The Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) has awarded $50,000 to a migrant farmer outreach program in the diocese of Huron—the largest grant in the AFC’s history. The money will fund an expansion of its services and new locations in Chatham, Ont. and Sarnia on top of its existing programs in Tilsonburg and Simcoe by the end of the year.
The Rev. Enrique Martinez, priest for the parish of Long Point Bay and the director of Huron Farm Workers Ministry, announced the grant to staff, volunteers and program participants Sept. 28 at the ministry’s annual appreciation day, held for migrant workers. Amid food, games and messages of thanks to the workers for their hard work and months spent away from family to be in Ontario during the harvest season, AFC’s development coordinator Michelle Hauser presented Martinez with a giant novelty cheque to mark the occasion.
“Thank God that we received this grant from the Anglican Foundation,” Martinez told the Journal. “The Anglican Foundation has given us the opportunity to bring the good news of the gospel to so many other workers in our diocese of Huron—but also the opportunity to support them with mental health [and] spiritual support.”
The grant is the first awarded in a new category offered by the foundation this year, AFC executive director Scott Brubacher said. In the past, the AFC has offered only Category A grants of up to $5,000 for local projects and Category B grants of up to $15,000 for larger-scale ministry. In 2022, however, the foundation introduced a third type, Category C, involving grants up to $50,000. Dioceses that apply for these grants may not apply for others in the same year.
The Farm Workers Ministry also represents a type of project to which AFC has been dedicating a growing proportion of its funds: community ministries. Historically, much of the money the AFC has apportioned in grants has gone to projects of infrastructure—repairing or expanding church buildings to create hospitable locations for ministry to take place. But once those needs are met, Brubacher said, it’s also vital to open the doors of those hospitable buildings to invite in members of the community and provide the ministry the church has to offer. That’s what made the Huron Farm Workers Ministry’s application such a strong candidate, he said.
“It’s exactly what we’re called to do as Christians, this outpouring of hospitality and love for the migrant farm workers—[seeing] that there was a need there and a desire to serve them and to be hospitable to them,” he said. For Brubacher, offering worship in workers’ own languages and providing medical services and legal services adds up to “an example of Christlike love.”
Aside from expanding the Farm Workers Ministry’s ability to reach workers and its range of services, said Brubacher, the hope is also that the grant will raise the profile and public awareness of the work Martinez and his team are doing so that more funding, volunteers and opportunities are available to them.
For example, at this year’s appreciation day, Martinez said, St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in London donated 225 bicycles to be distributed to farmworkers to help with transportation for those who live and work on remote farms. The ministry, he said, has already been attracting volunteers and donors from community members outside the church who see the work it’s doing and want to help. Brubacher’s hope is that the $50,000 boost will further increase the ministry’s visibility and reach—and thereby, its appeal to would-be volunteers and donors.
Meanwhile, the category C grant continues to attract attention from dioceses. As of Nov. 7, Brubacher said, AFC has received a total of three applications for Category C grants.