'Outreach' signifies our giving of ourselves to serve God in His people. Anglo-Catholicism, from the beginning, was a movement not primarily about a style of worship, but about the act of remembrance: remembrance especially of the poor both in material things and in spirit. That is why, if you go to England, you will find splendid, ornate Anglo-Catholic churches near the canals and near the railway lines, where lived the oppressed workers of the industrial nineteenth century. The intention was that, when they stepped across the threshold of the Church, they would be greeted with the knowledge that they were precious in God's sight, and that this splendour ultimately belonged to them, even though their daily lives were lived out in poverty and squalor. Likewise, the original St. Barnabas was placed where the growth of Victoria was occuring in 1890, amidst the homes of blue collar workers. In 1952, St. Barnabas was relocated to Fernwood, at that time also a long established blue collar residential area.
Outreach is thus always an act of love and thanksgiving. The people of St Barnabas reach out in joyful service in many different ways both as individuals and as a community. Many of our parishioners are involved in CARTS, Threshold Housing , the Sisters of St. John the Divine or the Rainbow Kitchen and as a community we support their work with financial gifts and gifts in kind. St. Barnabas serves as the Victoria-area chapel for the Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood, and we set out to help meet the needs of the Brothers as they arise. Of course, we support the work of the Primates World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). But our most important sustained 'face to face' outreach ministry is through what we call 'The Friday Communion.'
The Friday Communion
If you come to St. Barnabas for Mass at 9:00 on a Friday morning, you will find yourself worshipping amongst a large group of people from widely divergent backgrounds and histories -- but all, at least in their current stage of life, find themselves in places of need. Some are 'working poor.' Others come off the streets. At the end of Mass on Fridays, the parish distributes food vouchers redeemable at a local grocery store. But what is important is not the vouchers. What is important is the realization of community across what, as we walk down the streets, seems almost impossible distances. Although of course the vouchers have made and continue to make this gathering possible, the true gift occurs when someone from a Beach Drive condo kneels at the altar beside someone who has spent the night in Stadacona Park, and they receive together the body and blood of Christ. Every week, in this moment, we are given a vision of truth: that in Christ all that holds us apart in the world dissolves, and in him we are equals. Truly, this 'second' congregation at St. Barnabas serves the Sunday congregation through its witness more than they are served by it through the vouchers.
Together with the Emmaus Community, whose house is across the street from St. Barnabas, we are hosting 'Coffee and Conversation' following the Friday Communion. This is a further opportunity to share our lives with one another, share the Gospel, and learn to grow in love. All are invited, so drop in anytime.
Each Christmas the parish of St. Barnabas distributes food and gift hampers to needy families as well as gift packs to individuals. In 2014, we were privileged to provide 22 family hampers providing both the traditional fixings of a Christmas meal as well as gifts of toys and clothing for children. We also distributed 25 gift packs to individuals in need.
Help shopping and assembling the hampers and gift packs is always appreciated. Please contact the Rector if you would like to help in this way.
Each year we dedicate a special Lenten offering to a particular charity. Previous recipients have been the Melanesian Brotherhood, Carts, Threshold Housing, Our Place, PWRDF, the Barnabas Housing Fund, and more.
The Barnabas Housing Fund
The Barnabas Housing Fund was established in 2010 with a initial stimulus gift from a parishioner. The Mandate of the Fund is as follows:
To establish an ongoing fund to which parishioners of Saint Barnabas or of any other church, organization or individual, can contribute money to in order to support registered charities or non-profit organizations directly involved in providing social housing in Greater Victoria to those who would otherwise be homeless.
Each year the parish chooses a local social housing project to support from the proceeds of this fund. It is our hope that as the fund grows, St. Barnabas Church will one day initiate a housing project of its own.