Archdeacon: the Ven. Barbara Clay (now retired)
Regional Dean: the Rev. John Bailey

This is the sixth report from parishes within the diocese of New Westminster regarding their ministry. Last month's TOPIC reported what parishes in the Burnaby Deanery were doing; this month we highlight the parishes in the large Deanery of Westminster, which includes New Westminster, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and one parish in Burnaby.

The information has been collected by Bettina Gruver, Diocesan Program Co-ordinator, and comes from files, websites, personal experience, and mostly from parishes who shared their ministries via the recent "Sharing Our Ministry Questionnaire." Many of the ministries of parishes have been carried out in partnership with Stewards in Action.

Holy Trinity Cathedral's parish has a long history of outreach - its Breakfast Program is over a decade old and feeds about 450 people a month. It is run mostly by the parish with additional support from the community and St. Peter's Roman Catholic church. Clothing is available at the time of the breakfast and there is also a weekly Food Cupboard which serves from 15 to 40 people. HTC completed a survey of volunteer hours and learned that there are at least 19,000 hours contributed annually to operate the parish and its ministries. Irish Dancers, a Huntington Disease Support Group, an Assisted Living and Supported Housing Group and AA groups meet in the parish space.

In the mid `90's, Holy Trinity Cathedral together with St. Mary's and St. Barnabas created the New Westminster Reachout group, starting food and advocacy programs. Funding was provided by Stewards in Action (SIA).

St. Barnabas is home to several outreach ministries and services. Food ministry is offered through an emergency Food Cupboard (80 people monthly), a Community Meal (400 people), and Good Food Box which offers fresh produce (25 families). Very low cost goods and clothing is available through the Thrift Shop. Day care, First Nations healing and craft circles and 12 step recovery groups meet at the church. Some of the ministries are shared with United and Presbyterian churches while some receive support from other Anglican parishes. The parish has provided a home for a Sudanese Community church and St. Elias Orthodox church.

From 1993 to 2000, SIA supported New Westminster Reachout (based at St. Barnabas) which focused on poverty advocacy, affordable housing and meal programs.

Prison ministry is writ large at St. John's, reaching out to the federal minimum security prison Ferndale in Mission. The parish has trained citizen escorts who take the men out on community passes for family contact, community service, re-socialization and weekly church visits. After years in prison without community contact they can practice skills they have acquired at higher levels of security. They build social contacts in the community and contribute to the parish through public service activities. The men also reflect on these contacts and activities with the escort and in the process learn to improve their communication and social skills which they can use upon release. It is a ministry of Hope: the men realize that they are valued members of society and the parish has grown to regard prisoners as people like everyone else. A non-violent communication study group meets at the parish.

St. John's is a member of the Center for Progressive Christianity. This network includes denominations that `think beyond the box.' People have found their way to the parish through this network, as well as having relationships over the network.

Visitation programs are a vital ministry in this parish, bringing communion and worship services to hospitals and care homes. One of their parishioners received the Caring Canadian Award a few years ago. The Christmas outreach program collects 30 boxes of gifts and food for distribution to local charities and Mission to Seafarers. The parish makes financial contributions to an orphanage caring for disabled children in Sri Lanka and for the last ten years, contributions have been sent to the Children's Fund of Canada for foster children. Food is collected weekly for the St. Barnabas Food Cupboard and the parish gets involved in the Toque Tuesday campaign raising funds for the local charity of Fraserside. Brownies and Guide Troops use the parish hall.

For two years in the early `90s, SIA supported the Community Kitchen, a program teaching cooking of cost-effective meals to low-income parents.

Clothing ministry revolves around the (low-low price) Thrift Shop at St. Stephen's Burnaby which responds with much flexibility to needs as they arise: a person preparing for a job interview or the weather has turned cold or a call comes from another charity with a plea for specific help. Clothing is also sent to Missions to Seafarers. A certain amount of the income is set aside by the Peanut Butter Man: the gentleman buys peanut butter, has it loaded into his car and delivers it to the Food Bank where it is earmarked for families with children. Food is also collected on an on-going basis for the South Fraser Community Service Society.

