Year 1 Report

Salal & Cedar Watershed Discipleship Ministry has had a very solid first year with quality programming attracting diverse participants, steady growth of a small values-based community, and a high profile in church and secular news media, on social media and the internet. The youth leadership program Sacred Earth Camp was extremely successful. For long-term financial stability, work is needed on grant-writing and donor relations. The model, structure and function of this new church plant are still emerging and could be supported by consulting with skilled strategic thinkers.

Download year-1-report here

Key dates
July 1, 2015 ministry officially begins
August 8, 2015 first public event
September 21, 2015 commissioning of new ministry
July 31-August 13, 2016 Sacred Earth Camp

Worship Life
We have worshipped outdoors approximately twice a month in different locations all over the diocese: Surrey, Sechelt, Burnaby, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, and Vancouver. Our liturgy of the word includes a reflection on scripture and on the word in creation, often through a hike, shoreline exploration, or cycling expedition. Our worship includes a celebration of the Eucharist about half the time. Attendance ranges from three to fifteen with an average of eight to ten. Through outdoor worship Salal + Cedar is exploring new territory liturgically and sacramentally. We had two very well attended liturgical events that we hope will become Salal + Cedar’s “signature events”: a Farm Nativity with live animals during Advent with 130 attendees and an Ecological Stations of the Cross on Burnaby Mountain with thirty-three participants. Our watershed-focused Eucharistic Prayer is being used in the diocese, ecumenically, and in a few cases internationally. Our practice of blessing local water, bringing water from the nearest source into church fonts, working politically on protecting waterways and our focus on “safeguarding the integrity of creation” as a baptismal ministry has grown and expanded our community’s theology of baptism. And by blessing bicycle chain oil and anointing one another with traditional medicine-infused oil for healing and prophetic action we have a high level of community engagement with this less well-known sacrament. A team of Salal + Cedar members, in groups of one to four, have provided preaching, worship leadership, and liturgical resources at eight Anglican churches and one United church this past year. Churches have started to invite us to animate Messy Church and parish picnics using our wonder box curriculum. We are booking into 2017 and hope that parishes will host us annually. Sunday morning visits raise the profile of the ministry and generate revenue.

Community Life
The Salal + Cedar community consists of approximately fifteen individuals aged eleven to mid seventies who self-identify as members and attend events at least every other month and contribute time, money or both. An additional ten individuals have been to at least two worship or program events, recognize the name of the ministry and contribute “suggested donations” at events. On Sunday morning visits we connect over coffee hour with ecologically minded individuals who feel isolated in their parishes. Most of core community members identify as Christian, are members of a church community but are new to the idea of Watershed Discipleship so we have focused on formation through group attendance at a VST Creation theology workshop and a retreat in Oregon. This spring we had a confirmand whose preparation we supported with group and individual conversations on Anglican identity. There are community members with a growing sense of our shared work who carry some of the vision and will soon be ready to take on warden-like leadership positions. All Salal + Cedar events begin with the acknowledgement that we meet on Coast Salish Territory followed by a round of introductions that includes preferred pronouns. Our group is diverse in terms of gender and ability and our written material and orientations include an accessibility audit of the space that attends to physical access, language, gender, scent, and sensory processing. We are a white majority community with a commitment to anti-racism and a strong focus on reconciliation through supporting indigenous land justice. With our children’s curriculum, youth camp, family-friendly format, childcare at events and program offerings at youth events Salal + Cedar has grown a natural focus on ministry of and to younger members of the community. Although the ministry is mission focused, home visits and pastoral care flow organically out of those connections. There is a growing practice of self-organized mutual care and shared community life between community members outside of worship or program activities.

Program
High quality programming has been the most successful aspects of this ministry. In 2016 Salal + Cedar organized one event per month, including making rain barrels, identifying indigenous medicinal plants, an anti-oppression workshop, and nonviolent direct action training. These events grew the skills base of our core community members and attracted a range of churched and unchurched individuals interested in the material. Each month members of S + C attended together one or two demonstrations or education events offered by other environmental organizations. These included the Salmon Are Sacred caravan, an ally-ship training for white people, 350.org’s Climate Welcome campaign, launching of the Leap Manifesto, Break Free from Fossil Fuels day of Action, migrant workers Cooking Lesson for Justice, the Women’s Water Walk, Paddle for the Peace Valley and a screening of the film This Changes Everything. Participation in these events grew relationships among core community members, offered a friendly findable entry point for new-comers to public action, and raised our profile and reputation locally. We cultivated short-term, project-based working collaborations with a number of groups. Partnerships with A Rocha’s Brooksdale Farm and Conservation Centre, Fossil Free Faith divestment organization, Earthkeepers a young evangelical group, and the Wilderness Way community in Oregon are growing into sister-community relationships. For the first two weeks in August, Salal + Cedar priest in charge Laurel Dykstra and staff members Danielle Black and Cameron Gutjahr ran Sacred Earth Camp an environmental leadership program for youth and young adults. Seven participants completed the full program, two participated part time and three attended occasionally. The camp accomplished or exceeded it’s stated goals and will run again in the future.

Communications
Salal + Cedar has a mailing list of 225, we have a beautiful professionally designed website and 300+ people like us on Facebook. Our ministry has been featured in the diocesan paper and website, the Anglican Journal, the Keep Anglicans Talking project, and Church for Vancouver. Our work is included in Christian environmental network venues like Radical Discipleship, Bartemaeus Cooperative Ministries, and publications such as Wrongs to Rights and Watershed Discipleship. In the mainstream media we have appeared in Metro, the Vancouver Sun, Burnaby Now, and on CBC.

Financial Sustainability
Because Salal + Cedar has a September to August program year and a January to December financial year it is a little difficult to synchronize calendars. Salal + Cedar’s finances are administered through the diocese but accurate, monthly financial statements for the ministry are still a work in progress. In 2015 our funding came almost entirely from the Anglican Initiatives Fund ($15000) with the remainder from individual donations, program fees and Sunday morning parish visits. With a slow start in both ministry activities and fundraising, Salal + Cedar’s reduced expenses balanced our lower than anticipated income. For 2016 our major funding sources are the Anglican Initiatives Fund ($20000), the national church’s Ministry Investment Fund ($13000), the Primate’s Justice and Reconciliation Office ($7000) and an innovative and successful Indiegogo campaign ($10400). Individual and parish giving are significantly lower than anticipated for this point in the year while program revenue is slightly higher. Anticipating a successful community grant applications and year-end fundraiser, Salal + Cedar will finish the year in the black but having raised about $7-10,000 less than anticipated. This is particularly significant as we had anticipated that the national church funding would provide some financial cushioning as we move towards sustainability in 2017 and 2018.

Ministry Development Support
For a first time church planter in a diocese that is new to church planting, supports and resources are limited. Priest in charge, Laurel Dykstra attends a local, ecumenical emerging church/church planters group. She has met quarterly with the leadership team at St. Brigid’s and occasionally with Rev. Melanie Calabrigo of St. Hildegard’s for mutual support and conversations about new ministry models. In February, Laurel received coaching from community member (and long-time nonprofit organizer) Alecia Greenfield focused on budget, fundraising and working with donors.

Next Steps
The worship, community, and program aspects of Salal + Cedar are thriving; the critical issue at the moment is the need to strengthen fundraising through grant writing and donor relations. This can be accomplished with a shift in time and energy from program to fundraising. In terms of the overall shape and direction of the ministry, Salal + Cedar would benefit from an intensive workshop that brings members of the community together with some critical thinkers in church planting, growth and development.

 

Report by Laurel Dykstra