We believe that God is calling the United Church to Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship and Daring Justice. Hearing this, our vision for the next 5-10 years is: Called by God, as disciples of Jesus, The United Church of Canada seeks to be a bold, connected, evolving church of diverse, courageous, hope-filled communities united in deep spirituality, inspiring worship, and daring justice.
One way the United Church is putting this into action is by working to Strengthen Invitation. This is about seeing existing ministries grow, and supporting new communities of faith. To support this, a new Growth Team was formed. We have 3 streams of work.
- Renew: We are coming alongside existing communities of faith. We want to help you attract and welcome neighbours, knit them into your congregation’s life, share in the Spirit’s transforming work in their lives, and send them to share in God’s work in the world.
- Create: We are seeding and strengthening new communities of faith. Often these will look and feel quite different from what many of us are used to. Imagine what possibilities there are for migrant communities, youth and young adults, Indigenous people, French-speakers, 2SLGBTQ+ persons, and people with disabilities? What about new forms of rural faith communities? How about online ones? God is calling people together in new ways. How can we join in?
- Invite: We are helping United Church people to talk with others about our faith, and invite them to explore the Christian life together with us. How do we share the story of Jesus today? What does a post-Christian, post-colonial, humble and joyful evangelism look like?
An animator brings things to life. God is the Life-giver! I am, at best, a sub-animator. I’ll be looking and listening for glowing embers, sparks of heat and energy, signposts that God is working away. I’ll be seeing how I might blow some helpful air to help them burn a bit brighter: having supportive conversations, sharing in prayer, giving encouragement, exploring questions, making connections, offering resources.
Six Growth Animators are serving across the country. I am focusing on our 3 regional councils in southwest Ontario (Antler River Watershed, Horseshoe Falls, Western Ontario Waterways). I will be working closely with your regional ministers and commissions. And maybe I’ll get to work with you and your congregation!
I was with Hope Springs United Church until the end of December. It’s a recent amalgamation of Alma, Bethany and Elora United Churches. I continue to be based in Elora, while connecting online and in-person with people throughout our area.
Do you have ideas? Questions? Want to talk with me about your congregation? I have so much to figure out. Still, I’m already glad to listen and learn with you. What might we hear together?
Together in Christ,
Greg Smith-Young (he/him)
Growth Animator | Southwest Ontario