As the world moves toward pandemic recovery, communities across the country are looking to the re-opening of churches as hubs for essential activities. For two spring 2021 grant recipients—St. John’s, Fort Smith, NT, and St. Brice’s, North Bay, ON—AFC grants for parish hall projects have been timely.
“Ours is truly an old-fashioned rural parish hall, serving the entire community, in every respect,” says the Rev. Alex Pryor, Incumbent, St. John’s. “Installing a wheelchair-accessible washroom and improving energy efficiency are central to continuing creative ministries in the long winter months.”
More than 100 years old, and originally built as the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, the hall is now used on an almost continuous basis for weekly Bible studies, 12-step programs, fellowship and outreach projects, community dinners, youth events, and as the site of the Community Volunteer Income Tax clinic, just to name a few activities.
The same is true of the parish hall at St. Brice’s, North Bay. “Nearly every day of the week our parish hall is bustling with compassionate volunteers committed to serving neighbours in need,” says the Rev. Dr. Peter Armstrong, Incumbent. From the Thursday morning food bank to the weekly Take Home Meal service for people who have been discharged from the hospital or are isolated, to the Friday Teen Lunch Program, Armstrong says, “St. Brice’s is a church that truly lives its motto to be a welcoming and nurturing community.”
In the past decade, AFC has provided grants and loans totaling nearly $1 million for parish hall projects. “These investments are central to community connectedness and resilience,” says the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, Executive Director, AFC. “We imagine an increased role for churches in a post-pandemic world, which means that now, more than ever, AFC needs to be a supportive partner, providing abundant resources for pandemic recovery.”