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THE CONNECTION
 Great news at a time of global unrest 
FALL 2020
In this edition: Be encouraged as you witness our summer in review through video and print. Meet one of our amazing young leaders. Understand why Black Lives Matter. Hear about a new ministry we are part of called ScreenFish and so much more! 
2020: A SUMMER TO REMEMBER 
Enjoy this short video of our summer in review. 
What a summer for the ages! We entered into our programming with great trepidation, not knowing what to expect in light of Covid - 19. At the same time, we were also impacted by the the ongoing racial injustices and accompanying civil unrest happening in our world today. Since our ministry is deeply involved in communities of colour these struggles matter greatly to us and, as you will read in an article below, we attempt to respond to all of this in a Jesus type of way. All this to say, we entered into a very strange and fluid time of ministry. However, as many of you know, Connect City seems to thrive in the midst of change and tend to flourish in the ever shifting sands of our culture.
 
This summer we ran two large programs focused on serving high needs communities while providing employment and leadership development to young adults.  We were able to hire 16 young people to join our team in serving children, youth and their families in refugee shelters as well as Scarborough government housing neighbourhood.  Together our teams were able to deliver food, masks, baby supplies and other needy services to families in need. The team was also involved in planning and executing exciting neighbourhood programs that were well attended.   
 
Covid - 19 presented us with some challenges and impacted our summer camp for refugee children and youth. Camp Unity was forced into running a virtual camp program for children and youth living in small hotel rooms acting as emergency housing for displaced families seeking refugee status. This of course made us have to change the way we do things but the end result was that the camp went very well. This is because a virtual camp allowed for more one on one interaction with the campers and staff as they were able to talk through Zoom on a frequent basis. In fact, some of the children who participated from our camp told us that we were the very first Canadian friends they have made.  This is a good thing for new comers to make friends with Christians who care! Many thanked us for being with them this summer and some of the youth we served were very appreciative that they had our team to talk about some very big questions they had.
Camp Unity: Children showing art work and science project. 
Before each week of camp, bags were delivered to the hotel rooms our campers live in, containing toys, snacks and items they needed for arts, crafts and science projects for the week. We also hosted a weekly family movie accompanied with yummy snacks to enjoy while watching the film. We were able to run various programs online including poetry classes, music, painting, arts, crafts, science, story times, games, hang out times and Bible teaching plus many other things. Our team were amazing in leading this camp as they adapted to the changes due to Covid - 19 by also creating weekly videos for the campers to watch online.
Warden Underground: Getting social distancing set up for neigbourhood game. Warden youth. 
Back at Warden Woods, our team developed various neighbourhood events for families, children and youth.  Our team also continued to lead our weekly church services that take place in the community. They also created their own podcast called, "Underground Voices", to empower our youth by giving them a voice that deserves to be heard and respected.  We believe that empowering our young people is vital for their development as they are very smart individuals who teach and encourage us immensely.  By creating a media platform for them to share their thoughts and opinions on current events is an important opportunity we were able to develop through a podcast. Feel free to give this podcast a listen to at:

Apple:https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/underground-voices/id1531148780 

Spotify:https://open.spotify.com/show/2ZfhgcloqdxnddnPzH1PV3?si=oIUNl7U7Q2qsi5S08svGOQ

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-306555874 .

Please subscribe - it is free to listen. 

 
Finally, our summer program involved joining our summer staff together for a day of leadership training each week. This was a real highlight for our teams and we found that they really opened up concerning their personal struggles and triumphs.  There were times I was in tears when I heard their stories and the things they have had to go through and continue to go through. It was both heartbreaking and also uplifting to see the resilience that these amazing young people have. It was also incredible to hear them share how they see God work in their lives as they look back on the hardships they have and are still going through.  Needless to say, this amazing openness in sharing their personal life stories allowed space for the Holy Spirit to come and bring healing.  
 
