Doing Justice

Living Justly: A Conversation with Christian Trans* Advocate Tori Phillips

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(In the above photo, Tori Phillips is on the top left.)

By Rachel Vroege, DMC Staff

Note: DMC has recently launched a new LGBTQ+ vulnerable people group webpage. To see the webpage, click hereTo see the previous blog post explaining this webpage, click here.

I first met Tori just over a year ago after a New Direction gathering at Vancouver First CRC. Tori is a Trans* woman and a Christian who attends Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship in New Westminster, British Columbia. She is passionate about the Church, helping churches to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and breaking down the barriers that lead LGBTQ+ people to feel marginalized in the church.

Meeting Tori changed my life and opened my eyes to the barriers experienced by Trans* people both within and without the church. When I opened my heart to Tori to learn more about the experiences of Trans* people I came face to face with the reality of what it means to live justly.

Tori graciously agreed to chat with me about the barriers and challenges that exist and how the church and deacons can reach out to make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Rachel: What does the term Trans* mean, and why the asterisk?

Tori: Trans* is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. Trans (without the asterisk) can be intentionally used to describe trans men and trans women, while the asterisk makes special note in an effort to include all transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming identities.

Rachel: What is the most compelling justice concern facing LGBTQ+ people in society?

Tori: A 2013 National Report stated that at least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year and that youth account for 20% of the homeless. An estimated 25% to 40% of homeless youth are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or transgender. A third of trans* youth are rejected from shelters.

This occurs because LGBTQ+ youth face ridicule and non-acceptance in their families and communities, in particular those who are gender neutral and fluid. Due to family conflict after coming out, many LGBTQ+ youth are kicked out of their homes.

Trans* people are often turned away from food banks when they don’t look the same as the gender listed on their ID.

Although we have this information, there is still minimal support available to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in Canada. The church can be a voice for the weakest in society.

Rachel: How can churches help Trans* people to feel like they are welcome and belong in their faith community?

Tori: It’s hard to walk through the doors of a church not knowing what kind of reception you will get. Will people stare? Will they whisper? It’s not very comfortable. Gender-neutral bathrooms are one way churches can communicate hospitality and welcome.

Rachel: What does biblical justice mean to you?

Tori: The golden rule—“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12), or in medical terminology: “do no harm.” Justice for LGBTQ+ looks like a place in society—to work, to pay taxes, to have dignity. Justice is to be heard, to have a place at the table.

Rachel: What would you like people to know about you (as a Trans* person)?

Tori:  That beyond being Trans*, I live a normal life—I’m a parent to two young men aged 25 and 27, I work in automotive parts, I have a wife, Elaine, and a cat. That God designed diversity and I’m just another person with a soul, a soul well worth reaching out to with compassion and care.


 

For many Christians, especially those of us within the Christian Reformed tradition, interviews like these may raise feelings of indignation, guilt, or even anger. The LGBTQ+ issue is one that frequently divides families and churches. However, if we are to be taking a posture of humility and compassion, we cannot immediately dismiss these words as blasphemous or irreverent. We must journey alongside our Christian siblings, regardless of their sexual or gender orientation.

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14: 13)

If your diaconate or church is looking to get involved or start the conversation about LGBTQ+ persons, or if you have questions or comments about this piece, please feel free to email DMC’s Justice Mobilizer at dgalenkamp@crcna.org, or comment below.

Black History Month and Racism in Canada

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In Canada, February is Black History Month, an event that has existed since 1995 to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Canadians with African or Caribbean heritage.

At DMC, we thought it would be good to interview someone with Caribbean heritage. So, we approached Bernadette Arthur, Race Relations Coordinator for the Office of Race Relations in Canada.

Racism, and how we respond to the diversity of races and cultures in our churches and society, is a piece of the ever-elusive notion of Biblical justice.

Where are your parents from?
Both of my parents are from Trinidad and immigrated here in their youth. I was born in Canada. Even though I was born here, I’m very much connected to my Trinidadian cultural heritage.

What’s unique about Trinidadian culture?
The things that distinguish Trinidadian culture are music—soca and calypso music—these genres are part of our cultural narrative and are used to tell stories. As with most cultures, food and community play a large role. We are a people who enjoy life and are known for having one of the biggest carnivals in the world.

