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Church Relations Workshops

'An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise, seeks knowledge.’ -Proverbs 18.15 ESV 

When it comes to interacting with vulnerable populations, UGM takes a posture of listening and learning, knowing that our approach and programs will change with time. Our workshop series are designed to equip churches with the skills and understanding needed to launch informed, effective initiatives in their own neighbourhoods.

Please use the Church Partnerships Form at the bottom of the page to register for the workshops you are interested in.

Depending on the needs of your individual church, we are also able to offer customized sessions — please contact us to request more information. 

Upcoming Workshops

Schedule will be released shortly.

Core Workshops

Communities of Care Training Series

The Communities of Care Training is a series of 90-minute sessions, covering foundational knowledge for anyone supporting vulnerable individuals. These sessions are designed to equip and inspire staff and volunteers in a variety of supportive programs:

  • Have a biblical framework for following God into life-giving mutuality with marginalized individuals
  • Use language and postures that support dignity, care, healing, and belonging
  • Adopt practices that protect vulnerable people from further dependency or marginality
  • Institute necessary self-care practices for resiliency and longevity
  • Gain skills for responding to typical scenarios and legal requirements in their local context

Gain a new perspective on poverty by identifying and understanding the impact of broken relationships and systems on the lives of your neighbours. Here, you'll also learn about Asset Based Community Development and why UGM recommends it as your church's stance on supportive programs.

Build your congregation’s empathy while diving into the principles of compassionate care. This session explains why radical hospitality is a vital stance for Christian work, outlines how to recognize and respond to spiritual trauma, and sketches what holistic care can look like in a community context.

Establish a deeper understanding of your community’s mental health. This session introduces the mental health challenges commonly encountered “on the street,” how these interface with addiction, and how your methods of care must take into account chronic or severe trauma. You’ll also develop the skills needed to provide appropriate care or engage help from others.

Learn how to set safe and caring boundaries in your community. This session introduces healthy personal boundaries, tactics for de-escalating hostility, and skills needed to maintain a safe, welcoming atmosphere for all who attend a community program (guests, volunteers, staff, neighbours, etc.).

Individual Workshops

Run on an 'as requested' basis, these workshops serve as topical introductions and specialized training designed to support churches in their local outreach work. From fundraising to volunteer care, these sessions focus on building knowledge, empowering teams, and connecting practitioners.

Equipping Leadership

Responding to needs with love is essential. But it doesn’t guarantee that the intended impact is taking place - or - that the root causes of the specific needs are being addressed. This workshop is an introduction to evaluation and how it can help your church achieve its stated vision.


  • To articulate what program evaluation is and why it is important to do it with a social justice orientation
  • Where to start and what kinds of data to collect
  • To articulate the difference between outputs and outcomes
  • How to review and report findings in engaging ways

Asking people for money for your programs can feel daunting, awkward, and forced — but it doesn’t have to. This workshop covers the foundational elements of fundraising, how to tell the story of your program, and how to invite others along for the journey.

  • Relationship essentials in fundraising 
  • An introduction to monthly giving programs 
  • The importance of stewardship
  • Ethical storytelling

Not every church has access to highly skilled fundraisers. For churches and leaders who are not trained in raising funds, this session walks you through finding and applying for the grants that will help sustain the vision behind your programs. It will cover common mistakes, realistic timelines, and tools to make grant proposals informative and persuasive.

Effective weaving together takes planning and deliberation if we are going to find ways to sustainably support our vulnerable neighbours as they struggle with confounding poverty-related challenges. This discussion covers practical ideas and real-life experiences of effective partnerships for supportive community programs.

  • How partnerships are basic to congregational and urban life
  • Different types of partnerships (formal and informal)
  • Benefits and challenges to partnerships, and risks of not building them
  • Key aspects of building partnerships, including formal Memorandums of Understanding
  • To plan for ending partnerships well

One of the key ways communities are transformed is through supportive programs in local churches run by competent and committed volunteers. Working with volunteers, especially as we rebuild our communities after the pandemic, takes planning and deliberation. This session covers practical ideas for recruiting, training, and caring for your volunteers, so that you’re pouring into the people who will help achieve your ministry’s vision.

  • Ideas and sources for recruiting volunteers
  • Best practices for training volunteers
  • Legal requirements when working with vulnerable people
  • Considerations for meeting the practical and spiritual needs of volunteers
  • Ideas for retaining and celebrating volunteers
  • Suggestion for “firing” volunteers kindly (when necessary!)

