Grants help re-imagine Church

Seven people smile for a photo holding tablets and phones.
The social media team at St. Martin, Bay Ridges (Pickering).
 on February 1, 2018
Michael Hudson

The diocese’s Our Faith-Our Hope campaign has provided $10.5 million in grants, in addition to the portion kept by the parishes. Here is how some of those grants have been spent.


Adaptive Re-Use of Parish Facilities

St. Martin, Bay Ridges (Pickering)
$12,750 to address accessibility concerns. The parish installed an automatic door opener to allow easier access, created an accessible washroom and received estimates for further accessibility projects. “We at St. Martin’s envision the day when our worship space will be fully accessible. The Re-Imagine Church grant has helped us start that process,” said Joe Moore, churchwarden. The parish later received another grant of $55,000 to continue its accessibility work.

St. Peter, Erindale
$75,000 to install a lift that is used daily to give worshippers and visitors full access to all floors of the building. “Thanks to the OFOH support, we were able to open up our church to new ministry opportunities by gaining accessibility for all,” said the Rev. Canon Jennifer Reid, incumbent. “We see the future as much rosier – people are delighted with the lift.”

St. George Memorial, Oshawa
$35,000 for accessibility upgrades. The parish is installing an exterior accessibility ramp and modifying an existing internal ramp. It is also hoping to replace existing entrance doors that have begun to rot and are not energy-efficient.

St. Stephen in-the-Fields, Toronto
$418,000 for major building renovations. The grant provided for roof and foundation repairs, new hardwood floors, and a renovated kitchen and washrooms. St. Stephen’s was able to expand its capacity for outreach and community work, enhance its worship space and ensure the long-term stability of the building. “Our volunteers are delighted by the size and functionality of the new kitchen, and we are already providing better meals for our guests,” said the Rev. Maggie Helwig, incumbent.

St. George, Grafton
$145,000 to revitalize the interior and exterior of the church and parish hall. The remodelled hall is a hub in the community, hosting an internet café, a quilting group, men’s breakfasts, circles of prayer and other regular events in a comfortable, modern meeting place.


Communicating in a Wireless World

St. Bride, Clarkson
$15,000 for new audio equipment, projectors, screens and cameras. Prayers and hymns for worship services are projected rather than printed, video content is used during sermons, and the parish is finding new ways to use video during services. “The grant has helped make it possible for us to communicate the Good News in more impactful ways through the use of visual media,” said the Rev. Canon Stephen Peake, incumbent.

St. Paul, Newmarket
$30,000 to renew its technology and develop a robust online presence, including a new website and branding. “As a parish without a main-street presence, this grant enabled us to develop an online presence that has become our point of entry for newcomers,” said Colleen Keats, churchwarden. “More people are saying they found us and learned of our ministries and events via our web presence than before.”

Diocesan Communications Department
$58,700 to help 18 parishes build seeker-friendly websites, followed by $52,580 for a second phase of 20 parishes. Parishes work with a web designer, photographer and social media coach to enhance their online presence and develop communication strategies. “This has been a very engaging and fruitful process for us. We have become much more intentional in our use of social media,” said the Ven. Stephen Vail, incumbent of All Saints, Whitby, after participating in the program.

Christ Memorial Church, Oshawa
$27,298 to enhance its technology for mission. The parish upgraded its technological equipment, developed a new website, started posting sermons online, created a Facebook page and improved its capacity for graphic design. “We are so grateful for our OFOH grant,” said Michelle Nichols, churchwarden. “The whole process stimulated and continues to stimulate new engagement with social media, communications and even our ‘branding.’ What a lift this has been!”

St. Cuthbert, Leaside
$4,000 to upgrade the church’s sound system to accommodate assistive hearing devices. The project increased participation in worship by those with hearing impairments and created a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. “I think the hearing devices are wonderful – I would be lost without them,” said one parishioner. “When people were reading the Prayers of the People or anything from the pulpit, I couldn’t hear at all. I think they are a wonderful idea.”

Grace Church on-the-Hill, Toronto
$12,000 to develop a mobile app for Apple and Android phones to connect with the congregation and the wider community. It includes readings, daily prayer, videos and photos. “The Grace Church app has opened many new doors in the parish in connecting in a wireless world. We have spread the music of Grace Church well beyond our doors,” said Chris Leonard, director of administration.


Enabling Parishes to Become Multi-Staffed

St. Olave, Swansea
$49,000 to hire a child and youth minister to nurture the spiritual lives of children and their parents. The parish has also held events outside of regular worship times to reach more families who aren’t able to attend on Sunday mornings. “Our Our Faith-Our Hope grant helped us revitalize our children’s ministry and support our youth with the addition of a staff member. Without this much-needed investment, our volunteer resources would have been stretched beyond capacity,” said Janice Douglas, coordinator of the parish’s Junior Church Leadership committee.

St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto
$75,000 to hire a part-time associate priest responsible for children and youth work. Under the leadership of the Rev. Jennifer Schick, the parish has found new ways to connect with its youngest members. “We’re trying to grow our ministry both inside and out,” she said. “We’re also aware that we need to reach out to the wider community, too.”


Leadership Development

The Rev. Peter Mills, St. John, Ida
$2,500 for tuition fees to pursue a graduate certificate in missional leadership and formation at Wycliffe College. “This grant enabled me to participate in the Missional Leadership certificate course, which has invigorated my preaching and leadership. I have been given some tools that will help me cultivate a community with a missional heart,” said Mr. Mills.


Pioneering Ministry

St. Paul, L’Amoreaux, Toronto
$60,000 to establish a chapel ministry at Silversprings Park, a large low-income rental complex located at Finch and Birchmount in Scarborough. The chapel offers weekly services, pastoral care, Christian study and service, and a satellite office for St. Paul’s L’Amoreaux Centre. It also enhances the development of community support programs.

St. John, West Toronto
$26,870 to support a new part-time youth worker with a focus on LGBTQ youth. The church hired Cormac Culkeen, who has started a monthly queer Eucharist and a weekly youth drop-in while making connections among LGBTQ youth in the parish and the wider community. “We know that LGBTQ youth do not have an easy walk of it in high school, so that’s what we set out to do: create a space for them to explore the possibility of faith in their lives,” said the Rev. Samantha Caravan, incumbent.

Sisterhood of St. John the Divine
$100,000 to support the Companions on an Ancient Path program, a year-long experience in intentional community for young women. “We feel this program answers a need that is expressed by young people in our church – how to be more grounded in their spiritual life and also to develop skills that will be useful in pioneering ministries that they may be involved in,” said Sister Constance Joanna Gefvert.


The last chance for parishes and individuals to apply for Our Faith-Our Hope grants will be September 2021. Grants are awarded twice a year, in the spring and fall. Each category has its own application guidelines and forms, and all applications need the support of the church’s area bishop. The next deadline is April 15. For more information, visit the diocese’s website,


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