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.
- How can we meet local needs?
- 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:
- Partner to offer classes for newcomers for integration and community literacy.
- Begin a Kids on Track ministry
- 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.
Today, 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!