Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed noting that even the smallest things can take root and flourish, sowing hope among his followers (Mark 4:30-32). Justice Ministries works with congregations to sow seeds of hope and respond to the justice imperatives of the gospel.
Ms. Ireland completed her undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and received scholarships for academic excellence. She took Political Science courses and brings to the internship an understanding of the impacts of conflict. She is fluently bilingual in French and English and has lived and worked in Quebec and France. She worships at Knox Presbyterian Church in Teeswater, Ontario.
Funding for the Peace and Human Security Internship Program is made possible through undesignated bequest gifts to The Presbyterian Church in Canada. The internship program gives young Presbyterians an opportunity to participate in the life and work of an ecumenical agency supported by the church.
Founded in 1976, Project Ploughshares is the ecumenical peace centre of the Canadian Council of Churches with a mandate to work with churches, governments, and civil society, in Canada and abroad, to advance policies and actions that prevent war and armed violence and build peace. The Presbyterian Church in Canada is one of nine national churches that sponsor Project Ploughshares.
For further information about the Peace and Human Security Internship Program, including the next internship cycle, email Stephen Allen or Katharine Masterton in Justice Ministries or call 1-800-619-7301 or 416-441-1111.
The delegation attempted to deepen the understanding of the human rights and environmental impact of resource extraction on communities in the eastern DRC, in particular the impact on the already appalling reality faced by women. The delegation continues to help raise awareness among Canadian church constituencies, the Canadian public and the Canadian government about the human rights situation, violence against women and the impact of resource extraction. Participants will also will make concrete recommendation to Canadians and to the Government of Canada on how to address this egregious situation.
Peter Lamonth from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, ON, is took part in the KAIROS delegation. Read his latest blog.
Elements of Justice Gathering in Vancouver – Oct. 24-27, 2013
Are you Presbyterian?
18-35 years of age?
Do you believe in the biblical call to do justice?
“Elements of Justice” is an ecumenical, intergenerational event. It is biblically grounded. 150 participants from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia will gather at the North Vancouver Outdoor School from October 24-27, 2013. You will have an opportunity to share your ideas, stories, mission work, and interest in justice issues and experience ecumenical prayer and fellowship. There will be leadership from Indigenous people. Workshops topics will be diverse and cover regional, national and international issues.
Why go to this event? Who is KAIROS?
As the body of Christ in the world, we can do more together with other churches than as individual denominations. KAIROS is Presbyterian. It’s also Anglican, Catholic, Christian Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran, Mennonite, Quaker and United. You’ll meet Christian advocates dedicated to living out the biblical call to do justice (Micah 6:8).
What does this mean? Presbyterians sit on KAIROS’ Board. Presbyterians are part of KAIROS’ local ecumenical groups and networks. Presbyterians are involved in KAIROS campaigns and programs, and Presbyterians support KAIROS financially.
Registration and travel costs
The registration fee is $290. That includes everything except travel. If you, your congregation, presbytery and/or synod will share these costs, Justice Ministries can help. Bursaries are available. We’ll also provide orientation information.
Want to send an intergenerational team? Let us know! All ages are welcome to attend, but we’d particularly like to encourage young adult participation.
- View the event flyer for the KAIROS Vancouver event
- Visit the KAIROS event website
- Contact Katharine Masterton by email to kmasterton [at] presbyterian [dot] ca or call 1-800-619-7301 ext 250.
Sharing Experiences from Visits to Communities Impacted by Canadian Mining Companies
Written by Janette McIntosh, West Point Grey Presbyterian Church, Vancouver BC. Janette represents the church on KAIROS’ Sustainability Circle and serves as co-chair.
From February 12-20, 2013, I participated in a delegation to Mexico to hear from and visit communities impacted by Canadian mining operations. I represented KAIROS. The visit was organized by the United Steel Workers of America. Our host was ProDESC (Project of Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights). ProDESC’s executive director Alejandra Ancheita asked us to witness, stand in solidarity with their community members and share their stories. It is my responsibility to share what I have learned.
Here is one story. Father Martin Octavio Garcia Ortiz had a parish in San José del Progreso (Southern Mexico). He attempted to host public information sessions to consider the social and environmental impacts of a mine site near the community. He told me that he was not against the mine, but believed in a community consultation process that allowed for informed decision making by the community. He was kidnapped and beaten because of this work. He has left that parish, but his faith, vision, courage and action are an inspiration to me, and I would hope, for leaders in our churches.
There are many committed and courageous community leaders defending their land, water, culture, and human rights in Mexico. Land there is traditionally a communal asset. In some cases it has been sold to companies without community consultation. I realize now how poorly informed we (Canadians) are about the Canadian mining industry, and the impact of global mining operations. Over 60% of global mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Many of us, as does The Presbyterian Church in Canada, invest in these companies, conferring a responsibility to be informed investors. A report on this visit is on KAIROS’ website.
Historic Arms Trade Treaty Approved by United Nations
On April 2, 2013, members of the General Assembly of the United Nations approved by an overwhelming majority (155 votes “yes” and 3 votes “no,” with Canada voting “yes”) the text for a historic global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Project Ploughshares and many other organizations have been working to secure such a treaty for almost twenty years. Project Ploughshares is a project of the Canadian Council of Churches.
A core goal of the treaty is to reduce human suffering. Implementation of the treaty will achieve this by enshrining in international law a set of rules for the cross-border transfers of weapons and ammunition. It creates binding obligations for governments to assess arms transfers to ensure that weapons will not be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organized crime or violations of humanitarian law.
The Treaty requires that governments refuse any transfer of weapons if there is a significant risk that they will be used to violate human rights and creates universal standards for ratifying states to regulate weapons transfers. Countries that do not ratify the Treaty are not obliged to follow it.
Fifty ratifying states are required for the Treaty to enter into force. The first time states will have this opportunity will be at the United Nations in New York on June 3, 2013. Please see the Urgent Action request online.
Congregations Making a Difference
Faithful witness. Education. Advocacy. Justice ministries are carried out in Presbyterian congregations across Canada. These are some of their stories.
Calvin Presbyterian Church in Halifax, NS
In March 2013 our Ladies Fellowship Group had the privilege of participating in a presentation on healing and reconciliation given by Carol MacLennan, a member of our congregation. We stood on blankets spread across the floor and Carol took us through a 500 year history of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The activity narrative begins pre-contact and continues to the present day. Prior to contact, First Nations societies were based on trust and respect: respect for themselves, for each other and for the earth and its resources. With the arrival of the European settlers, this changed. Many things contributed to a gradual stripping away of their heritage, language and any rights they had. For seven generations children were removed from their homes and raised in institutions. Each time during the presentation when Carol described how land was taken and communities changed, a blanket would be folded in half or we would have to remove ourselves from the blanket until there was only a small space left. This symbolized what was left – it was not very much.
The question of where do we go from here remains to be answered. Many Indigenous people have suffered needlessly and continue to face discrimination today. Hopefully it will not take seven generations to right this wrong.
Marnie MacLeod, Calvin Presbyterian Church, Halifax, NS.
Kirkwall Presbyterian Church in Kirkwall, ON
I have always been bothered by those things in our world that are not fair – hunger, war, pollution, discrimination – anywhere the innocent suffer. As a Christian I believe that the responses of mercy and compassion, though very important, are just not enough. Shouldn’t every congregation have some active ‘justice ministries’ on the go? After attending a KAIROS meeting in the fall of 2012, I learned about Justice Ministries.
Our church has hosted several caring for creation events. We hosted “Water Nite” – a church and community event co-hosted with the civic group Wellington Water Watchers. Presentations and discussion focused on water issues, including drought, that affect our community, and what how we might respond to this.
Wanting to consider additional steps, I hosted a potluck on April 2, 2013 for members of the church interested in pursuing caring for creation issues in our church. We brainstormed what this might look like.
As a first activity, we had an Earth Day worship service conducted by Bonnie Sutherland, accompanied by special music provided by Eric Harrison and the choir. When the offering plate was passed, all were invited to help themselves to a packet of spring seeds for planting.
Our group has adopted the name ‘Seeds of Justice’ and we plan to gather in June to discuss future plans. As Christians, aren’t we called to take care of creation and to actively protect nature from desecration and destruction? What might this prophetic work look like where you live?
Rose Janson, Kirkwall Presbyterian Church, Kirkwall, ON.
Morningside High Park Presbyterian Church in Toronto, ON
Morningside High Park Presbyterian Church held a public commissioning ceremony on April 20, 2013 for its new rooftop solar panels. Members of the community and congregation attended the open house. They were joined by Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament Cheri De Novo and federal Member of Parliament Peggy Nash. Snacks and live music were offered.
The open house invitation states the motivation for this project: “This is why…we did it for God’s glory! The stewardship of God’s earth is a biblical and sacred responsibility. We did it for the planet! It greatly reduces the carbon footprint as it reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned. We did it for the next generation! The use of solar energy makes the future brighter and leaves a legacy of clean energy. We did it for our neighbours! Solar power is abundant and contributes clean electricity to the grid. It makes a statement to the community that we care.
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Nanaimo, BC
I thought you might be interested in what we at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Nanaimo are doing in our community to help address poverty issues.
About 4 years ago, the Social Planner for the City of Nanaimo sent out an invitation to a meeting on addressing poverty in our community. The city was also anxious to provide services throughout the city rather than concentrate social services in one area. This meeting was well attended by groups who were already involved in providing services and by representatives from several churches. The idea of having more area distribution depots for Loaves and Fishes, the Nanaimo food bank, was discussed and acted upon. St. Andrew’s became one of those depots.
With encouragement from our minister, we started serving a no-cost Soup and Sandwich Lunch twice a month for community members. As we are located across the street from a high school, we invited the students. Within 6 months, and with the help of volunteers from 10 other Nanaimo churches, we now host weekly meals. Our volunteers range in age from 44 to 92! In the space of 90 minutes, we serve between 150 to 165 lunches.
Our main financial support is from members of our congregation, but we also receive support from local Mid Island Coop, the City of Nanaimo and the Knights of Columbus. We use PWS&D placemats! The Nanaimo Multicultural Interfaith Society held a forum on poverty and is continually hosting events to educate our community.
Elaine Toole, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Nanaimo, BC.
The Healing & Reconciliation Ministry of The Presbyterian Church in Canada works ecumenically, with local leaders, congregations and courts of the church to build and strengthen bridges of understanding and friendship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Streams of Justice
Streams of Justice is a twice-annual newsletter that connects Presbyterians across Canada involved in social justice ministry.
Subscribe to the Streams of Justice newsletter today:
The Presbyterian Church in Canada believes in peace and justice for every person in Palestine and Israel.
The mandate of the International Affairs Committee (IAC) is to help Presbyterians to be informed and aware of important international issues for study, prayer and action and to bring forward recommendations to the General Assembly on international issues. The International Affairs Committee is a standing committee of the General Assembly.
Social Action Handbook
The Social Action Handbook is a summary of the reports and recommendations adopted by the annual General Assemblies of The Presbyterian Church in Canada from 1954 to the present.
For more information, email Stephen Allen or call 1-800-619-7301 ext. 256.
The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), founded in 1944, is the largest ecumenical body in Canada, representing 24 churches of Anglican, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions.
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC) was established in 1972. The CCJC promotes a restorative approach to justice with an emphasis on addressing the needs of victims and offenders, mutual respect, healing, individual accountability, community involvement and crime prevention.
KAIROS unites 11 Canadian churches and religious organizations in a faithful ecumenical response to the call to “do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). KAIROS advocates for social change, amplifying and strengthening the public witness of its members.
Project Ploughshares is an ecumenical agency of the Canadian Council of Churches established in 1976 to implement the churches’ call to be peacemakers and to work for a world in which justice will flourish and peace abound. Project Ploughshares works to identify, develop, and advance approaches that build peace and prevent war, and promote the peaceful resolution of political conflict.