It was, undoubtedly, the highlight of my year—the entry into this world of my first grandchild: Simone Adelaide Schwartz on April 13 at 11:00 a.m.
Her arrival has changed everything. In her presence, the most mundane objects become new and exciting when enthusiastically narrated, as Grandpas tend to do: this book, that lamp, my chair. In her bright little eyes, the past has no meaning because the present is all-consuming. And when the briefest of naps affords those of us who dote on her the luxury of time, we invariably look to the future, speculating about milestones: the rolling over, the sitting up, the walking, the talking.
The second great highlight of my year was, not uncoincidentally, the birth of another change-oriented, youthful, exciting, forward-looking endeavour. We did not mark the date or the hour, but the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s Say Yes! to Kids campaign, in which I have had a hand, came to life last January.
By the time you read this, that campaign will have resulted in the largest one-time investment in ministry and outreach to children and youth the Canadian church has ever seen. Some of that investment will bear fruit by funding compassionate, innovative projects right here in the Diocese of Niagara.
I am grateful, beyond measure, to the visionary donors who supported Say Yes! to Kids, and to those who have nurtured youth ministry leaders to step forward, bravely, onto a mission field that now includes youth-focused pandemic recovery. Between the granting and the giving there has been no shortage of generosity, passion, or creativity in the Diocese of Niagara. Well done!
When I learned that the total funding requested nationwide was over half a million dollars—for more than 80 projects—it occurred to me that recent experiences with the pandemic have really changed the church, and well beyond livestreaming and zooming. It is possible the pandemic has strengthened our resolve to be missional and has readied us to make a long overdue investment, of a significant scale and magnitude, in serving young people in our parishes and in our communities.
Indeed, it feels as if we are at the forefront of a movement. We are more ready than we have ever been as a church to say without words, but with deeds, that young people matter to the Canadian church, young people have a place here, and can find a spiritual home in which they have room to live and breathe and contribute here.
When she is older, I hope to travel with Simone to parts of the country I know and love. Our journey might include attending the performance of a children’s choir in Alberta, joining a recording session of a youth podcast in Manitoba, or paying a visit to a reconciliation garden in Nova Scotia.
Of course, I will be happy to tell her that she and all these things were born in the same year. Together we will celebrate a visionary, loving church—one that saw beyond that which was merely possible to that which might be dramatically transformational. What a great day that will be!
Peter is Gift Consultant for the Anglican Foundation of Canada.