By Mike Ziemerink
Twice a year a group of dedicated Anglicans aged 16 to 30 meets to discuss how they can further involve youth in the social justice and development work PWRDF (The Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund) takes part in.
The PWRDF Youth council’s most recent meeting at Camp Medley in the Diocese of Fredericton not only saw the group working hard to plan their outreach for the coming months, but also making visits to parishes and Outflow Ministry in Saint John and preaching at parishes in southern New Brunswick.
“As there are currently no youth council members from New Brunswick, we thought it would be an excellent opportunity to get out into the community and spread the good word of PWRDF,” said Alexandra Hedderson, a youth council member.
“Camp Medley is a beautiful facility and although water heights were high while we were at the camp, this did not affect our stay.”
This meeting saw the youth council welcome two new members from Victoria, British Columbia and Winnipeg, Manitoba. After the new members were welcomed, the group got down to work, making decisions and having discussions about furthering the development and aid work of PWRDF.
In between the busy agenda the council had planned for the weekend, they made time to visit Outflow Ministry in Saint John. The council was amazed by the ministry’s commitment to helping the community. One building within the ministry houses a men’s shelter, a church hall, the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton bishop’s Saint John office, and a dental office for those who can’t afford regular check-ups.
“I was truly stunned and awestruck by their unconventional utilization of physical spaces in their mission to treat every person as having Christ in them, no matter how broken we may all be,” said Leah Marshall, a youth council member.
The group also made visits to local parishes to share the work of PWRDF and learn about how the local churches were getting involved in the social justice matters PWRDF tackles.
The congregation of Central Kings and Upham was thrilled to have two members of the youth council, Jessica Steele and James Mesich, come to speak with them. Jessica, who represents the Diocese of British Columbia, spoke about a PWRDF project in the remote First Nations community of Pikangikum, where clean water was brought to 24 homes.
James represents the diocese of Algoma in Ontario. He spoke about his love for Jesus and how he views PWRDF as having the same goal as Jesus — a healthy and just world.
James and Jessica joined the parish for a potluck after they spoke and got to know parishioners one-on-one.
“They graciously answered questions and shared stories,” said Anne Walling, the PWRDF diocesan representative. “All in all, it was a very positive and joyful experience getting to know this dynamic duo.”
The council enjoyed its time in New Brunswick and not only accomplished a great deal of planning and decision making, but also was able to provide outreach to parishes about PWRDF while visiting.
“It was wonderful to be able to go outside and experience what New Brunswick had to offer,” said Charlotte Lilley, a youth council member. “I also loved having the opportunity to experience the work that was being done around the province, especially through our visit to Outflow in Saint John; everywhere we went we were very warmly welcomed!”
Anne Walling was instrumental in bringing the youth council to the diocese. Their visit coincided with the historic flood of the St. John River adjacent to Camp Medley.
“This is probably the first time the Youth Council had to pass a police barricade to go to a meeting,” said Carolyn Vanderlip.
The youth council sent teams to five parishes in the diocese to speak on Sunday, May 1: Fundy and the Lakes; Cambridge-Narrows; Christ Church (Parish) Church in the Parish of Fredericton; Gagetown; and Central Kings in Bloomfield. The youth council was very pleased to have had so many invitations.
To learn more about PWRDF, visit the website: pwrdf.org.
Mike Ziemerink is a communications student with PWRDF.