At St. Matthew's, 'Outreach' means those projects, activities and commitments which provide service to those in our community (and elsewhere in the world) who are vulnerable, marginalized or in need.
Cornerstone is one of five Community Ministries of the Diocese of Ottawa and has provided emergency shelter and supportive housing for homeless women in Ottawa since 1983. Volunteers from St. Matthew's participate in the Weekend Meal Program by preparing and serving one weekend lunch every month throughout the year for the 50-60 residents of the Shelter.
Out of the Cold
This is a collaborative ministry with other churches in the neighbourhood. St. Matthews is responsible for one Saturday dinner for about 80 people each winter.
The baking program cooks prepare delicious desserts for the Cornerstone Weekend Meal Program and, where possible, provide additional baked goods that can be delivered to other social service agencies with whom we work (e.g. Youth Services Bureau, Harmony House, Centre 454).
Food Bank Collections
St. Matthew's continues to be a member of CCSAC, provides financial support annually, and organizes weekly collections for the Emergency Food Centre.The Centretown Churches Social Action Committee (CCSAC) represents some 25 churches who together have been working for social justice in our community since 1967. They have undertaken many initiatives on behalf of the poor and isolated in our community, but today their main project is the Centretown Emergency Food Centre, whose mandate is to serve the needy in the area.
Angels with Backpacks
This is a parish Christmas project in which over 100 backpacks, bags and boxes are filled with basic necessities for street youth. help make life on winter streets a little more bearable. Others are filled with sheets, towels, toiletries and gift certificates in support of the new Housing Hub established by the Youth Services Bureau Hub to open in 2019. Each year, the backpacks and other containers are given to the Downtown Youth Services Bureau (YSB) Drop-In and are distributed at their annual Christmas party. The YSB Drop-In provides services and a safe place for youth 12-20 years of age who have complex needs and are homeless, unstably housed or living on the street.
Centre 454 is one of four community ministries of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, providing hospitality, counselling, crisis intervention, practical supports and social recreational activities to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. St. Matthew's undertakes a month-long collection of items needed by the Centre.
Started in 1987 as a social outreach program of St. Matthew's, Harmony House is a second-stage shelter, assisting women and their children move from a life of fear and abuse to one of security, confidence and independence. Harmony House is the only second-stage women's shelter in all of Eastern Ontario. St. Matthew's continues to have two members on the Harmony House Board of Directors, provides financial support ($5,000 annually) and donates Christmas gifts for the women and children through the Jesse Tree project. Click here to visit the Harmony House website.
Multi-Faith Housing Initiative
Started in 2002, MHI is a network of faith communities working together to provide housing to people in need without regard to their faith or religious affiliation. The target group is individuals, couples and families who are on the edge of poverty, often minimum wage earners who would have the potential to achieve greater stability and financial security if they could obtain affordable and adequate rental housing. In addition to owning affordable rental accommodations, MHI works in cooperation with other organizations to promote affordable housing and support efforts by government, private sector and nonprofit groups to develop affordable housing projects. St. Matthew's is an on-going member of MHI and now provides an annual financial contribution toward MHI housing initiatives.
St. Matthew’s Northern Outreach
In the fall of 2009, Bishop Mark MacDonald, the Canadian Anglican Church’s first National Indigenous Bishop, visited. He told us of a great First Nations elder who said recently, “In former times, our enemies were famine, war and disease. Now we struggle against alcoholism, suicide and poverty.” The suicide rate among Aboriginal youth was (and remains) five to seven times the national average and is as high as eleven times for Inuit youth.
We asked Bishop Mark what could we do to help support Canada’s Indigenous people? He answered, “walk with us.” For objectives-driven, results-oriented parishioners, this was a challenge. What did “walk with us” mean? How could we make it real? St. Matthew’s decided to partner with the Council of the North on the Suicide Prevention Program and provide spiritual, financial and practical support. St. Matthew’s also began to explore the possibility of partnering with a parish in a remote northern community as a way to learn from each other and benefit from our shared and individual strengths.
Supporting Suicide Prevention
Half of the proceeds of St. Matthew’s 2010 Auction were devoted to Suicide Prevention and we successfully raised $30,000 for that purpose. These funds, combined with the original start-up funding from the Amazing Grace Project to finance the development of the ‘River of Life’, the only online course designed to help prevent Aboriginal youth suicide. It helps communities discern which prevention programs are best for them. Networks of lay and ordained volunteers work in partnership with tribal councils, governments, health and social service agencies, community groups and faith groups. National partners include the Assembly of First Nations, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Centre for Suicide Prevention, which offers the River of Life online training program.
Partnering with St. Thomas, Moose Factory
The parish of St. Thomas in Moose Factory joined us on this long walk. There have been three formal visits between the two parishes since 2011 and many informal visits by clergy, parishioners and residents of Moose Factory. The key turning point in the relationship was the visit by a delegation from Moose Factory that included a number of parish leaders as well as the High Ridge Singers – a traditional drumming group of eight young men ranging in age from 15 to early 20s.
Their weekend with us included many shared meals, a meditation session, time for sharing stories, an informal music session, a formal drumming performance, free time to do a bit of sight-seeing, and, finally, the Sunday Eucharist where the drum and drummers were welcomed into the church and integrated into a most remarkable Eucharist and worship service See video.
Informal visits continue, and lasting friendships have been formed. Those who worship and work at St. Thomas are remembered in our prayers, and we look forward with inspiration and hope to our continued walk together.
St. Matthew’s has been engaged in prayer ministry on behalf of the Suicide Prevention Program and the parish of St. Thomas, Moose Factory, since July 2010. The ministry includes a daily petition offered by the Prayer Chain; a weekly short prayer text for the Prayers of the People at Sunday services and a longer prayer (printed in the Sunday Bulletin) both of which are emailed each week to the Rector of St. Thomas parish); and occasional prayer by the Healing Team when there is a specific need for God’s healing power. The petitions are refreshed regularly to reflect the ongoing needs of SPP and St. Thomas.
"Commitment to 'Reach out in Loving Service' Deepens", Pulse of the Parish, May 16, 2010
"Our Charity Auction a Big Success", Pulse of the Parish, November 2010
"Suicide Prevention Program: Partners in Prayer", Pulse of the Parish, November 2010
"Northern Leaders Learn Suicide Prevention Online", Anglican Church of Canada, April 13, 2011 (external link)
"Suicide Prevention Project Responds to Urgent Need", Anglican Church of Canada, September 17, 2010 (external link)
Primates' World Relief & Development Fund
PWRDF is the Canadian Anglican response for emergency relief, refugees, development, and justice. Parishioners support PWRDF through donations. To learn more about PWRDF and its recent projects, please visit its website at www.pwrdf.org .
The Marmalade Project
This project began several years ago by a parishioner who became aware of an initiative to provide training for teenage boys in Pelotas, Brazil--Ottawa's then companion diocese. The Marmalade Project raised funds to send to Brazil. The tradition has continued and every year for two weeks around mid-January, marmalade is made by St. Matthew's volunteers and the funds raised are donated tothe Primate's World Relief & Development Fund (PWRDF) and the Centretown Emergency Food Centre in Ottawa.