Food Security at the CBWC
Here are just a few of the ways CBWC churches and ministries have been involved in supporting food security.
The Mustard Seed movement was born in Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria about thirty five years ago. It has grown to become the largest food bank on Vancouver Island with other programs that respond to urban poverty. New Mustard Seed organizations were started in Edmonton and Calgary with the support of Baptist churches. Each of these aptly named Mustard Seeds started small but are now having an immense impact on their communities. They are key ministries in their communities that are supporting the poor and homeless, providing not only food but shelter, counselling and opportunities for change. Connect with the Mustard Seed Victoria and the Mustard Seed Calgary (which administrates the Edmonton location as well).
The Gleaners, launched with Canadian Baptist leadership and support in the South Okanagan of B.C., has become a national movement dedicated to using surplus food production to feed the hungry in Canada and internationally. There are too many Gleaners societies to list all of them, but you can connect with Gleaners in the Frazer Valley here: http://www.fvgleaners.org/.
In the early 1980s farming families of the Brownfield Baptist Church in Alberta participated in a prairie movement to contribute wheat to alleviate the Ethiopian famine. They loaded grain in boxcars and arranged for transport. This grassroots Christian commitment resulted in the formation of the Canada Foodgrains Bank. Bruce Neal from Ontario and Arnold Epp from Saskatchewan were the first Canadian Baptist members on the CFGB Board. Thirty years later, CFGB is one of Canada’s leading international hunger organizations; the Coronation Grow Project in Brownfield continues to save lives from hunger; Terry Smith (CBM) and Jordan Webber (CBWC) represent Canadian Baptists on the board of CFGB. You can find more information on the Canada Foodgrains Bank here.
Bob and Anne Swann, formerly Canadian Baptist missionaries to Kenya, built and managed feeding stations in three massive UN refugee camps at the height of the Somali civil war in the 1990s. Canadian Baptist congregations, the Brownfield farmers’ project, and the CFGB provided food supplies along with the World Food Program. Similar circumstances in 2011 resulted in new food assistance programs under the direction of Aaron and Erica Kenny.
Support for the Canadian Baptist account at CFGB has grown in recent years. A new generation of young farmers from Moosomin Baptist Church, Saskatchewan began the Harvest of Hope project in 2012. This initiative has grown to involve community members from the entire area. Connect with Moosomin Baptist here.
Rod Olson, a staff member of the CBWC, has the task of promoting urban vegetable gardens as part of his job description. Rod also raises awareness of the connection between creation care and our daily food needs through his social enterprise, Leaf & Lyre Urban Farms.
The A Rocha environmental organization has Canadian Baptist church members on its staff and board. A Rocha’s Community Shared Agriculture program connects families to farmers by allowing families to buy weekly Harvest Boxes of seasonal fresh produce. Farming, education and conservation projects provide the public with opportunities to experience God’s goodness first hand. This year Markku and Leah Kostamo, founders of A Rocha Canada, are keynote speakers at the Banff Pastors Conference. You can get more information on A Rocha here.
We know there are many more stories of Canadian Baptist churches involved in foodbanks, community gardens and other food security ministries across Canada but we’re focusing on a few we know about in Western Canada. If you have a story to share, contact Ceal McLean at email@example.com.