Say “Enough” to 50 Years of Occupation | The United Church of Canada

Say “Enough” to 50 Years of Occupation | The United Church of Canada

We are called to unity in action and costly solidarity for a just peace.


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because [God] has annointed me
to bring good news to the poor…
to proclaim release to the captives…
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
(Luke 4:18–19 / Isaiah 61:1–2)

 

Imagine living in your own homeland with no real status. Your movements are controlled by an occupying army, your homes and crops threatened with demolition. Palestinians live under this constant pressure every day, and seek a just peace for a free and abundant future.

June 2017 marks 50 years since the end of the Six-Day War and the beginning of Israeli military occupation in the West Bank. The occupation continues to stifle the aspirations of Palestinians for freedom, dignity, and independence, and to threaten hopes for peace with justice for all people in the region.

In this place where Jesus walked on the earth, walls now separate families, imprisoning those within in a deepening cycle of violence and despair. The occupation has already stolen two generations’ lives, and subsequent generations continue to feel hopelessness and rage.

Luke 4:18–19 describes the year of Jubilee, during which God expects and demands justice to be done. In this Jubilee year, the prophetic voice of the church must not be weaker, but rather stronger. United Church partner Kairos Palestine asks us: “Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love?”

Take Action

Fifty years of occupation is enough. We are called to unity in action and costly solidarity for a just peace.

  1. Mark 50 years of occupation and pray for peace with justice in June.
  2. Write to The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and your member of Parliament. Ask that the Canadian government
    • live out its stated policy on Palestine and Israel, including pressuring the Israeli government to cease all settlement activity
    • intensify diplomatic efforts for a just and lasting peace based on UN resolutions and international law
  3. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #50years, #Israel, #Palestine, #SpiritOfPeace.
  4. Participate in a “Come and See” tour of the region. Future opportunities will be posted on the UCC website.

Background

The United Church of Canada has a long history of working with others to seek peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. This work is rooted in the gospel mandate to be peacemakers and in response to the calls of Palestinian and Israeli partners. Violent acts such as the killing of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, use of excessive force by Israeli police and army against protesters, extrajudicial killings, and collective punishment are obstacles to a just and lasting peace.

The United Church continues to ask the federal government to live out its stated policy on Palestine and Israel, including recognizing

  • the illegality of Israeli settlements
  • violations posed by the route of the Separation Wall
  • the importance of a negotiated resolution to the conflict

Canada should call on Israeli to adhere, without exception, to international law—especially ceasing demolitions and forcible transfers of Palestinian communities such as Susiya and Khan Al Ahmar.

For more information about current activities, see Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Send your letters and e-mails to:

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
E-mail: chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca

Peter Kent
The Conservative Party
E-mail: peter.kent@parl.gc.ca

Hélène Laverdière
New Democratic Party
E-mail: helene.laverdiere@parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party of Canada
E-mail: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Luc Thériault
Bloc Québécois
E-mail: luc.theriault@parl.gc.ca

Your member of Parliament—you can find your MP’s email or postal address by entering your postal code on the Parliament of Canada website.

Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:

Christie Neufeldt
Program Coordinator, Public Witness
416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt@united-church.ca

For more information, contact:

Patti Talbot
Team Leader, Church in Partnership
416-231-7680 ext. 4018
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4018
ptalbot@united-church.ca

Source: Say “Enough” to 50 Years of Occupation | The United Church of Canada

United Church Responds to Khadr Apology | The United Church of Canada

United Church Responds to Khadr Apology | The United Church of Canada

The United Church respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr.

The United Church of Canada respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, for its role in his ordeal that began with his detention by the United States in Afghanistan.

Since 2008, the United Church has written to the federal government on several occasions regarding the miscarriage of justice in the treatment of Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was detained and considered a child soldier under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory. At that time, the church requested that an independent review of the Canadian government’s involvement in Khadr’s detention be implemented.

In a unanimous ruling in 2010, the Supreme Court found Khadr’s human rights were being violated at Guantanamo Bay:

“The deprivation of [Khadr’s] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” the court ruled.

“The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

There is much brokenness in this story. However, as followers of Christ, we find our hope in the power of restorative justice to mend deep divisions between individuals, peoples, and nations.

Source: United Church Responds to Khadr Apology | The United Church of Canada

Climate Change | The United Church of Canada

Climate Change | The United Church of Canada

The Earth is a sacred trust. We recognize God’s call…to draw on the Earth’s sustenance responsibly, and to care for it that all may benefit equitably now and in the future.

—from One Earth Community (1992)

What We Believe

A New Creed calls us “to live with respect in Creation.” Creation is a gift of God, and caring for Creation is a spiritual commitment. We cherish Creation’s rich diversity and respect its inherent value and right to protection.

Climate change impacts us, the local eco-systems of which we are part, and partners the United Church is connected with around the globe. The greatest burden of climate change is falling on people in the Far North and global South—those who have contributed least to the problem.

Indigenous voices in the church remind us that we are called upon to look after Creator’s gifts and to pass along these gifts to our children. We can be part of a just transition to a renewable energy economy by pressuring governments and industries, ending unsustainable overconsumption through lifestyle choices, and working with United Church ministries and partners engaged in climate justice.

What You Can Do

  1. Celebrate Creation in worship, while committing to action for its well-being, with the use of these resources:
  2. Advocate for change to climate change policy with the Canadian government and other decision-makers. Visit Act Now for timely opportunities to take action.
  3. Fast for the Climate. By choosing not to eat on the first day of every month, a growing movement of youth, environmentalists, and people of faith is standing in solidarity with those who are most affected climate change and calling for world leaders to act to stop global warming.
  4. Reduce the environmental impact of your faith community. Faith and the Common Good’s Greening Sacred Spaces initiative offers excellent resources for building sustainable communities.
  5. Learn more about the role people of faith play in climate justice:

Religious leaders in ecumenical celebration for Creation at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, during COP21 climate talks, 2015.
Credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/LWF

The Work of Our Networks and Partners

For more information, contact:

Christie Neufeldt

Program Coordinator, Public Witness

416-231-7680 ext. 4078

1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078

cneufeldt@united-church.ca

Beth Baskin

Program Coordinator, Social Analysis & Congregational Engagement

416-231-7680 ext. 4196

1-800-268-3781 ext. 4196

bbaskin@united-church.ca
Source: Climate Change | The United Church of Canada

Canada 150, through the Lens of Reconciliation | The United Church of Canada

Canada 150, through the Lens of Reconciliation | The United Church of Canada

Thoughts, feelings, and prayers from Indigenous leaders as Canada Day approaches.

Canada Day is coming. Canada 150 celebrations are intensifying. I wonder how Indigenous people are feeling about it all. I asked a few Indigenous friends and leaders in our church: “If someone from one of our non-Indigenous communities of faith asked you about the 150th year of Confederation, what would say? What thoughts or feelings or prayers would you want to share with us?” Here are their responses…

 

Ray Jones

Credit: The United Church of Canada

“One of our Gitxsan metaphors on life is ‘Dim amma gaadinqu mel.’ When your canoe runs aground or flips over, you have to right your canoe and continue the journey. The Canadian society has to right its societal canoe as a big step in reconciliation! Canada 150 is a good place to begin the journey together with us, the Aboriginals. Our churches have to blow the horn on reconciliation, just like Gabriel. This will go a long way in bringing down the walls of racism.”

—Ray Jones,

Hereditary Chief Niis Noolth of the Fireweed/Grouse clan in Gitsegukla, BC

 

Pastor Lawrence V. Sankey

Credit: Kelly Buehler

“Heavenly Father, I thank you for the 150 years you have given Canada… I pray that you continue to watch over and protect our land and to continue to unite the people of the lands so that they can flourish and grow as one nation in body and spirit throughout the land…”

—Pastor Lawrence V. Sankey

Co-chair, Aboriginal Ministries Council, The United Church of Canada

 

Martha Pedoniquotte

Credit: The United Church of Canada

“I would just like to include the words of the Ontario Regional Chief. It is a true sentiment of how I feel as a First Nations person on Canada’s 150 celebration:

AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, chair of the national Chiefs Committee on Health, stated: ‘Canada is celebrating the 150th year of Confederation but far too many of our children and youth cannot even celebrate their own lives. This National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits [held on March 17, 2017] is a reminder that much work needs to be done to end poverty and despair. When our youth are able to see hope for the future then all Canadians will be able to celebrate. This will be true reconciliation.’”

—Martha Pedoniquotte,

Chippewas of Nawash Band Councillor; member of United Church Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools

 

Maggie McLeod, Executive Minister, Aboriginal Ministries and Indigenous Justice, The United Church of Canada, offers some suggestions to the church:

Maggie McLeod

Credit: Richard C. Choe

“Reconciliation begins with recognizing the need to act in new and life-giving ways. Here are three ways in which your community of faith can recognize Canada’s 150th anniversary with the lens of reconciliation:

  • Recognize and give thanks for the abundance that come from this land and all of its peoples.

  • Recognize that Indigenous Peoples are the original peoples, and were the founding peoples of Canada; and that many cultures make up the fabric of the Canadian identity.

  • Recognize the need to reflect and make plans for how we will, over the course of the next 150 years, act to make this country a place of that honours the dignity and well-being of all.”

 

Finally, Adrian Jacobs, Ganosono, Turtle Clan, Cayuga Nation, Six Nations Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Keeper of the Circle, Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, offers the following Twitter feed:

 

These are some thoughts, feelings, and prayers Indigenous friends and relations want our whole church to hear. As we mark Canada 150, we need to contemplate them, share them in our networks, and lift them up in worship on July 2, the Sunday closest to Canada Day. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak and another to hear.”

—David Giuliano, Community Capacity Development Coordinator, Aboriginal Ministries, The United Church of Canada

 

The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.

Source: Canada 150, through the Lens of Reconciliation | The United Church of Canada

Anti-Racism Policy and Belief Statement

Anti-Racism Policy and Belief Statement

As we enter Black History Month, TSP remains committed to principles of anti-racism, and we hold victims of racism in our prayers.

TSP Anti-Racism Belief Statement

We believe that:
• all persons are equal before God.
• the miracle of God’s creation is manifested through our many differences.
• racism is a sin and violates God’s desire for humanity.
• racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
• racism is present in church and society, including TSP, and that throughout time racism has manifested itself in many forms in varying degrees.
• racism is a violation of human rights. It robs all human beings of their wholeness and is used as justification for economic, social, political and spiritual exploitation.
• change is possible through a process of truth-telling, repentance, and justice-making which leads to transformation.
• work for justice is central to our Christian faith and practice.
• just relationships must be reflected in the laws, policies, structures, and practices of both church and society.

The United Church’s Anti-racism Policy.

We believe we are all equal before God.

We believe racism is a sin and violates God’s desire for humanity.

We believe racism is present in our society and in our church, and throughout time has manifested itself in many forms in varying degrees.

We believe that the struggle against racism is a continuous effort. Therefore our anti-racism policy statement is only a first step. It provides the basis for the creation of a church where all are welcome, where all feel welcome, and where diversity is as natural as breathing.

We believe change is possible. We believe in forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation and the potential to learn from stories and experiences.

We believe we are all called to work against racism and for a society in which the words of the Gospel are realized among us.

We believe in a vision of society in which these words of the Gospel are realized:

“It is through faith that all of you are God’s [people] in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ… So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26–28)

 

General Council 42 Happenings

In addition to the important fossil fuel divestment motions passing (see its own great blog post), here are a few other happenings from General Council 42 in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, August 8-14, 2015:

 

Our New Moderator – Jordan Cantwell

Jordan comes to us from River Bend Presbytery (Saskatchewan Conference), and has been connected to the United Church since the late ‘80s when she became involved with social justice movements. Her range of experience includes chairing her presbytery, being a delegate of the United Church at the World Council of Churches Assembly in South Korea, and being on the leadership team of the Saskatchewan All My Relations Network, among other things. Jordan’s sermon at the closing worship of General Council was on Sabbath economics. I see Jordan’s election as a sign of hope as we move forward, as well as reflecting our deep commitment as a church to our justice work.

 

New Ties to other denominations

General Council voted in favour of full communion with the United Church of Christ (USA), as well as mutual recognition of ministry agreements with United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PROK). It will be exciting to see how this new direction in interchurch relations enriches our denomination. What a wonderful thing to celebrate!

 

Justice related motions

In addition to the climate change motions that passed, some of the other motions that passed included: divesting from Goldcorp, calling for action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and promoting the adoption of a national child well-being index. Another motion that passed was to create a living apology for members of LGBTTQ communities – some kind of creative, story-telling based expression to travel across the country.

 

Changes to the United Church of Canada (two congregational remits)

The main focus of General Council was looking at a set of proposals that restructure church governance and try to make it nimble enough for future changes. Aspects that passed include a financial commitments to supporting new ministry initiatives and ongoing dialogue with First peoples.  Another motion that passed was to further explore whether there is interest in the possibility of an “association of ministers” that could provide collegial support for ministers, while a motion that did not pass was to create a College of Ministers.

Two motions were reworked and will now require a category 3 remit – which is a remit that every congregation must vote on. These were, in general terms, to move from a four court structure (board, presbytery, conference, and General Council) to a three council structure (board, regional council and denominational council and to change how the funding works so that Mission & Service solely funds mission & ministry work, with a congregational assessment to fund governance & administration at the regional & denominational councils.

What does this mean for TSP? Two congregational remits will mean the need for congregational study and discussion on the topics, and successful remits will mean shifts in how we relate to the larger church. The new funding structure should create more transparency and understanding of how church money is spent beyond the congregational level, which will be a good thing. We do not yet know what the assessments would be for our congregation. Some changes could potentially begin earlier than the next General Council, since permission has been given for interested conferences to begin putting these motions into practice.

 

One Order of Ministry (a third congregational remit)

There was another motion passed that will require a remit going to all congregations, which rethinks how ordination is understood. It recommends that diaconal ministers and DLMs are ordained, rather than creating divisions between ordained ministers, diaconal ministers, and DLMs. There are mixed feelings about these proposals on the part of all three groups, and many consider the chance for continued study in this remit process to be important. Once again, it is another big topic for TSP congregants to discuss and vote on over the next few years. (As an aside, there could have been as many as 5 congregational remits coming out of GC42, so this is not quite as much work as I had thought it could be. I hope all these remits will be opportunities for discussions about how we live out our faith in many different ways.)