I am writing to you as we enter the fourth month into the global crisis of COVID-19, a pandemic that has thrown the world into an unfamiliar landscape of overwhelming uncertainty. For many, it has been accompanied by profound angst, acute anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Many people are saying they are always feeling tired, that they feel a troubling sense of imbalance or maladjustment, even if unable to precisely name it. We are all adjusting to the new reality of working and worshipping from home, an adjustment that has called forth some major pivots in how we may be living for some time. The 20th century Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov once said, “Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s the day to day living that wears you out.”
Our public health officers are advising us to get up in the morning, get dressed, engage in habitual routines, get some daily exercise, and rediscover new ways to socialize and find meaning in working remotely. Initially, flour flew off the grocery shelves as we launched into bread baking. Amazon was selling out of home stationary bikes as many of us committed to living room exercises to keep fit. Early on, I had the lofty aspiration to read French writer Marcel Proust’s, Remembrance of Things Past, which remained untouched in a gilded gift box on my bookshelf. That didn’t happen. I chose rather to try to immerse myself in the Harry Potter fantasy series, but managed to finish only one of seven books.
This would be a great time to do a thorough spring cleaning of kitchen cupboards, clothes closets, I thought, and to address that frighteningly cluttered space below the kitchen sink, or the jam-packed storage room. That hasn’t happened either. But gardening is happening, even for those whose thumbs are the farthest thing from green. Now that the weather is warmer, nurseries are offering curb pick-up, though you’re not able to choose the flowers you want in the same way as before. You may end up planting a petunia when what you really wanted was a marigold. So be it. Your COVID garden may not be perfect this year.
Clearly, we all need some distractions from this unsettling, uncertain, and unwelcome crisis that has so disrupted our lives. No wonder we are feeling a troubling sense of imbalance and maladjustment, even if unable to precisely name it. “We’re all in this together” is the current mantra, and while you may be tired of hearing its excessive repetition, it is truly what we may need to sincerely and wholeheartedly embrace. In an article entitled, “Are we all in this together?” written by Margaret Wheatley, she writes that this phrase makes visible the concept of community, the web of our interconnections, the safety net of our caring that we extend to one another when life is hard. “There are rewards in being in this together,” Wheatley says. “Most of us want to be generous, to care for our neighbours and friends. This is the undeniable truth of human experience. No matter what’s going on around us, if we truly believe we’re in this together, and we work hard to be there for one another, we can make it through.”
CORRESPONDENCE: Thank you notes are mostly coming to you by email. Though not as personal, I hope that you will accept my sincere thanks virtually at this time.
OFFICE: With the closure of our office as a non-essential service, we are able to go into our office once per week to access mail. We appreciate those of you who have been willing to donate online via CanadaHelps on our website.
STORE: Our AFC Store is partially closed. If you want to buy something, it may be possible to arrange to access the warehouse on an intermittent basis. We would be happy to do whatever we can to fill orders.
PRAYERBOOK: The Dear God prayerbook for young children is available on the website to read and on video. We have a number of physical copies of the prayerbook that we can mail if you wish.
FUN: There are some fun jigsaw puzzles on the website. By adjusting the number of pieces, the puzzle can be very easy, easy, difficult, or extremely challenging.
ANNUAL REPORT: If you would like copies of the 2019 Annual Report, we have physical copies that we can mail to you.
SPRING GRANT CYCLE: Directors met by Zoom in May for their spring meetings and AGM. The spirit of generosity remains strong and AFC was able to disburse $104,000 for infrastructure and restoration projects, $25,000 for innovative ministry projects, $23,000 for theological education bursaries, and $46,000 towards ministry and education projects that benefit Indigenous people across Canada.
RFP GRANTS: Additionally, AFC disbursed 20 grants totalling $50,000 for projects addressing the crisis of climate change. Some of these included an eco-community pollinator veggie garden, lighting efficiencies, an edible forest, beehives, xeriscape landscaping, aeroponic gardens, and an eco-loo.
DONATIONS: Donations from Canadian Anglicans all across the country are making these grants and bursaries possible, helping to sustain and uphold faith communities, ministry projects, students, and to address some of the most pressing needs facing the planet.
How you can help
I need to be honest with you and let you know that we are experiencing a challenging time now with a decrease in donations. AFC’s investment portfolio has been negatively impacted, and the financial uncertainty affecting us all has resulted in a decline in donations. You and your parishes may be facing similar circumstances. We understand the situation in which we all find ourselves.
I am asking those of you who are able to help the Foundation continue its great work during this pandemic period to do so. I want to ensure that there is adequate grant money for our fall applicants, adequate bursary money for our theological students, and available emergency funds during this current crisis.
I hope you might consider an increase in your giving level that is within your capacity. For example, if you are giving at the level of Friend, you may wish to become a Companion. If you are giving at the level of Companion, you may wish to become a Benefactor.
I can’t thank you enough for your continued support, especially during these unprecedented times. We are so grateful to all of you who make it possible to support our church from coast to coast to coast, for students to continue their studies, and faith communities to engage in creative ministry in the midst of hard times. We are all in this together.
With thanks and gratitude,