What about your educational background?
My educational background is in human behaviour—child and youth studies as well as psychology—although a lot of my learning has been self-directed. I’ve always been aware of the skin colour that I live in, but I began a personal journey of awareness when, in my mid-twenties, I was on an evaluation team for a pilot program that addressed the challenges that Afro-Caribbean Canadian youth experienced in the criminal justice system. I started to read anthologies and books on the history of slavery, and through this, I became more aware of the discrimination and racism faced by black people in North America. As time progressed, I entered into the Christian Community Development realm, and this allowed me to really see the links between racism and poverty. Through my affiliation with Communities First Association, I was able to sit at racial reconciliation tables and attend professional development trainings and workshops on racial equity.  These invaluable experiences occurred on American soil and prompted me to find the answer to the question: “what does racism look like in Canada?”

In Canada, February is Black History Month—what are your thoughts on it? What are the strengths of celebrating a month this way? Are there weaknesses?
Black History Month is a two-sided coin. On one side, it raises awareness of the contributions and achievements that Canadians of African descent have made, while on the other side, its presence demonstrates that the Black Canadian narrative is still on the fringes of Canadian history. It is a reality that has not yet been woven into the predominant narrative. To tell the whole story is to share the Black, Asian, Aboriginal (among other) experiences equally with the White experience, and understand how these have all shaped Canada today.

People often talk about how racism no longer exists in Canada, and that we’ve moved past it. What are your thoughts? Does racism still exist?
When we speak of racism, we are speaking about more than just prejudices and stereotypes. We are speaking about oppression and inequality, of entire groups of people who are unable to access the same resources and opportunities as those in the dominant culture. Racism is systemic. In Canada, racism is subtle and covert but still very much alive.  

“As Christians, we are called to celebrate the diversity that God has given his image-bearers.” This is an agreeable sentiment—and statements like it are often heard in the church—but it lacks practicality. What are some practical ways that deacons can encourage their congregations to actively seek racial reconciliation?
If we actually lean into the idea of being image-bearers, then we have to learn how to celebrate His image, and that means how His image is fully expressed in ALL of us. How do we do this? We expose ourselves to the cultural narratives of others for the purpose of understanding and appreciating how these cultures further inform the richness and complexity of God.  This can be done through listening to stories, watching films, reading books, using new musical instruments, learning how others worship, eating new and different foods—and doing all of these things with an eye on our discomfort. This means asking ourselves, “Why do these new things make me inherently uncomfortable? Are there ways where my personal preferences and biases are prohibiting my understanding of what it means to be created in God’s image?”

What about the CRC’s Office of Race Relations—where do they come into play? What do they do?
The Office of Race Relations exists to facilitate and encourage conversations regarding inclusion, diversity, and racial reconciliation. I want to stress that facilitating these conversations is much less about checking something a training off of the list and much more about continuing in the daily, monthly, and yearly journey of reconciliation.

Many of the activities that Race Relations facilitates are contextualized and malleable depending on the situation. Some of the new resources we’re offering are Community Learning Conversations, which create safe spaces for open dialogue, and Racial Reconciliation Journeys, which are trips to historical and contemporary sites related to racial reconciliation.

For more information on how your church can be involved contact DMC’s Justice Mobilizer, Dan Galenkamp, at dgalenkamp@crcna.org, or Bernadette Arthur, Race Relations Coordinator in Canada, at barthur@crcna.org.

A Conversation with John Schuurman

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Shalom is the first thing that comes to mind,” he says, in between bites of potato leek soup. “When I think of justice, I think of the Lord’s shalom, especially as it relates to those who are oppressed—including creation.”

John Schuurman says these words with a quiet confidence, not realizing how profound they sound off the cuff. He proceeds to cite Matthew 25 and Isaiah 62 as inspiration for his words.

All I had to do was ask him what he thought justice was in a sentence or two.

John is a 22-year-old and a recent graduate from Redeemer University College. He also recently took part in a LEAP internship program. LEAP stands for Linked Engagement Action Programs, a three-year collaborative initiative between three agencies: World Renew, Christian Reformed World Missions, and the Office of Social Justice.

John and I met during the week for lunch and a conversation. I intended to hear about his experiences as a Congregational Justice and Missions Mobilizer with Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario; Instead, I left feeling refreshed and inspired—John really has a passion for his work!

