gives them new tools to revitalize their ministries. “I have
found that often rural churches are called on for a broader
range of programs and community services than urban
churches,” says Curtis.
Here are a few examples of where your donations to Mission
& Service are helping new forms of ministry to flourish:
• An art and faith group at St. Paul’s Church in Midland, Ont.
emphasizes spirituality and deeper relationships between
• Eastside United Church in Regina hosts an Easter egg hunt
every April, with hundreds of people searching for thousands of eggs. It’s a unique—and sweet—form of community outreach.
• Stittsville United Church in Ontario has a world café where
the community is invited to discuss any topic.
To learn more—or to subscribe to the
Embracing the Spirit online newsletter—
visit united-church.ca. If your group has
an innovative project in mind, the information on the website can help you decide
what type of grant (there are three) best
suits your congregation’s needs.
Paul Russell is a Communications
Co-ordinator at the General Council
Office in Toronto.
When members of O’Leary United Church in Prince Edward Island were discussing
how to reach out to the community, the Rev.
Bethe Benjamin Cameron had a novel idea:
build a labyrinth. “I’ve always had a personal
passion for labyrinths,” says Cameron.
The church requested $2,000 from
Embracing the Spirit, a United Church pro-
gram that helps develop new forms of innova-
tive ministry. Once that money was granted
in 2016, construction started on a sprawling
labyrinth adjacent to the church, made from
stones taken from local potato fields. It has proven very
popular. “The energy changes as soon as you step inside the
rocks,” says Cameron. “People have an opportunity to nur-
ture their spirit as they step across the threshold into some-
thing that is ancient, but still very new.Wherever you are
in it, you see the centre, and we believe that Christ is at the
This labyrinth is just one example of the dozens of innova-
tive approaches to ministry that Embracing the Spirit funds.
“Embracing the Spirit is a story about taking a risk, about
experimenting, and about trying new things,” says Cheryl
Curtis, the United Church’s Manager of Mission & Service
Giving at the General Council office in Toronto. “With small
capital input in most cases, some really exciting things are
happening across our church.”
Commissioners at the 42nd General
Council in 2015 decided that 10 percent
of the annual Mission & Service budget
should support new ministries and new
forms of ministry. Embracing the Spirit
launched in 2016, and it now funds
approximately 50 new types of ministry
across Canada. In April alone, another
40 applications came in, and 80 percent
Pastoral charges in rural areas are especially excited by the program because it
By Paul Russell
SUPPORT TO LOCAL MINISTRIES 5
and new ideas
The new labyrinth at O’Leary United Church in Prince
Edward Island was funded by Embracing the Spirit.