Ministry Profile: St. Patrick’s Anglican Church

Several years ago, St. Patrick’s Anglican Church began exploring a way to minister to their community.  Today, they’re doing it!  Come join us as we learn from their story.

In 2014, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton began a campaign called REACH targeted to encouraging and supporting mission and outreach efforts in their parishes.  The campaign raised funds targeted intentionally for “mission and not maintenance.”  It also asked two main questions of every church community:

  1. How can we meet local needs?
  2. How can we be better agents of the gospel?

The St. Patrick’s community in Mill Woods took these questions seriously, and began exploring some meaningful answers:  Their first movement was to host a foodbank depot, but in a short period of time local needs changed, and they were informed that there was no longer need for an additional depot in Mill Woods.  That forced them back to the dreaming board.

They considered  some of the limitations of their facility and the space.  Their kitchen was not licensed, so any community kitchen or food security initiative was not possible.  They also didn’t have a huge volunteer core during the day to run programming.
Eventually, three possible areas were identified for the parish to explore together:

  1. Partner to offer classes for newcomers for integration and community literacy.
  2. Begin a Kids on Track ministry
  3. Alpha Marriage Course or the Alpha Parenting Children Course with a particular focus around lone parenting.

At a Special Meeting of Parishioners, the congregation chose #1.  According to Rev. Kevin Kraglund, this decision came as something of a surprise to the Parish Corporation (Rector and Wardens)  as they had favoured one of the other options.  “But as we took ownership, it became clear that this was God’s direction for us.”
The congregation chose #1.  According to Rev. Kevin Kraglund, this decision came as something of a surprise to the committee as they had favoured one of the other options.  “But as we took ownership, it became clear that this was God’s direction for us.”  So, in partnership with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, they began the work of helping newcomers to Canada, with an intentional focus to help seniors.

The Church started out by supporting a three month course.  They paid for instructors and provided their space as a home to the program.  Then they looked for opportunities of intersection with the church; sharing the occasional meal, or opportunities for celebration or service.  One joint project was to hand-knit toques and other gifts for the homeless.  St Patrick’s invited newcomers to one of their monthly Leprechaun Lunches, as pictured below.

LeprechaunLunch2Today, they host literacy classes, English language studies, and a program to help with cultural literacy; helping people integrate into Canada.   Part of their program involves field trips, such as a trip to Ft. Edmonton Park, and another to learn how the city does waste management.  They invited City Councillor, Mohinder Banga to come talk about how to engage in Civic Politics, and they have hosted sessions on homelessness and poverty.

They also open up their space on a regular basis to host local job fairs.  They’ve had everyone from PCL to Victoria’s Secret, 7-eleven, Winners, and HomeSense.   They don’t have a huge space, but enough to host two employers at a time for an explanation of opportunities along with initial job interviews.

What’s happening as a result?
Rev. Kraglund tells the story of a frantic knock on the door:  “Pastor, Pastor!  I had an interview here at the job fair, and now I have a second.  Can you pray for me?”  Coming alongside people in journeys of hardship has opened up opportunities for real ministry.  The need for prayer is a strong thread in the work, but so is the need for relationship and for advice. “Let’s go pray together and talk about this.”  It’s a frequent phrase uttered in a space people feel safe to find help and counsel.

The work being done today by St. Patrick’s Anglican Church gives practical expression to their mission  statement:  “Out of our diversity as children of God; we share the love of Jesus Christ and seek our oneness in Christ.”

Their journey as a faith community to meaningful community ministry has had challenges and taken some sacrifice, but they are seeing it bear real fruit in the lives of both they and their neighbours.  And that makes the work very rewarding for everyone!

 

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Celebrating Canadianism Together

Moses is standing atop Mt. Sinai, when God asks him where he wants to take the Israelites, where would be their Promised Land.  Moses glances around at the world and picks what he believes to be the best spot imaginable — abundant natural resources, plenty of room, no external security threats.

“Ca-ca-ca,” he begins to respond with his famous stutter.