LEAP—a pilot project that ends this year—is a program for young adults between the ages of 14-30, and its aim is to increase the commitment of young people in the church, specifically through engagement in missions as global citizens. In short, John was responsible for educating, raising awareness, and mobilizing his congregation for advocacy in their community—not to mention challenging them to delve deeper and discern their attitude towards global missions.

“I had to backtrack my theories about community development and missions,” he says. “I had to reconnect these ideas back to my faith. Coming from a university setting, it was difficult at the beginning [of the internship] to talk about justice in simple terms, until I began to remember the connections between justice and faith, and how foundational justice is to our faith.”

John worked full-time for two months (July and August), and part-time for the subsequent four months (September to December). He was responsible for educating the church on issues of poverty and urban ministry, especially through speaking engagements and workshops. These were intended for youth and young adult groups, as well as larger, intergenerational groups. Usually, these took place through Sunday evening conversations with the congregation or weeknight meetings with the youth group.

He also was to act as an intermediary to ministries already nearby Immanuel CRC by helping to build relationships and partnerships among the congregation and ministries.

John’s personal highlight was going on a weekend retreat with Immanuel’s youth group. This retreat was held in downtown Hamilton, with the youth sleeping overnight in Wentworth Baptist Church, taking part in a prayer walk, and learning about various urban ministries—and how they could be a part of them—through a street tour.

In John’s words: “The youth were much more insightful, engaged, and passionate than I thought they would be!”

However, there were challenges as well.

“Looking back, I wish I had tried to better connect with Immanuel’s deacons. There was a little bit of collaboration, but I probably only engaged with the tip of the iceberg.”

At the end of the hour, I ask John what his next steps are. Besides working at The Bridge—a transitional program for men who have been incarcerated and are reintegrating into the community—he is open to the work of the Spirit.

“I don’t know what’s next,” he says. “But I’m open to living a life led by God.”

Perhaps our youth and young adults have much more to offer us than we think they do, and perhaps, as deacons, we could incorporate them further in our diaconates.

What do you think? Feel free to post comments below. If you’d like to continue the conversation, contact DMC’s Justice Mobilizer, Dan Galenkamp, at dgalenkamp@crcna.org.

CC Image courtesy Lars Lundqvist (@arkland_swe) on Flickr

LGBTQ+ Christians and Your Church: 5 Steps Towards Hospitality

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The above photo, “Reykjavik Pride”, is copyright (c) 2009 Lars Lundqvist and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

“Responses to the question ‘Do you ever hear comments from church members that you believe would be offensive to people in your congregation who are attracted to the same sex?’ were . . . alarming: 61 percent of responding ministers said they had heard offensive comments from congregants, and 75 percent of non-heterosexual (self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or same-sex attracted) respondents in the whole survey reported hearing offensive comments from church members.”

—The Report to Synod 2016 (CRC) from the Committee to Provide Pastoral Guidance re Same-sex Marriage

Before I begin, I would like to emphasize that the goal of this post is to start the conversation and provide a basis for further dialogue, not provide a posture to take towards LGBTQ+ persons. I am basing this goal on the church’s mandate of respect and dignity for all people through Christ.

Gay, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer—the list could be longer if we included more derogatory terms—these are terms that are often muttered under people’s breath. In our church communities, LGBTQ+ people often do not find the sense of “safety” that churches are meant to host. For them, there is not always freedom from the fear of slander, put-downs, or hurtfully ignorant comments.

For those of you scratching your heads, LGBTQ+ stands for:

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bi-sexual
  • Transexual or transgender
  • Queer (or questioning)
  • And others who label themselves differently (the plus sign)

(For a more in-depth description of the acronym, click here.)

It’s not that the church doesn’t care about LGBTQ+ persons. We—as the church—pride ourselves in our ability to be hospitable. However, while we are excellent at offering hospitality to those already among us, we aren’t always the best at offering it to those who are different.

And this is the rub: there are likely LGBTQ+ Christians sitting with us on Sundays. So why aren’t we talking about it?

It’s because it’s uncomfortable, and as a denomination we have been known to oppose what most people simply call “homosexuality.” But, as this post hopefully demonstrates—there is far more to homosexuality than just a term.

At Diaconal Ministries Canada, we have been talking about this justice issue for nearly a year. Part of that year-long process was research towards building a new webpage for responding to LGBTQ+ people, regardless of whether they’re in the church or not.

