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Gifts for Mission: Support the Sacred Circle

Posted on: November 26th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Young Indigenous Anglicans perform a song at the 2015 Sacred Circle. Photo by Matt Gardner

Young Indigenous Anglicans perform a song at the 2015 Sacred Circle. Photo by Matt Gardner

Gifts for Mission: Support the Sacred Circle

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The origins of what became known as the Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle go back to 1988, when Indigenous Anglicans from across Canada came together for the first time in what was then called Native Convocation.

At that time, former Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Donna Bomberry—who continues to serve today as a member of the Sacred Circle planning team—was new to national ministry. She recalled the possibilities provided for Indigenous people within the church by that first gathering.

“We found it as an opportunity to come together, tell our stories, and found that we were all telling a common story, about our experience of being church and the struggles and the joys coming from our respective communities,” Bomberry remembered. “We began to learn … together what it meant to be church, to be Anglicans, and to come from our respective places and learn about each other and grow in the Spirit.”

Since then, the Sacred Circle has only continued to grow in size and significance. Support for the Sacred Circle is one of the featured items in the 2015 Gifts for Mission gift guide. By making a gift of $50, you can help bring participants together for the next Sacred Circle and provide seed funding for a Sacred Circle gathering of young people.

Gifts go a long way, as the growth of Sacred Circle over the years along with inflation has meant a commensurate rise in costs for air travel, accommodation, food and meeting spaces. Where the earliest national gatherings cost approximately $250,000, the budget for more recent Sacred Circles now exceeds the $400,000 range.

The benefits of Sacred Circle to Indigenous Anglicans are many, as the national gathering has provided a consistent forum to advance the cause of justice and self-determination for Indigenous people.

Sacred Circle crossSacred Circle was the site of the 1993 apology by Archbishop Michael Peers, then Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, for the church’s role in the Indian residential school system. It also saw the creation of the 1994 Covenant calling for a new relationship with the church based on Indigenous self-determination. More recently, the 2015 Sacred Circle resulted in a call for the establishment of a fifth ecclesiastical province.

Reflecting the growth of the gathering beyond ordained men and women, the latest Sacred Circle also included a presentation by Indigenous Anglican youth addressing issues of concern for them.

The statements and participation of the youth left a major impact on Sacred Circle attendees as well as the young people themselves. Plans are now afoot for a new Indigenous Anglican youth gathering, such as a short mission trip, to build on that momentum.

Indigenous Ministries Coordinator Ginny Doctor noted one young participant who told her how much he had grown spiritually over the course of the week by being together with others, telling stories and learning songs, and that he wanted to help facilitate the young adult circle.

“That’s major to me,” Doctor said. “That means we really transformed at least one person. We really touched someone’s heart.”

Donations through Gifts for Mission will help fund a prospective Sacred Circle youth gathering, while further supporting Sacred Circle itself by augmenting the budget, enabling more elders or youth to be present and allowing guests to come and speak on the issues confronting Indigenous communities.

Help support the Sacred Circle through Gifts for Mission.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 24, 2015

Applications open for Justice Camp 2016 in Cuba

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
The Matanzas Retreat Centre will be the primary location (when not out on immersion experiences) of the upcoming International Justice Camp in Cuba, which runs from May 1-6, 2016. Submitted photo by Bill Mous

The Matanzas Retreat Centre will be the primary location (when not out on immersion experiences) of the upcoming International Justice Camp in Cuba, which runs from May 1-6, 2016. Submitted photo by Bill Mous

Applications open for Justice Camp 2016 in Cuba

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An ongoing grassroots project to develop effective social justice leaders, the eighth Justice Camp organized by the Anglican Church of Canada will take on an international dimension next year as the event is held outside of Canada for the very first time.

Justice Camp 2016 will take place in Matanzas, Cuba and runs from Sunday, May 1 to Friday, May 6, with travel to and from the location on April 30 and May 7. Built around the theme of “Common Good,” the camp is a joint initiative of the diocese of Niagara and the diocese of Cuba—which are in a companion diocese relationship—along with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Applications are now open and available online for the camp. Participants will include 25 Canadians over the age of 18 with a commitment to social justice ministry, chosen from the applicants to take part in the camp alongside 25 Cuban participants. Reflecting the diversity of the church in Canada, the participants will be intergenerational, with a strong contingent of young adults.

Over the course of their week in the camp, participants will take part in a variety of activities including biblical and theological reflection, worship, relationship building, and directed immersion experiences in which people break into small groups and focus on one element of the theme being explored.

Each Justice Camp focuses on a different aspect of a given theme such as poverty, advocacy, environmental justice. Justice Camp 2016 will explore the concept of the common good in all its permutations. Issues related to food security, economic justice and civic engagement will be featured throughout the camp.

The Ven. Dr. Peter John Hobbs is currently the director of mission for the diocese of Ottawa and a co-founder of the Justice Camp, and played a leading role in organizing camps in Canada from 2005 to 2014. He noted the “lateral” approach to learning in the camp, in which numerous participants may be as knowledgeable about a topic as the person speaking on the stage.

“We call it a camp for a reason,” Archdeacon Hobbs said. “It’s not a conference. It’s not about going around and watching PowerPoint presentations ad nauseum every day.

“When I send my kids to camp, I expect that they’re going to be taken down to the waterfront, shown a canoe, someone will pick up a paddle … put them in the canoe and get them out on the water, and they learn as they go.

“I think Justice Camp is like that too,” he added. “It’s much more hands-on, much more experiential, and much more lateral in how you do your learning.”

A major benefit of attending Justice Camp is the opportunity to form relationships and network with others engaged in social justice work, learning valuable lessons to help organize around particular issues upon returning home.

As an example, PWRDF public engagement program coordinator Suzanne Rumsey— who was part of the initial planning team for Justice Camp 2016—pointed to the role of the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba in promoting sustainable development through food security.

She recalled how a Canadian Anglican delegation visited the country in March and came away inspired by how their Cuban counterparts had “found a way to be a church in the world, a church in their communities—and that that is giving life to the churches in Cuba in unexpected ways.”

“It’s not about putting more people in the pews on Sunday morning,” Rumsey said. “But about the church going out into the community and meeting, in this case, [some of] the real food security and water security issues. So I hope people can come back, as our group did, with a new perspective on what the church can be in society.”

Interested in participating in Justice Camp 2016? The deadline for Canadian applications is November 20, 2015. Costs include a registration fee of $350, as well as an additional contribution of $500 by Canadian participants towards a travel pool to offset transportation costs to and from Cuba. Some financial assistance is available for those in need.

Apply online now for Justice Camp 2016.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, November 09, 2015

Annual crèche show returns to Toronto’s St. James Cathedral

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

By Anglican Journal staff

The exhibit will display crèches from around the world, including this colourful nativity scene from Uzbekistan. Photo: Michael Hudson

Crèches from as far away as Uzbekistan will be featured at Crèches From Across the World, an annual exhibition of nativity scenes to be held at the Cathedral Church of St. James, in Toronto, next month.

Now in its 15th year, the exhibition this year will showcase crèches from the private collection of Monsignor Gregory Ace, pastor at St. Padre Pio Roman Catholic Church in Kleinburg, Ont.

It will also include nativity scenes from the archives of St. James Cathedral. Some featured pieces originate from distant parts of the globe—Holland, Italy, Russia and China as well as Uzbekistan.

Crèches were banned as idolatrous during the Protestant Reformation, but in more modern times have taken back their place as beloved symbols of Christmas.

The exhibition, which is free of charge, will open to the public in the Archives and Museum at the Cathedral Centre at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 3 and run until Wednesday, December 23; it will reopen for one day on Wednesday, December 30. Special activities for children will be available, and group viewings can be arranged.

For more details or group bookings, contact Wendy Pappas, 416-364-7485, or email: [email protected]

[email protected]_______________________________________________________________

Anglican Journal News, November 12, 2015

Christians invited to celebrate Advent with a camera phone

Posted on: November 2nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

The AdventWorld online Advent calendar launches on 29 November

[Press Release] Anglicans worldwide and all Christians are being invited to observe Advent in a fun and prayerful way through a global online Advent Calendar called AdventWord. The season of Advent, from November 29 to December 24, is when Christians observe a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

AdventWord invites Christians to sign up to receive a daily meditation and respond by posting a picture on Instagram and other social media. The pictures combine to create the Advent Calendar in real time.

In 2014 over 50,000 people participated and 17,000 pictures were posted. In 2015 AdventWord will be released in English, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Tamil, French, Portuguese and German.

Brother Jim Woodram, a monk, explains, “When I was a kid I loved Advent because of Advent Calendars. Each day you pull back one of the little windows and there would be a picture to help you to pray and lead you towards Christmas, when Christ is born.

“Now you can sign up on for your own Advent Calendar online.

“What happens is that at 5am, in your time zone, every morning you will get a message in your email inbox, with a meditation from a Brother with a word and a picture. After reading the meditation, we’d love for people to snap a picture that reflects the theme or their response to it and post it to Instagram and other social media.

“Your pictures will appear on AdventWord and bring us together in prayer as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.”

Brother Jim is a monk of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Anglican monastic community. The Anglican Communion Office teamed up with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to create AdventWord with support from the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in the USA.

AdventWord will be launched at 5am New Zealand time on November 29th and be managed for the Anglican Communion by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist and Lady Doak College in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Canon Jamie Callaway, the general secretary of the Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, whose students are participating on five continents noted: “Advent Word intuitively draws on the cell phone, which today’s students globally have made a body part, to discover God’s presence in the abundance of creation, civilization and humanity.

“While individually these are prayerful moments, collectively they will display the splendor of creation, which is praise.”

The Revd Canon John Kafwanka, director for mission at the Anglican Communion Office, said, “I commend to all members of the Anglican Communion and Christians worldwide AdventWord as a way for you to witness your faith and for us to pray together as a communion and as a Body of Christ as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas.”


Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Today’s Top Stories, November 02, 2015

Gifts for Mission: Nutrition and income for refugees

Posted on: October 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Ana Daborah (right) and other refugees, along with a staff member from the National Council of Churches of Kenya—which helps fund the peanut butter project with PWRDF—show some of the supplies for their peanut butter business in the Kakuma refugee camp. Submitted photo by Jeannethe Lara

Ana Daborah (right) and other refugees, along with a staff member from the National Council of Churches of Kenya—which helps fund the peanut butter project with PWRDF—show some of the supplies for their peanut butter business in the Kakuma refugee camp. Submitted photo by Jeannethe Lara

Gifts for Mission: Nutrition and income for refugees

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Refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya who have escaped armed conflict or persecution face a hardscrabble existence adapting to their new surroundings. But for one group of refugees primarily comprised of women and young girls, a welcome source of income and nourishment has come in the unlikely form of peanut butter.

An estimated 180,000 refugees from countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and Somalia live in the camp, which is administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and falls under the jurisdiction of the Kenyan government.

Confined to the camp by its governing authority and unable to seek education or employment outside of it, the refugees are almost entirely dependent on international humanitarian aid for food and other resources. The semi-arid desert environment can make growing crops difficult for those attempting to create a new life for themselves.

In an endeavour to improve the living conditions for families in the camp, a Lutheran World Foundation and Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) partnership helps refugees produce peanut butter to both financially support and provide nourishment for their families.

By making a donation through the 2015 Gifts for Mission gift guide, you can make a $25 donation enabling the group to produce 500 jars of peanut butter that provide nutrition and income for refugees across Kenya.

Approximately 20 refugees participate in the program, which takes advantage of the dry climate—since peanut plants are one of the few crops that actually grow better in such conditions.

Participants first buy peanuts at the market before roasting them, removing the shells, grinding them and finally packaging, labelling and selling the peanut butter.

114 Kakuma package of the Peanut butterThe income from selling the peanut butter allows the refugees to buy more food and improve their nutrition by consuming more protein, which is relatively scarce in the local diet. They are also able to buy other resources such as school supplies for their children.

“They can contribute to the children’s education because they can buy the [school] uniform or the book … or give the children some food when they go to the school,” PWRDF Africa development coordinator Jeannethe Lara said.

Participation in the program also offers some non-material benefits.

“Whenever you have the possibility to work, to produce something, it gives you self-esteem,” Lara said. “It really makes your life [feel] a little bit more important.”

“Many people, when they arrive in the refugee camps, the food is given, the house is there,” she added. “It’s like, what do you do? You cannot move, you cannot travel, you cannot go study because there are no universities. So if at least you know that you are producing something for yourself, it’s really going to help.”

Donations through Gifts for Mission support the Kakuma project in many ways. Money goes towards buying peanuts, maintaining machines and equipment, and paying the salaries of staff members who support and monitor the women taking part.

The increased sustenance and resources gained through the program lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality of life for participants’ families.

“We cannot really imagine how much that helps—and according to each family, it helps one way or another—but it is huge,” Lara said.

“Things that we take for granted here … are the most important things that could happen to people [in the camp]. So I do think it’s really worth it.”

Help provide nutrition and income for refugees through Gifts for Mission.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 30, 2015

Gifts for Mission: Fund a rice mill in the Philippines

Posted on: October 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Gaudencao Polistico runs the FARDEC rice mill, separating the rice kernels from the bran that is used as fertilizer or animal feed. Submitted photo by Simon Chambers

Gaudencao Polistico runs the FARDEC rice mill, separating the rice kernels from the bran that is used as fertilizer or animal feed. Submitted photo by Simon Chambers

Gifts for Mission: Fund a rice mill in the Philippines

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Before the rice mill was built in Trinidad town, located in the Bohol province of the Philippines, the closest mill was seven kilometres away. To get their rice to the mill, farmers would have to make the journey on foot, carrying a 40-kilogram bag of rice themselves, or by hiring a motorcycle if they could afford it.

The cost of reaching the far-off mill and using its facilities meant the farmers had to pay more to mill their rice—the process by which the shells of the rice are pulled off to reveal the edible kernel inside. Their only alternative was relying on the merchants who came into their area to buy rice, albeit at a lower price.

The long-term solution of constructing a rice mill in Bohol was part of the Small Enterprise for Economic Development (SEED) program spearheaded by the Farmers’ Development Centre (FARDEC), a regional peasant support network. Since 1990, FARDEC has been a close partner of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, which has helped support the rice mill as a means of improving farmers’ lives.

Through the 2015 Gifts for Mission gift guide, Canadian Anglicans can offer support for the project in the form of a $100 donation to fund a rice mill in the Philippines. Each donation enables the rice mill to stay open for another week, covering the $100 in costs per week for fuel for the generator, equipment and staff salaries.

The positive effect of the rice mill on farmers’ lives is substantial. As an organization dedicated to fair trade, FARDEC is committed to ensuring that farmers earn enough money to support themselves and their families.

FARDEC rice is milled at a lower cost to farmers, and bought from them at a higher cost, enabling them to make a better living. Submitted photo by Simon Chambers

FARDEC rice is milled at a lower cost to farmers, and bought from them at a higher cost, enabling them to make a better living. Submitted photo by Simon Chambers

With a close local mill that pays farmers more for their rice, charges them less to mill it, and allows them to buy rice bran for livestock at a lower price, farmers have more time on their hands and money in their pockets to buy more food for their families and to send their children to school.

The congregation of area farmers at the rice mill also allows them the chance to learn about organic farming. FARDEC’s mission includes a focus on educating farmers in progressive agricultural techniques, and the rice mill helps farmers learn organic farming practices, using local grains of rice rather than imported rice breeds.

Kevin Vilbar, a staff member for FARDEC’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, noted that the rice mill offers support to farmers in the face of monopoly control by the Alturas Group of Companies (AGC) by buying their rice for 50 per cent more than the existing market price set by the AGC.

“A $100 donation [through Gifts for Mission] is very helpful for additional support in the rice mill,” Vilbar said. “In terms of its market competition our capital is very small compared to the existing monopoly trader.”

The SEED program includes four buying centres in the Filipino municipalities of Ubay, Trinidad, San Miguel and Dagohoy, which are run by volunteers. Capital limitations led to a reduction in the number of buying centres from seven to the present four, which hampers the ability to cope with increasing supply of rice from farmers.

Donations from Anglicans, Vilbar said, are a “big help” in allowing FARDEC to retrieve its buying centres and offer wider coverage for area farmers.

Support the rice mill in the Philippines through Gifts for Mission.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 23, 2015

Daily bread: Why eliminating child poverty is an election issue

Posted on: October 18th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments


Students at Buckingham Elementary School in Buckingham, Quebec participate in an assembly marking the launch of the Daily Bread Project. Submitted photo by the Anglican diocese of Ottawa

Students at Buckingham Elementary School in Buckingham, Quebec participate in an assembly marking the launch of the Daily Bread Project. Submitted photo by the Anglican diocese of Ottawa

Daily bread: Why eliminating child poverty is an election issue

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Faced with the growing problem of child poverty in the Anglican diocese of Ottawa, Bishop John Chapman in his 2009 Charge to Synod expressed the desire for a strong diocesan response. A major result of that initiative was the launch of the Daily Bread Project in 2011.

Targeting three sites in west Quebec identified by the provincial government as areas of higher socio-economic concern, the Daily Bread Project aims to tackle child poverty by providing nutrition education and teaching food preparation skills to elementary school students, who get to eat the food they prepare.

Leslie Giddings, child, youth and adult learning facilitator for the diocese, noted that while the program is open to everyone and not all the children who participate come from a position of need, many children whose families are struggling economically often benefit from the program.

“We’re supporting the kid that doesn’t have a full lunch perhaps with a little bit of extra food, because he’s involved in preparing a lunch with his classmates that day as part of the nutrition education program,” Giddings said.

Child poverty is one of the 10 issues highlighted in the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2015 federal election resource.

Approximately one out of every seven children in Canada lives in poverty. In Indigenous communities, the problem is even more acute, with one in every two children on Indigenous reserves living in poverty. While Jesus’ example of walking with and helping the poor is well known, the status of children as some of the most vulnerable members of society makes the need to help those in poverty particularly pressing.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald pointed to the intergenerational effects of federal government policies and lack of autonomy as major contributing factors to child poverty in Indigenous communities, particularly those in more remote areas.

“The high prices in northern stores are treated as a primary problem when in fact, they’re an effect of long-term abuse and discrimination,” Bishop MacDonald said.

“When your community is disabled for decades [from] taking effective legal action, when your community has had virtually all of the major decisions made by someone who isn’t there, where systemic bias is experienced as massive underfunding for decades and decades, the amazing thing is not that there’s trouble, but that there isn’t more.”

While acknowledging there may be some ways to make moderate short-term impact on the poverty and other social challenges in Indigenous communities, the bishop said that self-determination is an essential part of any long-term solution.

“What we see going on in Alberta, where cities and the province are saying very seriously that they want to have a people-to-people, nation-to-nation relationship, I think that’s a hopeful thing, and I think that you’ll see big advances in things like child poverty in those places that treat it seriously.”

The positive effects of helping disadvantaged groups take control of their own destinies is as much a factor for non-Indigenous people attempting to eliminate child poverty as it is for Indigenous communities.

Elementary school students go grocery shopping as part of the Daily Bread Project. Submitted photo
Elementary school students go grocery shopping as part of the Daily Bread Project. Submitted photo

A vital aspect of the Daily Bread Project, Giddings indicated, is its ability to empower children who participate. Students at participating schools go grocery shopping once a week at local supermarkets under the supervision of a program coordinator and volunteers who teach them how to budget, evaluate labels, and understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy products.

“We know kids who are living in poverty don’t have the same advantages,” Giddings said. “We wanted to see what we could to alleviate that, and we wanted to do more than just make sure they weren’t hungry. We wanted to give them opportunities to feel like they had mastered skills, that they could do things for themselves, that they could make choices to help raise themselves and to help teach their own families more about nutrition.”

In addition to the efforts of Anglican dioceses and parishes to fight child poverty, many individual Anglicans have taken action to address the issue through participation in groups such as Citizens for Public Justice, an ecumenical non-profit organization that promotes justice in Canadian public policy.

“Government and public policy have a huge role in [alleviating child poverty],” executive director Joe Gunn said. “We think the federal government does need to work with the provinces and Aboriginal governments and develop a plan. We think that it should be legislated so that maybe every year or two, there would be a report to Parliament so we could see how progress is going.”