It was a great summer and it created a solid building block for our Fall ministries. 
YOUNG LEADERS LIVES TRANSFORMED
It has been a joy to have Oluwaseun Olowo - Ake working with us.
This past summer we received grants to hire 16 young people to serve with us in our programs. Every one of our hires were excellent and, though I wish I could highlight them all, I only have space to put the spotlight on one of them. Thanks to a grant we received from Mennonite Central Committee in partnership with Mennonite Church Eastern Canada we were able to hire Seun, a young Nigerian who moved to Canada in 2017 to get a degree in Media Production. We are so blessed to be able to have someone with her skills to create and oversee a technology and a social media platform we can use which is so important in this new age of isolation due to Covid - 19.  

Seun loves Jesus, movies, music and food, and is passionate about using the arts to show Jesus to the world. Here, in her own words, has been her experience working with us at Connect City;

"This summer, I've been handling a lot of Media Production with Connect and had a wonderful time getting to know the staff , youth and kids we served. We were able to make fun, silly weekly videos for the refugee children at Camp Unity which tested some of my acting skills. I also created insightful podcasts at Warden Woods which taught me a lot about the youth, their communities and the black Canadian experience. I related to some of their stories (I highly recommend you listen!).

Being with Connect and,  sitting with people who have stated they haven't felt comfortable in a church building because they didn't think they could ask questions or be open, taught me a lot. Seeing them hang around after hours and being so open to discussing God with others and myself, has given me a greater conviction to be invested in the everyday lives of people, and seeing Jesus move in them as well. I also experienced how appreciative the kids at Camp Unity were and how they considered us as their very first Canadian friends. It is great to know that the youth at Warden and refugee children are seeing Jesus in a way that they maybe never imagined He would be- genuinely caring about them and their daily lives.

My experience taught me that this is what church was originally intended to be, not just the Sunday meetings we see in the world today, but live community".


Seun hopes to continue her role with us here at Connect and is in the process of raising support for her and her ministry. 
WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER IS IMPORTANT
Why it is important for followers of Jesus to join the chorus of voices demanding systemic change in our cities, provinces, nation and world
Rev. Colin McCartney - wearing collar - with other pastors at a BLM event
Some people cannot understand why these three words, Black Lives Matter, has become such an important statement. In their eyes, all lives matter, so why emphasize Black lives over others? The answer to this question is that we proclaim Black Lives Matter because it is apparent that in our history and present times our Black brothers and sisters (and Indigenous friends) don't seem to matter as much as other lives. With this in mind, if we believe that all lives matter, we must loudly proclaim, "Black Lives Matter!".  This truth was clearly illustrated in one of our "Underground Voices" podcast when one of our youth shared an important metaphor about this. He talked about two people. One had a plate full of food while the other person had little or no food on her plate. The question he asked is; "Would you blame the hungry person with no food on her plate for asking to receive the same treatment as the person with a plate full of food?"  He went on to say that; "People who are saying Black Lives Matter are the ones who are hungry and living with empty plates and asking for the same treatment as others who have food on their plates."  He's spot on. B.L.M is about equality for Black people to be treated the same as white people. 

Many Canadians believe that racism is just a problem that takes place with our neighbours to the south but we too have systemic racism right here in Canada. I know this to be the case because in over 35 years of urban ministry I have seen it take place. I have worked in schools and encountered some teachers that treat Black students differently then white students.  Some have even confided in me concerning their bias against Black students thinking that I would agree with them because I am white. Of course, I did not!  I have encountered security guards harassing some of the wonderful Black youth I work with while walking in front of me in a mall for no reason. Once I identified these youth as being with me the security guards backed away saying; "Have a good day". This has happened a few times and in different places and has even involved the police. I have had precious Black youth, with tears in their eyes, share stories of mistreatment. Some have even had to endure being called the "N" word not only from citizens but also from the police. My Black friends get stopped, many times a year, for police checks. I can't remember the last time I was stopped by the police for any reason. Some of our Black youth have even been stopped while riding their bikes... and the stories continue. Negative stereotypes of Black Canadians and the abundance of racial profiling taking place here in Canada tends to poison the minds of those in power and is an attributing factor in the presence of racial bias in many people. This of course impacts the job opportunities present for people of colour as they can be misjudged by the colour of their sin n their character and that is simply WRONG.