So, without further ado, here are five steps that you and your church can take to be more welcoming to LGBTQ+ persons:

  1. Dig a little deeper. If you are straight, think beyond your own experiences and try to put yourself in the shoes of an LGBTQ+ person. Would you enjoy attending church? Would you feel welcome? Think about creating a Generous Space Group at your church (or with a group of churches).
  1. Listen to people’s stories. It’s easy to talk theology, but a lot harder to apply it in real life. It’s pointless to either affirm or not affirm positions relating to LGBTQ+ minority groups without hearing their stories first.
  1. Question your assumptions. It’s simple to assume that your theological views should apply to other people. Challenge your conclusions, and leave room for the Holy Spirit to work. It’s impossible for us, as humans, to absolutely know how God will work in a person’s life, especially a life on the margins. It’s also likely that an LGBTQ+ person is just as passionate about scripture and theology as yourself—not to mention they’ve probably had to endure a more intense struggle with certain aspects of that theology.
  1. Take LGBTQ+ people off of the podium. Homosexuality is not a sin to be put on a pedestal. If we are to be confronting homosexuality, how about we confront adultery, pornography, lust, and rape? We are all broken and sinful—accepting our own human condition is an important step towards accepting others, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+.
  1. Develop committed relationships, and learn how to journey together! This is the most crucial step anyone can take towards welcoming LGBTQ+ persons. By developing a relationship, the initial welcoming begins to include a degree of sustainability. Hospitality and justice are similar in this sense: they both require relationships, and relationships require transformation to be sustainable and fruitful.

Want to know more about justice and how to help your congregation live justly? Contact Dan Galenkamp, DMC’s Justice Mobilizer, at dgalenkamp@crcna.org.

For more information on LGBTQ+ people and how you can respond as a deacon, visit DMC’s LGBTQ+ webpage.

Visualizing Restorative Justice (Part Two): An Infographic

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While brainstorming for my next post on restorative justice, I ended up taking some time to create this infographic based on an appendix in Howard Zehr’s The Little Book of Restorative Justice.

Take some time to look through it, and feel free to print it off. I think that this list provides some excellent reminders on living justly.

–Dan

For more info on restorative justice, visit our restorative justice webpage, or contact Dan, DMC’s Justice Mobilizer, at dgalenkamp@crcna.org

The Freedom Climb: Getting Uncomfortable for God’s Precious Children

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In July 2014 I had the privilege of travelling to Colorado from my home province of Saskatchewan. There I joined about 70 other women, from 6 different countries, for “The Freedom Climb”!  We summited 7 mountains, each of them over 14,000 feet elevation, in 4 days. We were dizzy from the altitude, with aching muscles and blistered feet. However, we were also filled with joy, gratitude, and an overwhelming sense of God’s presence.

Why would I, a stay-at-home mom to 3 preschool children, choose to do this?  Because by participating in The Freedom Climb, I have the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of women and children around the world who are suffering in ways that I cannot begin to imagine in my comfortable life. Our climb up the mountains is symbolic of the difficult, treacherous climb to freedom faced by victims of human trafficking around the world today.

The Freedom Climb is a project of Operation Mobilization, and the purpose is to create greater awareness and promote significant advocacy against modern day oppression, slavery and exploitation in the world. Participants commit to raising funds and awareness for various projects that specifically prevent, rescue, and restore victims of human trafficking.

During our time in Colorado, we had the opportunity to learn more about some of the Freedom Climb projects from individuals who are actually working in Zambia, Guatemala, and India. Their stories are heart breaking! The need is real! These projects are providing vulnerable women with occupational training so they can have sustainable income; they are providing vulnerable children with a hot meal and help with their homework; they are educating families about options other than ritualized prostitution for their young daughters.  Most importantly, they tell people about God’s love, and the saving grace of Jesus.

The first Freedom Climb took place in 2012 when a group climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and since then the Freedom Climb has taken place in several different countries. 2016 will see the Freedom Climb coming to Canada for the first time! In August 2016, women will be gathering in Fernie B.C. to climb in the beautiful Canadian Rockies.

