Inclusion at St. Laurence
St. Laurence strives to be truly welcoming to all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2013, St. Laurence joined several parishes in meetings with our newly-elected Bishop. Those meetings revealed that our Bishop has a very conservative view of marriage and is unlikely to change his mind.
In 2014, the parish entered into a discernment process re same-sex blessings. In April of that year, we had a Special Parish meeting and passed a motion to allow same-sex blessings. 92% of the parish voted in favor.
In the fall of 2016, the parish council, as well as others from the congregation who wished to join us, participated in a Safe Space Training led by http://www.
We continue to work to find ways to truly welcome and with our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ.
Moving Forward–>Embracing Diversity
In January 2017, six months after the Bishop of Calgary disciplined six priests (including our own Rector) for performing a same-sex blessing, a group of laypeople met at St. Laurence to found a lay movement to advocate for same-sex blessings (and ultimately same-sex marriage) in the Diocese of Calgary.
In September 2017, a member of both Moving Forward–>Embracing Diversity and St. Laurence, filed a motion to be voted on at October’s Diocesan Synod. The motion reads as follows:
“This Synod requests the Bishop to grant permission to any Clergy who may wish to bless the unions of faithful, committed, Christian same-sex couples. In requesting such permission clergy and laypeople of the Diocese of Calgary shall be entrusted to follow their consciences.”
In October, the 77th Synod of the Diocese of Calgary passed the motion with 57.4% voting in favour.
This was an important vote as it showed for the first time that the majority of the people in the Diocese are supportive of the full inclusion of same-sex couples.
The Bishop said he would respond to the motion in November 2017. One year later, in November 2018, the Bishop sent a letter to Diocesan clergy and some Synod delegates stating that he has not changed his position and that same-sex blessings are not allowed in the Diocese of Calgary.
Following the outcome of General Synod 2019, many Dioceses across Canada stated that they will now perform same-sex marriages.
Our newly-elected Primate (head) of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt. Rev. Linda Nichols, has stated that clergy in her current Diocese of Huron may conduct same-sex marriages without consulting or getting permission from their Bishop. We believe this sets the tone and standard for how the Anglican Church of Canada will now move forward with same-sex marriage.
Calgary Alliance for the Common Good
In divisive times we need people who will work toward unity. People who can cross barriers. People who will fight for what is right and for the Common Good of all. People like the members of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good.
St. Laurence is heavily engaged with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good, a growing organization, currently comprised of approximately 30 community, ethno-cultural, non-profit, labour and faith groups. These organizations represent approximately 30,000 Calgarians.
The Alliance’s mandate is to build a broad-based, diverse community organization to work for a just and compassionate City.
This year our Rector, Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee has served as Board Chair and media spokesperson.
The Alliance’s project, #Calgary Strong, brought together citizens from the Alliance and other organizations to focus on the City of Calgary’s $60 million cut to its current budget. While acknowledging that the cuts would be made, #Calgary Strong advocated for those cuts not to be made at the expense of Calgary’s vulnerable populations. Approximately 300 people turned up at City Council on July 22, 2019, but initially were denied the right to speak. The #Calgary Strong group returned the next day and Council reversed its decision and allowed us to speak. This opened the door for other groups such as labour unions, the Police Chief, and the Fire Chief to speak directly to Council in a public forum. Extensive media coverage helped to get our message out. Here’s just one of many media clips about this action. Click here
The Calgary Alliance is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) a U.S.-based organization whose mandate is to create new capacity in communities for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.
The Alliance uses a modern model for broad-based organizing that is widely recognized as having a strong track record for developing citizen leadership and collarboration to achieve lasting change in the world.
The IAF currently works with thousands of faith groups, non-profits, civic organizations, ethnic groups and labour organizations across the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Here’s a link to the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good’s website: Click here
Social Justice – Living our Faith
The Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Church are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
St. Laurence is committed to living out all five of these marks of mission especially the three that call us to act of justice in the world. Most of the parish, including the children and youth, are involved in outreach projects of one kind or another. For instance, the first thing you see when you come into St. Laurence is a water filter into which parishioners drop their loonies and toonies every week. The money collected goes to the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology.
Once a month the Sunday School, as well as other adult volunteers from the parish, make sandwiches for the Drop-In Centre. Fridays members of St. Laurence volunteer at the Calgary Inter-Faith FoodBank. St. Laurence also connects with the relief and development work of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.
In June 2016 the parish, in partnership with three other area churches, welcomed a Syrian refugee family of six to Canada. It has been a joy and a privilege to journey with them as they begin new lives in Canada.
A few years ago, the parish decided to collectively look for an area of social justice work that could engage as much of the parish as possible. It didn’t take us long to land upon food. Food security involves three of the five marks of mission. We already respond to the human need of the hungry of the world through the dozens of you who volunteer at the food bank, through those, young and old, who make sandwiches for the drop-in centre, and through our giving to the PWRDF and their work of helping to bring emergency relief to those who hunger in the many broken places of our world, the war zones, refugee camps, and disaster areas.
But we know that just responding to the latest crisis is not enough. And that is what brings us to the fourth mark of mission – to the difficult and complicated work of the food group at St. Laurence. To seek to transform unjust structures of society.
Our food system, like any human system and institution, is in some ways marvelous and in some ways broken. It’s a miracle of human ingenuity that we can walk into grocery stores and buy food from all over the world but in other ways, it’s pretty frightening. How sustainable is our food system? How equitable is it? Why are some of God’s children literally spoiled with choice while others go hungry? Why are obesity and starvation realities in today’s world?
Which brings us to the 5th mark of mission. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. We all need to eat but we also need to breathe clean air and drink clean water. Our food system is very carbon dependent, very water-dependent. Can our air and water sustain our current food system? What might need to change?
St. Laurence is currently doing various education programs at St. Laurence to better educate ourselves about the food system. For instance, we did a book study of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and will look at the film In Defense of Food. The parish has also joined two major organisations that work on food security. Find out more at Food Security Alberta and Food Secure Canada.