A woman in a Bangladesh community sponsored by PWRDF gathers her radishes. Photo: UBINIG/Courtesy PWRDF
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) have launched their first joint national youth project, which will help build communities in developing countries.
Anglican and Lutheran youth, who gathered from across the country for the first Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) in London, Ont. from Aug. 19 to 22, were challenged to help make the vision of “12 for 12: Developing Full Communities” a reality by 2012 through work in their home parishes.
The premise for the project is that is takes an estimated $5,000 to equip a community with the various resources needed to begin sustainable development. The goal for the Anglican and Lutheran youth before they meet again for their next gathering in 2012 is to raise and donate $60,000 to help 12 communities with their development needs.
The Lutherans have a long-established tradition of doing these kinds of projects timed in connection with their youth gatherings every two years. “It’s not totally a project of the youth gathering, but that’s what has given it life,” say Pastor Paul Gehrs, assistant to the national bishop, justice and leadership, for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Since the CLAY gathering was the first Lutheran-Anglican youth gathering, the joint effort was extended to the new two-year project.
Details of how the project will run are still being worked out, but Gehrs said he envisions a plan where Lutheran groups will donate to CLWR and Anglicans will donate to PWRDF. Then two agencies will keep a joint tally of how much has been raised. Or, he added, if youth groups want to give to both agencies in the spirit of Full Communion, they can do that too. “We want it to be win-win for everybody,” said Gehrs.” We want the youth to do this together, to accomplish the $60,000 at least, and to say that this is something we did: ‘We got together in London, we had a meaningful time and then over the next two years we worked together across the country to help people around the world through those two agencies.'” (In 2001, the ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada achieved Full Communion, in which both churches recognize each other’s rites, services, sacraments and clerical orders.)
Recent projects Lutheran youth have worked on have included an environmental campaign to make their churches and neighbourhoods greener and another, with Habitat for Humanity, which raised $120,000 to help low-income families build homes. Gehrs added that past projects have been primarily volunteer-driven and that is the aim for this one too. Selected youth leaders will help keep the momentum going for the project, he said.
Sheilagh McGlynn, justgeneration.ca facilitator with PWRDF, said that the work in each of the 12 communities for this year’s project will depend on the specific needs in that community. “…Our organizations’ stance isn’t about going in and saying ‘Oh, we’re going to dig a well here.’ We go in and ask ‘What do you need?’ and try to work together with the community….Maybe they already have a well. Maybe they need more health care,” she explained.
The challenge was given to the youth at the CLAY gathering, but McGlynn says she hopes more youth will get involved as they hear about the project. PWRDF will be spreading the word about it on its website and social media such as Facebook.
Gehrs also noted that the $5,000 figure is being used in a symbolic way. “The money is going to general revenue because that’s the most effective,” way of handling it, he said, and the amount of development aid will depend on what work needs to be done in each community. But the money raised will go to doing this community building work, and the work done in 12 communities will be highlighted.