Barbara Elliott Fund

The Barbara Elliott Trust Fund for Innovative Ministry supports innovative and/or non–traditional ministries that find it difficult to secure regular funding.

It was established in memory of Diaconal Minister, Barb Elliott.

The submission date for applications is February 11, 2024.

The maximum grant awarded is $5,000.

Application Form

Funding Criteria:

  1. Financial support from the Barbara Elliott Trust Fund is for ministries that do not have secure regular funding.  Funding should be seen as seed money to get new projects started, or for new aspects of existing programs, or to enable a one time special project, and not for support of ongoing work. A project is only eligible for one grant.
  2. Projects should be led (in staffing or volunteer positions) by diaconal ministers or people whose work in ministry reflects a spirit of commitment to diakonia.  Further understanding of this is expressed in the Diakonia of the United Church of Canada Statement of Vision (2009). Applicants are not restricted to those affiliated with the United Church of Canada.
  3. The ministry should be focused on building community strength not primarily on providing support for individuals.
  4. Projects need to demonstrate an identified need for this ministry.
  5. Projects must have a mechanism of accountability to a charitable organization, either as a direct project of a recognized charity, or, be sponsored by a recognized charity. Projects must demonstrate oversight of a volunteer board of management.
Barbara Elliott

Supporting the Fund

The Barbara Elliott Trust Fund for Innovative Ministries is pleased to receive donations to support the fund. Donations may be made in the following ways:

  • by cheque payable to “The United Church of Canada Foundation” with “Barbara Elliott Trust” written on the memo line and/or in an accompanying letter.  Please mail to: The United Church of Canada Foundation, 200-3250 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4.  Please remember to include your full mailing address and how you would like your name to appear on your tax receipt so that we can properly record and thank you for your gift.
  • on line through The United Church Foundation, choosing “Barbara Elliott Trust” from the first drop down menu

For further information regarding how you might donate stocks or mutual funds or leave a bequest to the Fund, please contact our treasurer at [email protected]

Past Programs

  • Open Sky Co-operative Ltd, residential farm to provide home, employment and community, NB.
    Open Sky Co-operative was established in 2011, in order to address a gap in services for adults who face barriers due to disabilities or mental health challenges in the rural community of Sackville, New Brunswick. The co-operative has a small farm within the town, providing residential, social and vocational support.

    Open Sky partnered with the National Homelessness Project, Chez Soi/At Home, last summer, offering 3 of their participants a 12-week vocational program on their farm. To view a video about Open Sky made by National Film Board about this experience, click here, (requires Adobe Flash Player, downloadable at and for their video annual report, click here.

  • ChangeMakers: Building Leadership Skills with Women to Transform Communities, UNPAC, Winnipeg
  • Seed money for staff position for DUCC
  • Launch of Prairie Jubilee Program for Spiritual Direction
  • Community garden project, St. Matthew’s-Maryland Community Ministry, Winnipeg
  • Pastoral care and advocacy for participants in a holistic literacy program, Boyle Street Community Services Co-op, Edmonton
  • Friendship and pastoral care with adults who participate in and help direct the CONNECTORS program in Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Purchase of a set of American sign language videos on the Bible for Winnipeg Church of the Deaf
  • Seed money for programming through PEOPLE FOCUS, Saskatoon
  • Senior Diaconal Ministers project, Centre for Christian Studies, Winnipeg
  • Northwest pastoral charge, a journey of closure,
  • Racecourse Community School, Zambia
  • George Street United Church Community Kitchen, St. John’s NFLD
  • Moscow Community Centre, near Kingston, Ontario,
  • Male Allies Against Sexual Violence Program, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region,
  • Spa Day, community ministry partnership Calvary Memorial United and St. Mark’s Lutheran, Kitchener, Ontario
  • Hidden Stories of Deaconesses Research Project and Website, Caryn Douglas, Winnipeg
  • Intercultural Women’s Canoe Trip, Saskatchewan
  • We need to question everything!
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Who would benefit from this?
  • What will this mean for women?
  • Which women? Where would power be?
  • Would this be oppressive to any group?
  • What are the implications?
  • What are the other options? (1)

As a Diaconal Minister in Saskatchewan’s United Church, Barb Elliott pushed the boundaries of Christian feminist thinking in North America. Her feminists analysis challenged colleagues to question how their work affected the marginalized in society, especially women.  she was a “founding mother” of Saskatchewan’s Christian Feminist Network and The Unbeaten Path, its newsletter.  She pushed her church to practice what is preached in the way of justice and compassion and in 1980 helped introduce a motion for use of inclusive language in the Saskatchewan United Church. The motion passed but not without a hostile reaction.

Barb understood the problems many women have with traditional religion, but wondered, “where did I get the ideas of love and justice if not through Christian tradition?  “I want to emphasize community, mutuality, equality in the church; and I reject the parts of the system which seem to me to foster status, separation, or any kind of hierarchy.”

Born in 1930 and raised in Ontario, Barb spent much of her adult life on the Prairies.  For most of her life she lived with bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition, and needed oxygen to help her breathe during her last six years.  Living with chronic illness, Barb learned that many people expected her either to get well or to die but she knew that for many a continuum is more appropriate.  “On a scale of 1 to 10, where are you today?” She did not like pity and preferred justice to charity: “Justice is people treating me with dignity, listening to what I need and providing it because I need it, not because they need to do it for me or out of pity.”

Barb Elliott died in November, 1992.  A week earlier, liquid oxygen tank by her side, she [had] conducted a workshop on feminism and disabilities at a Christian Feminist Network Gathering, at the Prairie Christian Training Centre, in Saskatchewan.

This biography is from the 2002 Herstory Calendar.

(1) Elliott, Barbara, “Questioning Everything”, in The Barb Wire Collective, Charlotte Caron, et al. editors, Not All Violins: Spiritual Resources by Women with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses, Toronto, The United Church Publishing House, 1997. (The book was published in honour of Barb.) Her words in this article are from the book.