The Eastern Synod Mission committee meets twice a year under the leadership of Bishop Michael Pryse. At their fall meeting, the committee reviews grant applications and decides which ministries will get financial support for the following year. This year over $300,000. has been granted to support 52 missions and projects. The spring meeting is generally more educational and the agenda often includes a visit to learn more about the projects that are funded.
This year, the committee was invited by Deacon Scott Knarr and the Six Nations Anglican Parish to visit Six Nations of the Grand River Territory to not only strengthen the relationship within our communities but also to learn more about the Music for the Spirit program, a ministry that Eastern Synod has been supporting since 2016.
Members of the Eastern Synod Mission Committee gather on the steps with members from the Six Nations Anglican Parish at St. Luke's Church.
“I made my first trip here in 2012 with a Luther Hostel study group, and I felt that I wanted to learn about the Christian community here,” Scott recalls.
“Mount Zion, Waterloo, the congregation where I served as a music director and did my internship at that time generously allowed me to do part of my internship, one day a week, at the Six Nations. In the beginning I came and parked my car beside the church and went into the parish hall. I simply waited to see what might happen.
Sure enough, people would stop by to see who was at the church and conversations would begin. The first year I volunteered at one of the local elementary schools and the long term care home. I listened and learned about how the community worked. The very first Music for the Spirit summer camp was held that same year in St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Ohsweken. “
When a new youth and elder centre was opened in Ohsweken in 2016, there was a place for an after-school program. The community centre is a more neutral place than a church for people to come. Music for the Spirit is a youth program, but people of all ages can be involved. Older youth teach the younger ones and choose music while the grown-ups act as organizers for events.
“Those who started six years ago in the program are now leading the younger ones. They have moved on in their lives, some are working, some studying, but they are still passionate about this program and are negotiating with their employers and schools so that they can participate in the program”, says Richelle Miller, the program coordinator.
Music for the Spirit guitar instructor Steven Johnson leads the youth in a song at Six Nations Community Hall.
“We are constantly looking for funding, especially for honoraria to the youth who have to be away from their work to teach in the program.”
Music for the Spirit is more than just a music program. Along with developing musical skills, participants benefit from networks and relationships that are being built.
“I take them everywhere to perform,” says Richelle. “They all become part of someone’s legacy, someone’s story, someone’s sorrow, someone’s healing. The depth of the relationships is greater than we could imagine. It is, in fact, the most important impact of this program,” Richelle Miller says.
Richelle Miller, Music for the Spirit co-ordinator
Haudenosaunee Cultural Animator Franklyn McNaughton speaks to members of the Mission Committee and confgirmation youth and leraders from Kitchener-Waterloo.