Published in the May, 2020, Edition of the Diocesan Times
Supporting Parents: Stories That Matter
Cynthia Pilichos, Anglican Church Women Board
To say that life changed in the “blink of an eye” pretty much captures the reality we are all living with now, as I write this column for the May 2020 issue of The Diocesan Times. The phrase ‘social distancing’, once unknown, is well and truly in our lexicon, although we have been transforming to the more accurate ‘physical distancing’, given that current technologies do allow us to remain connected. After all, these electronic connectors are called ‘social media’. Even without electronic communication, there is the good old-fashioned, land-line telephone!
The seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic may have hit each of us at different times, with differing evolving realities acting as a catalyst for our growing comprehension of this unprecedented situation. With hindsight being 20/20 vision, we likely should have been aware much earlier about the rapid spread of the coronavirus and its forthcoming advent in our country; regardless, it is probably fair to say that the middle of March was the light bulb moment for most Canadians.
This timing has given a whole new meaning to the warning in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Julius Caesar, where the soothsayer’s words of “Beware the Ides of March” were a portent of Julius Caesar’s imminent death. While the Ides of March didn't signify anything special in itself - this was just the usual way of saying "March 15th" - the expression “Beware the Ides of March” is now often used to denote a time of impending disaster of some sort. You see, Julius Caesar did die on March 15, assassinated by those whom he had reason to believe were his colleagues. Moreover, it is a death that put in motion the eventual fall of the mighty Roman Empire. One can see how “Beware the Ides of March” has become synonymous with peril!
We are being asked to take this opportunity of global crisis, which gives every sense will still be our reality by the time you are reading this, as we hunker down in our homes, physically isolated from many family members and all friends, to do what God asks of us, and that is: “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God”. Despite suspended liturgies, services, and all other congregational activity at all levels, we are still united in Christ, able to show our love of God and of our neighbour in many, if altered, ways.
In the April 2020 issue of The Diocesan Times, I noted that Archbishop Ron would be offering a reflection in a homily (at what was to have been the Faith & Fellowship Gathering on April 25) on the new theme for the Anglican Church Women Board: Do justice . . . love kindness . . . walk humbly with your God. This Faith & Fellowship Gathering has been postponed until September 26, with, happily, the new theme for 2020/21 continuing to guide the proceedings. There will be adjustments to our original plan, but the theme is a constant.
This Faith & Fellowship was to have been the wrap-up for the Board’s current Annual Project: Education – a life changing gift! However, we are still accepting contributions until the end of May. We give heartfelt thanks for all your contributors to date – parishes and individuals. Your generosity is astounding. We are thrilled to report that we have exceeded even out stretch goal of $15,000, despite the loss of several spring fundraising opportunities, but the direct result of a very generous anonymous donation. Truly our God is walking with us!
Another key feature of this now postponed Faith & Fellowship Gathering will be the “official launch” of the Board’s new Annual Project, the one for 2020/21, Supporting Parents: Stories That Matter. This Project has the Board seeking direct support from all our parishes and generous individuals for the extension of the Mothers’ Union Parenting Program in the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of the North, through the training of Indigenous facilitators.
If you are not sure what this parenting program is all about, I would encourage you to read the excellent Mothers’ Union column in the April 2020 issue of The Diocesan Times, entitled: “The rain will fall on me the same way . . . nature does not judge”. The author of the column is Kathleen Snow, the Regional Trainer for the Worldwide Mothers’ Union Parenting Program. Essentially, the facilitator training for which the Anglican Church Board will be accepting contributions (May 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021) prepares participants to run Parent Support Groups in their home communities. This Board Project, with its national focus, is a very specific way that we can actively respond to the complex and challenging reconciliation process.
It is very easy to feel helpless in the face and aftermath of the many injustices experienced by our Indigenous sisters and brothers, but financial contributions and prayers for Supporting Parents: Stories That Matter really empower Anglicans in our diocese in a “go forward” way. We can take heart from the fact that the Mothers’ Union Parenting Program is tried and true; it has been successful at a grass roots level in 23 countries world-wide since 2002. An integral part of its success is its very nature: it is not an imposed, recipe-driven program. Rather, it is experienced by those in the Parent Support Group, regardless of faith or no faith, in their own communities, embracing their own cultures and dynamics, sharing the stories that matter to them, guided by trained facilitators who really know how to listen.
Please note the ad for Supporting Parents: Stories That Matter in this issue of The Diocesan Times for how to contribute to this Annual Project 2020/21. As with all the projects of the Anglican Church Women Board, it is an “equal opportunity’’ initiative; it is not the women’s groups alone that are able to contribute to the Annual Project – all are welcome to do so, and all contributions are gratefully received. We are counting on you, all of you, for your continued financial support. We are also counting on your prayers for an outcome worthy of everyone’s support, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike: the raising of children and youth to be healthy, caring, kind, and loving adults and parents. So, here’s to Supporting Parents: Stories That Matter.