While the parishes are the primary drivers of mission and ministry, the Diocese supports parishes with a wide spectrum of programs and initiatives. A detailed overview and explanation of diocesan programs and initiatives, including Children and Youth ministry, Refugee Sponsorship and other areas, is found here.
The Diocese of New Westminster is located on the ancestral, unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. However, these are not the only Indigenous people living within the Diocese. In 2016 Statistics Canada reported that 61,460 Indigenous people live in Metro Vancouver alone. They include Métis, Inuit, Nisga'a, Cree and peoples from many other nations from across Canada.
The Diocese has played a major role in supporting Truth and Reconciliation over the years. Many of our parishes are striving to implement one or more of the '94 Calls to Action' of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The staff of the Diocesan Archives have done impressive work in connecting Residential School survivors to their personal records and the records of the schools they attended.
The Diocesan Missioner for Indigenous Justice Ministries works to educate and assist parishes in building relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the Diocese. There is a developing Urban Aboriginal Ministry with a part-time priest dedicated to building a ministry amongst the Diocese's First Nations peoples.
The Diocese celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day with a celebration on the grounds of the Diocesan Office.
Many parishes have evolving relationships with local Indigenous communities and honour their traditions and history. Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers participate in the induction of many new priests. Representatives from local bands are invited to significant church events and are respectfully asked to welcome church members and visitors officially to their traditional territories.
Some parishes have Indigenous drum groups practicing in their parish halls, and one parish has partnered with the national Healing Fund to honour Residential School survivors with a special feast.
Historically many Diocesan clergy have served in Indigenous communities throughout British Columbia. Indigenous people in Vancouver gravitate to the churches where these now serve. Saint James' Parish in the Downtown Eastside is one such parish where many of the clergy have served amongst the Nisga'a people in the Nass Valley before coming to Vancouver. Many Indigenous people call upon the Parish for support if they need help, if a relative is in hospital needing special care and guidance and for the sacramental ministry of the Church.
While there is still much work to be done, the Diocese has made a strong beginning in building caring and mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples.
The School for Parish Development
Under Bishop Melissa's leadership, the School for Parish Development has trained hundreds of lay and clergy leaders in the Diocese and beyond. In fact, the School's model is being replicated in other dioceses, most recently the Diocese of Ottawa.
Our Companion Diocese and Canadian Asian Ministry
Within the Diocese the Anglican Canadian Asian Ministry Group (ACAM) is a bi-monthly gathering of Asian laity and clergy who meet for fellowship and discussion. In addition to their meetings, ACAM organizes an annual youth event, a summer picnic gathering and an Advent worship gathering hosted by one of the parishes.
The Diocese participates in the Companion Diocese program of the Anglican Church of Canada. Our companion diocese is the Diocese of Northern Philippines, The Episcopal Church in the Philippines. Members of our Companion Diocese have participated in the School for Parish Development and members of the Diocese of New Westminster have, on more than one occasion, visited our Companion Diocese.