Here at Diaconal Ministries Canada, we believe God is always at work and He calls churches to follow Him into their communities to share Christ’s transformational love with each and every person. Cities and neighbourhoods should be impacted and blessed through the social action and thoughtful, cultural engagement of local Christians. Through its Operation Manna Program, Diaconal Ministries Canada has been helping churches establish vital community ministries across the country for over 35 years. More than 140 local ministries have been started or expanded through an Operation Manna partnership, most of which are still thriving today! Praise God!
Cities and neighbourhoods should be impacted and blessed through the social action and thoughtful, cultural engagement of local Christians.
A wise man once said (okay, it was Walt Disney!): “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” So while we celebrate the meaningful impact Operation Manna has had, the conversation regarding changing the name and updating the program’s activities has been going on for over 10 years.
While it has been hard to measure the program’s strength and significance within the general Canadian CRC ‘population’, Diaconal Ministries’ staff and Operation Manna Committee members have looked at the amount of money that was coming in through the yearly offering, the number of churches who were applying to the program, as well as numerous conversations with churches and deacons over the years.
It appeared that some churches and its members were confused about what Operation Manna was, what it did, and/or who it was for, as well as its connection to Diaconal Ministries Canada. Some seemed to still associate Operation Manna with World Renew where it began in the 1960’s and continued until Diaconal Ministries took it over in 2001. (This would explain why a few cheques for Operation Manna are still being sent to World Renew each and every year! I kid you not!). Others believed it was some sort of food program, given its name and history. On top of that, as Tammy Heidbuurt, Program Director, points out: “Diaconal Ministries Canada has had such a great resource to support new ministries [through Operation Manna], but many CRCs still don't know about it!” (To read a more detailed history, visit our website!)
More recently, the conversation was picked up again as Diaconal Ministries’ staff and the program’s committee were ready to expand the program to help churches love their communities AND build into leaders of today and tomorrow. So in the early Fall of 2018, it was decided that the time had finally arrived to help clarify the purpose of the program and break new ground! We are excited to announce that as of March 1st, 2019, the Operation Manna Program was renamed NewGround.
“NewGround is all about connecting the gifts of our churches and deacon leaders to the ministry opportunities in our cities and local neighbourhoods.” -R. Vroege
The NewGround Program will continue to partner with churches to start or grow local community ministries. Brand new to the program is a Youth Justice Initiative and also Deacon Scholarships. Rachel Vroege, Diaconal Ministries’ Regional Ministry Developer in Western Canada, summarized the revamped program this way: “NewGround is all about connecting the gifts of our churches and deacon leaders to the ministry opportunities in our cities and local neighbourhoods.” Vroege goes on to say that the updated and expanded grant and coaching program will now help reach a new generation of justice seekers and inspire them to get involved in their communities. Heidbuurt agrees and adds that she hopes NewGround will enable churches and its members “to be courageous and creative with ministry opportunities in their community.”
The program will continue to be funded through an annual offering held in CRC’s across Canada, but as the program continues to break ‘new ground’, Diaconal Ministries will be seeking other revenue streams to support its expanded activities.
We hope you will join us in celebrating our updated NewGround Program! Visit our website below to find ways YOU can get involved today.