On June 5, anticipating the Feast of Pentecost the following Sunday, churches throughout the diocese will launch the first annual "Hands Across Niagara" campaign to provide a vehicle for generous support of justice and servant ministries and partnerships in this part of God's world.
Hands Across Niagara is all about partnerships that change the world—partnership with the national "Anglican Appeal" in its commitment to the mission of God in Canada and throughout the Anglican Communion, partnerships with local and regional agencies and organizations committed to service and advocacy, and partnerships among Anglican congregations and local ministries to work for change in their own context.
The funds that we contribute as generous stewards of God's abundance will be allocated equally—one-third each—to these three forms of partnership. Anglican Appeal will receive one-third to support ministries, in Canada and overseas, that serve God's transforming mission. For its part, Anglican Appeal will discontinue direct advertising within the diocese. That means that "Hands Across Niagara" is now the vehicle through which Anglican Appeal will reach out to Niagara Anglicans for financial support.
The Diocese will allocate one-third of the funds on the basis of applications from Anglicans engaging in partnership with agencies and organizations already active in serving and advocacy, with a focus on four areas: Food security for all people, care and support for children as they grow and develop, adequate shelter for those who lack it, and "eco-justice" —justice for the earth (ecological justice) and for persons and communities (economic justice).
These four areas of focus for justice and servant partnerships are rooted in the witness of scripture, beginning with God's first mandate to the first human—to till the earth and keep it. The framework of order and justice that the law and the prophets describe give historic shape to human faithfulness, and Jesus—his life and witness, death and resurrection—redeems a people for new life in a new world. "For if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation". For Christians, the promise of tomorrow is already present in the struggle of today. At the same time, as we live within that promise, we help it find expression in our work and witness.
So if we think of "food security", we might remember our ancestors and the manna God provided, manna that went rancid if any tried to horde it, or of any of the bible stories in which the sharing of food renders it abundant in the face of apparent scarcity. The widow of Zarapheth (1 Kings 17) comes to mind, and all the feeding stories of Jesus' ministry. If we think of care and support for children, we might remember that for Jesus they were holy persons, gifted with unique awareness and attentiveness to God and God's kingdom. If we think of shelter, we might remember that to share our shelter with the homeless poor is the fast that God demands of us in Isaiah 58. And we might hear the rumble of the prophet Amos' words—that our songs are noise and our solemn feasts devoid of any meaning before God until they find expression in justice.
Finally, one-third of the money contributed by the members of a parish will be returned to that parish for local purposes at that parish's discretion. We hope that new ministries and cooperation with other parishes might be part of how this money goes to work to make a difference in the world.
Hands Across Niagara will give the people of this diocese an avenue for generosity, generosity that will make a difference in the lives of other people—of people who are hungry, of children as they grow and develop, of those who seek the warmth and safety of shelter, of those who suffer injustice, and in the life of the earth itself. ...