Social Justice Commitment
for Church of the Ascension
This Social Justice Commitment is a response to the Gospel call to bear witness to God’s healing love in a broken world. Inspired by a vision of a spirit-filled community of hope, Church of the Ascension seeks to share in the creation of a more just and peaceful world. Ascension strives to make a positive impact in a world of suffering through a theology of action in response to God’s call.
We believe in the importance of cultivating hope and joy as an integral part of faith-based action. Through our work, we strive to act as a leaven in the world, to lift up and promote something new and holy. Ascension seeks to affirm the glory of God’s creation and to share God’s abundant love with others both materially and spiritually.
We believe that God’s love, and the peace that flows from it, can be found only in right relationships. Be it at the local, regional or global level, we seek to build community by supporting and aligning with the poor and the oppressed in their struggle for justice, seeking to uphold God’s inclusive call to promote the dignity of all human beings.In the preparation of this Social Justice Commitment, we acknowledge the guiding principles laid out by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, an agency of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Commitment goes on to outline specific actions in the following areas: Politics, Environment, Equity, and International Aid and Development.
Photos – Clean & Green
Keeping up the tradition of lousy weather as we participate
in the annual Clean & Green litter pickup on Earth Day.
Some Projects on the Go
Stewardship of land: Ascension is blessed with a four-acre (1.6-hectare) property of which we are currently using half. The Social Justice Team has agreed to take the lead in helping the congregation find a missional use for the other half. We are seeking a community organization that might build affordable housing on this land.
Friendship with Zion Oneida and St. Andrew’s, Chippewa of the Thames:
We come together regularly to build a relationship with churches among the nearby First Nations and to learn more about their lives and views.
HIV/AIDS Pandemic: We have encouraged members of the congregation to fill up old jars, which we call “Granny Jars”, with loose change that is then donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The foundation uses the money to assist grandmothers in Africa who are raising grandchildren orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. At least $200 in change is collected every three months. Watch News for the next collection date.
Water: We were concerned about the use of bottled water at the church and how that contributes to the privatization of an essential, life-giving resource and to pollution through the production and sometimes inappropriate disposal of plastic bottles. We have convinced Parish Council to ban the sale of bottled water at the church and are pleased that pitchers of city tap water are now offered at most church events.
Blessing of same-sex unions: The worldwide Anglican Communion is wrestling with the place of gay and lesbian Christians within our churches, an issue that has led to much tension and strong politicking. In Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004, the debate within the Anglican church revolves around whether it is right to bless same-sex civil unions. We have worked within our congregation to open discussion in a thoughtful, respectful and caring environment. You might consider reading this pdf of Mel White’s What the Bible Says — and Doesn’t Say — About Homosexuality. Links to the Anglican Church of Canada’s many years of reports and resolutions on this issue can be found here.
Peacemaking in Palestine
by Nancy, an Ascension church member
We believe that God is present
In the darkness before dawn;
In the waiting and uncertainty
Where fear and courage join hands,
Conflict and caring link arms,
And the sun rises over barbed wire.
We believe in a with-us God
Who sits down in our midst
To share our humanity.
We affirm a faith
That takes us beyond the safe place:
Into action, into vulnerability
And into the streets.
We commit ourselves to work for change
And put ourselves on the line;
To bear responsibility, take risks,
Love powerfully and face humiliation;
To stand with those on the edge;
To choose life
And be used by the Spirit
For God’s new community of hope.
Iona Abbey worship book pg 109
I first heard this expression of faith last fall when I was living with the Iona Community – an ecumenical Christian group – on an island off the coast of Scotland. It expresses so clearly how I want to live my life. The same week I first heard this affirmation I also heard of a program called “Accompaniers”. These are people who are present with the everyday Palestinians as they are struggling to live their lives in the middle of intense conflict. Accompaniers are non-violent observers who walk with the Palestinians, act as witnesses to unfair practices and report such offences. Their presence is often enough to deter acts of violence.
Over the past eight months I have met with local people who have experience in this type of action in Palestine and I have read a lot more about the Israel-Palestine situation. As a result I have applied and been accepted as a part of a twelve-person delegation from Christian Peacemakers Team that will be in Israel and Palestine for two weeks in October. Christian Peacemaker Teams is a project of the Mennonite and Quaker churches.
The first few days of the delegation will be spent meeting with Israeli and Palestinian groups in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Then my group will spend time with CPT’s team in Hebron. There I will be part of a team that will among other things document human rights conditions, take part in street patrols and meet with residents who will share further information about the situation they face. A non-violent public witness that challenges structural injustices generally comes near the end of the delegation. I am told living conditions will be basic.
I will say many friends and family members question my decision. They worry about my safety. My son in particular is very vocal in his opposition to my plans, but I feel confident in being part of the CPT group who are experienced in the area and in non-violent action. However I am asking you to keep the entire Middle East in your prayers and with me reaffirm a determination “to put ourselves on the line; to bear responsibility, take risks, love powerfully and face humiliation; to stand with those on the edge; to choose life and be used by the Spirit for God’s new community of hope. Amen.”