Social Justice and Mission Committee
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 6
EFFECTIVE SOCIAL ACTION THROUGH MISSION
Strategy 1: Establish a Diocesan Social Justice and Mission Committee.
This Committee would assist Parishes in developing programs to address local outreach and mission programs. The scope of membership of the Committee should be the responsibility of the Bishop and the Executive Committee and it should be in place in 2010.
- The Committee began meeting in 2011. Currently there are seven members, of whom two were on the original Committee.
- The first task was gathering information on the numbers and types of social justice and outreach programs in the Diocese. This information was presented at Synod 2011 and was posted on the Diocesan web page.
- At Synod 2011, the Committee presented information on a Biblical perspective of Justice, information on environment and caring for creation and the connection between the two concepts. We also offered a workshop panel on four creative and successful outreach initiatives in the Diocese.
- Early discussions moved between the theoretical and the practical – the ‘whys’ and the ‘whats’ of mission.
- Nine people received partial sponsorship from the Diocese to attend the 2012 Justice Camp, Peterborough.
- In early 2012, the Committee members drafted a training program on “how to develop programs” to address local outreach and mission needs. (refer to Strategy #3)
Strategy 2: Allocate a percentage of Diocesan income to local outreach and mission and mandate parishes to do likewise from their apportionable income.
This would require the reallocation of existing fund for outreach and mission. The Program could be initiated by the Diocesan Social Justice and Mission Committee and could be phased in over a four year period beginning in 2010. The long term goal is for each parish to allocate 10% of their offering to outreach.
- Beginning 2012, the proposal to allocate 10% of offerings to outreach was introduced at three deanery meetings. A frequent question in some deaneries was whether monies outside the operating budget (such as from fundraisers) could be used to make the allocation. Concern was expressed that churches are already stretched to meet existing financial commitments from their operating budget.
- The Implementation Team and the Committee do not feel that the Strategy as articulated in the Strategic Plan recognizes that the Church’s entire life is mission. The Committee has been considering ways to educate themselves and to work with congregations based on this understanding, in consultation with the Bishop and the CDO.
Strategy 3: Create Discernment and Training Workshops
These workshops would be for vocational Deacons, permanent Deacons, and Parish Mission and Outreach leaders. They would be co-ordinated by the Diocesan Social Justice and Mission Committee and held annually beginning in 2011.
- Provincially, and now nationally, the issue of training and discernment for Deacons has been, and is still being, discussed. Vocational discernment is being looked at by the wider church and is beyond the purview of this Committee. (see Objective 5, Strategy 2)
- In mid-2013 the Committee had a 24 hour retreat that shaped the ideas for a training program regarding outreach for use at the parish level. The Committee will be working to finalize this program by March 2015.
Strategy 4: Develop a Diocesan Policy regarding environmentally friendly practices for Parishes.
This would be developed and approved by the Executive Committee and in place by the end of 2010. Existing programs, such as the “Greening of the Church” will be sent to parishes beginning in 2009.
- Beginning in 2012, the Committee reviewed various policies and written statements on the environment from different parts of the Church.
- The Social Justice and Mission Committee developed an Environmental Policy with input from laity and clergy outside the Committee. Both the Bishop and the Rev. Dr. Tim Perry were instrumental in writing the policy’s preamble. This Policy was presented and approved by the Executive Committee, June 2014 and was distributed to the Deaneries.
- The Environmental Policy has ignited interest, resulting in initiatives such as: a Greening our Sacred Space workshop was held in Sudbury-Manitoulin; a number of people from our Diocese attended other Greening our Sacred Space workshops; an educational webinar was produced on Green Audits; a few parishes underwent successful Green Audits; and environmental questions were included in our assessment tool for healthy parishes.
What we’ve learned
- It was a challenge to understand the intent of the strategies and the scope of the Committee’s mandate. The language we have used to address issues has changed.
- It would have been useful to have more face to face meetings to allow for the building of relationships and to come together for prayer and reflection. An annual retreat would have been ideal.
- Presentations at the deanery meetings with immediate feedback were very helpful.
- We have come to the understanding that the whole Church is missional.
- There is a clear link between congregational vitality and an outward focus on social justice and mission.
- There is more work that needs to be done to understand and show the strong connection between environmental issues and social justice.
Considerations for Moving Forward
- The work and discussions of the Committee need to continue at a Diocesan level. Creating a Standing Social Justice and Mission Diocesan Committee would be a useful tool to encourage more social justice and mission work to be taken on at the parish level.
- Networking with other groups and with similar committees outside of the Diocese would help further the work of the Committee
The Social Justice and Mission Committee members
Link to the Toronto United Church Council’s ‘Green Awakening Network’ here.