Why the Diocese of New Westminster must accept the invitation to dance with the Vancouver Metro Alliance

As a member of the diocesan Ministry Resources Committee, I’ve been part of wonderful discussions about initiatives that our parishes and deaneries have created in order to become more vital parts of their communities. The grants made available by MRC are helping to make our Gospel mandate a tangible reality across the diocese. We are taking positive steps to, as some on-going discussion among us has styled it, “taking back the neighbourhood.” We are building on a solid foundation, motivated by the love of God made known to us in Jesus.

Part of that ‘forward movement’ – to re-coin another familiar phrase – is the growing involvement of Anglicans in the Vancouver Metro Alliance – an umbrella organization of faith groups, labor unions and community organizations aimed at listening to and formulating a concerted response to members of our community.

The community leadership training workshops organized by MVA have been attended by dozens of Anglicans who have returned to their parishes equipped with new tools to help them be involved in a broader community awareness and support. Such broader involvement increases their presence as an effective organization for social and spiritual change. In short, Anglican involvement in MVA can help us to be more effective in being the hands and feet of Christ where we have been placed.

Metro Vancouver Alliance now has a constituent membership of some 35 faith, labour, and community organizations who have agreed to work together in listening campaigns and subsequent planning and action in order to bring about positive social change and development.  Among that formal membership presently are listed the Eco-Justice Unit of the Diocese and the St. James Church Social Justice Group. But involvement does not end there. Last week Mary Brown and Patricia McSherry of the St. James Social Justice Group met with the Issues and Action Committee at St. Laurence, Coquitlam about their involvement with MVA. St. Laurence is now exploring a similar kind of commitment. St. Thomas, Vancouver, and its incumbent, Margaret Marquardt, are also significantly committed to on-going work with the MVA. And the list continues to grow.

I’d urge each parish in the diocese to take a look at the MVA website at http://www.iafnw.org to see the history and current activities of the MVA and see the breadth of its growing membership base. I’d urge each parish to watch for opportunities to participate in the community leadership workshops offered by MVA and coordinated by its lead organizer, Deborah Littman. The New Westminster Deanery held workshop directed by Deborah and by Living Wage Campaign organizer Michael McCarthy-Flynn which has established a knowledge base for Anglicans in that part of the Diocese. Deborah also helped us organize a presentation at St. Thomas, Vancouver, by David Hall of the Auckland Anglican Social Justice Council. David is also part of the Management Committee for Living Wage, Aotearoa New Zealand. It was a positive, community-based and definitely ecumenical gathering.

In terms of ecumenical relationships, have a look again at the faith group membership of MVA. The community leadership workshop I was a part of had a significant Anglican presence. Us Anglicans got to interest with a common purpose with Sikhs, Roman Catholics, Baptists and Jews working within the context of their faith commitment for the betterment of all. We also engaged secular labor leaders and community centre organizers.

An invitation to dance? Indeed.

Watch for more information about the formal launch of MVA and plan for your parish to get involved. Here is a very practical way to extend our witness for the Gospel of Christ in Greater Vancouver. That’s why we, as Anglicans,  must accept the invitation to dance with the Vancouver Metro Alliance.

Rev. Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam, and maintains this NW Anglican Blog. Please consider submitting articles, thoughts, and comments on postings. 

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