This fall we have been examining the disciplines of being the “Faithful Presence of Jesus,” and we have invited you, our church community, to be this Faithful Presence in your neighborhoods, your workplaces, your families, and in other places in your circle of influence.

It is our hope that these Disciplines of Faithful Presence will become the starting point for us (both as individuals and a church as a whole) to engage more holistically year round in Saskatoon with relief, rehabilitation, and development for those struggling with poverty and marginalization.

What is going on in your neighborhood? What is going on at your place of work? Your school? What is happening on your team? How is God calling you to be His presence in these situations? How can we take steps towards living generously and opening our hearts to our neighbours?

As Christians, we often see Advent as a time when we try to serve the poor, and at Forest Grove Community Church this has traditionally included a special Advent Giving Project. In a special way, Advent calls us as disciples to be present with the people around us, including (and maybe especially) the poor and the marginalized. We have come to understand that care for the poor, the widow and the orphan isn’t optional, but an essential part of discipleship.

But this raises the question, “Why don’t we live that kind of life all year round?” Otherwise, we come to Advent and as we try to jump into this kind of a life, we feel ill-prepared to do so. Our desire is to move towards long-term relationships with people rather than a “one-time” gift at Christmas.

So how do we move forward from here?

Even as we encourage people to be engaging with needs around them all-year round, we acknowledge that many people will feel called to give financially during the Advent and Christmas Season – and there is nothing wrong with that.  This year we are engaging in what we are calling the “Faithful Presence Initiative.” Beyond being a Financial Advent Giving Project, this initiative calls us as a church to respond holistically – with our finances, with our time, with our gifts, talents and even with the individual personalities God has given us. We will also be engaging in this initiative beyond the traditional timeline of the Advent Giving Project.

Our Faithful Presence Initiative will include three distinct focuses: Buckets of Hope in cooperation with MCC, BL4P (Building Leaders 4 Peace), and a Refugee Sponsorship. Each of these areas will have opportunities for financial contributions and opportunities to get involved with service.

Buckets of Hope

We will be partnering with MCC for Buckets of Hope – and it is our goal to raise $5000 for this project. In addition to financial donations, we are also accepting donations of various supplies for the buckets. These buckets will be made available to individuals in conflict regions around the world.

We will also be gathering on Sunday, January 28 at 4pm at the MCC building (600 45 St W) to assemble the buckets. This is a great opportunity for all generations to join together to serve, and there will be ways for everyone from children to seniors to participate in the event.

We are also looking for donations of the following items for our Buckets of Hope project. Items can be dropped off at our Attridge Site.

(NEW items only, in original packaging, the bold items are the one in greatest need)

  • 4 large bars bath soap
  • 1 plastic bottle shampoo (380–710 ml; place in re-sealable plastic bag)
  • 4 large bars laundry soap (Sunlight ® brand preferred)
  • 4 adult-size toothbrushes
  • 4 new bath towels (medium weight, dark or bright colours)
  • 2 wide-tooth combs (15 cm–20 cm)
  • 1 fingernail clipper (good quality)
  • 1 box adhesive bandages (minimum 40 count, assorted)
  • 1 package sanitary pads (18–24 count thin maxi)

BL4P

(Building Leaders 4 Peace)

Our goal is to raise $5000 which would allow for 10 participants from conflict zones to attend Peace Camps. There will also be opportunities for people from FGCC to serve at a Peace Camp in Turkey, Iraq or Colombia during Summer 2018. Talk to Maryanne Berge for more details.

So what is BL4P?

BL4P envisions a peaceful future by partnering with and equipping young people in conflict regions around the world. They intend to create a movement of people who recognize their shared humanity regardless of age, race, or religion, who are developing a lifestyle of peace, and who are committed to being peace leaders in their communities.

BL4P facilitates relational spaces dedicated to developing and catalyzing young leaders who are passionate about building a future of peace through friendship, reconciliation, and service. As people of various cultures come together for a week of sharing their personal stories and hopes for the future they experience a new understanding of one another. You can help support this effort by giving, praying or even going yourself with a team.

If you would like more information on BL4P and the ministry they are carrying out, please visit BL4P.com

Refugee Sponsorship

Our goal is to raise $20,000 for a new BVOR (Blended Visa Office Referral) Refugee Sponsorship. This form of Refugee Sponsorship is facilitated by MCC, and the Federal Government and FGCC will split first year costs of settlement 50/50. This will provide another opportunity for a team from FGCC to help settle a new Canadian family in Saskatoon.

Since the late 1970’s, Forest Grove Community Church has been involved in sponsoring Refugee Families from various countries. Since March 2016 we have resettled four families (23 people) in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC).

Financial assistance is only one component of our commitment to refugee resettlement. Over sixty people have served on four different resettlement teams to ease the transition of these families and to make them feel welcome. People from our congregations have also donated furniture, clothing and other items to help the families with their new start here in Canada.

As we prepare to sponsor another Refugee Family, we also continue to encourage our FGCC communities to be the faithful presence of God in the lives of newcomers in Saskatoon. You could choose to do this through partnerships with Open Door Society, LINC (the English Classes for newcomers to Canada that are offered in our Attridge Site throughout the week), IVCF international students ministry with Lori Peters, English Conversation classes at Attridge on Sunday, hospitality to newcomer neighbors, and other opportunities you might have to engage with newcomers to Canada.

For more information on Refugee Resettlement at Forest Grove Community Church, download our Brochure or contact the church office to be involved.

If you would like to contribute financially to our Faithful Presence Initiative, please make donations payable to Forest Grove Community Church and mark “Faithful” on your envelope. We ask that you prayerfully consider how you might give to this project above and beyond your regular contributions to the church. We ask that you not divert funds from your regular giving to the church to support the Faithful Presence Initiative. Contributions to this initiative are tax deductible.