WHAT WE ARE ABOUT
The United Church has a long tradition of overseas mission. During the 1970s, global justice and peace initiatives characterized overseas mission work. Appeals for humanitarian relief efforts in Nigeria, India, and East Pakistan became the precursor to what is now World Development and Relief (WDR). Participation in global mission continues to be an important focus for the United Church. WDR money supports both long-term development work and short-term responses to humanitarian crises.
The United Church works in partnership with churches and agencies that have established strong community-development programs. These community-based programs focus on agriculture, water access and quality, community health, education, childcare, youth work, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Many of these same partners have community-based networks for distributing emergency supplies in times of crisis: famine in Southern Africa, drought relief in Mozambique, or tsunami relief in Asia. The United Church is committed not only to responding to immediate needs in a crisis situation, but also to doing long-term work as communities rebuild and re-establish.
There are more than 34 countries in which The United Church of Canada supports ministry, training, and development or relief projects. In addition, there are 124 indigenous churches, Christian councils, and agencies that minister in partnership with the United Church around the world, and 21 overseas personnel in 10 countries.
Quite a collection of projects, but we are not done yet. Despite the opportunity to work together as a national church through the Mission and Service Fund (M&S), we have also had many other opportunities to help those in the world who are in need. As a local congregation, we have supported victims of Tsunami (Indonesia and Japan), drought (Somalia), flooding (Pakistan) and earthquake (Haiti) through special appeals - mainly through the church, but also through groups like the Foodgrains Bank .
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
While emergency aid is often critical for the basic survival of those impacted, it is development aid that has the greatest impact on the long term. The work of our people here in Central Saanich helping to create a library in South America and a girl’s school in Africa were opportunities that we rallied around a few years ago. Now we are involved with assisting a syrian family to seetle in the area.
It's an uplifting experience to be part of this caring community of people who are willing to “find” the money when there is a need. Most of that delight comes from the revolutionary ideals of our Christian beliefs - the idea that we are called to serve and that a need is just an opportunity that has yet to be seized. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, accepted lepers, women, children and others in his community who were, in his day, isolated, dehumanized and often left destitute. He accepted them as individuals as they were, warts and all. The Good News is that we, too, are accepted and we in this rich First World have the added opportunity to be the hands and feet of God creating what the Kingdom of Heaven needs to be.
A former Moderator once told a group of us: “Money is a way to go and participate when we cannot physically be there ourselves.” While we are isolated from the realities of so much of the suffering in the world, we have shown that we can make a difference. Our support of United Church of Canada initiatives, along with continued support of both local and international initiatives, bears witness to our efforts - but there is more to do and more opportunities to give!
"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world
remains and is immortal.” Albert Pine
The above is based on a talk by Paul Addison