By The Reverend Deacon Heino Claessens
In our Diaconal vows, we are called to be a ministry of servanthood, interpreting to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. To look for Christ in all others, being ready to help and serve those in need, seeking the glory of the Lord Christ. As a Deacon, I feel called to meet the challenge.
Deacons are called to be in this world, and I do so as CEO of a national company with 24 members on our team. Yet we are also committed to interpreting to the church the needs of the world which I accomplish through Community Unity Halton Hills, a registered charity under the guidance of the Georgetown Ministerial Association, founded in 2008 of which I am the Executive Director. We are the community of faith working together making a difference in our community accomplished through missionalministries; a single word to describe our preaching the Gospel while living the Gospel in community. In 2019 these missionalministries included:
In the spring and again in the fall, we gather volunteers from many of the churches to assist families in need, due to age, health or circumstance, with their yard clean-up. With approximately 80 volunteers of all ages, we raked, we visited, we prayed with those in need. We touched and in turn were touched. Not only did we leave signs behind —“This yard was taken care of by Community Unity”, but we also showed and left the love of Christ. The spring clean-up is youth centric getting them more involved in community.
Food From the Heart and the Easter Brigade
Food From the Heart (FFTH) serves a twice monthly high hot protein meal to the clients of the Georgetown Breadbasket. This too is an important touchpoint for His love to be active in community as members of FFTH come alongside those in need by listening to their stories and engaging with them to find help.
On Holy Saturday, over 150 volunteers from most churches in our community gathered to bag enough food for a family of 4 for a week and then deliver the bags to 160 families as vetted by the Georgetown Breadbasket. What an incredible display of agape! Yet, it wasn’t so much the ministry we engaged in; it was the mission — the WHY.
To touch people in need, to see them, to acknowledge them, to dignify them and to bring awareness to others of their plight. This missionalministry takes place during a time of year when food is at its scarcest in our community.
People coming to a church in need are referred to Jubilee where caring and compassionate trained volunteers advocate for anyone needing support by developing a holistic plan through accessing community resources. This year nine families/people came to us for assistance. The needs were diverse, very real, and yet it wasn’t just the need that caused us to act, but because we are called to follow Him in giving ourselves to the other — making a very real difference to those in our community.
Last year, 2019, saw the release of our Community Unity Opportunity Scan giving birth to the Jubilee Seniors’ Missionalministry.
Working together with four regional agencies, the Seniors Missionalministry strives to intentionally develop connections with lonely/isolated seniors living in Halton Hills, and to find opportunities for their inclusion in our community. We are super fortunate to be partnered with Plan to Protect® and Diaconal Ministries Canada to provide ongoing training and support.
Through our connections with Habitat for Humanity and the Town of Halton Hills we’ve started the Tiny House Missionalministry in association with the youth of Christ the King Secondary School and regional support agencies to aid those finding themselves situationally homeless. This is also our foray to getting the youth involved in our community through social justice projects.
Its missionalministries like the above that bring the Good News into community using our hands, our feet, our eyes, our voices, in His name.
The Deacon’s Bench is a regular feature in The Niagara Anglican. Each month we will hear from a Deacon serving a parish under a Bishop’s Letter of Permission. Each will inform us about the ministry s/he conducts in their parish and the wider community. This month’s columnist is The Reverend Deacon Heino Claessens, of St. Alban the Martyr (Glen Williams)