|Dear Friends in Christ, |
Do you remember where you were in 1996?
I was living, moving and dwelling in a new church plant in Oakville. Our congregation gathered on Sunday mornings for worship in the cafeteria of a local high school. Here in the Diocese of Toronto, our bishop – not yet Archbishop – was Terence Finlay. Barbara Hall was the mayor of Toronto. Jean Chrétien was our prime minister, while Bill Clinton was re-elected president in the US, Pokémon was invented, and we all started dancing the Macarena.
Also in 1996, 18% of Canadians lived in poverty – 28% of whom were children. Three-quarters of a million seniors experienced housing or income insecurity – most of whom lived alone.
Twenty-five years ago, FaithWorks was founded as the response of Anglicans living in south central Ontario to provide outreach to the poor and vulnerable. We have always focused our support on four areas:
Caring for people who are homeless and ex-prisoners
Supporting newcomers and refugees
Meeting the needs of at-risk women, children, and youth
Reaching out to Indigenous peoples and those who are HIV-AIDS impacted The mission for FaithWorks is founded on the teachings, examples and commandments of Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus describes how those who see the face of Christ in their neighbours and serve them will dwell in the heavenly Kingdom: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
A lot has changed since 1996, but government funding and assistance still only goes so far. During the pandemic, our ministry partners like All Saints Church Community Centre, the Toronto Urban Native Ministry, Inn from the Cold, and One Roof Peterborough have served boldly those folks who had nowhere else to turn. Thanks to the generosity of many, we raised the second largest amount in FaithWorks’ history to carry on this vital work.
This is a true Diocese-wide initiative. Our ministry partners reside in every corner of our Diocese, extending from Toronto and Mississauga north to Barrie, Orillia and Newmarket, and east to Uxbridge and Peterborough. In its first 24 years, FaithWorks has raised over $35 million. We are making a difference across this land.
Earlier this year, building on the success of last year’s effort, I issued a 100+1% challenge to parishes in support of our 25th anniversary campaign. We want to encourage every parish in the Diocese to enthusiastically promote and participate in this year’s FaithWorks campaign – that’s the 100. And we ask each parish to set a fundraising goal that exceeds its 2020 result by at least 1% of its overall offertory amount.
Imagine what can happen if every parish participates and every Anglican gives just 1% more. Imagine the difference we can make in the lives of ordinary people who are in deep need, especially emerging from pandemic. Imagine how our simple offering lifts our neighbour and helps us all to live, move and dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto