Engaging with outreach programming across our Diocese is inspiring, and I find myself deeply grateful for the impact of our outreach ministries. It may be a food bank, a toiletry drive, or a clothing collection. Perhaps a meal is served – once a month, once a week or even every day. Sometimes shelter is provided, for a few hours or longer. There are parish programs that offer guidance, support and counselling to those in need. There is always an opportunity for fellowship and belonging in a community of Christian love.
These outreach programs are a manifestation of the Reign of Christ as seen in this Sunday’s gospel reading, Matthew 25:31-46: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me… Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these members of my family, you did it to me.” As the Church year comes to a close, Reign of Christ Sunday reminds us that God’s kingdom is very different from the kingdoms and political systems of this world. In God’s realm, love and mercy are the priorities and criteria upon which all people and things are judged.
Twenty-seven years ago, FaithWorks was established to offer a collective response – to be the outreach program of the Diocese of Toronto. It was created to coordinate and streamline giving to various Anglican-affiliated ministries. By doing so, FaithWorks can offer stable funding to its ministry partners located throughout the Diocese: in Peterborough, Lindsay and Orillia, in Barrie, Newmarket and Peel, in Durham and Toronto. Over the past year, more than 27,000 people were fed, sheltered, nurtured, supported and befriended with support from FaithWorks. This is up from 20,000 people in the previous couple of years – a terrible 35% increase in need.
This Sunday, the Reign of Christ and the gospel reading from Matthew remind us how essential outreach is in Christian life. For this reason, we designate this Sunday as FaithWorks Sunday in our Diocese. It’s an opportunity to highlight the mission of FaithWorks as an expression of God’s kingdom on earth through outreach. Your parish may choose a different Sunday to focus on FaithWorks, but whether you keep FaithWorks Sunday this weekend or at another time, I ask you to remember FaithWorks at the end of the year by contributing your treasure or volunteering your time for outreach in your parish. Do visit faithworks.ca to make your contribution and to explore the articles and videos there – and to catch a glimpse of God’s reign.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto