Canadian Lutherans, Anglicans address homelessness and responsible resource extraction

Delegates to the 2013 Joint Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have approved a statement calling both churches to greater accountability in addressing homelessness, affordable housing, and responsible resource extraction.

The delegates, meeting together, overwhelmingly endorsed the Joint Declaration on Homelessness and Affordable Housing and Resource Extraction and directed that it be distributed widely throughout [Anglican and Lutheran] churches. They also directed that the declaration be forwarded, to the Prime Minister and other political leaders.

Rev. Doug Reble and Cynthia Haines-Turner, who moved and seconded the motion, both spoke passionately of the need for the Joint Declaration.

At the core of the declaration is the call to care for all of God’s creation. “We live in a world where poor countries that are rich in natural resources have all too often seen the well-being of their people and ecosystems deteriorate as a result of destructive, irresponsible resource extraction,” said Reble.

“Indigenous communities around the world and including those in Canada are often the people particularly affected by mining and oil and gas exploration, as well as logging operations. Aboriginal rights are often violated the process.”

Reble referenced the Anglican’s Marks of Mission and it’s call to “seek to transform the unjust structures of society and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” as well as the ELCIC’s Five Pillars which engages the church in the work of compassionate justice as spirited disciples.

Haines-Turner spoke to how the motion connects with Joint Assembly theme – Together for the love of the world. “We have been hearing so much about what it means to be turning outward and not inward – this is an important act of joint witness.”

Several delegates spoke in favour of the resolution, encouraging colleagues to affirm the Joint Declaration, and also urging delegates to consider what steps could be taken to further the churches’ work in these areas.

“I think the motion will have to be more beyond what we think. I urge you if you want to really see what is happening in the North – go and see it,” said one speaker.

Another speaker reminded delegates of the law passed by Parliament in 2000 to abolish children poverty. “A decade after we end up with more than 1 million children living in poverty,” he said. “A poor child doesn’t live alone. A poor child also means a poor father, or a mother living in poverty. The motion we have on the floor is a step in the right way, but we need to do more. We need to vote in favour but we need to do more.”
Anglicans and Lutherans have made the areas focused on in the Joint Declaration as priorities. ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson and Archbishop Fred Hiltz have recently co-signed several letters calling on the federal government to deal with issues such as poverty and a comprehensive national housing strategy in co-operation with the provinces and territories.

The Joint Declaration calls the two churches to greater public awareness and to discern where they can learn more, advocate, seek equitable and innovative approaches, and pray for all affected by the issues and those who bear responsibility in addressing them.

Delegates approved the motion by a vote of 98 per cent. As a sign of their commitment to the Joint Declaration, they then stood and read it aloud in its entirety.

On Saturday morning, as a further way of living out the call in this area, youth (some who are delegates of the Joint Assembly and others from the wider community) will lead delegates in an act of public witness on Parliament Hill.

More information on the 2013 Joint Assembly, as well as the sign up for email updates and the link to the live webcast can be found here:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 145,376 baptized members in 594 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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