You’ve heard the term “together is better” and you’ve likely read Ecclesiastes: “a three-strand chord cannot be broken”. Over the past two years, a group of ecumenical non-profits here in Rupert’s Land has taken these community-building concepts and created 1JustCity, an innovative development project.
1JustCity began with four Anglican and United Church inner city ministries realizing that they were doubling up on many resources they could be sharing: four volunteer administrative assistants, four tax returns, and most critically, four donation requests from the same donor bank. In 2014, West Broadway Community Ministry, St. Matthew’s Maryland Community Ministry, Oak Table, and North End Stella Community Ministry decided to take the first step toward better stewardship of their resources in a changing ecclesial landscape. The 1JustCity board then hired Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud as a fund developer.
Blaikie Whitecloud’s work began with fundraising, but in conjunction with the board it has expanded into visionary consultant work, exploring new ways for the four ministries to share resources and work together in pursuit of “a city founded on justice.” The immediate need for this comes from a surge in demand for the services offered by the ministries, even as their established funding base dries up. However, the longterm vision of the project runs deeper than immediate funding. “By collaborating, we can grow our impact on those we serve,” Blaikie Whitecloud explains.
1JustCity and the four community ministers share a commitment to carrying the work of Jesus beyond the walls of church buildings and into the streets. The work of 1JustCity has been able to spread the news of what God is up to in the four ministries with the wider community, including those who are not traditional church-goers. For example, Blaikie Whitecloud believes that this allows the ministries to take on a new cultural relevance and a prophetic voice.
The problem, as she sees it, is, “We got used to not having to tell our story.” For 1JustCity, the solution is to learn to tell the stories of inner city connections and the radical love of Jesus again in culturally connective ways. Blaikie Whitecloud has a particular gift for connecting with young people over issues of systematic injustice. She often leads the Kairos blanket exercise in conjunction with her partner, Hawankan Blaikie Whitecloud, a member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.
The work of 1JustCity is the work of an entire people, connecting across denominational and socioeconomic lines. Blaikie Whitecloud and the board are unable to do this work without the involvement of parishioners across Rupert’s Land. Parishes are encouraged to connect with the new ministry by making a commitment to pray for them, and by inviting Blaikie Whitecloud to speak about the pressing needs of the inner city or having her lead a blanket exercise. Parishes can also get involved by volunteering with the board; hosting a towel, sock, or toiletry drive; or following them by email or social media: [email protected] | 1justcity.ca/.