I have also walked around reservations, trembled at the site of a residential schools and saw the way our nation has treated our precious Indigenous brothers and sisters. Some say the government gives out money to resolve the past problems but money does not change the hearts of people and the systems they work within. Today, we have too many Indigenous sisters who are murdered and have been ignored by the powers that be in our nation. (See "The National Inquiry Into Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women And Girls"). According to the "The Center For Suicide", Indigenous young people FROM Canada have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. As for employment opportunities, many face a wall of racial rejection in which they do not have the same opportunities white people get. 

With these realities in mind we are still only scratching the surface of systemic racism. This is why we declare, "Black Lives Matter". It is why we stand with our Indigenous bothers and sisters as well.  Every person, everywhere, is a precious child of God and for this reason any form of discrimination and injustice on any person is an abomination on the sanctity of life. As  followers of Jesus we seek to fulfill the Lord's Prayer of God's; "kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Note the words; "on earth as it is in heaven". This means right now, in this present time, not just some time in the future. In the kingdom there is no racism, injustice, violence, etc. With this in mind it is clearly God's will that we must be involved in justice here on earth as it is in heaven. 

The church is called to be God's living example of his kingdom on earth. We are empowered by the Spirit to reveal God's love and salvation to all people through Jesus Christ. The salvation that Christ provides changes hearts and accomplishes inner - transformation. But it doesn't stop there. Those who are saved are saved for a reason - to join the kingdom of God movement on earth as it is in heaven. We are saved to live differently, share the Good News and, at the same time, live in Jesus centered justice. In this way we not only focus on souls but also on social structures that oppose the kingdom of God.  As Father Gregory Boyle said;  

"The wrong idea has taken root in the world. And the idea is this; there just might be some lives out there that matter less than others." 

This is why we at Connect City join the chorus of others who declare that, yes indeed, Black Lives Matter!  
SCREENFISH: THE PRESENCE OF JESUS
We at Connect City are always seeking after God's will for our city and world. We recognize that God is active, speaking into the lives of all people through various ways. Even in countries where Christianity is illegal God cannot be stopped as he speaks to people through dreams. This was no surprise to the Apostle Paul as he shared how God speaks through various methods by quoting the poets of the pagans in Athens to describe God when he said;

     "For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your
      own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring."
- Acts 17:28

Yes, God was speaking to lost people through pagan poetry and Paul knew it. So, he quoted it to reveal the one true God to the precious people in Athens. 

At Connect City we believe God speaks through the arts and is is why we have welcomed ScreenFish into our Connect City family to launch a new church plant based on film. God can speak to us through movies and we, like Paul, intend to point people to Jesus through the platform of film. We are planning to plant a church for people like those in Athens in Paul's day, to share Jesus through film, so they can discover the Gospel message hidden within the story.  

As Steve Norton, the Toronto based editor of ScreenFish says;

"There’s something special about a good story. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has their favorite movies or shows that they connect with in one way or another. For whatever the reason, these stories speak to us on a deeper level. We come into them with open arms, embracing the world that they’ve created. More importantly though, we learn from them about the world, ourselves and God." 

We agree with Steve recognizing that stories create a safe space to talk about the world’s most important issues. From social justice to spiritual truth, the real value of film and pop culture lies beyond the glitz of Hollywood. They are more than just entertainment as they can reveal who we are or who we can be. Underneath the special effects and drama lies a place where people of our culture are willing to share their heart and speak about what matters most to them and it is here where we can find God at work.

Stories become sanctuaries for deeper conversation.

Steve, through ScreenFish, enters into this wonderful sacred space. Whether putting on free screenings of the latest Disney movie for local refugee families we serve, supporting issues of racial equality or mental health or inviting people to participate in a weekly podcast (ScreenFish Radio), we know that stories provide opportunities to engage people on ideas of truth, hope and justice. This is also space where the Gospel has the chance to speak into many lives and help people experience the love of Christ.  In this way, Connect recognizes that Steve and ScreenFish have a unique ministry that has the opportunity to speak Christ into the lives of people who may not have any interest in attending a church. Sadly, for many, the church can seem threatening (and even hostile). However, by engaging people through the ScreenFish podcast, website, film festivals and a creative church plant, ScreenFish will continue to build relationships with others through the lens of film and point to the Lord of our stories.

