"'Thousands of Canadians wake up every day in a rundown apartment, a crowded hostel among strangers or even out in the cold', said Murray MacAdam, social justice and advocacy consultant for the diocese of Toronto, told the 'Anglican Journal' as people across Canada prepared to observe National Housing Day on Nov. 22 ".
1. That this General Synod request each diocese to examine their financial property and people resources with the intent of developing practical responses to increase the affordable and appropriate housing supply in the light of the urgent need of affordable and appropriate housing across Canada for low income and homeless families, single parents and singles.
2. That each diocese request their parishes to examine the quality of their Christian community life by exploring ways of involving and supporting those who are all too often excluded in our society and church: the homeless, the unemployed, the deinstitutionalized, the hungry.
3. That this General Synod encourage diocesan bishops to use their office to support, ecumenically and politically, the development of housing programs.
4. That this General Synod encourage all members of the Anglican Church of Canada - (a) to support affordable and appropriate housing programs when exercising their political responsibilities; and (b) to examine their own property and its use in the light of the Biblical injunction to offer hospitality to the stranger.
5. That responses to the above resolution be encouraged, supported and publicized by the National Program Committee, its staff and members. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 67
March 3, 2008 -- The Anglican Primate and the Evangelical Lutheran National Bishop call on the members of their respective churches to advocate for affordable housing solutions for the homeless with letters and visits to their Members of Parliament.
In a letter sent to the Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, Monte Solberg, on Feb 27, 2008, the leaders urged the government "to address homelessness in Canada as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy."
The letter follows the tabling of the federal budget which left the estimated 150,000 to 300,000 homeless people in Canada out in the cold, and another 1.5 million Canadians in desperate housing need without relief.
The joint Anglican-Lutheran initiative takes inspiration from the prophet Isaiah who asks what true religious observance is: "Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?" (Isaiah 58:7).
"Our vision," the leaders' letter concludes, "is to go beyond the prophet's call, to create a society where the hungry are able to eat their own bread, and the homeless poor are brought into their own house."
"Being in full communion means more than worshipping together," says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican Primate. "Members of both our churches give generously of their time and money to help people who are homeless. They run thrift shops, food banks, overnight shelters, and hospitality programs. But they know that charity isn't enough. Advocating together for justice is also part of being in full communion."
"I'm so excited by this initiative," says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. "It demonstrates how working together in full communion we can make a much larger impact and a stronger witness, hopefully inspiring our government to address the realities of homelessness in Canada."
The joint initiative is modelled after a campaign of the diocese of Toronto encouraging Anglicans to visit their local MPs to express concerns about housing and poverty.
Hiltz and Johnson are inviting Lutherans and Anglicans to write or visit their federal MP, and where possible, to do this jointly. The purpose is to ask the Government of Canada to:
- Renew and increase the affordable housing funding which is set to expire at the end of 2008
- Join with the provinces to develop a comprehensive housing strategy as part of an overall national poverty reduction strategy
On line resources are available to help people participate in this initiative: [http://www.accnotes.org/ecojustice/reports_policy_documents/bring_the_homeless_poor_into_t/ ]
- "Bringing people who are homeless into their own house" - a resource that explains this initiative and gives tips for writing and visiting with your MP.
- A bulletin insert for use in church bulletins, encouraging congregations and parishes to become involved.
- A copy of the joint letter from The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Reverend Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Monte Solberg.
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For more information contact: Trina Gallop, Manager of Communications, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, 888-786-6707 ext. 172, firstname.lastname@example.org [or] Maylanne Maybee, Coordinator of Ecojustice Networks, The Anglican Church of Canada, 416-924-9199 ext. 219 email@example.com
The Anglican Church is involved in the work to end homelessness. "The church has an important role to play on several fronts, [the Rev. Bob] Peel [of St. Augustine's Anglican Church in Edmonton] said. 'People have been encouraged to address the myths of homelessness and debunk [them] with their congregations, [and] in their conversations with others.' Secondly, Anglicans need to address the not-in-my-backyard resistance that projects to house the homeless often face from neighbours, says Peel." "On a political level, churches need to address the not-in-my-term-of-office effect when politicians pay lip service to an unpopular issue but don't take action, says Peel. Instead of confronting politicians, he recommends engaging them." "At a national level, General Synod eco-justice co-ordinator Canon Maylanne Maybee us working with Anglicans and Lutherans who have banded together to work towards a stronger federal response on housing. How ? By meeting with local Members of Parliament and frontline housing providers".
