Newfoundland clergy sleep on the floor for furniture bank
Clergy in the diocese of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador are planning to spend a night sleeping on the floor of the cathedral of St. John the Baptist, in St. John’s, for an organization that provides used furniture to those in need.
The event is part of a new campaign being launched by the archdeaconry of Avalon, “Clergy on the Floor.” Participants seek donors to sponsor their night of sleep without a bed at the cathedral, to take place April 26. They hope to raise awareness and funds, to the tune of $10,000, for Home Again Furniture Bank, a non-profit group that collects and then redistributes second-hand furniture in the St. John’s region for free.
“Their discomfort is a demonstration of their compassion for those in our region who live without basic furnishings each day and night,” says Maureen Lymburner, director of development for Home Again.
The non-profit distributes the furniture to people referred to it by its partners, which include Anglican parishes in the region.
Home Again says it has provided used furniture to more than 870 households in less than three and a half years. As of press time, more than 200 households were on its growing waiting list.
Montreal church offers performance space to local circus
St. Jax Anglican Church in Montreal is renting space to Le Monastère, a circus company that specializes in intimate, cabaret-style shows.
According to St. Jax incumbent the Rev. Graham Singh, Montreal is home to “some 10,000 workers in the circus industry,” yet finding performance space for high-flying circus acts is difficult, especially for smaller groups of circus artists. Circuses require high ceilings. “Those we have, in abundance, in our churches!” Singh says.
The agreement with Le Monastère is part of a new venture, the Trinity Centres Foundation, of which Singh is executive director. The foundation was founded by about 50 professionals from the property finance, architecture, urban planning and social innovation fields and the voluntary sector. Its aim is to transform Canada’s church buildings into community hubs.
Le Monastère was founded in 2016 by Rosalie Beauchamp and Guillaume Blais. It is a non-profit organization that aims to promote both the circus arts and the city of Montreal internationally.
Diocese of Toronto’s FaithWorks campaign raises $1.4 million
An annual funding drive by the diocese of Toronto raised $1,365,600 in 2018, beating its goal of $1.35 million.
The diocese’s FaithWorks campaign, which has raised more than $30 million since it was launched in 1996, helps families in crisis, needy children, youth and women, newcomers, homeless and imprisoned people, HIV/AIDS patients and people living in developing countries.
The campaign was helped by a “challenge grant” by an anonymous donor, and the response of parishioners to that challenge. The donor pledged to match every new or increased donation from the parishes up to $75,000. Parishioners met the challenge, increasing their donations by $108,000.
The result of the campaign shows that “Anglicans have a heart for social justice and taking care of the most vulnerable among us,” said Andrew Asbil, diocesan bishop of Toronto. “I’m incredibly grateful for parishes and individuals who take the time not just to support the fabric and the ministry of their home church but to look beyond themselves.”
Donations from parishes totaled $726,300, 13 per cent more than in 2017. Corporations gave $259,300, 20 per cent less than the previous year. Individuals, groups, foundations, bequests and interest on the campaign’s endowment fund totalled $378,000.
The goal for this year’s FaithWorks campaign is $1.35 million.
Anglican priest from Syria warmly welcomed in Prince Albert
The Rev. Eyad Ajji, a newcomer to Canada who grew up in Syria and lived in Jordan for 13 years, is the newest Anglican priest in Prince Albert, Sask.
Ajji and his family had previously been living in Calgary since they arrived in Canada just over two years ago. While he is relatively new to Canada, Ajji didn’t come as a refugee. “My family and I lived in Jordan for 13 years because I was ordained as a priest in the Anglican church there,” he says.
“Because we are a Syrian family, living in Jordan, we were still foreigners there, even though we speak the same language,” he says. Ajji describes the situation in the Middle East as getting worse by the day. “Because of the Syrian crisis, the future wasn’t obvious for us. If my children graduated from university, they wouldn’t get any jobs because they were foreigners.”
Ajji and his family moved to Canada to find a “place to live peacefully.” They have found Canadians to be friendly and kind. “They let us feel that this is really our home.”
Ajji emphasizes that not all Syrians coming to Canada are refugees, and doesn’t agree with those who say that people who immigrate to Canada are trying to change the country’s culture. “As a newcomer…when I immigrated to Canada, we should understand that this country has standards, laws. We shouldn’t change anything,” he says.
So far, the Anglican community in Prince Albert has been welcoming and helpful in helping the family settle in. “People kept in touch with me on email. Especially when I met Bishop Michael [Hawkins]…and the other staff, I felt like I had been living here for several months. Nothing was strange, nothing was really new,” he says.
“Before we arrived, I felt like they were our family.”
Ajji was installed as a priest February 3 at St. George’s Anglican Church.
B.C. congregation reaches out to community, reverses decline
A small ecumenical ministry in the diocese of British Columbia has been attracting increasing numbers of congregants after taking a number of measures aimed at building bridges with the local community.
More than two years ago, St. John Gualbert, a shared Anglican Church of Canada-United Church of Canada ministry in Port McNeill, B.C., had a half-dozen regular congregants for Sunday morning services, and a succession of clergy who tended to stay for a relatively short period of time before moving on. Two parishioners, Craig and Deborah Murray, together with some others, went door-to-door through the community, raising $120,000 for a new roof and other building renovations. They also applied to the diocese’s Vision Fund for support putting on community dinners, organizing weekly programs for children and elderly people, refurbishing the church’s second-hand bookstore and getting a mural painted on the church’s fence under the supervision of a local artist.
The church now has a deck for people in wheelchairs to view its community garden, comfortable chairs instead of pews, and its bookstore serves as a local gathering place. Sunday services attract 32 people and the congregation is growing. The congregation is still unable to afford a full-time priest or minister, but Deborah Murray, a lay reader and celebrant, has been authorized by the United Church of Canada to baptize and serve communion.
—The Diocesan Post