“I appreciate the support of NewGround for our ministry, Cross Town,” shared Greg Houldcroft at this year’s Annual Ministry Networking Day. “NewGround gives back to their partners; not just through grants but by pouring into the lives of their partners and its leaders.”
This is what has set the NewGround program apart for over 40 years. Some may remember NewGround by its former name, called Operation Manna. In 2019, the program was renamed and expanded in order to serve the Christian Reformed churches in Canada better. A Youth Justice component was developed and Deacon Scholarships were added to help equip and empower ministry leaders of today and tomorrow.
The annual Ministry Networking Day is a highlight of the year and one that brings past, present, and potential community ministry partners and church partners together to listen, learn, celebrate, and collaborate!
Over the past 3 years this annual event was held virtually but this year it was time to come back together in person. “There was value in meeting in person this year,” shared one participant. Others agreed: “Networking with other ministry leaders was very valuable.” “Being with like-minded people was so encouraging!”
The day’s keynote speaker, Mechele Tebrake, from Sanctuary London (a former NewGround partner) spoke about the “liberating work that begins with understanding oppression.” While oppression may seem like a foreign or ‘old-fashioned’ word or even something that doesn’t really happen here in Canada, Mechele reminded the group that oppression expresses itself any time as the systemic mistreatment, domination, or exploitation of a people group by another, often based on social identity categories (such as race, gender, class, sexuality, and religion).
The annual Ministry Networking Day is an opportunity to celebrate [the work God is doing in and through our partners in a variety of beautiful, hopeful ways]. I hope God will continue to use NewGround to bless churches and communities across Canada for many years to come.”Karla Winham, NewGround Coordinator
Throughout the course of the day, participants heard where God is at work through the current ministry partnerships that have been started or grown as a result of NewGround.
Greg Houldcroft, founder of Cross Town Impact, shared about their mission of “extending the arms of Christ into the community.” For the past 13 years, they have done this by partnering with local public schools. They offer Impact Zone, a free after school program for kids including fun games, educational lessons, and a positive encouraging environment as well as Student Life Club, a place for high school students to experience community and affect real change in their school environment. Cross Town is currently growing and increasing their impact which is what brought them to partner with Athens CRC in Ontario and apply for a NewGround grant.
Alida van Dijk reiterated how the Community Counseling Centre of London (CCCL), which is in their third year of their NewGround partnership, has appreciated the ongoing support of NewGround. Their ministry aims to provide affordable counseling services by qualified psychotherapists to people with a limited income. Alida admits their team has become good at taking “leaps of faith” as they often wait patiently on God to provide finances, staffing, etc. but He hasn’t failed them yet! CCCL is blessed to partner with Good News Church in London, ON.
Crossroads for Prisoners Canada, a national organization being supported more locally by Ebenezer CRC in Jarvis, ON, strives to connect people in churches with those in prison to develop Christ-centered relationships as they study God’s Word together. Harry Stam, Director of Crossroads Canada, sees prisoners as children of God and read part of their mission statement, based on the words of Matthew 25. Harry hopes that all Christ-followers will see dignity and value in each and every prisoner they see. One way Crossroads models this is by calling participants “students”, not inmates. He recounted how the volunteers they work with are blessed just as much as those they aim to minister to. Harry reminded the day’s participants that God is already in the prisons; we simply need to follow Him into them with His love and mercy! Harry is excited to see how NewGround will get his ministry connected to more churches in Canada, another benefit of a NewGround partnership!
Sonya Nunn, executive director of the Norfolk Pregnancy and Family Resource Centre in Simcoe, ON, told the group about their ongoing work, resourcing and supporting families and helping those experiencing unplanned pregnancies, all within a safe and loving environment. There is great need in their local community and many need assistance with parenting as well as navigating mental health issues, addictions, and other challenges. Many who come simply want to break the cycle of “being in the system”. The pregnancy centre has been supported by Immanuel CRC in Simcoe, ON, and is making a difference in their community.
The Vault, a youth drop-in centre run by Youth Unlimited in Edmonton, AB, shared an encouraging update via video! Emily, their newly hired director, recalled how their ministry had had a tough start to the year but how that didn’t stop God! They were able to hire two new staff members and open up two days a week once again. The youth centre offers a 6-week small group on healthy relationships which explores boundaries and self-esteem issues. The centre sees many youth who deal with self-harm issues and they aim to walk alongside these teens with love and concern and no judgment. One way they aim to empower youth is through accountability as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.
Karla Winham, Diaconal Ministries’ NewGround Coordinator, expressed her joy in working with each of the NewGround partners. “It’s an honour to work with these partners and see the work God is doing in them and through them in a variety of beautiful, hopeful ways. The annual Ministry Networking Day is an opportunity to celebrate this together and I hope God will continue to use NewGround to bless churches and communities across Canada for many years to come.”
What Can Deacons Do?
Harry Stam shared how much he appreciated Mechele’s opening talk and hearing about the other ministries. “I see that we are all trying to reach the same people – the marginalized. I believe the CRC needs to be more involved in justice and releasing the oppressed and the oppressor!” His message to deacons was this: Get involved! There are numerous opportunities in your own backyard and/or through current NewGround partners.
Could NewGround Help Your Church?
Applications are now being considered for all of NewGround’s initiatives. While most can be submitted throughout the year, applications for a Community Ministry Grant/Partnership are due by August 15th each year.
Donate to NewGround Today to Help Even More Churches Love their Community!
When you give to NewGround, your donations are at work in the streets of London, at youth organizations in Alberta, in counseling & pregnancy centres in Southwestern Ontario and public schools in Eastern Ontario, and in prisons all across Canada – just to name a few! On top of that, NewGround offers coaching, resourcing, and networking opportunities (like our Ministry Networking Day) to past, present, and potential partners!