"The diocese of British Columbia is working to find land where micro-housing for the tent city that has sprung up across the street from downtown Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral, can be built, says Bishop Logan McMenamie". "The tent city -- dubbed Super InTent City by its residents -- mushroomed in October 2015, after a group of homeless Victorians set up camp on the courthouse lawn at the northwest corner of Quadra Street and Burdett Avenue". "The connection between the cathedral and the tent city began simply enough. The Rev. Nancy Ford, Christ Church Cathedral's deacon to the city, decided to stop by the camp and see what was going on". "'[The Cathedral] has been a family for us', homelessness advocate and former camp resident Joseph John "C.J." Reville said in an interview over the phone". "The province has shown some willingness to confront the housing dilemma". Bishop "McMenamie has spoken on behalf of the campers with various B.C. officials. He has also sought meetings with [housing minister Rich] Coleman and Premier Christy Clarke -- so far, unsuccessfully".
"Leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) asked for prayers with the approach of National Housing Day 2017, November 22, and the expected announcement of a national housing strategy by the federal government". "More than 235,000 Canadians are homeless at some point each year, the bishops stated, with up to 35,000 homeless on any given night. Thousands more, they continued, live in 'precarious' housing that they struggle to afford or that is unsafe or inadequate for them. In Canada, a disproportionate number of Indigenous people are homeless". "November 22 has been recognized as National Housing Day in Canada since 2000".
Prime Minister Stephen Harper should move immediately to release funds designated for affordable housing, according to the leaders of four Canadian churches -- Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of the Anglican Church of Canada, Bishop Ray Schultz of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Rev. Peter Short of the United Church of Canada and Henry Hess of the Christian Reformed Church of North America.
In June 2005, Parliament approved a budget that included $1.6 billion dollars over two years for new affordable housing. Eight months have passed and these dollars remain uncommitted, the church leaders note.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the church leaders cite the involvement of church members across Canada to care for the most vulnerable in their communities, through food banks, community suppers, and shelter programs. "Yet they know these acts of charity are not enough ... Without secure, affordable and long-term housing, `home' for the people they serve will never be possible."
Church groups and other civil society groups are ready to act, they say, to partner with federal, provincial, and territorial governments and develop housing that is :long overdue and desperately needed".
"Unless you take decisive action to allocate these funds," the church leaders say, "we fear they may simply revert to debt reduction -- making only a marginal difference to Canada's economy and doing precious little to address the social and infrastructural deficits behind Canada's crisis of homelessness and affordable housing."
The four leaders remind the Prime Minister, who has asked God to bless Canada, of the words of the prophet Isaiah, explaining that God blesses you "when you share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house".
"We are asking you to spend tax dollars now in a way that will help to bring the homeless poor into their own house, and allow them the dignity of sharing their bread with others".
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For more information, please contact: Maylanne Maybee, Justice education Coordinator, the Anglican Church of Canada; 416-924-9199, ext. 291, firstname.lastname@example.org
"At their joint assembly this July , Anglican and Lutheran delegates will be asked to consider a joint declaration addressing the issues of homelessness in Canada and responsible resource extraction involving Canadian companies here and abroad". "On the issue of 'responsible resource extraction', the declaration calls on the two churches to support indigenous communities in Canada and overseas 'in exercising their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent' with regard to development projects that affect their traditional territories. It also asks them to 'advocate for responsible and ethical investment both in Canada and around the world'. The declaration notes that Canadian companies are major players in mining, energy production and resource extraction across the country and abroad. 'They generate wealth for our societies, but they also give rise to serious and complex environmental, socio-economic, and human rights issues', the declaration states". "[T]he declaration also commits the two churches to 'advocate for renewed federal funding' and for an 'integrated national collaborative strategy and greater accountability on the part of provinces and municipalities' in addressing homelessness and substandard housing. 'As we look across Canada, we are disturbed by the reality that around 400,000 people are without a healthy place to live and that homelessness has continued to increase despite years of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity in our country'."
"Newly-appointed federal housing minister John McDermid attempted a hasty retraction in the midst of the election campaign last month after he sent a message to Canada's homeless not to look to the government to provide shelter this winter.