Demonstrating the love of Christ, Union Gospel Mission is determined to transform communities by overcoming poverty, homelessness and addiction – one life at a time.
This mission will take our whole community, and so we are grateful to partner with churches across the city to live out the calling Jesus has set out for us as neighbours, congregations and institutions.
In 2021, Union Gospel Mission had the opportunity to partner with City in Focus to provide 18 grants to churches across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, which offered vital support to neighbours in need.
Through meal programs, advocacy and community outreach, these communities of care were able to stabilize, increase or create new supportive programs at the height of the pandemic.
In 2022, UGM continued this work by creating the Transforming Communities Grant (TCG), supporting 14 congregations across Metro Vancouver. The church is paramount in the health of every community, and thus programs that support vulnerable neighbours make us all healthier.
What does this good work look like? It is manifest in many different expressions, all with a focus on combatting poverty, homelessness, addiction and their rippling effects.
Here are three examples of recent grant recipient churches:
Chinatown Peace Church
Neighbourhood children gather weekly at Chinatown Peace Church in Vancouver to learn coding and, along with that, practice creativity, decision-making and other vital life skills. The fruit of these lessons may not be seen for many years, but several of the families are engaging more with other church activities, too.
Reality Church in East Vancouver partnered with Inner Hope Youth Ministries, aiming to integrate Inner Hope youth into the Reality Church family, growing a supportive interconnected community that models Christ and fosters ongoing transformation for all who are connected.
This was inspired, in part, by the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission; its Call to Action #59 states:
We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools and why apologies to former residential school students, their families and communities were necessary.
Part of the grant funded a KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an interactive journey through the Canadian story from an Indigenous perspective. One participant commented that the experience sparked more of a desire to care for the young people he is getting to know through Inner Hope.
CA Church (Coquitlam Alliance Church) runs a food pantry that reaches 200 families, often newcomers to Canada.
The grant helped provide culturally appropriate food to Arabic guests, many of whom were connected through the House of Omeed (recipient of a grant in 2021).
Even when there is a language barrier, shared food and big smiles communicate welcome, appreciation and love between volunteers and guests.
Transforming Communities Grant
Because UGM is a service provider rather than a funder, the Transforming Communities Grant offers relatively modest funding and technical assistance for strategic expansion, improvement and coordination of congregationally-based initiatives addressing poverty, homelessness and/or addiction.
These grants are meant to enable well-considered change and closer collegiality rather than to maintain ongoing operations or fuel simple growth; we focus on leveraging over sustaining.
Applications from churches looking to partner in the creation of flourishing communities will be prioritized. Together, we can improve the social architecture of the Lower Mainland!
Go here for more details, including eligibility criteria and grant application form. Applications must be received by 5 pm on May 15, 2023.
Leslie Rosenau-Lai works as Advisor, Church Relations with Union Gospel Mission.