ScreenFish has become actively involved in serving local refugee families, mentoring local youth and now, with Connect's help, Steve plans to plant a church for those who are looking for a safe space to meet and engage the love of Christ. Whether it’s online or through personal connections, we continue to be excited to see God open new doors for us as we look for new ways to communicate hope to those who are hurting or in need. And, like the Gospel itself, hope always begins with a good Story. 

We welcome Steve and the ScreenFish family into Connect City as he plants a church with us in the months to come. Feel free to check out the SCreenFish website at - https://screenfish.net/ and subscribe to their podcast. 
THE BODY OF CHRIST AT SOULHOUSE
We are excited about the Fall as we deepen our impact in the communities we love and serve through our unique expressions of churches. We have a full slate of ministry planned for children, youth and their families living in emergency housing for displaced (refugee) families and in Warden Woods government housing. 

SoulHouse is also deepening their footprint in gathering Jesus followers together to grow and serve.   
We have seen how this House Church has become a sacred community led by Jesus that cares for each other. At the same time we are seeing how this body of Christ also has a huge heart for those who are hurting and often find themselves on the fringe. Covid - 19 has impacted many people through job losses, mental health struggles and even abuse issues. SoulHouse has responded through practical acts of love. From acquiring masks for those who need them, frequent grocery runs and food donations for hungry families, handing out baby care packages, providing one on one pastoral care for those who are troubled, etc are all signs that the love of God is in their midst at SoulHouse. 

During Covid we have also seen how this church is growing as a digital church. Weekly Zoom Bible studies and times to catch up are being attended by more people as many find this form of engagement is easier and probably safer than attending a House Church in person. When Covid is over we plan to build on this opportunity via a hybrid House / Zoom church.  


Most importantly, as we go out as "sent ones" of the kingdom, we recognize everything we do at Connect City must point to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. 
EXCITING NEWS!!
NEW INTERN PROGRAM FOR LOCAL YOUTH
As we see our young adult leaders growing in their leadership development we have seen the need to provide neighbourhood youth an opportunity to practice what they are learning and, at the same time, help us in our work. This is why we are planning a nine - month internship program for local youth to deepen their leadership while working alongside our staff.  Interns will receive a stipend so they can have the time to put into the internship. This is important as many of our young people need money to provide for their families or their schooling. Without internship honorariums they will have to work elsewhere to provide for their financial needs thus not having time to participate in the internship. Please pray for us as we seek funding for this important program. 
UPCOMING BOOKS WRITTEN BY CONNECT CITY STAFF
New book coming our October 27 written by Judith and Colin McCartney. 
UPCOMING BOOKS WRITTEN BY CONNECT CITY STAFF
Judith and Colin McCartney have written a book, "What Does Justice Look Like" published by Herald Press as part of a series called, "The Jesus Way".  This short, but timely book, reveals God's purpose for justice in our world and how we, as followers of Yahweh (the God who cares), can live out his kingdom reign on earth as it is in heaven. Colin writes from a theological perspective while Judith shares stories of what justice looks like in action. The book also contains a study guide that can be helpful if you chose to have this book as part of your small group or book club.  You can order this book on Amazon.

Stay tuned for Colin's fourth book coming out in 2021 called; "Let the Light In: Healing from Distorted Images of God" also published through Herald Press.  In this book, Colin shares his personal struggle with the toxic images of God that are taught in many churches and how these negative views can poison our psyche and impact our worldview. Loaded with a lot of personal stories, Scripture and theological insights, Colin makes a strong and joyful case for the reality of a Christ - like looking God of love. Now that is good news!!!

NEED A SPEAKER / TRAINER / CONSULTANT / COACH?
Our staff at Connect City are available to speak or lead training sessions for your church live (with safety restrictions in place) or through Zoom. Judith and Colin McCartney are also experienced ministry veterans who can help you lead change in your church or in your personal life to get you to the goals you need to be at.  If interested in any of the above services please do not hesitate to contact Colin at colin@connectministries.org . 
HOW TO GIVE:
To support our ministry or individual staff please click the green button below and  it will take you to our CanadaHelps online giving. Apply your donation by scrolling to the designated ministry you would like to support. Thank - you for your partnership! All donations are tax deductible.
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Connect City · 27 Toynbee Trail · Toronto, Ontario M1E 1E8 · Canada

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