“There are lots of good policy ideas to move forward and address some of these issues of poverty,” he added. “But we need the political will to do it.”

View the 2015 federal election resource sheet on child poverty.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 16, 2015

Healing broken relationships: How restorative justice is an election issue

Posted on: October 15th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments

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Healing broken relationships: How restorative justice is an election issue

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When a serious crime is committed, both perpetrator and the victim are profoundly impacted, albeit differently . Though the criminal justice system in Canada often revolves around punishment of the perpetrator, an increasingly prevalent school of thought puts reconciliation and understanding at the centre of the search for justice to address the impact of the crime on both parties.

Restorative justice is an approach to justice and corrections that brings victims and offenders together on a voluntary basis. As one of the 10 issues highlighted in the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2015 federal election resource, restorative justice constitutes the primary perspective of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC), an ecumenical organization dedicated to crime prevention and healthy community development.

Currently vice-president of the CCJC, the Rev. Sharon Dunlop represents the Anglican Church of Canada on its board of directors. She described restorative justice as a process in which a mediator helps guide conversation between offender and victim, offering the victim an opportunity to tell the offender how their life has been affected by the crime while providing the offender a chance to give a reason for their actions, if there is one.

“The purpose is to heal a broken relationship and to move towards reconciliation,” Dunlop said. “In many cases, an offender will never offend again because they understand the impact of what their action has been on another person.”

“We sometimes say that when a person has been incarcerated, the victim has an opportunity for closure,” she added. “But for many victims, it’s not really a closure, because the question of why and the question of getting across how it’s impacted on them never gets answered. So that’s where restorative justice has an advantage.”

Though restorative justice in one form or another has existed since ancient times, its more recent incarnation is patterned strongly after Indigenous models to healing justice, such as the peace courts of the Navajo people.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald noted that in Indigenous communities, restorative justice is most often perceived as a return to traditional Indigenous ways that identifies “the need to establish justice or right relations between people as a necessary prelude to creating peace and wholeness.”

“It’s really about rehabilitating relationships and rehabilitation [of] the community that’s been fragmented by someone’s actions,” he said.

From Dunlop’s perspective, restorative justice presents an approach to justice closer to the example set forth by God.

“We remember that God’s form of justice is healing, restorative and distributive, that He loves us all regardless of whether we are the offender or the victim, that He wants us to be reconciled to Him and to each other,” she said. “We are all given this opportunity to admit our sins, to turn away from or repent from our past behaviours, to move out in a healthier, more positive direction.”

Since 2012, the CCJC has led restorative justice training workshops and developed what is known as empathy projects or victim impact projects in prisons. These projects challenge inmates to engage in self-reflection about where they might have been harmed in their own lives as a prelude to considering how they might have harmed others and taking responsibility for their actions.

Besides their presence on the CCJC, Anglicans have played a leading role in promoting restorative justice through Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA), a program in which small groups of volunteers assist and monitor former offenders (referred to as “core members”) as they re-integrate into the community, providing counselling and support.

While police have praised COSA for freeing up valuable resources, Correctional Services of Canada, which began funded COSA in 1994, officially ceased funding on March 31, 2015 on the basis that it was a post-incarceration program.

Dunlop advocated the return of government funding for COSA as a key policy by which Canada’s political leaders might promote restorative justice.

“That would be a tremendous value in protecting Canadian public,” she said. “We often talk about ‘safe streets, safe communities,’ and if we were to have this funding restored so that these very important programs would be able to continue, then we would be working towards meeting that need … In every geographic area, it’s been demonstrated that they have been a tremendous benefit to the community and to the core member as well in helping to protect them.”

While suggesting that the government might also adopt a less punitive approach to incarceration, Dunlop argued that the promotion of restorative justice approaches might further reduce the need for imprisonment.

“Many offences are non-violent and can be administered … outside of a prison system or a detention kind of system … That would reduce the money paid by taxpayers,” she said.

Related to the punitive approach to justice and mass imprisonment in Canada is the disproportionate amount of incarcerated Indigenous people and the inequities they face in the criminal justice system, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Anglican Church of Canada have recognized as legacies of the Indian residential school system.

Comparing such racialized inequities against Indigenous people in the Canadian justice and corrections system to the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the United States, Bishop MacDonald called restorative justice “part of a larger solution to the problems with the justice system.”

“There seems to be a growing consensus on both sides of the border that something’s wrong with the criminal justice system as it exists today—that its focus on punitive intervention in social problems is having an opposite effect on those,” he said.

“I haven’t heard anybody argue that the declining crime rates are related to this system. I think that for the most part, there’s broad agreement that something is broken, and restorative justice is a critical part of that answer.”

View the 2015 federal election resource sheet on restorative justice.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 15, 2015

Peace with justice: Making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an election issue

Posted on: October 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Peace with justice: Making the Israeli-Palestinian conflict an election issue

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While teaching at St. George’s College in Jerusalem during the 1990s, the Rev. Canon Dr. Richard LeSueur took up residence with his family on the top floor of a school run for Palestinian children. The school was run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, overlooking the no-man’s land that separated East and West Jerusalem until 1967.

Currently an advisory board member of the Canadian Companions of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, LeSueur initially moved to Israel during the First Intifada. He was present in September 1993 when news broke of the Oslo Accords, a historic peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian officials. LeSueur recalled the “staggering” experience of euphoria on the streets of Jerusalem, with Palestinian flags—until then illegal—flying everywhere.

“Young men were sitting on the hoods of cars,” he remembered. “They were shouting and waving. People were standing just in shock, frozen, holding their hands to their mouths. I saw an elderly man with tears running down his face.”

Thousands of Palestinians filled the soccer field next to St. George’s College to watch a live television broadcast the day the accords were signed at the White House. As a triumphant roar erupted from the crowd, LeSueur and his young son rang the bells of the cathedral tower in celebration.

The next day, he recalled, the Jerusalem Post ran a front-page story announcing an approved plan for vast new Israeli settlements for 150,000 people in the occupied territories in East Jerusalem. For those who placed hopes in the accords as a first step on the road to peace, the news, LeSueur indicated, “was like a huge slap in the face.”

The achievement of a just peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians is one of the 10 issues highlighted in the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2015 federal election resource. Reflecting the baptismal vows and prophetic witness of Christians to strive for peace in the world, the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine is particularly relevant in terms of its geographical location at the crucible of the Christian faith and as a microcosm for interfaith relations with Jews and Muslims.

“Jesus seemed in his ministry to consistently resist the distinctions between peoples that were customary to the religious and political perspectives of his time, and was constantly breaking down barriers to bring justice, love and fresh understanding to the common humanity of every human being,” LeSueur said.

“I think [as] Christians, our vocation compels us to give witness to the bold responsibilities of Christ’s love for all people, and therefore, to be a voice and an actor on the side of justice, equality, fairness and the dignity of every human being. And if that’s the case, then we are responsible to sound a voice about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in leading to peacemaking.”

The General Synod’s Global Relations Director, Dr. Andrea Mann, pointed to three key issues that continue to animate the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The steady and increasing settlement of Palestinian territories by Israeli settlers with the support of the Israeli government is a major point of contention, Mann noted, pointing to ongoing claims on Palestinian villages as Israeli land through the continued bulldozing of Palestinian houses.

Counter-measures by Israel to Palestinian incursions such as rocket attacks, which Mann indicated are often disproportionate to the initial Palestinian actions, are another major issue.

“Where there is an initiative or a strike, say, from Gaza into Israeli territory, the response by Israel is in far greater measure, and has been shown to be without consideration for civilian life or hospitals or schools—the places where people gather for safety from those counter-strikes,” she said.

A third major issue is the Palestinians’ right of return, which relates to compensation to Palestinians for lands taken from them beginning in 1948 with the formation of the state of Israel, and the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who left homes behind and were never invited to return or compensated for the loss of their homes, livelihoods and communities.

Security, Mann added, is an important concern for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“We don’t want to be misunderstood by identifying these issues as only against Israel,” she said. “It is really clear that we are in support of the state of Israel existing in secure and sovereign borders, as we are for Palestine to exist for Palestinians within safe and secure borders.”

Each side in the conflict, LeSueur said, brings with it past experiences of injustice and oppression that animates their attitude to the current tensions.

