|February 25, 2020
Like you, I am watching aghast at the news in Ukraine as that poor country is showered with missiles, invaded from every side by Russian advances. Peace is shattered in that part of the world. People are dying, wounded, displaced – and terrified. From the relative safety of our homes, we watch appalled, feeling helpless, but moved to pray to the God of Peace, entreating the Holy Spirit to inspire political leaders towards the cessation of all violence, and to work towards the healing of the nations.
Challenging times call the Church to respond in courageous ways. In recent years, we’ve seen the Church responding to the resettlement needs of refugees, sending aid to assist with the rebuilding efforts following a natural disaster, and reaching out to those closer to home during times of economic distress. The response of Anglicans across the Diocese to the 25th annual FaithWorks campaign reminds me that we have generous hearts and spirits to meet the challenges of the world. I am deeply moved and grateful for the consistent outpouring of support for our annual outreach appeal that you have shown. In the last two years of pandemic alone – despite the isolation, absence of community worship and fellowship, and competing financial challenges – you raised over three million dollars to support Diocesan outreach.
Although the 2021 FaithWorks campaign fell short of our $1,500,000 goal by just under $50,000, more parishes than ever participated (91%) and total giving to parish campaigns was its highest since 2005 ($913,000). Nearly 60% of parishes increased their giving last year over 2020. Half of those parishes saw significant increases of at least 1% of their annual offertory. Thank you for your generosity.
To give, as Henri Nouwen says, is an opportunity to look beyond ourselves and to participate in the greater vision that God has for all humanity. That vision is reflected most poignantly in Matthew 25:40: Jesus teaches “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” This message gives us hope that, with God’s help, we can create a better world, a safer world, a more inclusive world. A world of true peace.
The Lenten season marks the launch of a new FaithWorks campaign year. While many needs remain the same in 2022, I want to particularly draw your attention to an exceptional request being made this year that is an effort towards God’s peace here at home. Last year, in response to Call to Action #82 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Diocese donated $300,000 to the Spirit Garden project at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto. Resolution #82 calls for provincial governments and parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop publicly accessible memorials in each capital city to honour survivors and all those lost during the dark history of Canada’s residential school system.
I want to encourage each one of us to think about how we can participate in this call to action as well – through our parishes and individually.
This year’s FaithWorks materials provide an opportunity for Anglicans across the Diocese to participate in this important effort. We are going to “piggy-back” on the FaithWorks campaign process to avoid duplication, maximize exposure, and make it easy for you to give. As with other “extra” appeals we have done in the past, this request does not compete with FaithWorks but allows you to make an additional gift in support of Indigenous Reconciliation. We have included posters and brochures which profile this important initiative and provide directions on how you can contribute. We will launch the Spirit Garden Campaign with a video in April in anticipation of our special Indigenous focus in June. I encourage your prayerful and generous support.
“Let there be Peace on earth, and let it begin with me,” sang Vince Gill. True peace originates with the Prince of Peace, Jesus, but as the hands and feet of Christ in the world, our efforts through prayer, advocacy, and generous financial contributions, can and do make a real difference in the ushering in of the Reign of God.
I want to close by extending a special thank you to the FaithWorks staff and volunteers who work quietly and anonymously without recognition or praise. You are agents of peace, and I am grateful for you.
Yours in Christ,