Board Update for May 29th, 2022

Dear SSUC,

There have been some questions following the Board update which I gave on April 24th, about the two projects we have recently invested in, and I hope this explanation will answer your questions and clear up any confusion.


In early March 2022, the Board of SSUC received an invitation to participate in a very unique investment opportunity. This invitation came from EDGE: A Network for Ministry Development with the United Church of Canada (funded by M&S) and was presented to us by Carla Leon, a staff person with EDGE. EDGE is a granting agency of the United Church that has funded and assisted with a number of SSUC projects over the past few years.

The invitation was an opportunity to make a direct investment of $50,000 in the master franchise of a values-aligned home care business, called Just Like Family ( The Trustees and Board Executive were invited to meet with Carla Leon and learn more about the opportunity. Due diligence reports were reviewed, financial assumptions and projections, as well as a business plan. Timelines were short and as a result of that conversation, there was sufficient interest which led to calling a special board meeting to consider the matter. Inquiries were made of other congregations who had invested, and the Board held a special meeting on March 22, 2022 to consider the matter. Carla Leon joined the first portion of the meeting to talk about the opportunity and answer any questions from members of the board.

As many of you are aware, the Trustees of SSUC invested $232,000 from the Southern Homes proceeds with Frontier Capital Funds in 2016. Those investments have generated over $100,000 in income to date and there have been no draws on that income. After much discussion, the Board passed a motion to direct the Trustees to invest $50,000 (approximately half of the gain made on the original funds invested with Frontier) to the direct equity investment of Just Like Family.  This investment is in the holding company of Just Like Family, and not in a particular franchise. Besides a few other ministers and individuals, investors in Just Like Family are predominantly faith-based organizations including Broadview United Church in Victoria and the United Church of Christ, USA.

Although there is no guaranteed rate of return on this investment, conservative forecasts indicate that the original capital could be returned within three years. This and future earnings can then be used to finance and explore other ongoing and outreach programs. Income for the holding company comes from franchise fees and royalty payments from the franchise holders. The business is currently in a cash positive position.

Just Like Family is a social enterprise-like, for-profit business committed to putting people first, in regards to their clients and employees (including living wages, client-centered compassion, etc.). What tipped the scale for the board, was the fact that this investment opportunity was considered a way to apply some of the interest earned on the Southern Homes Fund investment, while supporting a for-profit organization focused on providing much needed home care to the frail in our community, while being aligned with the integral values of SSUC. We look forward to a healthy and significant return on our investment, while at the same time, making a positive social impact for so many.


 As for the second commitment of the board to support the Emberwood / SSUC Wild Sanctuary ministry.  This project, led by Alison Brooks-Starks and Zoë Chaytors, was explained in the 2021 Annual Report.  It began as a Pilot Project in 2018 in partnership with SSUC to offer nature-based spirituality programs to younger adults.

The project has grown significantly with over 100 participants attending different nature-based programs – where they are embracing and exploring new ways of being a spiritual community through deepening relationship with the natural world. These are inclusive programs of mostly young LGBTQ2S+ adults who have been excluded from traditional religious spaces yet are looking for spiritual meaning, purpose and connection.

Emberwood / SSUC Wild Sanctuary has an enthusiastic visioning group who have offered their support and guidance in crafting an exciting vision for the future, but of course they need funding. As was mentioned in the AGM report an application has been made for a New Ministries Grant from the United Church of Canada for $75,000 which would be received over the next three years. A request was also made for $75,000 of funding over three years from SSUC.  The hope is that this funding along with additional community grants to be sought, fundraising events and fees from some of the programs will enable this new ministry to move towards future self-sufficiency and sustainability and continue to support and fulfill the growing demand for this new ministry.

The Board approved this request at their meeting on April 19, 2022, with the monies to be taken from either our bequest fund (which currently holds approximately $53,000) or drawn from income made on one of our investment accounts.  We will make this determination on a year-to-year basis for this 3-year commitment determining which is the best fund to resource this work in any given year.  This new ministry will utilize existing special funds and therefore is not funded under our operating budget.

We are excited to see this ministry grow, and continue in partnership with a new expression of ‘church’ with leadership from Alison BrooksStarks and Zoë Chaytors. We look forward to this shared ministry evolving with both denominational and SSUC support.

As Board Chair, I thank you for the privilege of serving in this way, and please don’t be shy to ask questions of your Board.  Your passion and interest are appreciated.  Although I don’t have all the answers I know some amazing people on the board and the staff who do.

On your behalf,
Joanne Van Beek, Board Chair