Community Engagement Coordinator – The Seed

Please consider me in your search for a Community Engagement Coordinator. I believe I am an excellent candidate for this position.

While I don’t have a degree in Social Services or Humanities, I do have an Education degree from the U of A and over 10 years of experience educating and working with students from as young as grade three to adult. My experience teaching, coupled with my graphic design, writing and public relations experience, puts me in an excellent position to develop and implement messages and activities to engage church, community and school groups in The Mustard Seed’s mission and vision.

But it goes deeper than being able to craft an engaging message. You’re looking for someone with a passion for the spiritual; someone who can plan and develop spiritual educational activities and messages designed to enroll churches in The Mustard Seed’s vision. My interest in spirituality has been life long and has involved studying the Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Jesus, Eckhart Tolle, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others. I’ve attended many churches, including the Unitarian Church of Edmonton and, most recently, The Spirit of Hope United Church, until my Mustard Seed work schedule was changed, requiring me to work Sundays. I am an active participant in Edmonton’s Interfaith Society.

My personal integrity demands I have a thorough understanding of a subject before I counsel others, which I relied on in making presentations on behalf of spirituality at two World Religions Conferences, in Prince George. Those conferences were an eye opener for me as presentations were made by representatives from of a number of faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

One particular eye opener for me was a pastor representing Christianity, who simply told us all that if we didn’t accept Christ as our savior, we were all bound for hell. If you hire me for this position, this would not be the message I would teach. As simple as that pastor’s message was, it’s my belief that the understanding of the gospel, the “good news” of Christ’s teachings, is even simpler; so simple that, as Jesus said, a child can understand it. And what is that message? It’s one of love without judgement that can be found throughout the Bible and succinctly put by Jesus in Matthew 22 in response to the question we all ask:

36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This is the basis, the rock if you will, upon which I believe The Mustard Seed operates. You do your very best not to judge those that come through your doors, ministering with compassion and love to all, regardless of who your guests are or what they may have done or yet may do, mirroring and realizing Jesus’ call when he said in Matthew 25:

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This beautiful passage is followed by Christ purportedly saying that those who don’t minister to their brethren, the unrighteous, shall experience “everlasting punishment.”

And here enters what I refer to as Christianity’s schizophrenia. Can Jesus be teaching us, as he does in the passage that follows to be more compassionate, more forgiving, more loving than God who will eventually judge his own creation, sending part of it to eternal torment? Would God set a higher standard for his creations than for Himself?  

Jesus said in Luke 6:

37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I believe my role, as Public Engagement Coordinator, would be to emphasize and reinforce Christ’s teachings that speak to our unity with God and our need to love and forgive. That forgiveness further emphasized in Luke 6 when Jesus states:

 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Here Jesus contradicts his teaching in Matthew. Instead of sending the unrighteous to “eternal punishment” he states God will be “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” and he urges us to do the same.

This teaching is reinforced in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I believe this is the understanding of Christianity that embodies The Seed’s vision to eliminate homelessness and reduce poverty; its mission to build hope and well-being for the vulnerable through Jesus’ love, and its values of Christ centred communication and holistic innovation. And I sincerely believe the values align with Christ’s teaching of our Oneness with God and with His Creation in John 17:

22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

As my resume details, I am currently serving The Seed as a Facility Maintenance Worker in the new downtown Centre, where I regularly engage with clients. I also worked in two Mustard Seed run homeless shelters at the Knox and Strathcona Baptist churches in the winter of 2022.

A typical day as a Seed shelter client, as you know, involves a simple breakfast; a sandwich for lunch; an afternoon movie from Netflix (more often than not an action film with plenty of explosions, violence, blood and killing) and a dinner. Day after day, this continues and I hope, as your Public Engagement Coordinator, I might help find ways to improve the spiritual diet of guests.

Jesus said in John 10:10:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

A great way to improve public engagement would be to have the public more involved, not only with The Seed, but in The Seed.

Could we have an “open mike” musical night? Amateur musicians are always looking for places to play. Professional performers might be interested in playing, as well. How about a trivia night? A games night? A crafts night? A singalong? I’ve played my guitar and sung during my breaks, and while I didn’t get a standing ovation, it did have an impact.

One of The Seeds identified services is spiritual care. Could a Sunday service be added? Perhaps a spiritual movie night where a client discussion follows.

I am familiar with the challenge our individual and collective mental health faces in a world that is changing at a pace I believe has never been encountered before by the human species. This has left large numbers of our population adrift on the streets, and many of us questioning our purpose in life and even doubting our importance to our Creator. It’s also led to a world of people engulfed in anger as they look to find an outside source responsible for their sense of distress and disassociation. I’m not immune to these stresses and seek to daily practice a spiritual regime to imbue me with a love for God, myself and others.

As for drug use, I’ve encountered many who have turned to substance use instead of to their Source. Not surprisingly, those seeking relief in drugs fail to find the permanent peace they seek, which and only leads to more abuse and more searching in a direction directly away from where true peace can be found. To say they are misguided would be an understatement. Again, it’s my hope I might play a part in guiding those around me (and at the same time, myself) to the love of God and through that to the “peace that passeth understanding.”

As a practicing artist, my art and writing explores many subjects, including spirituality. My Happy Face Series is just one example.

I also have previous work with those facing a challenged life through my work with the Prince George Association for Community Living (AiMHi) and Thompson Community Services. Informal counseling was a significant part of my role and I worked with individuals dealing with drug and alcohol dependencies and mental health issues, including autism and depression. In addition to preparing meals according to a nutritionist’s specifications, I drove clients to various appointments and helped them develop individual recreational programs. For my work with AiMHi, I completed a five-day training program that included: St. John’s First Aid Certificate (CPR), CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, Foodsafe Level 1 and WHMIS.  

On a more personal level, while in Prince George, I met a number of people dealing with drug dependency issues. I helped one man to overcome his 27-year addiction by taking him to detox, providing him with a place to live and making sure he received medical treatment for ulcerous leg wounds that weren’t responding because of his drug use. Another individual is now an addictions support worker in Surrey, BC.

I am competent with Microsoft Office and other computer programs including Illustrator, Photoshop and video editing programs; have the required license and access to a vehicle and the relationship building and administrative capabilities required.

As mentioned previously, I believe I’m an excellent candidate for this position and, accordingly, suggest we arrange to meet to discuss the contribution I could make to The Mustard Seed in filling the role of Public Engagement Coordinator.

Yours sincerely,

James Miller