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Continuing with the series on the Anglican Marks of Mission I’d now like to examine the Fourth Mark of Mission. 

The Five Marks of Mission are: 

1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.

2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers.

3. To respond to human need by loving service.

4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.

5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

The Anglican Fourth Mark of Mission calls us to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation. It is based on the fundamental belief that all people are unique and loved by God and that Christians are called to love their enemies as well as their friends. It is a striving to live according to the Gospel norms in our Baptismal Covenant, not the status quo rules of the World as It Is.

Unjust structures in our society are those that create and maintain inequalities and oppression among different groups of God’s people. These inequalities and oppression are based on factors such as race, gender, class, religion, or nationality. They are often deeply embedded in the laws, policies, institutions, and norms of a society, and can be difficult to change or challenge. However, our calling is to just do that, to strive, with God’s help, and to create a more just and equitable society.

We sometimes don’t recognize the unjust structures that exist in our society or we fail to acknowledge those that are impacting those around us that we might be benefitting from. A few examples of the unjust structures that exist in our society are:

The glass ceiling: The invisible barrier that prevents women from advancing to senior leadership positions in many organizations. Women face various obstacles such as discrimination, stereotypes, and lack of mentorship and support that hinder their career progression. As a result, women are underrepresented in many fields and sectors.

The gender pay gap: This is the difference between the average earnings of men and women for the same work. Women generally earn less than men for various reasons, such as lower wages in female-dominated occupations, interruptions in work due to childbearing and caregiving responsibilities, and unequal bargaining power and opportunities.

Systemic discrimination: is the unfair treatment of certain groups of people by the social systems and institutions that are supposed to serve them. For example, racial minorities often face discrimination and bias in the criminal justice system, the education system, the health care system, and the labour market. This leads to disparities and disadvantages in outcomes such as incarceration rates, academic achievement, health status, and employment opportunities.

Structural violence: This is the harm caused by the social arrangements that prevent people from meeting their basic needs and fulfilling their potential. For example, poverty, hunger, disease, war, and environmental degradation are forms of structural violence that affect millions of people around the world. These conditions are often linked to the exploitation and domination of some groups by others.

In addition to unjust structures that are Canada-wide, there are some specific examples of unjust structures that are endemic in British Columbia’s society. A few examples of these are:

Wildfires: The province has been experiencing severe and destructive wildfires that have burned thousands of hectares of land, destroyed hundreds of homes and structures, and displaced thousands of people. The wildfires are partly caused by the effects of climate change, such as drought, heat waves, and lightning storms. However, they are also exacerbated by the lack of adequate resources and funding for fire prevention and suppression, as well as the historical and ongoing colonization and dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their lands and territories.

Systemic racism: The province has a long history of racism and discrimination against various racialized groups, such as Indigenous peoples, Black people, Asian people, and others. Systemic racism is manifested in the social systems and institutions that affect the lives and well-being of these groups, such as the health care system, the education system, the justice system, and the labour market. Systemic racism results in disparities and disadvantages in outcomes such as health status, academic achievement, incarceration rates, and employment opportunities.

Constructive dismissal: This is a form of unjust dismissal that occurs when an employer makes significant changes to an employee's terms or conditions of employment without their consent, such as reducing their pay, changing their hours, or relocating them to another place. These changes make the employee's work situation intolerable or unbearable, forcing them to quit. Constructive dismissal is a violation of the Canada Labour Code and can be challenged by filing a complaint with the Labour Program.

Identifying the unjust structures is only the first part of our calling. Though an important first step, we are also then called to live out the Fourth Mark of Mission in our daily lives by:

- Being aware of the social, economic, and political issues that affect our community and the world, and taking informed and responsible actions to address them.

- Standing up for the rights and dignity of the oppressed, marginalized, and vulnerable, and speaking out against injustice, discrimination, and violence.

- Seeking to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively, and promoting dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation among different groups and individuals.

- Practicing nonviolence in our words and deeds, and resisting the temptation to retaliate or harm others.

- Praying for the peace of the world, and for the healing and restoration of broken relationships.

Specifically, each of us can apply these principles in our lives by:

- Joining or supporting a social justice organization or movement that works for positive change in society, such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, or Black Lives Matter.

- Volunteering or donating to a charity or a cause that helps the poor, the homeless, those experiencing food insecurity, refugees, or the victims of war, natural disasters, or human trafficking. The Maundy Cafe and our Refugee Sponsorship are such examples.

- Participating in or organizing a peace march, a vigil, a rally, or a protest against war, violence, or injustice.

- Mediating or facilitating a dialogue between people with different opinions, beliefs, or backgrounds, and helping them find common ground and mutual understanding.

- Apologizing or forgiving someone who has hurt or offended you, and seeking to restore your relationship with them.


How would you characterize some ways that we live out the Fourth Mark of Mission both individually and corporately? When you read about this Fourth Mark of Mission, what types of activities do you see as responses to this call that you could participate in as an individual or as a group?