St. Laurence strives to be truly welcoming to all people regardless of sexual orientation and identity. 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 the following motions with 92% of the parish in favor.
MOVED THAT in response to (a) General Synod’s 2004 affirmation of the integrity and sanctity of same-sex relationships, and (b) our Parish’s desire to encourage the Diocese of Calgary to embrace diversity, develop a “public voice”, and support parish-level decision-making; this Anglican Parish of St. Laurence hereby declares that it is a community that (i) welcomes and affirms persons living in committed adult same-sex relationships; and (ii) wishes to offer a pastoral response to such persons in the form of a Service of Blessing, using an appropriate liturgical rite.
This motion was passed with 69 votes in favor and 6 opposed.
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.calgarysexualhealth.ca/
We continue to work to find ways to truly welcome and with our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ.
In January 2017, six months after the Archbishop disciplined six priests for performing a same-sex blessing, a group of lay people 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 a member of our congregaton 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 lay people 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 full inclusion of same-sex couples.
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 bit over a year 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 of 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 who work on food security. Find out more at Food Security Alberta and Food Secure Canada.