This past May, I retired from the Board of Directors of the Anglican Foundation. It has been quite a ride. My five years on the Board reviewing grant applications, listening to testimonials from grant recipients and visiting their projects, opened my eyes to the vitality and creativity of Anglican churches in communities large and small across Canada. It became clear to me that there is a fidelity to the Gospel and a will to thrive on the part of Anglicans that will be more than equal to the demographic and financial challenges that we read about so often.
One of the strengths of AFC is that its Board of Directors draws from dioceses across Canada. It was eye-opening for me to hear from a parish priest about the daily challenges facing a small church in the Arctic, or from other members about ministering to disadvantaged communities in our larger cities. Like me, Board members have been drawn to AFC by their first-hand experience of what its financial support has meant in their dioceses, whether it be a new roof, generous bursaries to theological students, or an innovative Christian Education curriculum.
One of the challenges facing AFC is that many parishes perceive it be “a big pot of money in Toronto” that they can draw upon as required, in exchange for a $50 membership fee. Changing that perception and encouraging a culture of generosity and mutual support is a major strategic objective for AFC.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has complicated our task. There has been a significant financial impact on parishes and individuals, and on AFC itself. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that one of the lasting effects of our current inability to worship together will almost certainly be to increase the value that Anglicans place on their participation in church communities. AFC will continue to reach out to those who still have the capacity to be generous. Personally, I plan to continue my financial support for AFC’s essential work of fostering Anglican presence across Canada.
Brian Cameron, Diocese of Ottawa