It has been a joy and an honor for me to participate in the Freedom Climb. I am excited to be climbing again next summer in Fernie.  I believe that by raising funds and awareness through this great cause, I am obeying God’s call to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”   (Proverbs 31: 8-9 NLT)

If you are interested in joining us in Fernie next summer, I encourage you to pray about it, and step out in faith and obedience.  Women of various ages and fitness levels can survive and thrive on the mountains! This is an opportunity to stretch ourselves, get uncomfortable, and be a voice for God’s precious children whose voices are not heard in our world. The links below have more information, including details about registration. I am also available to discuss my experience and answer any questions!

-written by Karen Jacobi, deacon and member of Bethel CRC in Saskatoon, SK

The Freedom Climb: www.thefreedomclimb.net

www.om.org (Registration information about Fernie 2016 under “Events” tab)

Karen Jacobi- Karen_nauta@hotmail.com

Visualizing Restorative Justice (Part One): Tapestries, Spider-webs, and Doilies

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“Restorative justice” is a phrase that sounds very nice.

It likely conjures up images of people smiling, of sunlight pouring through windows, of trees swaying in the wind—the stuff of daydreams. On the other hand, some might think of courtrooms, prisons, prisoners, lawyers and judges. Yet still others might think of “talking circles”, victim-offender conferences, truth-telling, and reconciliation.

It’s a concept that some Christians—including myself—advocate for. But, simultaneously, it’s also a concept that many Christians find vague, or confusing.

So what exactly is restorative justice?

In modern Western society, restorative justice is movement that began in the 1970s as a response to the North American criminal justice system.

In my experience, people hear the phrase and inherently know that it is a positive idea. Restorative justice is just that: justice with restoration in mind.

As Howard Zehr—one of the founders of the restorative justice movement and prolific professor at The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in Harrisonburg, Virginia—puts it so eloquently: “Restorative justice is an approach to achieving justice that involves, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense or harm to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations in order to heal and put things as right as possible” (page 48, The Little Book of Restorative Justice).*

But this is only Zehr’s attempt to define a large and complex concept. One of my majors in university was English, and I know that a powerful way to reach others is through stories and metaphors. So, let me provide a helpful illustration.

When I think of restorative justice, I think of tapestries, spider-webs, and doilies.

Tapestries are thick pieces of woven fabric with pictures and designs woven into them through the use of colourful threads. Imagine with me that our entire world is a massive tapestry, and that each person is a thread that makes up the whole. We are connected to certain other threads, and a group of threads can make up a picture in the tapestry, each picture being a community.

In the same way, our relationships with one another are like spider-webs and doilies. If the whole world were a spider-web, each person would exist at an intersection of strands; if this earth of ours were a doily, each person would be interlaced with a group of other persons, and each crisscrossing of thread would be a community.

The key here being that we are all interconnected. As imagebearers of God, we are designed to interact with one another—we are the body of Christ, after all. God desires us to have fruitful relationships with one another, and part of this fruitfulness can start with the understanding and implementation of restorative justice.

I want to bring back the last part of Zehr’s quote: the goal of restorative justice, and of justice itself, is “to put things as right as possible.” This is exactly what is behind the Biblical principle of shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace.” We are to be putting things as right as possible with each other, specifically in our relationships.

Restorative justice and shalom go hand-in-hand.

–Dan Galenkamp

For more information on restorative justice, visit our Restorative Justice webpage, or get in touch with DMC’s Justice Mobilizer, Dan Galenkamp, at dgalenkamp@crcna.org

A second part to this post, with more concrete examples of restorative justice, will be posted in the coming month.

*Quote taken from Howard Zehr’s The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Good Books, 2002).

 

Responding to God’s Call to “Do Justice”

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“I was listening to the Lord and to my heart.”

This is how the Safe Room along the Highway of Tears came about. A simple tugging on the heart and, as Bart Plugboer would testify, when you listen, God will use that to do good.

Bart Plugboer is the Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) for Classis British Columbia North-West. Last January, DMDs from across Canada met together in Abbotsford, BC, to share with and learn from each other. During that time, Bart asked for prayer around the “Highway of Tears,” a 724-kilometer stretch of road between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia. While this nickname at first may sound like hyperbole, it represents real pain and sorrow that many residents in northern BC have experienced.

Between the years 1989 and 2006, nine young women went missing or were found murdered along this stretch of Highway 16. By 2007, the RCMP had expanded their investigation of disappeared or murdered women to eighteen. Local residents maintain that there were, and still are, unofficial and unreported disappearances. The debate continues, but the vast majority of people in the northern part of the province believes the disappearances amount to over 30 women, many of which are of aboriginal descent. Some even say over 40.