Spiritual Care

Working with vulnerable individuals brings us near those experiencing grief and loss. Many that attend supportive community and church programs see the setting as a primary spiritual community or connection to a Body of Faith.  As that body, how do we address the death of one of our community members while honouring life, supporting other community members through grief, and sustaining ourselves in the journey? This dialogue shares ideas, stories, and life’s most challenging questions, and holds time to connect with others who are experiencing similar questions, challenges, and joys.

  • Basics of the physiology, psychology, and theology of grief and loss
  • How to recognize the signs of depression and compassion fatigue
  • Creative solutions for fostering meaningful connection with vulnerable neighbours

​​Christians are called to be a people of hope in the midst of a world greatly troubled. Paul also reminds us to “always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:15–18). This workshop will unpack one powerful spiritual discipline for cultivating both hope and the common good: habitually praying while walking in your neighbourhood. Join us as the Holy Spirit leads us into God’s heart for our local contexts and shows us where to join His work already in progress there.

  • Three biblical lenses for seeing the quality of local life
  • How to spot clues as to what’s occurring in a given locale (how God is at work there)
  • How to unlock a neighbourhood by asking people three simple questions
  • Praying imaginatively into (not so much for) what and who you encounter

Food and other supportive programs aim to address far more than physical hunger. Anyone who visits or volunteers with a church-based program experience of their spirituality and faith, even if it is their first contact with a Body of Faith. This dialogue explores how a church-run meal — in all its aspects — can lead to spiritual formation.

  • How a community meal is an extension of a congregation’s participation in God’s mission and life of the church, as well as our own household habits
  • Practices for culturally sensitive spiritual development that are appropriate during a community food and support program
  • Ideas for volunteer training, sermons, and small group resources that reflect theologically on sharing food and how it connects to one’s individual and corporate spiritual journey

Specialized Topics

No person grows up hoping to struggle with addiction one day. And contrary to common understanding, addiction has less to do with substance abuse and more to do with coping mechanisms. This dialogue explores different ways we all learn to cope and why understanding this is central to how we support others and ourselves through whatever life throws our way.


  • Basics of the physiology, psychology, and theology of addictions and appropriate care 
  • Why people get got caught in addictions and the power of shame 
  • How to recognize the signs of addiction and terms for talking about the challenges 
  • Creative solutions for fostering connection with vulnerable neighbours 
  • Tools and tips for starting on the recovery journey 
  • Time to connect with others that are experiencing similar questions, challenges, and joys

Wanting to help your neighbours take their next steps but not sure where to turn? This session reviews neighbourhood and governmental support systems, barriers to accessing local supports, and how to connect people to available supports nearby as well as across the region.


  • Focused definitions of advocacy and agency
  • Barriers to adequate care
  • The place of trust and rapport building in advocacy
  • The need for confidentiality, Duty of Care, and safety
  • Key forms

A Table for All, a toolkit for community meals, was created to accompany organizations and supportive programs in revamping and sustaining community meal programs, along with orienting them towards social inclusion, deeper justice, and better nutrition. This workshop reviews the toolkit and explores emerging best practices for community programs.

  • Blessing the Table – Sacred Dimension of Food Security 
  • Building the Table – From Food Charity to Food Security
  • Setting the Table – Building a New Meal Program
  • Changing the Table – Transforming an Existing Program
  • Supplying the Table – Practicalities & Procedures
  • Filling the Table – Planning Your Meals
  • Putting Food on the Table – Sample Menus
  • A roadmap for assessing your community program

Food security is a team effort. Together, we work towards a food system where everyone has secure access to safe and nutritious food, produced in an environmentally sustainable way and provided in a manner that promotes human dignity. This workshop will walk churches through the steps necessary for achieving this vision.

  • Terminology related to food security and food systems
  • Key references related to food insecurity in Canada
  • How to use the Collective Impact Framework to guide collaboration in your local context

Two of our deepest needs are for safety and connection. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to prioritize safety, giving up many of our practices of connecting with friends and neighbours, especially in our community food and support programs. We can now start planning a return to sit-down hospitality, though it will take us working together to ensure everyone’s safety. This session reviews practical ideas for how we can (re)introduce sustainable, hospitable practices into our community meals and other supportive programs.

  • Why radical hospitality is an appropriate approach
  • Adapting safety recommendations to our community programs
  • Environmental and budget considerations
  • Transitions, communication, and hybrid models of service delivery
  • Spiritual care around shared food

Discover how your church can respond in a weather emergency. This session explains how shelters and emergency weather response (EWR) programs operate, where they fit into the continuum of care, and how your congregation can manage the anxieties and risks associated with hosting and/or running these programs.

Church Partnerships

Fill out the form below to set up a tour, schedule a workshop on a specific topic or have a conversation with an experienced staff member from UGM.

Type of Group