Community of Christ is dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.
The church has long sought to build community and establish a peaceable world. To this end, Community of Christ in Australia established Saints Care Ltd, a non-profit company that supports the church’s objectives through organized compassionate ministries and justice action. In essence, Saints Care is the benevolent arm of the Community of Christ.
Saints Care’s vision is to help create a world that is just and peaceful, where people live in healthy families and strong communities, feel wholeness and find meaning.
The ministries of Saints Care are founded in the belief that serving God by serving the poor, the broken-hearted, and the oppressed, is the essence of Christian discipleship.
Saints Care has celebrated a decade of ministry. Its purposes continue to reflect a trend that had been established early in the history of the church.
Social ministries and oblation specifically lie at the heart of our movement’s history. Perhaps a driving motivation is because the Smith family was so impoverished. They went through bankruptcy, lost their farm in Randolph, Vermont in 1803-4, became tenant farmers, experienced a second bankruptcy in 1813-14, and endured three periods of hunger from 1813-1817, all which dramatically impacted the family thinking. Joseph Smith Sr. even spent several weeks in a debtor’s prison in late 1830.
Today, our church continues to embrace this calling.
In 1996 the church leadership group, headed up by Matt Naylor, believed that a national charity was a necessary new activity the church, one that would act as an umbrella for the various social ministry programs we were already involved in, and would be able to harness resources to establish new programs. It sought the approval of the Australia Region Conference in 1997 to establish a charity. The Conference authorised the establishment of such a body in April 1997. On 13 July, 1997 the name Saints Care Limited was formally registered, and the Australian Tax Office gave us the necessary status in December of that year. In 1999 the Presiding Bishopric authorised the transfer of assets from the Oblation Fund into Saints Care.
Let’s look at the growth figures. In 1991, the total expenditure on charitable works by the Australia church was $110,343. By 1999 it had doubled to $211,335. The current budget for expenditures by SaintsCare per annum has expanded five times since then to be just under $1.2 million for 2009.
The growth of any such organisation presents us with both opportunities and risks. True, we can provide an enormous range of ministries because we now have the resources, but equally we face the possibility of being too scattered in our approach. The Board constantly seeks to find the appropriate balance.
Previous counsel has encouraged us to ensure that we continue to form partnerships with congregations and other networks. We continue to follow this counsel. It is imperative that SaintsCare remains in strong relationship with the church and support its programs.
I am confident that the people working for SaintsCare, and those on the SaintsCare Board, are all dedicated individuals who bring a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of humanity.
Matt Naylor spoke rather poetically of his experience in the creation of SaintsCare:
We said it was our prophetic task – to risk without knowing the final journey – to trust that what would emerge would help contribute to the creation of God’s peaceable kingdom. I believe that as our mission becomes increasingly clear, more resources will come under the stewardship of SaintsCare, and we will be blessed with increased opportunities to contribute to the building of healthy communities and whole lives. Our task now is to seize the moment, dream the dreams of generations, listen to our call on the winds of the imagination, and ensure that everything that we do creates the sort of world we dream of living in.
Indeed, our Mission statement echoes these sentiments today:
As an expression of our Christian discipleship, we will facilitate the provision of quality compassionate ministries that empower people and enhance their capacity to build communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.
We must be confident in the future of SaintsCare. To borrow from the recent words of Mark Scherer, “Future generations will note our courage so they can stand on our strong shoulders. Let us be giants.”1
In sum, our values embrace compassion, the worth of persons, empowerment, community, integrity and professionalism. We dream of and work for a world that is just and peaceful, where people live in healthy families and strong communities, feel wholeness and find meaning. That is the heart of the SaintsCare vision.
Chairman of the Board
1 Private correspondence, Mark Scherer/Matt Naylor, July 21, 2000, cited in Matthew Naylor’s address to the Saints Care Board, May 18, 2001.
1 Matthew Naylor’s address to the Saints Care Board, May 18, 2001