Regardless of the evidence under investigation or an accurate figure, the reality of the injustice on this length of road remains. As followers of Jesus, we are called to do more than stand idly by. Bart believes that, too. The five Christian Reformed Churches that he serves as a DMD are all along this stretch of highway. So when, as Bart says, “the Lord put on my mind that I should do something about this,” he began to talk to the RCMP and local motels to work with him in establishing a Safe Room along this route. They agreed. Now, if RCMP officers see someone hitchhiking past 7:30 p.m., or need a safe place for a victim of domestic violence, they will put that person up in the room for the night.

Bart’s heart for justice and the way he lives it out is one example of how all Christians are called to “do justice” in their community. As Bart says, “all in God’s love I can do this.”

Will you, like Bart, listen to the Lord and to your heart, and allow God’s love to help you respond to injustice?
Diaconal Ministries Canada will get you and your church started. Contact our Justice Mobilizer, Dan Galenkamp (dgalenkamp@crcna.org) and check out our online resources.

The Refugee Crisis and the CRC Response

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The following was sent out by the CRCNA Communications:

With the refugee crisis on many people’s minds, questions have come in to various agency and ministry staff about what the CRC is doing to help.

A number of communication items have recently gone out from our office to address the refugee crisis and how churches can respond to the issue and to the needs of refugees.

To keep you all informed, here is a link to the letter that went to churches throughout Canada: Announcement: Refugee Issues and Resources

In addition, bulletin announcements went to all Canadian churches:

REFUGEE RESOURCES – The local church needs to consider its approach to the refugee crisis. Especially considering Iraq and Syria, we have the opportunity to get engaged. Understand how your church can serve the stranger in your midst by visiting the ‘Refugee Issues web portal’ on the CRC Canada page at www.crcna.org/Canada/social-justice-canada/refugee-issues. There your church will find everything from worship resources to small group studies, an online video for worship settings, and even a doorway to sponsor a refugee.

SYRIA CONFLICT RESPONSE – World Renew is responding to the horrific violence that has torn apart the Middle East and forced millions of people to become refugees. For more than three years, World Renew has been providing food and other assistance to displaced families in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Please help us continue this ministry. Gifts received from Canadians by December 31 will qualify for a 1:1 match from the Canadian government. Call 1-800-730-3490, visit www.worldrenew.net/donate or mail your gift marked, “World Renew Syria Conflict,” to World Renew, 3475 Mainway, STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON L7R 3Y8. Those interested in helping refugee families as they begin a new life in Canada, should contact Rebecca Walker (rwalker@worldrenew.net).

Various news stories have also gone out about the refugee crisis:

Tragic Images Spur Mobilization on Syrian Refugees

CRC Helps to Resettle Syrian Refugees (also posted on CRCNA Facebook page)

Canadian Government to Match Donations for Syrian Refugee Crisis

As well, we have been working with partners of the CRC; the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the World Council of Reformed Churches have all promoted our content.

(photo from a workshop and toolkit that seeks to help Christian citizens work with their refugee neighbours for justice. Find out more from the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue)

Meet DMC’s new Justice Mobilizer!

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I’m Dan Galenkamp, the new Justice Mobilizer for DMC. As a recent graduate of Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, I’ve been eager on finding work that incorporates my faith and my enthusiasm for helping others.

I have a real passion for justice and reconciliation. From the humble beginnings of a high school law class—where I learned about the concept of restorative justice—to the end of my time at Redeemer, I have found myself with a keen interest in how I can help those less fortunate and those in need. I recently led a group of high school graduates in a discipleship training program that culminated with a month of volunteer work in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We worked with families at a youth drop-in centre in the low-income area of Belfast, led school assemblies and church programs, interacted with the homeless, and learned how to properly articulate our faith to others.

I have high hopes for the Christian Reformed Church. I believe we have been called to manifest God’s kingdom here on earth, and a large part of this is in the area of justice. To me, the chief responsibility of those seeking justice is to bring about the Lord’s shalom, or peace. This requires reconciliation in our relationships with each other, with ourselves, with creation, and with God to the way they were intended to be.

I look forward to working with the team at DMC to help empower communities and deacons all over Canada.

Connect with Dan at dgalenkamp@crcna.org