Congratulation to the 2021 Baillie Award Recipients
Toronto United Church Council’s Baillie Volunteer Service Awards are granted annually to youth and young adults who have demonstrated a strong commitment to volunteer service in their churches and communities. This year, eight young people based in congregations from Oakville to Toronto to Uxbridge, have received the award for their good works. In this year’s batch of recipients a few themes emerged, including participation in community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (delivering groceries to seniors, helping with technology as services transitioned online) and leadership in social justice work through the church (refugee outreach, starting an anti-racist book club, heading the Affirm Committee). All in all, it proved to be a very engaged, aware, and generous group and TUCC is proud to join their home congregations in celebrating them!
The 2021 award recipients are:
Caitlyn Butchart (Trinity United Church, Uxbridge)
Alanna Goodman (Humber Valley United Church)
Cole Harris (North Runnymede United Church)
Cole Sadler (Manor Road United Church)
Laura Schlee (Fairlawn Ave. United Church)
Thea Sheridan-Jonah (St. Paul’s United Church, Oakville)
Cyrus Spears (Bloor Street United Church)
Ael Spence (Metropolitan United Church)
First Grant made from the Winston and Merle Roach Camp Leadership Fund
The newly established Winston and Merle Roach Camp Leadership Fund has made its first grant – to Camp Big Canoe – in order to fund the employment of Henos Aman. Winston and Merle were church leaders in east end Toronto for nearly fifty years and had a passion for their church’s ministry with youth as well as innumerable other social ministries – especially those which ministered to the Jamaican and Caribbean diaspora. Their family and friends, as well as several Toronto congregations, have contributed to the new fund, the intent of which is to increase the hiring of Black youth in Shining Waters Region United Church camps’ programming. Henos and his younger siblings have enjoyed camp for several years, and this year, he has “graduated” to full staff membership. In 2021, during the second pandemic-disrupted camp program year, Henos is leading interactive online activities with campers in virtual programs, as well as creating content that teaches campers about the camp. You can tune in to descriptions of Camp in a Box (Some of last year’s Camp in a Box packages are pictured at right) and Big Canoe’s online programming to see Henos’s handiwork.
Grant from TUCC's Vincent Alfano Fund Supports Youth Ministry
TUCC’s Vincent Alfano Fund has made a partnership grant to a youth-focussed ministry intent on updating our church’s children and youth curriculum and on demonstrating its relevance for families beyond church members. This year, the geographic focus of The GO Project is Shining Waters Region, but already it has developed the interest of communities of faith across Canada. The Alfano Fund will help finance the leadership of the Rev. Alana Martin, the Executive Director of the program (pictured at right).
The Church has left the Building - How will we combine online and in-person church
In May/June 2021, TUCC and the national church’s United in Learning program hosted a three-part workshop series “The Church has left the building – how will we combine online and in-person church?” Over 450 people attended the sessions. In a true workshop-style environment, participants shared examples of how communities of faith have expanded the space they use to deliver ministry, including the outside area of their properties, public places and online platforms. Resources from this webinar are available on the event page.
TUCC's AGM Celebrates 2020 Achievements, Welcomes New Board Members
The 128th AGM was held remotely on June 10th. In spite of the turmoil of the last year retiring President, Ross Leckie, pointed out that it had also been a time of expanded collaboration for TUCC. From an increased focus on diversity and inclusion, growing partnerships with regional councils, to a new collaboration with UPRC, and expansion of our church development work, TUCC’s various services have continued to be provided at a high standard with flexibility and responsiveness. For more details of TUCC’s work in 2020, the President’s Report is linked here. To read more about TUCC’s new President, board and committee members, view our recent e-news.
Challenge Grant to the Camping Opportunities Fund
For the second year in a row, an Angel Donor family has given a generous challenge grant of $150,000 to the Camping Opportunities Fund. Last year’s grant and the donors who responded to it, helped the COF support our five partner camps through the toughest year on record. The camps now agree it is unlikely that they will conduct a traditional onsite program this year. The challenge before them in 2021 is how to offer campers an alternative program of genuine camping activities at home and maintain the campsites in great condition, all without the cash flow of camper registrations. Our expectation is that the summer of 2022 will see a full resumption of camping programs and that the demand for registration will fill our cabins and tents. With the help of our generous donors, we hope to ensure that each of the camps is in magnificent condition – physically and financially – for the July 2022 start-up. Click here if you would like to make a gift to the Camping Opportunities Fund.
Rural Churches & Community Space Conference
What does the loss of faith buildings mean for communities in a rural context? This was the question explored at the Rural Churches and Community Space conference on Feb. 23, 2021. The ground-breaking research report by Faith & the Common Good,” No Space for Community,” painted a picture of the broad importance of church buildings both to faith communities and community groups in rural settings. The more then 150 participants then had opportunities to share experiences and consider possibilities for the future in small groups. Video recordings of the presentation can be viewed here.
