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Welcome to the Local Global Advocacy Network information site.  This site is the gathering spot for the many aspects of the justice work of the Saskatchewan Conference of the United Church of Canada.

You may be interested in visiting the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel

The Statement by The United Church of Canada on the Legal Settlement for Omar Khadr

The United Church respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr   Published on July 12, 2017, accessed on Facebook

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.

Church leaders must be willing to pay a price for Palestinian solidarity

The Christian community in Occupied Palestine has just called time on 70 years of world-wide Christian/Jewish collusion in their oppression and slow demise. In an open letter to the World Council of Churches, they’re demanding a different course of action from their Christian sisters and brothers because, they write, the situation is now “beyond urgent”.

The exasperation of the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine is understandable. The Church around the world has failed them.

They’ve seen year after year of Holy Land reports, theological reflections, pilgrimages, conference debates, and the occasional divestment commitment. But all this softly, softly solidarity has failed to improve their condition, let alone win their liberation.

Yes, there’ve been plenty of carefully worded and balanced calls for “justice” and “security” for Christians, Jews and Muslims. But no calling out of who has the power, who uses it to oppress, who allows it to continue, who excuses it, who remains silent.

Nor has there been much willingness to incur a collective cost to any Palestinian solidarity, either financially or reputationally from the leadership of Church denominations.

The Ecumenical Deal
Much of this comes down to what the Jewish theologian Marc Ellis long ago described as ‘the ecumenical deal’. It amounts to this: the unwillingness within formal Christian Jewish encounters to question Jewish support for Israel for fear of unpicking decades of inter faith reconciliation following the Holocaust.

Ellis, writing for the journal of Americans for Middle East Understanding back in February 1992 summed up how this has become an obstacle to justice:

“The foundation of the dialogue rests on Christian repentance for anti-Jewishness and acceptance of Israel as central for Jewish identity. Those involved in the dialogue know that it has essentially turned into what one might call the ecumenical deal: eternal repentance for Christian anti-Jewishness unencumbered by any substantive criticism of Israel. Substantive criticism of Israel means, at least from the Jewish side, the reemergence of Christian anti-Jewishness.”

The outcome of the ecumenical deal, Ellis went on to say, is that debate about the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israeli Jews, and its support by “commission or omission” by Jewish and Christian communities around the world is left unchallenged.

Despair
25 years of failed peace process, a wave of Palestinian terrorism at the turn of the century, three major Israeli assaults on Gaza and a Jewish Settler population of now more than half a million has done little to shift the interfaith dynamics that Ellis described a quarter of a century ago.

So it’s hardly surprising to see Christians in Palestine despairing of the endless “hiding behin78d the cover of political neutrality” and the unwillingness of Church leaders “to offend their religious dialogue partners.” In Palestine they learnt long ago that liberation doesn’t come cheap. What’s required from us they say is “costly solidarity” not “shallow diplomacy”.

And in practice that means:
“That you revisit and challenge your religious dialogue partners, and that you are willing to even withdraw from the partnership if needed”   So brace yourselves. Jewish-Christian dialogue is about to go through the wringer. And not before time.

The cost of Christian solidarity
To reset the Christian interfaith relationship with the Jewish Community will take boldness and courage on the part of Church leaders, local ministers and their congregants. It will take them far from their ecumenical comfort zone.

Long standing relationships with Jewish neighbours and clerical colleagues will deteriorate long before they can be rebuilt with new foundations.

But costly solidarity requires no less.

It means refusing to allow your local Jewish communal leadership to set the boundaries of permissible debate on Israel.
It means listening to the Christian voice under occupation before the Jewish voice living comfortably, with full equal rights, many thousands of miles from that same occupation.
It means refusing invitations to Balfour Declaration ‘celebrations’ this November.
It means you, not them, deciding what forms of protest are appropriate and fair.
It means you choosing to invest your funds in ethics not in companies profiting from Occupation.
It means your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land may be turned back at Ben Gurion airport.
It means you WILL be branded Israel haters.

You WILL be branded antisemitic.

And when that happens you should refuse to be bullied (because that’s what it is).
You must call the Jewish officials to your office. Ask them to clarify their position. Seek legal opinion. Demand an apology.  Insist that those that accuse you of ‘unfairness’ and ‘lack of balance’ make clear their own position.

What’s their view on the legality of the Occupation and Settlements? Do they recognize the inequality of political, civil and human rights in Israel itself and the Occupied territories? Can they confirm their commitment to freedom of speech in a democracy?

And do all of this publicly.

This is what costly solidarity will look like until things change.

Because silence and collusion on a great injustice of our time cannot be the basis of healthy interfaith dialogue.

But what about the Jewish side?
We still don’t have an accepted Jewish vocabulary or conceptual thinking that will enable us to recognize our complicity in Palestinian suffering. That makes the idea of Palestinian solidarity almost impossible for most Jews to contemplate let alone sign up to.

We’re still stuck in a mindset of powerlessness and victimhood that no longer holds true. The dilemma for Jews is that questioning the State of Israel within our Jewish communities risks unraveling the collective sense of who we are and what being Jewish means in the 21st century.

The recalibration on Israel required from Jewish communities around the world is now just as profound as the soul searching that took place within Christianity after the Holocaust. Just as Christians had to look Jews in the eye and ask for forgiveness so that Christianity could move forward, the same will be true between Jews and Palestinians. Again, this is ground well covered in the writings of Marc Ellis.

The future for Jews and Judaism itself is now entirely bound up with our relationship to the Palestinian people. However, we are still a very long way from being ready to confront this truth.

Costly Christian solidarity with the Palestinian people has the potential to speed up a change in Jewish attitudes. But it requires turning the tables over in the temples of ecumenical deal making.

I’m not underestimating how difficult this will be. The Jewish response to costly Christian solidarity with the Palestinians will be hostile and intolerant, at least to start with. The current Jewish leadership of our communities around the world is conditioned to react like this. They have no other language or thinking available to them.

But changing the language of interfaith dialogue is what needs to happen, and the sooner the better. Shallow diplomacy has had its day.

A new basis for Jewish/Christian understanding
So what should the new dialogue look like? How do we keep the good progress made over the last 70 years but throw out the politics of a silent collusion of injustice?

Perhaps a celebration of our creation mythology that makes clear that all humanity is equal in God’s eyes.

Maybe a common commitment to building communities where all faith traditions are respected and honoured.

How about a shared understanding that national chauvinism will always undermine building the Just and Righteous society that Jews and Christians pray for each day.

Or how about a firm belief that solidarity with the oppressed comes with a cost that’s always worth paying.

–Robert Cohen, July 8, 2017

Come and See The Holy Land

November 4 – November 14

This is an invitation to participate in a 10 day  pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine in November. It is an opportunity to see both the Holy Sites and the effects of the Occupation on all who like in that troubled land.

Travel this beautiful land of Palestine/Israel experiencing the places where Jesus lived and taught.  Visit the holy sites in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the Galilee.

Learn about the extraordinary resilience of the Palestinian people living under occupation.

Meet United Church of Canada partners-Jewish, Muslim, and Christian,
who are working non-violently for peace, justice and human rights.

Hear the stories of people whose families lived in this land for generations.

Ponder biblical passages in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Mount of the Beatitudes asking how they relate to us today.

Gaze down on Jerusalem as we consider those who have conquered this land over three millennia and how each has treated the inhabitants.

Led by:
Hope Rowsell, President of NL Conference, United Church of Canada
Patricia Mercer, returned EAPPI volunteer
(Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine/Israel)

Costs are estimated at $3900. to cover most expenses including flight
Deposit is $500 (part of the final costs.)

For more information or to receive a registration form contact:
Hope Rowsell (hrowsell@eastlink.ca) or
Patricia Mercer (pmercer@nl.rogers.com)

Sponsored by NL Conference and Partners in Mission,
United Church of Canada

From 15,000 years to 150- prayers and reflections

July 1 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As we reflect on this milestone, there are “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).

Worship resources

Reflections on Canada 150 from Indigenous people

All My Relations Network: How Shall We Celebrate Canada 150?

Prayer (By Liz Mackenzie, Saskatchewan Conference Personnel Minister)

One:   From the West to the East, the North and to the South;

All:      we are your people, O God, and we live in your world.

One:   From sea to sea to sea; from mountains to prairies; rock shields to Great Lakes; bountiful fruit orchards to windswept east coast cliffs;

All:      we are your people, Creator God, called to celebrate your good creation.

One:   From the first peoples to inhabit Turtle Island to the newest visitors to arrive in Canada;

All:      your Spirit lives in all your peoples – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

One:   Young and old, in the diversity of our abilities, sexualities, gender identities, ethnicity and race;

All:      You gather us as sheaves of wheat and call us to live as one.

One:   You call us together, Source of all Love, to be the bearers of your love in this great country of Canada;

All:      As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, may we work together for a country and a world where all are included in your dream of justice, peace, reconciliation, and grace.  May it be so, Gracious God.  Amen.

June 5 Facebook Live event: anti-poverty

Minister Duclos to Host a Facebook Live Event Discussing the Federal Anti-Poverty Strategy

On June 5, the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, will be holding a Facebook live event in order to discuss poverty reduction, and the federal government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.  The event will be held on June 5 from 4:30-5:30pm EST, and can be accessed via the following link:  https://www.facebook.com/SocialDevelopmentCanada/

Participants will be invited to submit questions and pose comments.

SK Conference The Call Echoes weekend June 16-18

You’re invited to The Call Echoes, SK Conference events June 16, 17, 18 in Saskatoon
Register: www.sk.united-church.ca/register/ or call the Conference office.

In need of some faith revival and community? Come and be fed . . . Saskatchewan Conference does not have an annual general meeting this year, but The Call Echoes, Saskatchewan Conference’s Ministry event, is for you. This is an exciting get together for renewal, justice-seeking, learning, and celebration of our ministry is for everyone. Please help promote these events! (See below for promotion resources and details).

Come join us for a Friday retreat, Saturday singing and workshops, and the celebration of ministries banquet, and Sunday’s celebration of new ministries service. We even have a micro brewery tour and tasting! It all takes place June 16 – 18 in Saskatoon. Please register as soon as possible as registration is only open until June 5th. Some events have limited enrollment.

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Workshops and bios: June 17, Call Echoes event

Workshops and great workshop leaders! June 17, 2017: SK Conference Education Day at McClure United Church. (Map. And a flyer about the whole weekend.)

Scroll down for bios of our amazing facilitators. Please indicate your workshops preferences at www.sk.united-church.ca/register/ or call the Conference office at 306-721-3311. Workshops are free and open to the community. Lunch is $12 and you must register for it in advance. Registration and coffee at 8:30; worship is at 9:15 and workshops will begin by 10:15AM. Lunch: 12:30- 1:30, then afternoon workshops at 2:00PM- 4:15PM. Click here for a workshops flyer.  (PDF) Continue reading