By Charles Meeks and Michelle Hauser
In late November, more than 100 grant and bursary applicants received some welcome news that they will receive funding from the Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC).
“I am delighted to say that the Board of Directors of AFC has approved close to $650,000 in grants and bursaries to 110 applicants as part of its fall 2021 grant cycle,” says Dr. Scott Brubacher, Executive Director. “This brings the 2021 grant awards total to more than $835,000, one of the most generous years in AFC’s 64-year history.” Brubacher says an additional $125,000 or more in disbursements from some of AFC’s trusts may yet see the 2021 grants total hit the $1 million milestone.
Pushing the grant program to new heights was an astonishing $468,000 in funding for the Say Yes! to Kids Request for Proposals (RFP): the largest one-time investment in youth-focused ministry the Canadian church has seen.
“AFC supporters embraced Say Yes! to Kids with a spirit of generosity last spring,” says Brubacher, “and applicants responded to that generosity with a spirit of innovation and creativity this fall. “For that initiative alone,” says Brubacher, “a total of 84 applicants applied for nearly $520,000. It was the largest, and most diverse funding request—in terms of regional spread and social impacts—we have ever seen.”
In the Diocese of Niagara, four applicants for Say Yes! to Kids grants and two applicants for leadership and education bursaries received a total of $25,400. The Say Yes! to Kids grants span three major categories, including supporting the mental health of young people during the pandemic, building youth ministries, and supporting faith formation efforts. Grant recipients include St. Luke’s Smithville, St. George’s Guelph, Grace Church Milton, and the diocese’s Children, Youth, and Family Ministry program (CYFM). Educational bursaries were awarded to Monica Romig Green and Nicola Li Fen Zhang, both candidates for ordination in Niagara.
Bishop Susan Bell expressed deep thanks to the AFC for their longstanding partnership with the diocese, reflecting particularly on its spiritual support of ministries in Niagara in addition to financial support. The Bishop affirmed that the AFC’s backing of these “innovative, compassionate, and forward-thinking” projects is “a wise vote for the future of the Church.” In these days of transition from being a “Christendom church to a missional church,” the diocese can now continue answering the call to lead and to love by extending its online reach.
Peter Wall, interim pastor of St. James Dundas and gift consultant for the AFC, echoed Bishop Bell’s sentiments, affirming that there is “no shortage of generosity, passion, and creativity in the diocese of Niagara.” Wall revealed that a portion of the overall funding for Say Yes! to Kids grants initially came from a matched gift from within the diocese, reflecting that our members are “more ready than ever to say that young people matter to the Canadian church.”
Sarah Bird, program consultant for children, youth and family ministry, expressed gratitude on behalf of ministry leaders throughout the diocese. “This grant has come at a time when we are exhausted; it’s hard to dream when life continues to be unpredictable,” she reflected. However, this financial boon “allows leaders to dream and channel their excitement into future opportunities.” While the pandemic “has turned everything upside-down,” Bird stated, “Niagara chose to jump into action to offer many supports for connecting faith formation to families in one of the most challenging times we’ll ever face.”
One such leap into action is by St. Luke’s Smithville, who have worked with leaders among their young people to develop a youth drop-in program. As parishioner Jim Higginson expressed, the gap between Sunday School and other services in many parishes continues to grow, and financial assistance from the AFC will help bridge that gap in order to demonstrate Christ’s love in the community.
“We are closing in on two years since the onset of the pandemic,” says Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and AFC chair, “and we know our churches continue to face challenges. But the entire board feels so energized by our capacity to fund these innovative, missional projects and to support Canadian Anglicans in their vision for an engaged, compassionate church. There are creative, visionary projects from across the country here and we are praying for all of them.”
Grants awarded in the fall 2021 cycle range between $1,000 to $15,000 and fall within AFC’s key impact zones: community ministries, diverse infrastructure, Indigenous ministries, leadership and education, and music and sacred arts.
You can view the fall 2021 grant awards slide presentation, which provides a full list of all Say Yes! to Kids as well as regular grant award recipients, at https://vimeo.com/649514331.