Practical Ministries

This section is part of a larger story of Indigenous ministry in Alberta. To read it from the start, click here.

One of the main forms of ministry to Indigenous peoples includes a practical or needs-based model of ministry. These types of ministries usually have an evangelistic motivation, but they accomplish the sharing of the gospel through the practical meeting of physical and spiritual needs.

Edmonton Native Healing Centre

Edmonton Native Healing Centre (ENHC) is a ministry of the Christian Reformed church. It is one of three urban ministries supported by the denomination, which comprise the denomination’s ministry to Indigenous peoples. ENHC is a drop-in ministry situated in the Prince Charles neighbourhood, which ENHC claims is the area in Edmonton with the highest population of Indigenous people.⁴³ The drop-in runs Monday through Thursday, and provides food hampers, computer access, program referrals, counselling, and a health clinic. They see themselves as a seed-planting ministry and gateway to the faith journey, and their goal is to recognize people as image bearers of God and see their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs met.

Edmonton Urban Native Ministry

Edmonton Urban Native Ministry (EUNM) is a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is one of nine Indigenous ministries funded by the denomination which form the Presbyterian Church’s National Indigenous Ministry Council (The Presbyterian Church in Canada [PCC], n.d., para. 2). The denomination began forming these ministries in 1994 in response to their acknowledgement of the pain wrought by the Residential School system, which they participated in running (The Presbyterian Church in Canada, n.d., para. 2).

Within Alberta, EUNM is said to be the mirror of another ministry called Love Corps AB (see below). Both ministries operate within the network of the Korean Presbyterian Church and the directors of each work closely together, but one is intended to provide urban ministry, and the other ministry on the reserves. However, Love Corps is not named by the Presbyterian Church of Canada as one of their nine Indigenous ministries, and seems to be a degree more independent than EUNM.

EUNM is located on 118th Ave, a downtown neighbourhood of Edmonton where a high percentage of Indigenous people reside, and where there is a high rate of prositution, drug abuse, and homelessness. It functions primarily as a drop-in centre, serving meals to around 100 people per day, and providing for physical needs with hot meals, bus tickets, haircuts, a clothing bank, and an emergency food bank, as well as Taekwondo, music lessons, and crafts for kids (CAMF, 2019, p. 87; PCC, n.d., para. 8). In addition, they minister to spiritual needs through worship services, Vacation Bible School, morning devotions, prayer, and Bible sharing (CAMF, 2019, p. 87; PCC, n.d., para. 8).

Love Corps AB

Love Corps is another ministry of the Korean churches linked to the Presbyterian church, this one comprising their Indigenous ministry in the non-urban/reserve context. The ministry was founded 20 years ago in BC, but was later extended into Alberta. They operate during the summer, sending teams of youth to First Nations reserves to run summer camp programs. About 80-100 youth comprise the teams that are sent, and come from Korean churches around Alberta. On the reserves, they run VBS-style summer camps to connect to the kids, as well as offer practical, needs-based ministry to the people on the reserve. They also try to help address issues regarding drug abuse and suicide.

Love Corps’ goal is to meet spiritual, mental, and physical needs, and to build relationships with the kids/youth as well as the rest of the communities. Throughout the rest of the year, workers will do follow up visits to maintain the relationships. Once a relationship is built, community leaders may invite workers they have a relationship with out to their reserve to share on spiritual things for situations such as the wake of a suicide. Love Corps leadership feels passionately about the need for Indigenous ministry, and are in the process of trying to build up a network in the field. They are currently in a process of trying to figure out how to do more effective communication with the First Nations people.

Anchored Warriors

Anchored Warriors is a ministry that provides mentoring and youth ministry to Indigenous youth in Kamloops, BC, and Eden Valley, AB. They are connected to the Native Youth Conference (NYC),⁴⁴ and are a ministry of InterAct. Anchored Warriors began when one of the co-founders, who was involved with NYC, had an Indigenous friend commit suicide. The organization was begun with the aim of providing ongoing support to Indigenous youth, past the NYC event that only took place once a year. Today, Anchored Warriors serves as a leadership development and networking hub for Indigenous ministry. Leadership of the organization was recently transferred to Urban Fire, another InterAct ministry in southern Alberta.

Urban Fire

Urban Fire is an InterAct ministry that provides transitional housing to Indigenous young adults moving from the reserves into the city of Calgary. It exists to fill a need wherein Indigenous young adults were encountering barriers to transitioning, such as trouble finding a job or housing and feeling homesick, and subsequently feeling like they were not capable of beginning life in the city because of these barriers. UrbanFire provides community housing where these young adults have access to resources and assistance to figure out housing, jobs, paperwork, school applications, etc. They are also in the process of starting a business in order to provide employment to Indigenous young adults themselves.

43 - This claim could not be verified in specificity, but Edmonton’s 2009 Statistical Profile of Aboriginal Peoples Living in Edmonton confirmed that the North Central traffic district, of which the Prince Charles neighbourhood belongs, did have the largest population of Indigenous people per capita in 2009 (City of Edmonton, October 2009, p. 125).

44 - See section on Advocacy Ministries for more information on Native Youth Conference.