Justice Ministries

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.

Other News

Charmila IrelandIt is with pleasure that the Life and Mission Agency and Project Ploughshares announce the appointment of Ms. Charmila Ireland to an eight-month internship with Project Ploughshares in Waterloo, Ontario. Ms. Ireland is the fifth intern to participate in this partnership between The Presbyterian Church in Canada and Project Ploughshares. Her internship began September 3, 2013.

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.

From June 16-29, Canadian church leaders and delegates participated in a KAIROS-led delegation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC represents one of the world’s worst human rights and humanitarian crises, with shocking levels of gender-based violence. Leadership from Canadian churches, through representation on this delegation, is moved to respond, to witness what is happening on the ground in the DRC, to accompany partners and to demonstrate solidarity.

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.

Click here to learn more

Rick Horst walking with bannerElements 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?

Join us!

“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.

More information

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.

OaxacaFrom 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.

Reflection from KAIROS’ Elements of Justice Gathering

On October 24-27, 2013, 130 people from different denominations gathered in Squamish, British Columbia for KAIROS’ Elements of Justice gathering. Participants were from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. Ten Presbyterians participated. Grounded in biblical teachings, participants learned about ecological justice and Indigenous rights.

Arriving at the cabin, we assumed there was a problem with the septic system. The smell was pungent and rotten. We would later realize that the smell was a part of a lifecycle ending, and another beginning, in the Cheakamus river. The salmon were returning from the ocean to lay their eggs in the same place that their ancestors had been conceived. In response to difficulties faced by wild salmon populations, the Vancouver Outdoor School (now the Cheakamus Centre) has worked to create safe spawning areas for the returning fish—something we were able to see. As the adult fish die in the river, they become food for eagles, seagulls, bears, and a new chapter begins.

The Cheakamus Centre is in Squamish BC, about 90 minutes north of Vancouver. It is surrounded by mountains, rivers and forests. It was an ideal setting for Elements of Justice. This was a place to re-imagine our relationship with the land. It was a place where stewardship was about more than what the land could give us through the oil sands or clear-cut logging. It was about a reciprocal and interconnected relationship with creation. This was a place to re-imagine our relationship with our Indigenous sisters and brothers. It was a place to move beyond misunderstanding and guilt. This was an opportunity to understand how privilege, history and politics shape our social landscape, our relationships with people and the environment, and how through acknowledgment of our past and present, we might find a better future. This gathering was a place where the Holy Spirit hovered over the water; where our songs and psalms mingled with the beat of the drums played by our Squamish neighbours. Our prayers rose to the heavens carried by the ashen smoke of a cedar fire and the cool mist of morning. The heady scent of life and death (and life) in the river filled our noses, and for a moment, it felt as if the land, and our presence in it, were in balance. I felt a hint of the hope that comes in this, the season of Advent.

Ms. Whitney Hanna, Trinity PC, Victoria BC. Ms. Hanna is the administrator for St. Andrew’s PC, Victoria BC.

Building Bridges of Understanding – new energy for peace and friendship

On Sunday, October 6, 2013 several Presbyterians, gathered at Grace United Church in Barrie. The event title was “Building Bridges of Understanding.” The event was organized by the KAIROS Simcoe group. Participants gathered to hear Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux speak about Indigenous rights and some of the current issues Indigenous people face. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux is a member of the Georgina Island First Nation on Lake Simcoe and is the Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON. She finds merit in bringing together people from diverse cultures, ages, and backgrounds to engage in practical dialogue—70 participants gathered into two semi-circles thus proceeded.

The discussion covered several points including: civil society must have a greater understanding of how many of the natural resources have been stripped from Indigenous land, and the dilemmas that confront Indigenous people regarding the protection (or development) of the resources on their land; Indigenous people are developing community leadership grounded in traditional knowledge and spiritual practices; the legacy of policies of assimilation are still felt today; respect for different world views is needed; too many Indigenous girls are captive to the sex trade; treaties must be respected; and land claims must be settled.

Discrimination and racism is present in many communities. She spoke about experiences in Thunder Bay. Derogatory names are a common example of racism, and she recommended the simple and expedient step of putting up posters in public places that depict and encourage inclusion. This is a first step. She highlighted the traditional practices of listening and caring circles as an Indigenous practice that resonates with overcoming racism. She spoke about secondary schools and university programs that organize gatherings between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This initiative contributes to building up a generation of young people who know and respect one another.

Mrs. June Campbell, Essa Road PC, Barrie ON. She is a member of the KAIROS Simcoe Country group.

St. Andrew’s Kingston welcomes the KAIROS-Nation to Nation bike tour

The Nation to Nation Bike Tour is an intercultural youth experience for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to interact face to face, and get to know each other. This tour was in partnership with KAIROS. From July 27 to August 14, a group of more than a dozen young volunteers rode their bikes 300 km along the St. Lawrence River from Akwesasne (near Cornwall, ON) to Tyendinaga (west of Desoronto, ON) in order to learn and teach about Indigenous rights, from the communities they visited and from each other.

In Kingston, they had an opportunity to visit the prison museum and afterward during a picnic lunch at Sir John A. MacDonald outdoor park discussed how the prison system has impacted Indigenous people in Canada. They were joined by an Indigenous elder and a member of the Idle No More movement.

In the evening, at St. Andrew’s PC, the group presented the Blanket Exercise. There was a great response from the church and the wider community. One woman shared her first-hand knowledge of some of the difficulties faced by Indigenous people in Canada, having lived through these experiences herself. Another participant said: “This is a very powerful exercise, I cannot believe it was done with something as basic as a blanket.” Thank you for spending this time with us at St. Andrew’s!

Rev. Tony Boonstra, former interim minister, St. Andrew’s PC, Kingston ON.

 

Healing & Reconciliation

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.

PCC and KAIROSStreams of Justice

Streams of Justice is a twice-annual newsletter that connects Presbyterians across Canada involved in social justice ministry.
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Streams of Justice – Winter 2013-14
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Streams of Justice – Spring 2013
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Streams of Justice – Winter 2012-13
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The PCC and Israel-Palestine

The Presbyterian Church in Canada believes in peace and justice for every person in Palestine and Israel.

International Affairs Committee

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.

Social Action Handbook


Resources

Caring for Creation


Crossing Cultures Together explores the rich ethnic and racial diversity of the church and is a collaboration between Knox College, its Centre for Asian-Canadian Theology and Ministry, and Justice Ministries (Life and Mission Agency) of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Join us as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Crossing Cultures Together on May 5, 2014!
Proceedings from Crossing Cultures Together 2013 may be downloaded here.

Contact

For more information, email Stephen Allen or call 1-800-619-7301 ext. 256.

Ecumenical Partners

Canadian Council of Churches

CCC logoThe 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.

Church Council on Justice and Corrections

CCJC logoThe 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.
Read the e-bulletin “Sage”

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

KAIROS logoKAIROS 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.
Read the quarterly newsletter “KAIROS Times”

Project Ploughshares

Ploughshares logoProject 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.
Read the monthly “Monitor”