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Current News

St. Enoch Fund 2017 Grants Support Newcomers and Refugees in Toronto Conference

As the plight of refugees becomes a growing concern for Canadians, many Toronto Conference congregations are pitching in to welcome the newcomers. However, many have been doing this important work for years. In 2017 grants from Council’s St. Enoch’s Fund will assist two congregations - Bloor Street United and Alpha Korean United - with longstanding refugee and newcomer programs.

Bloor Street United’s Refugee Outreach Program (ROP) is a pastoral care program for refugees and newcomers to Canada. The congregation employs an Outreach Minister, Francisco Venegas, and offers a variety of services designed to help them. These include counseling, interpretation, information and referrals, and money for immigration papers. The program also places an emphasis on community activities to help newcomers adjust to their new home. Year round social and recreational gatherings offer a chance to connect socially with neighbours, a host program pairs newcomers with Canadian families for cultural exchange, and an education, music, and art program called Yachayhuasi provides a means of expression.

Alpha Korean’s refugee program assists North Korean refugees by offering settlement services, English classes, and translation. Clothing and furniture drives help to provide the necessities of life to people who have left everything behind. Increasingly the congregation has become involved in advocacy work as North Korean refugees face new barriers from the Canadian government.

The St Enoch’s Fund is a partnership between Council and Toronto Southeast Presbytery (TSEP). Grant recipients are named by the Presbytery and the Fund is administered by Council. Council is proud to support the vital work of Bloor Street and Alpha Korean United Church through grants from this fund.

January 2017


The Vincent Alfano Fund is Accepting Applications

Established to commemorate Vincent Alfano's visionary leadership within the United Church, the Fund provides opportunities for new church leaders to gain practical experience by contributing financial support to student ministers undertaking internships with congregations in Toronto Conference.

During their program, interns will focus on connecting with the culturally and ethnically diverse communities surrounding their congregations. By creating opportunities to intentionally study and practice the mission dimension of ministry, the fund will support both church and leadership development. The focus on community engagement outside congregational membership, will enliven and renew our church with the ideas, spiritual strength and commitment to serve the emerging constituencies of our ever changing society.

Congregations, mission units or individuals can now apply for internship or other project funding that meets the Fund’s focus on learning opportunities for future church leaders.  Up to $10,000 per annum will be available, plus an amount for training programs. Click here for application guidelines and forms.

January 2017


The Living Presence Ministry: Embracing New Possibilities for Ministry and Mission in East Gwillimbury

One of Council's mission goals is to explore and facilitate innovative ways of being the church in the 21st century. Recently, a major piece of this effort has been supporting the development of a Community Pioneer Ministry in East Gwillimbury.

The town of East Gwillimbury is poised to undergo a surge of growth and will soon witness the development of tens of thousands of new homes, businesses and services. Living Waters Presbytery has embraced this growth as an opportunity and, with the active support of TUCC's Centre for Church Development and Leadership, has spearheaded the creation of the Living Presence Ministry. This ministry is developing a unique approach to mission by starting a new community (pioneer) ministry while simultaneously revitalizing the existing congregations in the area. This ‘both–and’ approach means working to find new ways of connecting with people who are not drawn to traditional church and helping the local congregations become as attractive and inviting as possible for those who might be looking for a spiritual home.

Living Waters Presbytery has committed 3 years of funding to this project (with a plan to eventually extend the funding commitment to ten years).The hope is that this project will become a model for others throughout the country and beyond. Guided by a steering team made up of members drawn from each of the local congregations and each of the Living Waters Presbytery Commissions, the goal of this new ministry is to actively and visibly help people live healthy, meaningful, spirit-filled lives.

An exciting recent development has been the selection of the Pioneer Minister who will create a brand new Fresh Expression of ministry in the area. The Living Presence Ministry is thrilled to welcome Bri-Anne Swan, a woman of many talents and ambassador of "radical hospitality."