Anticipating his answer, God quickly interrupts him and says, “Oh, Canaan?”

“I guess so,” thinks Moses, “but actually what I really had in mind was CANADA!!”

July 1st, 2017 is a special day not just for our country of Canada, but for all our faith communities of Canada.  Sometimes, as Canadians, we look at other nations and imagine that we don’t quite match up to their power and stature.  We look south to the US and feel small next to the world’s superpower.  We stare across the pond and view ourselves as a mere satellite of the British Commonwealth.  Who are we as Canadians and what does that mean to us as Jewish Canadians as Christian Canadians as Sikh Canadians as Muslim Canadians and so on?

The Bible relays the events when we find the Children of Israel who have been wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  Truth be told, it wasn’t a bad life.  Their daily bread came from heaven, they were protected by the Clouds of Glory, and their thirst was quenched by the Well of Miriam that accompanied them on their sojourn.  But one day, Miriam dies and the well is no more.  The people are crying out and Moses does not know what to do.  He turns to the Almighty who tells him to speak to the rock and ask it to issue forth water.

And so Moses gathers the Israelites together and begins talking to the rock.  But alas, no matter how many jokes he tells the rock, how much praise he heaps upon it nothing works.  The problem, our sages explain, is that he’s speaking to the wrong rock, because the correct rock was hidden amongst the other rocks!  And so Moses picks up his staff and strikes the rock.  Not once, but twice.

And all of a sudden, water comes gushing forth, in seemingly limitless supply!  The people are elated.  But not God.  He summons Moses and Aaron and informs them that as a consequence of their disobedience, they will not enter the Promised Land.

As far as Diaspora life goes, we are incredibly blessed to be living in a land of promise, in our beloved country of Canada.  Why is this year so spiritually significant?  Because the name says it all.  In the Jewish linguistic tradition, the word Canada may be subdivided into two words – “kan” which is Hebrew for ‘nest’, and “da” which is Yiddish for ‘here’ or Aramaic for ‘this.’  In other words, this here (our country) is a nest.  What does a nest represent?  Comfort.  Protection.  Happiness.  Soaring above the world.  These are all feelings that we as Canadians share.  What’s more, “kan” also happens to equal 150 – now isn’t that something?!

The great Canadian philosopher, John Ralston Saul, calls Canada a Metis nation.  Instead of seeing ourselves as not quite matching up to Great Britain or the United States, we should take pride in being the premier nation in the world to embody the qualities of multiculturalism and respect for our First Nations fellow citizens. And on that note, certainly this year we celebrate 150 years of the confederation of our nation. Nevertheless, we must always remember that our country, our land, has been here for millennia. Today we acknowledge the First Nations who opened their homeland to us and invited us to join them as a nation, and we express our gratitude to them for the treaty land upon which we stand.  150 years ago, we performed the commandment of “shiluach hakain” – we kissed the mother-bird goodbye and established our own independent nest, a nest where birds of a feather flock together.

But unlike our neighbours to the south or across the pond, birds of a feather don’t have to be ‘American’ or ‘British’ first and everything else, second, in some almost-embarrassed way of hiding one’s ethno-religious identity in the privacy of one’s home, whilst melting into some public ‘everyone’s-the-same’ pot.  Not in Canada.  We can be ‘birds of a feather’ while maintaining our unique cultural identities.

That’s what makes Canada great.  Because being Jewish and Canadian or being Sikh and Canadian or Somali and Canadian is part and parcel of the fabric of Canadian society.  Canadianism is multiculturalism at its very best.  Canadianism means being a proud of your belief.  The better the Sikh I am, the better the Canadian I become.   In Canada, we have created the most unique nest in the history of humankind.

And it’s this unparalleled attitude, this special approach to diplomacy and the brotherhood of man that we bring to the world beyond our borders.  We don’t strike the rock.  We speak to the rock.  A great deal of the work of our Canadian Armed Forces is serving as peacekeepers.  We’re there to negotiate international crises, to assist those in insecure regions of the world, to educate, to train, to advocate for the rights of women and children.

