PWRDF’s Suzanne Rumsey describes her upcoming 1,300-km fundraising bike ride.Photo: Art Babych
From a video that offered a visual summary of 50 years’ worth of advocacy for the world’s poor and dispossessed, to short narratives of the impact that various projects have made on the lives of many people, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) gave thanks to Canadian Anglicans who have been supporting its work since 1959.
“How do we say thank you for 50 years of support?” asked Adele Finney, interim director of PWRDF, the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm. Addressing members of General Synod who have gathered here for their triennial meeting, Finney said that since its creation on Sept. 7, 1959, Canadian Anglicans have donated $94 million to support the work of PWRDF in 25 countries, including Canada. But, she added, “money isn’t even half of the story; there’s much more than financial impact…”
Two of PWRDF partners will be addressing General Synod to talk about how PWRDF has made a difference in the lives of their communities, said Finney. Other short programs are being planned in the course of General Synod.
PWRDF will mark the official closing of its 50th anniversary celebrations on Wed. Jun. 9, with public engagement co-ordinator Suzanne Rumsey taking her trusted bike (Olive) on an eight-day, 1,300 kilometer awareness and fundraising ride dubbed Le Tour de PWRDF.
Rumsey, who wore a bike suit and helmet as she was presented by Finney to the General Synod, took members on a trip down memory lane by asking them a series of questions relating to PWRDF. “Stand up if you were here when the Springhill mining disaster occurred in Nova Scotia on Oct. 23, 1958,” invited Rumsey. That disaster had a profound impact on Canadians, many of them Anglican, who offered donations and later, prompted the creation of PWRDF.
“Stand up if you’ve given money to PWRDF in a coin box,” added Rumsey, as many members stood up. More stood up as she asked if people had volunteered or served in some capacity at PWRDF, through its various programs, including refugee sponsorships.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, president of the PWRDF board, offered reflections on how PWRDF has changed its relationship with its partners. There was a time when partners simply sat through PWRDF board meetings and offered some reflections at the end. “Now partners are full partners” representing the four regions of the world where PWRDF is present-Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada,” he said.
“We have given them much more space to hear stories directly from them, so we can hear stories about the needs in the context in which they live, so that we can hear dreams and hopes that thy express on behalf of the people they represent,” said Archbishop Hiltz. “They teach us in so many ways about what it means to be a good storyteller and faithful ambassador for the work of PWRDF.”
The primate explained that PWRDF’s work in Africa focuses on HIV-AIDS and poverty; in Asia-Pacific, the focus is on economic disparity; in Latin America and the Caribbean, human rights violations particularly relating to women, are an important part of the work; and in Canada, indigenous justice issues, among others, are a primary focus.
At the presentation, five PWRDF supporters, including Bishop Sue Moxley of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, spoke about how PWRDF responds to long-term and immediate needs of people around the world who have been affected by disasters, wars and conflict.
“PWRDF is strong because Anglicans care and spread that care throughout the world,” said Finney, as she invited Canadian Anglicans to “come and journey with us through the next 50 years.”