A parish that has been changed by the pandemic is providing much-needed financial support to frontline Anglican ministries that are under-resourced.
St. Timothy, North Toronto originally earmarked $10,000 in its budget to help St. Stephen in-the- Fields, Toronto, which provides hot meals and other services to hungry and homeless people in and around Kensington Market.
“We were very aware that the pandemic has affected the most vulnerable the most negatively,” explains the Rev. Canon Dr. Eric Beresford, incumbent. “As a church, we began to ask ourselves, ‘How do we find ways to be really generous?’”
As the gift was debated at St. Timothy’s vestry meeting, the amount started to climb, eventually reaching $50,000. “There was a will to do more,” says Trish Back, who had proposed the original amount. “It was fantastic.”
The money will be coming out of an endowment given to St. Timothy’s by the late Reginald Soward, a former parishioner who was active in the Anglican Church at the local, diocesan and national levels. “We’re very lucky to have this endowment to help others in these terrible times,” says Ms. Back.
The funds are being given to under-resourced Anglican churches and ministries that help marginalized people. Fifteen thousand dollars has been given to St. Stephen’s and the rest will go to All Saints Church-Community Centre, Toronto Urban Native Ministry, St. Bartholomew, Toronto for its outreach programs to Regent Park, and the Diocese of Mishamikoweesh, located in northern Ontario and Manitoba.
Bruce Cameron, a member of the church’s outreach committee, says the pandemic has prevented St. Timothy’s parishioners from helping others in the usual ways, so the gift was one way of overcoming that. “We were looking for ways to get energized,” he says.
The church usually holds a community lunch and a fundraising bazaar, and parishioners help out at Moorelands Camp and at foodbanks, but the pandemic has put those efforts on hold.
Mr. Cameron says the gift is unusual for St. Timothy’s. “Traditionally, we ask people to contribute to fundraising campaigns, to give to FaithWorks or to volunteer. But this was different. It was about looking at the blessings we have and saying, ‘There’s a lot of people who don’t have rainy day funds’ and how can we help them?”
Although the $50,000 is a one-time gift, St. Timothy’s is hoping it will be the start of a partnership between the church and the ministries. “We’re hoping to build relationships and learn from them,” says Canon Beresford.
He says one of the reasons for the church’s outpouring of generosity is its daily Morning Prayer service, which has been held online, Monday to Friday, since the pandemic began, regularly attended by about 30 people. “People can’t pray together like that over such a long period of time without being changed,” he says. “The daily act of putting our lives in God’s hands is affecting and shaping us. That has been one of the pandemic’s gifts to us.”
The church has also been going through the diocese’s MAP (Mission Action Planning) process, which helps churches to look outward and engage with the surrounding community. As part of connecting with its neighbours, St. Timothy’s plans to invite them to give to the frontline ministries as well.
He says the gift says a lot about the character of St. Timothy’s members. “The decision reflects a grassroots sense of who we are, who want to be and our willingness to take risks to be that.”
The Rev. Maggie Helwig, incumbent of St. Stephen’s, thanked St. Timothy’s for the gift. “I began my ordained ministry as a curate at St. Timothy’s, and I have very fond memories of the people there. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to maintain a relationship, and that they have supported and engaged with the outreach programming at St Stephen’s for years. This exceptionally generous gift will help to keep us going through the additional expenses of providing food, shelter, and social support to our marginalized community members during COVID-19.”