Update & Next Steps
An important update from the Community Outreach and Engagement Ministry Task Group, Runnymede United Church.
November 14, 2023
Dear Stone Soup Community and Supporters,
Our journey continues to build a more just, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable community! We want to share an update and invite your ongoing participation and support.
Background: Prior to the merger of the Windermere and Runnymede United Churches in June, the Stone Soup Network (SSN) was paused. Ministries at our two churches were also considering their future, post-Covid, in a “two, now one” church context. We worked to discern how best to live out our shared commitment to social justice and outreach in west Toronto.
A Task Group of church members worked with an external consulting firm to ask the hard questions and come up with practical recommendations for sustainable and effective outreach. Included in this discernment were volunteers and participants in existing ministries (including SSN), members of the church, and organizations outside of the church doing similar work.
Key Outcomes from the Discernment Process:
- A Vision for the Work: Our vision is to build community, reduce social isolation and advance social justice and equity in our neighbourhoods in west Toronto through the identification of needs and the creation & investment in community outreach initiatives. We will do this in partnership with community stakeholders and partners to ensure we are meeting real needs, doing so inclusively and without duplication. We will foster volunteerism and reciprocal giving to create sustainable organization and impact.
- SSN: We decided not to restart the local Stone Soup Network because the costs of a standalone program were not justified by the foreseeable impact and an integrated set of initiatives would be more sustainable. It was strongly agreed that we should build on the many positive attributes of SSN in our community programs, including:
- A focus on community participation.
- A strong network of people, businesses and service providers working together.
- The many faithful people who expressed their passion for helping others in generous gifts of time and financial support.
- New Team: A Community Outreach, Development and Engagement (CODE) group is being formed to support existing community ministry activities and nurture future initiatives that seek to build a stronger, more caring community here in west Toronto.
- New Hire: To fully support the implementation of our vision, we are hiring a full-time leader for our CODE initiatives. We believe dedicated leadership and experience to work with our ministers, staff and volunteers is vital to bring our vision to life.
The Path Forward – Community Outreach and Engagement!
Our goal is to have the CODE group in place this year and our leader hired early in the new year. A key element of their mandate is to reach out to church, community and SSN volunteers to seek engagement in our new initiatives.
The first focus of our community outreach will be food security and hospitality initiatives. Research has been underway on this area for some months, identifying that:
- Food security is a major issue facing our neighbours. Sharing food has long been a way to meet basic needs while breaking down walls of isolation and loneliness.
- Church member support, momentum, and a volunteer base are already in place.
- Our commercial kitchen is an important asset and presents opportunities for further community impact.
We would welcome your help! If you are interested in participating in our food security initiatives, please complete the Food Hospitality Committee’s Volunteer Information Form. We will keep you informed about this and other opportunities.
Thank you for your support. We are truly excited about what blessings this next phase of ministry will bring to our community.
Please reach out to me if you have questions or wish to learn more.
Runnymede United Church
Robin Pilkey (Chair)