Dear Friends in Christ,
This coming Sunday, Nov. 22 has been designated FaithWorks Sunday in the Diocese of Toronto. The last Sunday of the Church’s year anticipates the Reign of Christ, looking forward to the time when God’s Kingdom is revealed among us and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
The scriptures for the Reign of Christ paint a rich vision of God’s will for God’s people. The prophet Ezekiel depicts God as a shepherd bringing his scattered flock together into verdant pasture, seeking the lost and strayed, binding up the injured, and strengthening the weak. And in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus declares that in serving those in need we are ministering to Christ Himself.
FaithWorks is the federated annual appeal of the Diocese of Toronto. Our FaithWorks ministry partners care for people with many challenges: those who are homeless, ex-prisoners, newcomers and refugees, at-risk youth, women and families, and Indigenous Peoples experiencing housing, income, and water insecurity. The FaithWorks ministries are located throughout and across our Diocese, from Peterborough to Orillia to Peel to Durham, and many places in between.
To date, we have raised $790,500 – over half of this year’s goal of $1,500,000. Our earlier appeal at Pentecost, and at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, generated $124,000 in gifts. In fact, we experienced more on-line giving in April of this year compared to all of last year! Despite the very real challenges of living through a pandemic, people want to help.
Now a generous donor has challenged parishes to increase their giving and will match new gifts, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. But there is some urgency, as parishes must inform us of any increase by Dec. 23 to qualify for the match.
This coming FaithWorks Sunday is a good opportunity to focus on FaithWorks and encourage financial support, particularly if the closure of in-person worship earlier this year forced you to postpone or cancel your usual FaithWorks campaign.
It is also timely that our FaithWorks Sunday is falling on National Housing Day in Canada. Housing is one of the greatest needs anyone can face, especially in our climate. Having a safe, secure place to live provides people with dignity and is a key determinant of physical and mental health. This is especially true during the pandemic, as we are all encouraged to keep our distance and stay safe at home. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and winter approaches, it is more important than ever for us to act and advocate for the safety and health of homeless and precariously housed Ontarians. The Social Justice & Advocacy Committee is working on a “Housing Matters” toolkit for parishes to use in calling for immediate measures to prevent evictions and support people experiencing homelessness. These advocacy resources, available here, provide a list of action ideas for supporting local parish and diocesan FaithWorks ministries serving those in housing need.
This coming Sunday, as we celebrate the Reign of Christ, let us all take action for those in need through our advocacy efforts and financial support, including contributing generously to our diocesan FaithWorks ministries who incarnate Christ’s love to all.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto