By Colleen Sym
Published: October 2008
Related Topics: Social Justice
"The world now has the means to end extreme poverty, we pray we will have the will." ("The Counting Prayer" – www.countingprayers.org)
In September 2000, world leaders came together in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The Millennium Declaration is a blueprint to reduce extreme poverty. The Millennium Development Goals are the targets to be reached and the timetable is 2015.
We are half way to 2015. We are not half way to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Once again in September 2008, world leaders met in New York to renew their commitments to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to set out the next steps for action.
This past summer, when church leaders met at Lambeth they concluded in the Human and Social Justice Indaba Reflection that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) are "an essential framework for engaging with social justice issues across the Communion at Provincial, Diocesan and Parish level." They called for a day of prayer and fasting and witness on 25th September 2008 to coincide with that special session of the United Nations.
Faith communities can play a vital role in translating the moral imperative of the MDG's into concrete action. This may not be a role that we are comfortable with or can easily embrace. The Church leaders realized that we need to help each other to engage with and act upon the Millennium Development Goals as best as we can.
However, in doing so, we must be mindful that those we seek to help are not the object of the MDG's, but must be our partners and the co-designers of the steps for action and change. They must shape their own future. We must also not forget that even in the most developed of countries, such as Canada, we are far from eradicating poverty and social exclusion.
Education on the issues is essential to be able to live out our faith in Christ in a way which demonstrates our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. It was recognized at Lambeth that there needs to be education at every level (in the diocese, parish, theological institutions and schools), formally and informally, on social justice issues regularly and systematically.
One way we are doing this in our Diocese is through the 2010 Justice Camp – Community Justice Camp – Live the Change You Want to See. The goal of the camp is to better equip us and empower us to be agents of change working towards the ending of injustice and the restoration of right relationship with God and between human beings and between humanity and creation.
The success of the Camp depends on the involvement of the parishes, individuals, groups, justice partners and local organizations in Niagara.
The Community Justice Camp orientation workshop is on Saturday, October 18, 2008. To register call Christyn Perkons at 905-527-1316 x 460 by October 8, 2008.
By Colleen Sym
Published: July 2010
Related Topics: Social Justice
Community Justice Camp; Live the Change You Want to See has come and gone but the impact continues to reverberate across Canada as well as abroad. Eighty campers spent a week resting their weary bones at the Mary Keyes Residence at McMaster University after days filled with outstanding plenary speakers, experience-oriented site visits in their immersion groups, reflection groups, and worship. The highlights campers identified were the relationships they developed amongst themselves; the experiences at various sites across the Diocese as well as Toronto and the Kitchener area; the engagement with people who 'get' the integration between charity, justice and community; and a growing sense of the significance of partnering with people in order to change our world. Many campers commented on the depth and breadth of the new knowledge they had acquired as well as the advocacy and community development skills they were taking home.
The Diocese of Niagara shone that week! While campers breakfasted at McMaster, they were fueled on the rest of their justice journey thanks to the gracious volunteers of the following parishes; St. Luke's, Burlington; St. John's, Ancaster; St. Christopher's, Burlington; St. Paul's, Westdale; Christ's Church Cathedral; St. Alban's, Hamilton; St. Paul's, Fort Erie; and St. James, Dundas as well as The Mother's Union. Volunteers from our parishes chauffeured Camp participants to and from airports, train and bus stations in the wee hours of the morning and the late hours of the evening. Finally, many of the Immersion Groups and Reflection Groups were led by home-grown facilitators who worked with community partners to provide what many campers called a life changing experience.
They headed home enriched through connecting and learning with those with lived experience of social injustice, those who advocate for justice, and those who reflected with them. Those enlightening experiences coupled with Friday's reflections on next steps have sent campers, ranging in age from 19 to 71, home to engage their communities and partner organizations in justice work; home to Cuba, Charlottetown, Burundi, Montreal, Beamsville, Winnipeg, Peterborough, Halifax, Fonthill, Ottawa, Corner Brook, Nepean, Rockwood, Lachine, Ancaster, Waswanipi, Oakville, Kentville, Toronto, Georgetown, Mississauga, Burlington, Terra Cotta, Toronto and other communities across Canada.
The goal of the planning team for Community Justice Camp was to enable individuals and communities of faith to become agents of transformation and reconciliation. The Rev. Bill Mous (co-leader of the Environment Immersion Group) observes, "Not only have we equipped and inspired 80 participants from across Canada and the world to do justice in their local communities, but we've also laid the groundwork for establishing a strong reputation for the Diocese of Niagara as a leader in social justice issues by engaging with somewhere between 80-100 social justice organizations in southern Ontario through our immersion experiences." We have planted the seeds—may the harvest transform our world!
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