By Michelle Hauser
On Tuesday, April 19 the Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) kicked-off its 2nd annual Say Yes! to Kids Campaign with a live online launch.
“Last year we knew we had hit on a real need within the church,” said Dr. Scott Brubacher, Executive Director. “This year’s campaign has focused on laying the groundwork for Say Yes! to Kids to be a long-term effort, one we believe can become a source of sustainable funding for youth-focused ministry and outreach across the Canadian church.”
According to AFC, there are approximately 20 fundraising teams nationwide. Campaign goals range from $2,500 up to $25,000 and programs include: dramatic arts, student bursary funds, revamping youth spaces, and support for young people who are experiencing homelessness, just to name a few. In the Diocese of Huron there are currently two teams who have joined the Say Yes! to Kids family.
“With God’s help, and the generosity of our parishioners and friends,” says the Rev. Aidan Armstrong, “St. George’s London will come back from the pandemic eager to engage in ministry and mission.” The church is using its Say Yes! to Kids campaign to raise funds to revamp the youth room “to accommodate all the avenues of youth ministry both for the present and the future.”
Emily Fontana, Child & Youth Minister at St. George’s says, “This new space will be well-equipped for the older kids’ new book club meetings and discussions times. We also hope it will be a venue for a variety of activity days including ‘human library’ events where we can welcome guest speakers and build relationships in and among the people of all ages who call St. George’s home.”
In 2021, St. George’s received a Say Yes! to Kids grant for their ‘Music from Around the World’ project. “Then, as now, our youth had a vision, and they wanted to bring it to life,” says Armstrong. “Refurbishing our youth space is another step in that same direction of being a future-focused church where young people can discover rich programs and ways to belong, to learn, and to help others.”
For this year’s Say Yes! to Kids campaign, St. Mark’s London will turn its attention to a youth-focused music program. “We have hired a vocal student from Western University to lead our new children’s choir,” says the Rev. Andra O’Neill. “We will be inviting young people in our neighborhood to participate. Many may not have the means for music lessons so this program will allow us to share a wealth of musical gifts while eliminating financial barriers.”
The children’s choir is a first step in a much larger vision. “We will look for opportunities to expand this music outreach,” says O’Neill, “and would love to be able to offer bursaries for students at the local high school to join in our music ministry, in the adult choir, or as visiting musicians enriching liturgy with instrumental music.”
O’Neill recognizes the many benefits of encouraging young people to learn music but notes that chief among them is “communicating the gospel to us in ways that words alone cannot capture, imprinting in our hearts and minds the messages that sustain us in life.”
For every $10 donated to the Huron teams, $4 will be shared between youth-focused ministry at the diocesan and national levels. This year the diocesan share of Say Yes! to Kids campaigns will support improvements at Camp Huron for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. These include a dining hall refresh, and the introduction of an Astro Hut dark sky viewing area to accommodate a high-quality telescope donated to the camp by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter.
Diane Dance, AFC’s Representative for Huron says, “It is exciting to see how this new Say Yes to Kids fund raising model will provide resources and encouragement for parish youth initiatives, while at the same time generating much needed financial support for Camp Huron. Our diocesan camp has touched and changed the lives of campers and leaders for decades. In fact, a number of our clergy had their faith shaped and formed at that remarkable place on the shores of Lake Huron. Definitely a win-win scenario!”
Nationally, funds raised through Say Yes! to Kids will support Indigenous youth initiatives that are national in scope, and that complement the transformational work being done at both the local and diocesan levels. Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and Chair of AFC’s Board of Directors, says, “Our Say Yes! to Kids champions are wonderful examples of sacrificial love and service, showing us in ways large and small how to be adaptable, how to persevere, and how to keep the faith amid uncertainty.”
To support one of the Huron teams, visit Say Yes! to Kids: AFC Huron.
For more information on registering a fundraising team for the 2023 Say Yes! to Kids campaign, contact Michelle Hauser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michelle Hauser is the AFC Development & Communications Consultant.