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By Diane Dance

In the Anglican Church of Canada, where the pace of change is known to be a little on the slow side, it’s rare to see the beginning, middle, and end of a new initiative all within the same calendar year. But that’s what happened in 2021 when I was introduced to the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) Say Yes! to Kids campaign and Request for Proposals (RFP).

This past winter, as AFC’s representative for the Diocese of Huron, I was briefed on the campaign plan and invited to do my part to make an ambitious investment in funding youth-focused ministry and outreach a success. And what a success it has been!

This past November, AFC’S Board of Directors approved close to $650,000 in grants and bursaries to 110 applicants—and an incredible $468,000 of that was owing to the Say Yes! to Kids RFP. It is the largest one-time investment in youth-focused ministry the Canadian church has seen and touches many important spiritual and social impact zones: faith formation, resilience and mental health, food security, enrichment in arts, education, and outdoor activities and more. Here in the Diocese of Huron, eight projects were awarded Say Yes! to Kids grants for a total of more than $28,000 in funding.

From my initial briefing on Say Yes! to Kids, to the wonderful ending that was AFC’s Grant Awards Celebration in our diocese, there has been a lot of hard work. Not a week has gone by where Terry and I haven’t had something to do: advising on communications plans in the winter, campaigning for kids in the spring, encouraging ministry leaders to apply for funds throughout the summer, and reviewing some of the more than 80 applications that came in during the fall as members of the RFP Committee.

After a blizzard of activity here we are, back to winter again, in the still and quiet of Advent, reflecting on a year devoted to what some have described as the birth of a youth-focused movement within the church. I hope that is true.

There are challenges ahead, no doubt, especially for grant recipients. Many have received seed funding for pilot projects, and must turn their attention to the hard work of launching new initiatives in a church that doesn’t always embrace change. We must pray for their success. And imagine what a joy it will be to watch these projects grow: revitalizing our church, and making a difference in so many lives.

Terry and I are grateful to everyone who took up our call to action to support Say Yes! to Kids—either as a donor or as an applicant and ministry leader. We both feel so encouraged to see so many parishes who understand that the work of the church is not simply to prop up an institution, but to change lives and give hope in a hurting world.

Diane Dance is AFC representative for Huron. 

 AFC’s 2021 Grant Awards to the Diocese of Huron: $44,750 to 11 Recipients Say Yes! to Kids Grants:

• St. George's Anglican Church, London, Music From Around the World: $1,800
• St. Paul's Cathedral, London, Series of musical concerts for children: $5,000
• St. Paul's Anglican Church, Port Dover, Community Kids Matter: educational stencils & reading materials: $2,500
• St. Mark's Anglican Church, Brantford, Revitalizing Children's Ministry at St. Mark's: $3,700
• St. John in the Wilderness, Bright's Grove, VBS Young Beekeeper's Program: $3,150
• St. John the Divine, Arva, Outreach to the Medway High School Community: $5,000
• Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, Exeter, Community Counselling Centre of Exeter: $5,000
• St. James Anglican Church, Cambridge, Mental Health & Resilience Building for Children and Youth: $2,100

Other 2021 Grant Awards:
• St. George's Anglican Church, Goderich Building for Ministry: $10,000
• Five Oaks Education Centre, Paris, Creating connections through access to reliable wireless: $5,000
• Mr. Brendon Bedford, Bursary Recipient