Does that mean we never strike the rock?  Of course, it doesn’t.  Sometimes you need to strike.  The problem occurs when one strikes not once, but twice.  Our approach to the use of force is extremely measured, we go to the ends of the earth to avoid the use of excessive force.  Because we realize that sometimes the ones we’re really targeting have gone, just like Moses’ target rock, and hidden themselves amongst innocent, peaceful good populations.  And when those innocents are displaced and see their lives destroyed, through no fault of their own, we do everything in our power to assist them in rebuilding their lives, either in their locales or in our welcoming Canadian arms.

We excel at and revel in this form of soft power, because as a Metis nation, we have immense and profound respect and love for all human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed.  Canada also contains the same letters as “nekudah” which means ‘point’.  We, as Canadians, get the point.  And we must never feel in any way inferior to any other nation, au contraire (it would have been remiss of us to omit any French!), we must proudly and boldly express this point to the world!

150 years is an incredible milestone.  We have much to be grateful for.  Today we thank God for our great country and we bless our leaders that they remain eternally committed to the awe-inspiring principles of Canadianism.  May we continue for the next 150 years to be the leading nation in the world!

This speech given by Rabbanit  Batya Friedman on Canada Day July 1, 2017 at Beth Israel Synagogue (as published in the Neighbourly, August 2017)

 

A Journey Together in Grief, Healing and Hope

About thirty of us filled the community room at the Edmonton Native Healing Centre on July 6, 2017 for this event created as a collaboration between Interfaith Housing Initiative and End Poverty Edmonton.

Guests for the event came from a host of different faith backgrounds including Jewish, Quaker, Catholic, Anglican, Christian Reformed, Methodist, Unitarian, United, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox, Zoroastrian, Hindu, and three leaders from Muslim communities.

Elder Francis Whiskeyjack welcomed us with a smudge and some words of wisdom.  Then a pair from Kairos led us through the blanket exercise, intended to help us experience North American from an indigenous perspective.  We stood together and watched the land disappear from beneath our feet, and our people gradually lost or separated from us.  It was very powerful and very moving; full of grief and loss.

Following that experience, Francis Whiskeyjack led us into a talking circle where we had the opportunity to respond to what we heard together.  Expressions of shock and grief were mingled with those of compassion and hope.  By the end of our conversation, numerous suggestions had been made to help us in our continuing walk together on Turtle Island.  Some of these were recorded as words of wisdom by the group on cards and sheets highlighting the need to listen and understand; to treat each other with love, dignity and respect.  To be humble and appreciative of the perspectives and abilities of others.

Other ideas we had were to make opportunities like this available in the languages of newcomer communities.  We thought this might help them understand some of the history in their new home, and help them consider how they too can join our walk together in this place.

 

Serving Edmonton’s Immigrant Communities

Edmonton is increasingly becoming a destination city for immigrants entering Canada. In 2011, 20.5% of the population in Edmonton were immigrants. Based off a recently published report by Statistics Canada, that number is estimated to rise to 31.7% by 2036. As a result, efficient and effective integration of incoming immigrants and refugees is a crucial priority for Edmonton. Luckily, there are a number of organizations, private and public, whose mission is to help newcomers to Edmonton find their place in their new home.

Alberta and City of Edmonton Services
Both the City and the Provincial governments host centres specifically catered towards orienting and providing information services for newcomers to Edmonton. The Citizen and New Arrival Information Centre, located at City hall, offers information on and assistance in accessing the City’s services in over 150 languages. Simultaneously, the province runs 4 separate Alberta Supports centres across the city. Similar to the New Arrival Information Centre, Alberta Supports connect newcomers with essential services ranging from the International Qualifications Assessment to Alberta’s Child and Health Care services.

Edmonton Immigrant Services Association
For over 30 years, the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association (EISA) has been providing a variety of programs for newcomers to Edmonton. These include their “English as Another Language” classes, the In-School Settlement Services program, the New Neighbors program, and general translation and interpretation services. The EISA places a focus on helping newcomers access existing services and learn about Canadian customs and expectations. Their service helps immigrants with everything from finding and applying to jobs, to obtaining a driver’s license, to just finding some new people to interact and make friends with.

