region 4.

270 New Relationships

At the United Church of Canada Foundation, we are honoured and inspired to hear how our partners use Foundation grant resources to change lives.   

In Peterborough, Ontario, a small group of dedicated people are heading into year two of a Building Bridges Out of Poverty project.    This fall, five individuals living in poverty (who’ve named themselves “the Awesome People”) will continue to journey with mentors towards a more stable life.   As project co-coordinator Rev. Lynn Smith-Reeve shares, all participants are being challenged to grow and learn in community:    

“[We have learned that] change moves at the speed of relationship.

This project recalls a time when neighbours were able to cross class and cultural barriers in order to share stories and support one another.

In our modern day, people from all walks of life suffer from social isolation, excess consumerism, and a growing gap between rich and poor.  Our communities cry out for ways to reclaim what it is to be a neighbour.

[Our Bridging Teams project] addresses the. . . 11 essential resources required to overcome poverty’s tyranny of day-to-day crises. By creating a social network of middle-class mentors, the Awesome People have expanded their resources and supports to deal with poverty’s complex challenges.

Brenda Steele, one of the Awesome People, says ‘The Middle-class doesn’t seem to understand people living in poverty – they understand a little – but not fully. We had to help them understand what poverty really is and how we live in poverty.’ 

This past year, the five Awesome People and ten Mentors came together to meet weekly for three hours in a Bridging Team.  

By far, the most positive aspect of the work is our success in creating a safe non-judgmental space for mutual learning among people from different socio-economic cultures or classes.  Our focus includes three key elements of food, fun, and storytelling.

Each of the fifteen participants has created 18 new relationships including staff (15 x 18 = 270 new relationships!). This new social network has the potential of affecting the lives of every participant in significant ways.

Mentors were challenged to learn, through training and extensive practice, how to become allies beyond their habitual desires to help/fix/advise.   Some things they shared:  

‘…greater awareness of real-life challenges of people in poverty.’

‘I am less judgmental, and I am in awe of how resourceful these awesome people are.’   

Here is a sample of what the Awesome participants said:

‘…allowed me to find a career direction after many years of uncertainty. Now I can move toward a new goal.’

‘…wonderful sense of belonging.’    

 ‘…helped me see the strength in myself…more self-confidence with speaking in pubic, self-esteem, leadership roles, and having fun.’”

This autumn a 2nd Bridging Team will be based at The Mount Peterborough, an innovative Hub of affordable housing, community gardens, and social enterprises. Their long-term vision is to see Bridging Teams hosted by congregations, agencies, and neighbourhood groups all across the city.    

Learn more about how United Church Foundation resources could animate significant change in your community!

United Church Health Services Society

After more than a century of providing health care services in the Central Coast communities of Bella Bella and Bella Coola and Hazelton located in Northwestern British Columbia, the successful transfer of United Church Health Services Society (UCHSS) facilities and services to respective the health authorities is complete. It is now appropriate for UCHSS to wind up the organization.

It is with some sadness that UCHSS announces its intention to wrap up the organization. The United Church’s Health Care mission, its doctors, nurses and other staff were part of the British Columbia communities from a time when there were no public funded health services. After years of dedicated service UCHSS has accomplished the mission and the transfer of Central Coast hospitals and medical services in Bella Bella and Bella Coola to Vancouver Coastal Health Authority was completed in 2014 and the hospital, medical services and health care programs in Hazelton were transferred to Northern Health Authority in 2016. The retail pharmacy in Hazelton was sold in 2016. The dedicated staff in the facilities and the health authorities made the transition a success.

After working to meet UCHSS liabilities and making provision to meet potential liabilities any residual funds will be transferred to the United Church or Canada and the United Church of Canada Foundation to eventually support to healing ministries, scholarships and grants for health and spiritual care in the three communities.

For additional information please contact The United Church of Canada Foundation by email  or by phone at 1-866-340-8223.