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 for 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. Friday 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 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 marvellous 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 organizations that work on food security. Find out more at Food Security Alberta and Food Secure Canada.