A Korean Methodist Parish meets here as well as AA groups, NA, a Karate group, Weight Watchers, a pre-school and out-of-care group. In 1988, the parish created the Burquitlam Grief Recovery Society together with St. Margaret and St. Laurence, facilitated through an SIA grant. In 1998, a youth participated in the SIA-supported Jars of Clay youth servant leadership program.

At St. Laurence child poverty and working with Share Family & Community Services are the focus of the parish. Share, a non-profit agency, responds to the social needs of the community. The parish supports Share by donating money, food and gifts; by volunteering on the Board of Directors, with the Food Bank and Christmas programs. St. Laurence played a key role in the formation of a new community coalition of faith groups, community organizations and concerned citizens: "Homes for All: Tri-Cities Housing Coalition". Through active membership in "Homes for All", the parish continues its advocacy in child poverty. The parish also has a long history of advocating against gambling.

In 1988, the parish together with St. Stephen's and St. Margaret, created the Burquitlam Grief Recovery Society facilitated through an SIA grant. Many groups meet regularly on the premises: AA, Guides, Crossroads Hospice Society, Special Olympics and a Mothers Group.

The Single Parents Food Bank helps 40 households twice a month and a Meal Program at St. John's serves about 40 people monthly. The clients of the Food Bank are either working poor or on social assistance and money is always a problem. When school starts, the parish collects school supplies for the families - no need to chose between school supplies or food. A Christmas dinner is held for the single parent families and each child receives a gift. Clothing is collected and sent to the Missions to Seafarers, in layettes to St. James Community Service Society and in bales to the north.

Two 12 step programs, Kumon (an educational program), and a Korean speaking mission congregation use the parish facilities. The hall comes alive with community concerts. St. John's hosts one of the 14 study groups of Education for Ministry, a four-year theological lay study course. EFM is supported by SIA.

A parishioner's dream about a Soup Kitchen came true at St. Catherine's, Port Coquitlam - it now feeds about 160 people a month. This happened after structural defects forced the parish from its building several years ago and they accepted an offer by Trinity United to worship in their space. Before long, Share inquired about setting up a Food Bank. After some deliberations the parish decided to give it a try - only to realize that this had to be done every Wednesday. Re-evaluating this idea, the parishioners approached Trinity United's congregation. To everyone's delight they agreed and the food bank operation is shared by the two parishes, feeding about 140 people every week. In 2001, a teen traveled to Taizé with the youth pilgrimage, supported by SIA.

A parishioner of St. John's sits on the board of Neighbour Link and others keep the Food Cupboard full to prepare food hampers when requested by the organization. Parishioners also provide help with Neighbour Link's Christmas dinner. A number of choirs, T.O.P.S., Sparks, Brownies, Brownie Leader Training, Quilting Club and The ARK use the parish facilities. In 1990, the parish entered into an arrangement with the Ridge Meadows Child Development Center to expand the availability of therapy for special needs children; this was enabled by a grant from SIA. A youth took part in the 2003 pilgrimage to Taizé, supported by SIA.

An orphanage in Haiti has been supported by the parish for many years as a result of a member serving there with RCMP peacekeepers. Locally, it assists the Mission to Seafarers with volunteers and shoe box gifts, the Food Bank, and provides Christmas hampers. In co-operation with two other churches it sponsors an After-School Program helping Grade 4-7 students who may be at risk socially and/or academically. The hall provides space for a school age care centre and AA.

A seniors `night out' dinner is held quarterly at St. George's in partnership with a local catering firm to address the need for more fellowship among the rising seniors' population. Parishioners mingle with people from the community: about 60 people attend.

The parish is one of the primary suppliers for The Bread of Life Program of Neighbour Link and there is support for the local soup kitchen, The King's Inn. The parish hosts one of the 14 study groups of Education for Ministry, a four-year theological lay study course which is supported by SIA. The Choral Society, Quilters, Begin Again and St. John Ambulance Cadets meet in the parish. In 2001 two teens and in 2003 one teen traveled with the SIA-supported youth pilgrimage to Taize.