Toronto United Church Council (TUCC) is supporting the Living Presence Ministry in a variety of ways:

● Council carried out a demographic study for Presbytery in 2014. The report was then shared with the congregations and leaders of the area through late 2014 and early 2015.

● The Centre for Church Development proposed a plan for a new approach to ministry development that focuses both on strengthening the traditional congregations and planting a missional ministry within the new subdivision. This proposal became the Living Presence Ministry.

● Currently Janet Marshall, Director of TUCC's Centre for Church Development and Leadership (CCDL) and Ron Ewart, Executive Director of TUCC are facilitating and resourcing the Living Presence Mnistry's steering team and its sub-groups.

● TUCC has made a major capital investment in the project through the purchase of a house on behalf of Presbytery in the new Queensville development. It will provide the accommodation and ‘work-base’ for the new Community (Pioneer) Minister (see photo below of the house under construction)

Take a look at the latest edition of the Living Presence Ministry Newsletter to learn more about this unique project and read a message from the new pioneer minister. 


The CCDL Steering Team maps out its work

January 2017

CCDL supports the Effective Leadership Mission Articulation process in Toronto Southeast Presbytery

The CCDL helps congregations go deeper when preparing their Ministry & Mission Profiles. The result is a living document that guides the operationalization of a congregation’s vision through priority-focused goals and plans. The process has also helped churches make critical decisions regarding their capacity and resources for ministry.

In partnership with Toronto Southeast Presbytery, the CCDL developed a training programme for Mission Accompaniers. These volunteer facilitators work with congregations as they create their profiles. When the congregation is moving to a call process, the facilitation helps the congregation link their mission articulation with the job description for their new minister.

Examples of decisions made through Ministry & Mission Profile are:

·         human resources  - what is most needed given the finances available

·         the need to invest in a more comprehensive vision planning process

·         recognizing that it’s time to identify options for a congregation’s future  (investing in a regional ministry, amalgamation, or considering closure)

Congregations also report that the process has helped them find alternative strategies for accomplishing previously stalled goals.

November 2015


Working Together in the East End of Toronto

East End United is a group of 6 churches working with the CCDL to actively explore a vision for their future as a regional ministry. Built on shared values for developing sustainable, relevant congregational ministries and meaningful mission within their neighbourhoods, these churches are asking what can only or best be accomplished by working together.

The steering team of ambassadors have cast a vision which includes: joint pilot projects such as new experiences of worship and learning; assessing outreach ministries, including the use of the buildings, to become a more effective and missional presence in the areas we serve; investigating a move towards a shared ministry team, shared administration and property management structure; and the identification of the best uses for the properties.

November 2015


Janet Marshall, Director of the Centre for Church Development and Leadership

Council is delighted to welcome Janet Marshall to lead the work of the Centre for Church Development and Leadership. Janet has over 20 years’ experience working with congregations and judicatories building healthy, vital mission and ministries.

Janet brings particular strengths in cultivating change-oriented strategic visions rooted in context-based best practices. Most recently her work has: helped established churches prepare themselves to seed new expressions of ministry (become mixed economy churches); developed grass-roots regional ministries in rural and suburban areas; supported and equipped church leaders through needs-focused workshops (e.g. marketing your church, ministry with young adults, understanding and managing conflict), facilitated peer learning, and coaching.

Over the past 7 years Janet has been lead facilitator in an international indaba project of conflict resolution and reconciliation. Indaba is an African model of listening and dialogue that deepens relationships across all types of difference. While allowing for disagreement, it builds respectful mutual understanding and common ground releasing energy for mission.

Janet has worked extensively with the United Church in Ontario and Nova Scotia as a consultant with Potentials. She is looking forward to working with churches and church leaders questing a fresh and life-giving approach to the United Church’s presence, mission and ministry in these profoundly dynamic and changing times.

January 2015


The Toronto United Church Council works with the church community to connect resources with ministry. Offering access to professional advice, financial support and leadership development, Council helps our church address the social and spiritual challenges of the day.