Archdeacon: the Ven. David Retter (retired, July 2004)
Regional Dean: the Rev. John Marsh

The business of the Diocese of New Westminster and each of its 80 parishes is ministry - to the young, to the old, to the poor, to the affluent, to all of God's creation. Every parish engages in ministry - and often does so unsung, with little or no fanfare.

For the next ten issues, TOPIC will highlight the ministries that are sponsored by the parishes that belong to one of the diocese's ten deaneries. Many of these ministries are carried out in partnership with Stewards in Action.

The first report covers parishes in Vancouver's Deanery of Burrard.

The newly renovated historic Cathedral in downtown Vancouver opened its doors again in April, celebrating its magnificent new beginning which included also a major organ renovation (still ongoing…). Worship is carefully designed and includes translation of sermons into sign language. The Cathedral is home to a fine choir and music program, and to "The Savage God", a performing arts company.

A community of families, adults, and young adults worships at the Cathedral, which also reaches out to the surrounding downtown business community. Meal programs and housing projects (127 Society for Housing) are part of the Cathedral's outreach program. The building is open to many community groups: AA, Weight Watchers, gay & lesbian singers, pet training, and others. Stewards in Action has funded the 127 Society for Housing since 1988 and the sign-language project was started years ago with support from SIA. In the early 90's, the Cathedral received SIA funding to develop a spiritual counselling centre which grew into the Centre for Spiritual Direction.

In the West End of Vancouver, our parish is St. Paul's, serving a diverse community in this densely populated area. The church is a quaint historical building. The hall has been enlarged and upgraded to provide better facilities for St. Paul's major ministry, the Advocacy Program. The number of its clients rose from 200 in 1995 to nearly 1500 per year. The program offers help in accessing social services, with most needs revolving around disability, related welfare claims and housing.

In 1997, St. Paul's established a beautiful replica of the Chartres Labyrinth that is open to parishioners and visitors. St. Paul's also opens its doors to the local food bank, AA, Integrity Vancouver, and supports Penderellis, apartments for seniors.

Stewards in Action supported the Advocacy Program in its early phase for several years. SIA also funded for many years the chaplain at St. Paul's Hospital (chaplain was based in St. Paul's parish) and provided funding for the labyrinth.

Located within Canada's poorest postal code, at the corner of Gore and Cordova, is St. James, one of our diocese's two Anglo-Catholic parishes. Smells, bells and music abound in the worship of this economically and theologically diverse con gregation. The 1930's building keeps its historical integrity and offers magnificent acoustics (stone floor, no fabric anywhere). St. James holds a big rummage sale twice a year focused on clientele from the neighborhood with give-away prices. St. James Community Service Society began through a parish ministry, serving those marginalized in the area. Parish volunteers run the One-on-One Literacy Program at the nearby Strathcona Elementary School. The parish is a training site for students at VST.

In the early 1990's, St. James, together with the Cathedral and St. Paul's, sponsored the WISH drop-in centre with Stewards in Action support. In 1992, SIA funded the St. James Hot Meal program which grew into QUEST. The Coming Home Society was created largely by St. James parishioners with initial diocesan support and SIA funding.

On the East side of Vancouver, you will find our other Anglo-Catholic parish, St. David's of Wales. Worship is definitely high church in this parish that also houses a chapel dedicated to St. Mary. St. David's maintains a small food bank and contributes regularly to Quest. The building is open to many community groups: AA; Guides, Brownies, Sparkes; St. Augustine's Fellowship; Meals-on-Wheels; and also St. David's Pre-school. Education for Ministry, the lay theological education program, has one of its many diocesan groups meeting here.

Jubilee Cluster

The Jubilee Cluster is comprised of four small parish communities: St. Michael. St. George, St. Mark, St. Chad. Together they participate in an astonishing number of ministries, most of which, logically speaking, they should not be able to do. "We refuse to be logical," says the Rev. Stuart Isto, Deacon.

As a group, the Jublilee Cluster is involved in refugee sponsorship and provides field education for students from VST.

This intercultural parish (Caucasian, Filipino, Spanish) is located on East Broadway four blocks from Main Street. The people are involved in an amazing array of food ministries. The Sandwich Program feeds over 100 people a day, Monday to Friday. There is a Food Bank for university and college students every Friday - volunteers from St. Philip's help out.

The Romero Center is an ecumenical response to the Spanish speaking people in the downtown eastside. As one of its ministries, the center offers a breakfast program every Monday that feeds over 50 people and also offers community potluck dinners. St. Michael's Daycare is one of six inner-city daycare centres in Vancouver. The daycare provides hot meals and snacks every day. Filipino members of the parish volunteer regularly at Missions to Seafarers. The parish facilities are open to many community and other religious groups. (Independently of this parish, Stewards in Action supports the Mission to Seafarers with annual grants since 1988).

St. George's is located near Vancouver Hospital on Laurel Street. The parish supports the Tri-Parish Meal Ministry and the Community Advocate at St. Mark's. It offers administrative support to the Centre for Faith and Healing and to St. George's Place, a low cost housing facility for disabled people.

St. Mark's, in partnership with Trinity United Church, St. George's and Aunt Leah's Society, feeds 70 to 80 people each week and provides life-skills training for young women and new immigrants to Canada. A community advocate works with issues of benefits appeals, tenants' rights, seniors and disability issues. Parish facilities are used by community groups: AA, Scouts, arts groups (for concerts), Montessori pre-school, among others. Stewards in Action provided start-up funds for the meal program for several years.

St. Chad's, located on Trafalgar Street in the midst of an Asian community, conducts an ESL program for Chinese speaking people and also offers an ESL Bible study program. The parish supports St. Michael's food programs and offers space to community groups, such as Kumon Math and a Montessori Pre-school.

ESL classes were started together with St. John's, Shaughnessy in 1991 with the help of a grant from Stewards in Action. In the mid-90's, SIA funded the ministry of a community worker reaching out to new immigrant families. St. Chad's was also part of a group of parishes sponsoring a social worker for ministry with families at UBC, funded by SIA from 1988 to 1994.

The information has been collected by Diocesan Program Co-ordinator Bettina Gruver. It comes from files, personal experience, and mostly from parishes who shared their ministries via the recent "Sharing the Ministry Questionnaire." For more informationSee the diocesan website (