Our vision is to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. In striving to realize this vision, we endeavour to extend the ministry and mission of the congregation beyond our church walls. Caring for God’s creation entails both being stewards of our natural environment and caring for one another through service.
Here are some ways we are currently reaching out to the wider community in an effort to serve and care for one another.
Urban Meals Program
The Urban is an inner-city ministry supported by our Synod and other local congregations. It offers a variety of programs that care for the spiritual and physical needs of our less fortunate neighbours. One aspect of this care is the meal program which sees anywhere from 75 to 100 people enjoy a wholesome dinner on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Sundays following a worship service.
Once a month, we recruit six to eight volunteers from our congregation to prepare and serve one of these meals. Ingredients are purchased from specially-designated offerings given by St. Mark’s members. Participation in our Urban Meal program is open to all regardless of age and requires approximately two hours of your time. The meal is served at the Urban which is located at Lutheran Church of the Cross on Arlington Street.
In Spring 2016, a portion of the lawn on the south end of our property was transformed into a community garden consisting of several raised boxes, one ground-level plot and two large rain barrels. About 250 square feet of growing space was created. This initial development was largely funded by a Compassionate Justice Grant received from the MNO Synod.
The Community Education Development Association (CEDA) assisted us in identifying and inviting newcomer families to use the community garden space. To date, gardeners have included persons who have come to Winnipeg from Bhutan, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. Most gardeners live in central areas of Winnipeg where growing space is not readily available.
In 2019, the garden was expanded by about 100 square feet by the creation of a second ground-level plot.
Each spring, volunteers from the congregation prepare the gardens for another growing season. Members also support the program with designated financial gifts that go toward things such as landscaping cloth, soil and manure.
In early September, the gardeners are invited to attend a worship service and afterwards, they give guided tours of the plots explaining what has been grown and how it will be used. Some of the more exotic plants that have been introduced to us include amaranth, African sorrel, black-eyed peas, sugar cane and red okra.
Meals on Wheels
Involvement of St. Mark’s members in the Meals on Wheels program can be traced to the ear 1960s. At that time, several churches came together in a pilot program to deliver nutritious meals to senior citizens. In 1965, responsibility for the program was assumed by the Home Welfare Association and later morphed into the present-day Meals on Wheels (MOW). Over the years, the program expanded to serve physically challenged and vulnerable members of the Winnipeg Area.
St. Marks is responsible for a weekly run from the Misericordia Hospital on every Wednesday. This program runs every week even if the Wednesday falls on a holiday such as Christmas or New Years. A minimum of 5 active volunteers is necessary to maintain our commitment to the program. Each volunteer is asked to volunteer approximately two hours of their time one day per month.
The Hamper program kicks into high gear in late November when a Christmas tree appears in the Parish Hall decorated with recycled Christmas cards, each with a non-perishable food item written on the reverse side of the card. Members are invited to remove cards from the tree and purchase the named item. Specially-designated financial gifts are also requested. Monetary donations are used to purchase additional food items and gifts for the recipient families including both children and parents.
Mid-December, members are invited to come out and help pack the hampers and then students from confirmation class and youth group assist with their delivery.
We rely mostly on the Winnipeg Cheer Board to identify the families who receive our hampers. In recent years, support from the congregation has enabled us to supply hampers to between six and eight families.
Want to Get Involved?
If you are interested in helping with any of our community outreach programs, please contact the church office. A member of our staff will be happy to connect you to the appropriate person.