A Year of Discernment at Little T – The Halfway Point
In January I came on as the “Justice Animator” at Little T – a job title chosen to reflect the desire that my position would help “animate the congregation into acts of Kingdom justice”. The goal is for the congregation to spend a year (2023) in discernment to see how God might be calling us to further love our neighbourhood in practical and life-giving ways. We are doing this with the help of Yonge Street Mission (YSM), along with my leadership and that of the Justice Working Group (see note below).
We’re now halfway through that year, so I thought it would be a good time to provide an update!
Over the spring, with YSM’s leadership, we held Justice Workshops for the congregation, exploring some of the theological basis for justice-based ministry. We also sent out a survey to members of the congregation, to begin gleaning some idea of where people’s interests, passions, and skills might lie.
In early summer we held Know Your Neighbourhood workshops, inviting interested congregation members to learn how to ask wise and insightful questions about our neighbourhood and ourselves. Participants of these workshops were invited to sign up for one of three teams to gather information over the summer. These teams continue to be open for those who want to join!
The three teams that are currently at work are:
- Community Workers – Little T members who have volunteered to go out into the community surrounding the church, to have conversations with people who live and work in our neighbourhood. This team has developed a survey that will help guide these conversations, which will explore questions like, “What do you see as the greatest need in the community?” and “What can the church do to positively impact the community?”
- Researchers – Little T members who are doing research, through Google Maps and other online resources, to find out what organisations are already working in our neighbourhood; what the demographics are; and other basic information about our changing neighbourhood.
- Stakeholder Workers – Little T members who are exploring potential partners and/or stakeholders in this work – from other churches in the neighbourhood, to other nonprofits and charitable organisations, to city councillors, to local businesses. This team is looking beyond the neighbourhood as well to how other churches and other organisations are involved in justice work, to see what we might learn from them.
These teams are working at their own pace through the summer, supported by our partners at Yonge Street Mission, Kaitlyn and Paula. All the information gathered will be fed back to YSM for analysis.
In the early fall, YSM will be analysing the information we give them about the neighbourhood, together with the information about our congregation gathered from the “Who Are We” church survey. With all of this information they will suggest some possibilities for what we as a church can do, according to our gifts, skills, and availabilities; and according to what needs there are in the neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, we’re excited that Jesse Sudirgo, Assistant Professor for Contextual Ministry at Tyndale Seminary, will be our guest speaker at our parish retreat on Sept 30-Oct 1. Jesse will be helping us deepen our understanding of faith through the lens of the most marginalised in society.
Once we have received a report from YSM about possible actions that the church can take, we will develop a plan for going forward, with the goal of launching it in the new year. At the moment we are still in the ‘gathering information’ stage, so we don’t yet know what this will look like – but God does! Because of that, it is vital that this whole effort continue to be bathed in prayer as we seek God’s will.
Please pray this summer for the work of discernment at Little Trinity as we seek God’s will for how he is leading us as a church in areas of justice. This summer we will be focusing on getting to know our neighbourhood better through conversations, surveys, prayer walks, and research. Prayers for wisdom for all involved are much appreciated! For more information about this process, or for how to be involved, reach out to me () or any of the Justice Working Group members.
Justice Working Group Members: Graham & Nathalie Chernoff, Caleb Edwards, Mary Henkelman, Mary Kate Looby & Matthias Schilke, , Jennifer & Keith Martin, Joanne Millard, Sangita Patel, James Rhee