Catholic Social Services
Catholic Social Services (CSS) is the pre-eminent Catholic charity in Edmonton and works to provide a number of services for immigrants in the city. Their primary services focus on settlement and orientation, helping newcomers understand the process of acquiring citizenship, employment, and generally how to integrate with their new communities. CSS also runs the Language Assessment, Referral & Counselling Centre, which runs the officially recognized Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and Language and Vocational Assessment (LVA) programs.

ASSIST Community Services Centre
ASSIST is another long-running immigrant support centre, having operated in Edmonton for 40 years. Having expanded from its roots in the Chinese community, ASSIST now provides orientation, legal and mental health counselling, aid with employment, and LINC classes. ASSIST is remarkable for providing services in 12 languages: Arabic, English, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Kakwa, Punjabi, Russian, Tagalog and Urdu.

Changing Together: A Centre for Immigrant Women
The Changing Together agency is specifically focused on helping immigrant women. They provide a variety of self-improvement services, including ESL classes, basic computer courses, employment counselling and support, and family support services. Edmonton has the dubious honor of having the third highest unemployment rate for women in Canada, with a correspondingly large gap between women and men’s unemployment rates (8.6% to 5.9%) and average wage (women make $0.59 for every dollar made by men).

Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op and the Multicultural Family Resource Society
These two sister groups focus on bringing multicultural communities together to solve the isolation and lack of support in immigrant communities. Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op began as a response to research indicating immigrant mothers were having difficulty with pre-natal healthcare. The organization trained women in those communities as “brokers” to provide pre-natal health care education in the languages and formats amenable to immigrant mothers. Since then the organization has grown to address senior and youth health concerns, and to generally provide a holistic health service for Edmonton communities. The Multicultural Family Resource Society was built on a similar foundation, but targeted at providing social programs and discussions for families from different cultures. They run programs and consultation groups focusing on multicultural parents, immigrant youth, and on English classes that specifically involve youth in the classroom.

ESPC logoBy Maxwell Jenkins, Research Support Assistant
Edmonton Social Planning Council


Sources:
Morency, J-D., Malenfant, E, C., MacIsaac, S. (2017) Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-551-x/91-551-x2017001-eng.htm
City of Edmonton. (2017) New Resident Programs. Retrieved from: https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/programs-new-resident.aspx
Alberta Government. Alberta Support Centres. Retrieved from: https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-supports.aspx
Edmonton Immigrant Services Association. (2017) About Us. Retrieved from: http://www.eisa-edmonton.org/
Edmonton Immigrant Services Association. (2017) Services & Programs. Retrieved from: http://www.eisa-edmonton.org/
Catholic Social Services. (2017) Our Ministries, Immigrant & Refugee Support. Retrieved from: https://www.cssalberta.ca/Our-Ministries/Immigrant-Refugee-Support
ASSIST Community Services Centre. (2017) About Us. Retrieved from: http://assistcsc.org/en/
ASSIST Community Services Centre. (2017) Immigrant Services. Retrieved from: http://assistcsc.org/en/
Changing Together: A Centre for Immigrant Women. (2017) Services. Retrieved from: http://www.changingtogether.com/index.html
Statistics Canada. (2017). Labour Force survey estimates (LFS), by census metropolitan area based on 2011 Census boundaries, sex and age group, annual. CANSIM Table 2820-0129.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2016). The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2016 – the Gender Gap in Canada’s 25 Biggest Cities. Retrieved from https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2016/10/Best_and_Worst_Places_to_Be_a_Woman2016.pdf
Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op. (2017) Our History. Retrieved from: http://mchb.org/
Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op. (2017) Programs and Services. Retrieved from: http://mchb.org/
Multicultural Family Resource Society. (2017) About Us. Retrieved from: https://www.mfrsedmonton.org/
Multicultural Family Resource Society. (2017) What We Do. Retrieved from: https://www.mfrsedmonton.org/