People from the Salvation Army, Mennonite, and United churches, along with representatives of about 20 faith groups from the Vancouver Downtown East Side, plus Anglicans from parishes from across the diocese, met to learn about food ministry and share ideas last month.

For many Anglicans, food ministry is not just an outreach program or a social service. It is a continuation of the Eucharist we share. Liturgy and service are inseparable.

The Rev. John Marsh from St. Mark’s Kitsilano, explored and reminded the approximately 50 people present that the ordinary is indeed holy, especially the sharing of food. A simple meal of tea and toast shared can be that radical hospitality, he said.

As John was speaking, bread was being prepared and kneaded. The smell of baking bread accompanied us as we went between facilitated groups to discuss various topics: starting a food ministry, health and safety issues, mutuality( not charity) , funding and finances, community partnerships, issues with respect to particular types of food ministry( sandwich projects, community meals, food cupboards),the spirituality of food ministry, and dealing with volunteers.

Sub-topics emerged for discussion and many enthusiastically look forward to organizing and holding a future event. New ideas, partnerships and support emerged in a very short time!

A food ministry at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale in Vancouver.

A woman visiting from Saskatchewan thanked the conference for inspiration and ideas she will take back to her church in a small town that will soon welcome 1,000 potash workers who will live in a camp far from home.

Sarah Miles in her book, Take This Bread says, “There’s a sort of miracle that takes place whenever there is a feeding...” She had a conversion experience the first time she received Communion at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and felt compelled to set up food cupboards supplying good nutritious food to folks living in poverty in the housing projects of the city.

Sarah Miles and the Rev. Paul Fromberg of St. Gregory will be here for a three-day conference entitled Feast, Pray Serve—Liturgy and Service that Feed Human Hungers. The conference begins Feb. 24. We look forward to this conference as more food for our journey, as bread for a broken world.

Our meeting ended with an agape-style meal of the bread baked that day, fruit and cheese, as we sang a beautiful chant asking God’s blessing.