The Apple Creek Community Services department offers an exceptional program directed to achieve the fulfillment and betterment of communities in need. The program is facilitated by Earl Munroe and a dedicated team of faithful volunteers.
Community service, known today as “Stewardship,” has existed since the dawn of creation as seen through the eyes of Jesus Christ, “And the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15). We dress and feed our community spiritually through cohesion and cooperation as a community, introducing individuals to Christ, giving Bible studies; and physically by fostering the well-being of individuals through the provision of food, clothing, offering housing information, a tax clinic, drug clinic, and gardening aid. Three (3) main services are offered in satisfying these efforts: Touch of Love, Good Deeds Food Bank, and Tax Services.
This department of the church does not function on its own initiative; rather, it acts on the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is the efforts of internal and external villages that proficiently facilitate this successful program. Contributors are primarily comprised of members of Apple Creek Church and the North York Food Bank. Members donate food, clothing, time, and monetary contributions. The North York Food Bank makes biweekly donations of food, even mandates that 80% of its products go to the Markham community, and 20% to the Apple Creek Food Bank to help mitigate its food costs. Data has shown that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs went from serving 25 to 30 families per month to serving 90 to 110 families for the same period – an approximate 200% increase in service.
According to E.G.White in Counsels on Stewardship, Section 1—Heaven’s Law of Benevolence and Its Purpose, “He bestows upon man the best means of cultivating benevolence, and keeps him habitually giving to help the poor and to advance His cause. By its necessities a ruined world is drawing forth from us talents of means and of influence … And as we heed these calls, by labour and by acts of benevolence, we are assimilated to the image of Him who for our sakes became poor. In bestowing, we bless others, and thus accumulate true riches” (CS 13.5).
Biweekly meetings are held to sort, bag, tag, and coordinate/plan delivery care packages. Each Wednesday, 12 volunteers gather to meet the food truck to unload, sort and box food items for distribution. Each Thursday, eight (8) dedicated members pack and distribute care packages to individuals in Markham, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, Brampton, and Mississauga. On the fourth Sabbath afternoon of each month, the Creek volunteers prepare sandwiches for the following Sunday’s program.
The Touch of Love Program brings together a diverse group of men and women eagerly awaiting the Apple Creek Church partners as they arrive with supplies consisting of packaged lunches, hot chocolate, clothing, Christian tracts, and face-to-face conversations. This is a principle of a good steward in a world where “good” is defined in terms of the accumulation of material possessions. In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus counters by saying that good is a matter of care and stewardship, even to the point of giving away that which we treasure. Therefore, let’s consider the Four Pillars of Stewardship in connection to Community Service:
- Hospitality – Christian Kindness. ‘When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.’
- Prayer – A Heart to Heart with God. ‘Prayer is as necessary to our souls as food is to our bodies.’
- Formation – Continuous Conversion with God and each other.
- Service – Love in Action.
Currently, the program is experiencing a shortage of male clothing, perishable food items (i.e. canned foods), socks, coats, and sweaters. The Touch of Love Program reports that more males access the program than females. In addition, 240 pre-packaged lunches are handed out per month. Wow! This is awesome and not only is food provided but conversation, Bible studies and mental issues are being addressed simultaneously.
Truly, Earl Munroe and the volunteers are grounded in the work Christ commands us to do as stewards. As the program continues into 2022 onward, the long-term vision is to encourage young and willing individuals who are resourceful, talented, and energetic to get involved in complying with the work of stewardship.
Presently, food and care package deliveries continue; however, with anticipated COVID-19 restrictions, some families may have to collect their packages at the church.
By Sonia Barrett
Community Service Ministries