TUCC's Easter Greeting Helps Congregations Get to Know Us a Little Better
In a recent e-newsletter, TUCC’s Easter greetings included a link to our organizational report. We hope that the report will serve as a useful introduction to our work across the regions we now serve (Shining Waters, Western Ontario Waterways, Horseshoe Falls, and East Central Ontario) and also help our old friends to deepen their familiarity with our programs and services. The organizational report appears in a new format – going beyond our regular financial statements to include a brief introduction of our board and staff, and a narrative overview to the various programs that we offer. We believe our programs represent a unique offering of service that complements the programs of other church entities across Ontario and Canada. You can view a copy of the organizational report here.
TUCC Staff Learn New Teaching Methods
The Innovative Ministry Centre, a project of the TUCC, has been working toward launching a new online learning platform this fall. As part of that work the staff invited Dr. Natalie Wigg-Stevenson of Emmanuel College, University of Toronto, to teach a five-week intensive on “Integrated Course Design.” Although TUCC staff members form the core of this learning cohort, we are delighted that partners from Shining Waters Regional Council staff, the United Church EDGE-Network staff, the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, and Fresh Expressions US leaders, were also interested in participating. This larger and more diverse group benefits all of us by making the classroom interaction richer and fostering cross-pollination between our groups. Each participant has brought a teaching project they are currently developing to workshop using the principles of integrated course design. We anticipate these tools will be essential to creating meaningful and effective e-learning resources in the future, and are glad that TUCC can contribute to the ministry of the United Church and beyond in this way.
The Investing in Ministry Fund Responds to COVID-19 Challenges
One of the ways in which TUCC supports the ministries of the United Church is through its stewardship of the Investing In Ministry Fund. Through this fund TUCC facilitates a unique connection between churches with funds to invest with others facing capital needs. In response to the COVID-19 disruption TUCC offered relief to both sides of this partnership of ‘investors’ and ‘borrowers’, making a special loan from TUCC resources to the former, while allowing payment relief for six months to the latter. As 2021 begins almost all borrowers have been able to return to normal payments, while the recovery in financial markets has allowed a 2.25% distribution to investors. Despite the challenges of the year over $1.4 million was loaned to complete a major renovation of Metropolitan United Church in Toronto, and new church extension at Wasaga Beach United Church, as well as space reorganization at Islington United Church (kitchen pictured at right).
The Winston & Merle Roach Camp Leadership Fund Established to Support Black Youth Leadership in United Church Camping
Winston and Merle Roach were members of East End United as well as active members of regional and national bodies of the United Church of Canada. After their passing, their adult children made a generous gift to TUCC in order to establish a fund in their names that would support the development of the leadership of Black youth in the church’s camping programs. The Winston and Merle Roach Camp Leadership Fund is now a part of TUCC’s camping funds. Following their acceptance of the gift at a TUCC Board meeting in October, the December meeting saw directors vote to ensure that the new fund has enough income in its first three years (2021 to 2023) to sponsor new grants to the camps. From 2024, the annual investment income from the Fund will underwrite the hiring of Black youth as camp leaders at Shining Waters Region camps. You can contribute to the building of the fund here or by sending a cheque to Toronto United Church Council at 24-30 Wertheim Court, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1B9. Indicate with your submission that the gift is earmarked for The Winston and Merle Roach Camp Leadership Fund
East Plains United Church Childcare Nears Completion
When the members of East Plains United Church in Aldershot considered the future of their community they saw that one of the needs of the rapidly growing population would be affordable childcare. So, they set about constructing a not-for-profit, 6000 square foot child-care centre that is slated to open in January 2021. Said President Paul Echlin, “It’s a perfect model of how communities can use existing buildings and have places where you mix children and elders together and have a place where people feel safe.” TUCC is proud to have supported this project with a $650,000 loan. To learn more visit https://epucchildcare.com/ or check out these recent news articles in The Bay Observer and Inside Halton.
Missional Consulting Online
When COVID-19 changed everything in March, TUCC considered how we might use technology to continue to offer missional consulting services. Adapting quickly to new realities, we are now engaged in online processes with a number of communities of faith. One of these, a Church Futures process, involves a community of faith considering whether they should sell their property, merge with another congregation, or choose to close on an agreed timeline. The team has successfully collaborated online to prepare a presentation about their options for the Board and church members. Working online adds another level of complexity to sensitively acknowledging feelings of loss and of hope for what the future might hold, but is still possible. Another example is the continuation of a pre-COVID 19 visioning project with a small group, testing topics raised in previous sessions with their Council. Three online sessions have enabled us to confirm our original conclusions as well as gain some new insights. Like many of you, we faced a steep learning curve to getting the best out of the online platforms, but we have been pleasantly surprised by how well the sessions have gone, the depth of the conversations and the ability this gives congregations to move ahead in spite of the pandemic.