The February 1 and 2 session of Metro Vancouver Alliance’s Community Leadership Institute saw a dozen Anglicans meeting with members of various faith groups, community groups and union organizations to learn about the valuable work of the Alliance.
Our neighboring diocese to the south, the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, is already heavily involved with Sound Alliance, Metro Vancouver’s sister organization based in Seattle. Our hope is that our diocese and our individual parishes will take time to become acquainted with Metro Vancouver Alliance and seek to join the number of voices becoming part of “an organization of organizations” that aims to develop individual leadership capacity, strengthen institutions that are a part of the Alliance and work for the common good of civil society.
A very attractive aspect of the Alliance’s approach to community dialogue and creative handling of key community issues, is the philosophy that member groups leave their differences at the door and commit to entering into concerted (in the best sense of the word) efforts to effect positive social change. The goal is to join together to ‘take the world as it is’ and present a vision, issue by issue, of what the world should be. Workshop participant Lane Walker used the metaphor of ‘bringing in the Kingdom of God’ as an expression of this pursuit.
How is this accomplished? I urge you to attend a Community Leadership Institute to find out. Suffice it to say that the Metro Vancouver Alliance follows a well established process built on an “organizing cycle” that includes important and specific aspects of listening, discerning, planning, acting, and evaluating. In its presentation of the components of each of these parts of the cycle, the workshop was practical and inspirational. The networking with people was priceless. After the kinds of interaction featured in the workshop, one leaves with the reality of new friendships with people committed to enhancing the capacity for positive change in their own communities and in Greater Vancouver as a whole.
In terms of faith community engagement in the Vancouver Metro Alliance, the Roman Catholics have a strong presence, along with other churches such as the Church at the Hollywood in Kitsilano. I was especially inspired by the presence of three young men who are members of Habonim Dror, the youth organization of the Labour Zionist Movement. Habonim Dror works to develop self-motivation, initiative, and an understanding of the concepts of social justice through education, actives, seminars and camping experiences. The organization is part of the Metro Vancouver Alliance.
I was also able to connect with two Roman Catholic nuns who have recently arrived in Vancouver from the Philippines and live on the Downtown East Side in the building that houses St. Paul’s RC Parish (down the street from St. James) and the Open Door where the Lutheran Urban Ministries holds its monthly community lunch. These women are very ecumenically minded, and anxious to strengthen faith community connections that exist in the St. James / St. Paul’s RC parish neighborhood.
So just discovering what other people are doing, and strengthening the realization that working together we can do so much more to increase the effectiveness of our own Anglican community in the Lower Mainland was reward enough for me.
And just a reminder…at her visit to our Bishop, Archdeacons and Regional Deans meeting last June, Metro Vancouver lead organizer Deborah Littman offered to engage parishes, deaneries and archdeaconries in community engagement and community listening workshops. After attending this weekend’s Metro Alliance event, I highly recommend we take advantage of this invitation. You will definitely find your ‘capacity’ increased.
Deborah Littman, Lead Organizer for the Vancouver Metro Alliance
http://iafnw.org/canada/metrovancouveralliance (Vancouver Metro Alliance website)
Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam, and a blog master at the New Westminster Anglican Blog.