“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from
the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus,
for he will save his people from their sins.”
( Matthew 1:20-21 )
Friends in Justice,
Beneath the decorations and celebrations, Christmas is a call to listen – like Joseph – to the dream of the spirit that tells us to put away fear and follow the path that leads to new birth and transformation. The word “sin” often comes freighted with negative moral judgments. But it can be found readily enough in the multiple forms of greed, violence and injustice that are all too prevalent around the world. Born to migrant parents into circumstances of poverty, Jesus embodied an alternative vision of how to live. The extraordinary message of that birth posed a threat to the oppressive superpowers of the day, and proposed a radical new path of nonviolence, equity and inclusiveness. Our world today is rife with power-hungry Caesars and Herods wielding military and economic control to protect dominant interests, while those at the margins struggle for survival. As we read and grasp the stories of Christ’s birth, let us find ways to be the continuing embodiment of the way of Jesus for our broken world.
This will be the last Justice Newsletter of the year! Wishing all a peace-filled Christmas and a hope-filled New Year. See you in 2023!
(A weekly production filled with reconciliation news and events, prepared by Kaisa McCandless at St. Andrews Wesley United Church).
Regional Archives Digitization Project
From Blair Galston, Regional Archivist:
November 8th was a very special day at the Regional Archives. Musqueam Elder Shane Pointe [far right in image] led a smudging ceremony to help our Archives begin a significant project. The project is part of a multi-phase digitization project of the national United Church Archives, grounded in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the TRC Calls to Action. We’re beginning the work of identifying and digitizing all archival documents relating to day schools, hospitals, and Indigenous communities, in an effort to provide better access for Indigenous communities and researchers. To help us with this work, we have consultants from The History Group, who worked with the TRC to identify and digitize residential school records.
Now, with Shane’s encouragement, we continue our walk on the healing path toward reconciliation, learning and listening with greater attentiveness.
Learn more here!
Rev. Barry Morris of Longhouse Ministry has lawn signs and bumper stickers available – these can be picked up from the Longhouse Ministry (604 254-4531 / 2595 Franklin St., V5K 1X5) almost any time and any day.
Leadership Counts, the United Church’s voluntary identity survey, recently asked: Who are we and who are our church leaders? What identities do our leaders hold?
Based on the data emerging from the survey, staff will explore what barriers exist for full participation in church leadership for people who are Indigenous, racialized, francophone or active in French ministries, Two Spirit or LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and youth and young adults―and whether those barriers differ based on gender and ministry status, or any other factors. This data is helpful in a variety of ways, including helping the Pastoral Relationships Thriving with Equity Research Project.
If you’re ministry personnel or a member of a General Council committee, you can fill out the survey! Find out more about the data results, and how to update your data, at this link.
With special guests Lori Neale & Beth Baskin from Identity and Mission, United Church of Canada GCO
Justice work in the church can often feel lonely and discouraging, working for change that doesn’t come easily, if it comes at all. Just Conversations is a monthly online gathering for anyone in PMRC wanting to connect with others involved with justice work around the region. It will be a chance to deepen your justice work in your faith, share stories about what is happening around the region and develop strategies for working together to support each other in “being the change.”
December 15th, from 10am Pacific / 11am Mountain. Last meeting of the year!
- Just Conversations is free and drop-in style
- Open to ministry personnel and congregation members · Registration is required for the Zoom access. Register here.
To Share and Not Surrender – Treaty and Indigenous Rights on Vancouver Island
Are you aware that 14 treaties were negotiated on Vancouver Island between 1850-54? How are these treaties relevant today and why does it matter that we know about them?
James Bay United Church is offering a six session on-line study on Indigenous and Treaty Rights on Vancouver Island focusing on the Vancouver Island Treaties (formerly known as the Douglas treaties and the Fort Victoria treaties). This will combine a book study of To Share Not Surrender, videos from the 2017 Songhees Conference on the treaties, guest speakers, and small group discussion. Dates are every second Thursday from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, starting January 5, 2023. (January 5, 19, February 2, 16, March 2, 16.)
For details and online registration, go to this link.
Reconciliation Reading Series (#3): “Permanent Astonishment: Growing Up Cree in the Land of Snow and Sky” by Tomson Highway
- Weekly: Tuesday, January 10, 2023 – Tuesday, January 31, 2023
- Downtown Abbotsford, Conference Room B, Trinity Memorial United Church
- 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (each week)
- $40.00 (total for the full 4-week series)
Details & registration here.
“Faithful Climate Conversations” is a free, online series offered by the PMRC Justice Network, and drawing from the multi-denominational, Canada-wide “For the Love of Creation” discussion resources. It will run in two series during early 2023.
- The first series, in three parts, will be offered January 25, February 1, and February 8, all from 3:30-5pm Pacific. Register here!
- The second series, in four parts, will be offered March 9, 16, 23, 30, from 7-8:30pm Pacific. Register here!
Find out more here!
Antiracism and the United Church
*Please note poster times are in EST, below times are PST
- Antiracism Workshop with Selam Debs: Tuesday Feb. 7, 2023,
from 7-8:30am Pacific
- Antiracism, You and The UCC with Rev. Alcris Limongi: Tuesday, March 7, 2023, from 7-8:30am Pacific
Learn more and register here.
If you’re interested in the work of the Justice Ministries, we would love to hear from you. Have you come across articles and events in our community that you’d love to share? Please get your suggestions in by Thursday at noon to ensure they make it in the newsletter.