Whether it is a gift of $125 to support suicide prevention strategies in First Nations and Inuit communities, $55 to help Anglicans and Lutherans develop advocacy skills to end homelessness in Canada or $25 to provide hot lunches for a child in Haiti for six months, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Gifts for Mission guide offers a different kind of shopping experience.
This is the fourth year the national church has produced a guide that allows donors to specify a particular ministry to which they would like to donate as a “meaningful gift.” The guide usually comes out in the fall prior to the Christmas season, but Monica Patten, interim director of the church’s resources for mission department, says the guide is for gift-giving year round and can be used for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. “They are just lovely opportunities to celebrate in a way that is not always tied to consumerism,” she said in an interview.
The printed guide was distributed to Anglicans across the country with the October issue of the Anglican Journal, but an online version [link] is also available. This year’s guide includes new gifts such as opportunities to install solar panels to provide power to health clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, help refugee families in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya build brick homes to replace tent dwellings, and provide treated mosquito nets and vaccinations for mothers and babies.
Cards for different occasions are included in the print version to be given to the person in whose honour the gift has been given. Using the online version, the recipient receives an email notification, which the giver can personalize.
Patten said that response has generally been growing, except for a slight dip last year. “The reason we saw that dip, we’re fairly sure, is that [the guide] was released at the same time as the typhoon [Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines] and the appeal [by Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, or PWRDF] for disaster relief for contributions occurred, which was incredibly important and where people really did send their donations very generously,” she said. That meant that donations were more dispersed and a bit lower for the gifts for mission guide, she said. “This year, we’re very optimistic that we are going to be seeing an increase” in donations to the ministries featured in the guide.
International programs run by PWRDF, the Canadian church’s aid and development arm, always attract “a lot of donor interest, and we’re delighted about that,” says Patten. Among the other ministries featured, Patten noted that “Canadian Anglicans love to learn about the church in the North and they love to be part of indigenous ministries, so those [gifts] are always very attractive to donors.”
She also highlighted the gifts related to developing youth leadership in the Canadian church. Patten added that she thinks the chance to help The Penman Clinic in Zababdeh, West Bank, provide medical supplies and diagnostic testing to people in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem would be of particular interest to Anglicans this year.
Anglicans looking through the Gifts for Mission guide get a view of the work of most of the church, Patten said. “I love that it shows the breadth and the depth of ministry. And I love that it invites Anglicans into those ministries.”