For Israelis, the memory of the Nazi Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered continues to promote feelings of vulnerability, distrust of the wider world and the determination that such a tragedy must never happen again.

For Palestinians, the pressing need for statehood and adherence to internationally recognized borders under United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 stems from the ongoing oppression of life under Israeli military occupation, with access to trade and freedom of movement restricted through checkpoints and soldiers able to enter neighbourhoods and search homes at any time.

Any lasting solution to the conflict, Mann suggested, must be based on a common understanding and acceptance of the legitimacy of each other’s grievances.

“Always, I think, relationships between people can be strengthened to lead to friendship or at least mutual respect, mutual understanding, trust, dialogue, and a better understanding of one another’s perspectives, one another’s histories.”

View the 2015 federal election resource sheet on peace in the Middle East.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 14, 2015

Young people today: On intergenerational inequities

Posted on: October 13th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Students take part in a theology class. Submitted photo

Students take part in a theology class. Submitted photo

Young people today: On intergenerational inequities

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By Matt Gardner

Seven years after the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing global recession, the situation facing young workers remains challenging amidst periodic reports of economic recovery.

As precarious jobs with fewer benefits and irregular work hours become ever more prevalent, youth and young adults are increasingly struggling with massive student loan debts, underemployment, reduced social mobility, and unaffordable housing. In the face of a widening income gap between older and younger workers, the current generation may be the first in Canadian history to experience a lower standard of living than their parents.

Intergenerational inequities are one of the 10 issues highlighted in the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2015 federal election resource. Judy Steers, coordinator for youth initiatives at Faith, Worship, and Ministry, said that concern for the difficulties faced by young people reflects the baptismal covenant entered into by all Anglicans.

“In terms of nurturing and supporting the development of young people, I think a church and a society that doesn’t pay attention to its young people really has blinders on in terms of their own future,” Steers said.

Of the myriad issues facing their generation, young Anglicans singled out student loan debt as one of their most pressing concerns.

Steers’ daughter Emily, a first-year student at Mount Allison University involved in Anglican youth programs who is currently studying music and biology, recalled a friend who is still in school and already $65,000 in debt.

“It’s nigh-on-impossible to actually find employment and a house and all of these things while simultaneously living with that gigantic burden over your head,” said Emily, 19.

Despite the socioeconomic challenges, she noted, many remain unsympathetic to the plight faced by young workers.

“We have ridiculously high rates of unemployment, we’re paying more and more for tuition every year with higher student loans, and we’re not getting the payout in terms of job opportunities and salaries once we actually finish university,” Emily said.

“I think the biggest problem—at least, this is my pet peeve with all this—is that … in this ridiculously fractured and incredibly complex global economy, we are kind of being considered whiny and demanding and ignorant for asking for equal opportunity.”

Allie Colp, youth and family coordinator for the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, noted the disheartening effect for young graduates of struggling to break into their field even as they are increasingly squeezed by the burden of massive student loans and unaffordable housing. Many who do find jobs find themselves working in areas such as retail and customer service, with low pay and irregular hours.

In the face of the higher cost of living, Colp added, many young parents end up working longer hours, which can have negative repercussions on family life.

“If there are two parents in a family, both parents have to work,” said Colp, 25. “If it’s a single parent, they have to work a lot, which kind of cuts down on the meaningful time that they’re able to spend as a family or with their children.”

Official policies often neglect the young for more favoured constituencies, she said.

“I think a lot of government decisions and policy and budget decisions are made based on the middle class or industry or business, which very rarely is a positive choice for young people who don’t have enough money or aren’t in a position to be middle class, and aren’t working in jobs where they stand to benefit from benefits to industry and that sort of thing.”

While public discussion often centres on forgiving student loans, lowering or even eliminating tuition, Colp also highlighted the importance of policies to help skilled trade workers and young entrepreneurs, such as stronger apprenticeship programs and grant opportunities for people who want to start a small business.

She further pressed for the need to address youth unemployment by providing opportunities for unemployed young people to gain access to training based on their skills and the needs of their communities.

View the 2015 federal election resource sheet on intergenerational inequities.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, October 13, 2015