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Churches Get Creative in Community

January 17, 2024
Jonathan Maracle and his band, Broken Walls, performed in Classis Quinte, thanks to a grant from the CRCNA.
Jonathan Maracle and his band, Broken Walls, performed in Classis Quinte, thanks to a grant from the CRCNA.

Local churches can bring creativity and collaboration to the forefront of ministry, but they are sometimes thwarted by limited budgets. That’s the idea behind a ministry-share funded initiative that provides small grants to Canadian congregations with collaborative and innovative ideas.

“It is a joy to support the creativity and passion of local churches together as a denomination,” said Roshani Morton, CRCNA advancement director for Canada. “Lately the focus has been on the beautiful intersection of food and worship, with some remarkable examples.”

Ambassador Community CRC in Windsor, Ont., for example, wanted to hold regular community dinners. They applied for and received a $500 grant from the denomination to help them get started. This was a creative and collaborative way for a small but passionate church community to shift their focus toward evangelism and community engagement.

“These dinners have fostered new relationships, providing solace to widows and widowers, forging new friendships, and offering nourishing meals to those in need,” said Darrell Edgar, pastor of Ambassador Community. “One widower expressed appreciation for the healthy meals because, since his wife passed, he finds it hard to eat alone.”

Church volunteers share rides to and from the meals, have been invited to birthday parties, and have been given opportunities to offer spiritual council to dinner attendees. One couple said they appreciated finding this community of friends because they are lonely and do not know many people in the city. Others, who have been attending the meals, have been grateful for the healthy cooking because they find it hard to make their paychecks stretch throughout the month.

After nearly a year of offering these meals, Ambassador’s community meal ministry has grown from an attendance of 7 to 45, with a Christmas dinner event of over 70 in attendance.

New Hope CRC in Hamilton, Ont., serves as another example of creativity, thanks to ministry shares. The congregation worships in a low-income housing complex and serves this local community with a “Fill the Fridge” program that was supported with a $500 grant.

Volunteers from the church come together every other month to cook meals together. During each gathering, they prepare 100 servings each of two different meals. The meals can then be distributed by church volunteers to residents in the complex who might need a meal.

“People who come are also welcome to bring containers to take portions home,” said a representative of New Hope in the report they sent explaining how grant funds have been used. “As we are packaging the meals, we usually pop our heads out of the building to see if any tenants are around for a hot meal before freezing the rest. It's been great to interact and to hear feedback from the tenants on their favorites that we make. Shepherd's pie is definitely a winner!”

“This initiative not only nourishes the body but also strengthens community bonds,” added Morton.

Living Hope Community Church in Whitby, Ont., sought to be creative in a different way. This church plant collaborated with six other churches from a wide variety of denominations in their community to host an event called “Worship Redefined.” This event underscored the transformative power that worship can have to turn people’s focus from worldly influences to God's truth.

Diverse backgrounds converged in songs of praise and worship, fostering unity among believers. Funds from a Creativity and Collaboration grant were used to help advertise the event and provide refreshments.

Meanwhile, a group of people from Classis Quinte were inspired at the Canadian National Gathering last May when they learned that Jonathan Maracle, a Tyendinaga Mohawk Christian musician who helped to lead worship at the gathering, had never held a concert with his band in his home territory. The band, Broken Walls, is an Indigenous Christian group dedicated to spreading a message of hope and healing to Indigenous communities across Canada and the U.S. In particular, the group has been working to share the power of music and the gospel with Indigenous communities that have had high suicide rates.

The people from Classis Quinte wanted to invite the musicians to come and perform, and a Creativity and Collaboration grant helped to meet that need. The Broken Walls concert was held on Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation last September. The event began with a land acknowledgment, which was followed by introductions of Jim Harrison, the mayor of Belleville, Ont., and Donald Maracle, the chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk community.

At least one attendee said they felt the concert “unified settler Canadians and Indigenous Peoples through music that glorified the Creator and showcased the incredible power and beauty of Indigenous-inspired worship.”

Stories like these are a testament to the importance of supporting and celebrating the creativity and passion of local churches.

“Through our collective support of ministry shares, we empower churches to actively contribute to their communities’ well-being and to share the gospel through meaningful relationships,” said Morton. “It's a beautiful journey we're on together! Thank you for your support of the ministry-share program!”

To learn more about how ministry shares are being utilized to foster collaborative and innovative initiatives among churches throughout Canada, contact Roshani Morton at [email protected].