Sharing an inclusive partnership with neighbours near and far, Bloor Street listens to the voices of concern, advocates for those having struggles and welcomes the opportunity to support faithful and courageous action to bring ease to difficult circumstances.
Advent Appeal 2023
The Social Justice Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Advent Gift Appeal. One of the criteria of the organization selected is that it represents the social justice values of our church and that there be outreach into the community. The committee, also, always hopes to assist a local, national and international organization. The recipients of our Advent Appeal 2023 are:
- Locally – Daily Bread Food Bank
- Nationally – Mittima Food Bank – Pond Inlet, and,
- Internationally, Defence for Children Internationally – Palestine.
Local Recipient — Daily Bread Food Bank
After rent and utilities, clients of the Daily Bread Food Bank have on average about eight dollars left each day to cover all their other costs including medical, dental, and eye care, transportation and all other necessities. This means that sometimes there is insufficient money to purchase food.
There are now over 12,000 new individuals accessing Daily Bread member food banks for the first time each month, and with staggering food inflation and rising rents, we are bracing for these numbers to keep rising. There were over 274,000 client visits to Daily Bread member food banks in August of this year, roughly 4x pre-pandemic rates.
For more information click here: https://www.dailybread.ca/
National Recipient – Mittima Food Bank – Pond Inlet
The Mittima Food Bank Society was formed in 2018 with a goal to provide food to people in need in the community. Through food hampers and community meals, the foodbank works to build community spirit and strengthen community ties as well decrease the results of food scarcity. For more information please click here: https://www.facebook.com/mittimafoodbank.ca/
International Recipient – Defense for Children International – Palestine
“Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) is an independent, local Palestinian child rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Since 1991, [it] has investigated, documented, and exposed grave human rights violations against children; provided legal services to children in urgent need; held Israeli and Palestinian authorities accountable to universal human rights principles; and, advocated at the international and national levels to advance access to justice and protection for children.”
As a national section of Defence for Children International (DCI), an international child-rights movement and non-governmental organization established in 1979, DCI – Palestine pledges to follow DCI’s mandate to “promote and protect children’s rights in accordance with international standards.” At the same time, DCIP is an autonomous organization that raises its own funds and develops its own programs in response to contextual needs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Their work is divided into two broad programs: Accountability and Child Protection. “Both include direct services and advocacy components. The Accountability Program focuses on child rights as they intersect with Israeli military and legal systems as well as the Palestinian juvenile justice system. The Child Protection Program promotes child participation and empowerment so Palestinian children can defend and advocate for their own rights and become agents for positive change.”
For more information please click here: https://www.dci-palestine.org/
Holy Land Service follow-up
The full recording of Sunday’s Holy Land service is available on Trinity St. Paul’s YouTube channel. The Q and A session afterwards was not recorded.
Follow-up to the Service
If you have some time check out one of these suggestions to learn more about the situation in Palestine / Israel.
1. Join the United Church campaign in working for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. The United Church of Canada encourages United Church members and others to become involved in the search for a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis by contributing to the end of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Click this link to learn about some of the issues involved in the situation.
3. Amnesty International released its report on the current state of Palestine / Israel relations. In the report, Amnesty International named Israel as an apartheid state in regard to its treatment of people and property in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel itself. This report follows a similar report released by Human Rights Watch. To see the full report click here. Alternatively, if you would like to see a summary of the report, you can click here.
4. Apeirogon by Colum McCann – a beautifully observed masterpiece based on the true-life friendship of two men whose daughters were killed in the Middle East.
5. As mentioned by the Holy Land Service guest speaker check out one or more of the articles by Marc H. Ellis (born 1952). Professor Ellis is an American author, liberation theologian, and a retired University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is currently visiting professor of several international universities, including the University of Innsbruck, Austria and the United Nations University for Peace, Costa Rica.
The Heart Garden
The Heart Garden on the corner of Bloor and Robert Street began as “a response to the TRC’s call for permanent reminders of the residential school history. Its goal is to create a welcoming public space for reflection on a very well trafficked corner of Toronto as well as an outdoor space for ceremony. The garden expresses our sorrow for the loss and abuse of so many Indigenous children in residential schools and our hope to build public awareness towards reconciliation with Indigenous people. In the garden, against the backdrop of a church built during the same era that the residential school policy began, we honour Indigenous spirituality.” (TSP)
The children of our church school have participated in learning more about Indigenous culture through a number of visits to the Heart Garden. As you watch the video enjoy the voices of the children as they talk about the meaning behind the Heart Garden. Listen to an Indigenous Elder who talks about the impact of the residential school system. Click here to see the video, or watch below.
Afterwards take a few minutes to say the prayer that the children said when they sent hearts to the closing ceremony of the TRC in 2015.
“Help us to open our hearts to others, pay attention to our thoughts, words and actions, notice when we have hurt others and change our behaviour in the future. With this Heart Garden we honour children who were lost or survived the Indian residential System.”
The Social Justice Committee, with input from the congregation and others, arranges educational events and the circulation of educational material on topics that the Committee believes are important to society and of interest to the congregation.
Reflections on a Trip to Palestine/Israel
Over the next months a number of people are going to reflect on their trips to Palestine–Israel. The most recent travellers in 2019 were Nora McKay, Nena Cervantes and Ron & Maure Kentner. In 2018 Randi Helmers and Martha ter Kuile travelled to the holy land. Over a number of years others from our congregation have joined George Bartlett and Marianna Harris on these trips.
Each month, following the themes of Kumi Now, there will be one or more personal reflections and specific information on the current topic. We listen to scripture in our services about the holy land in the time of Jesus. These reflections will look at the holy land as it exists at this time. It is beautiful in its geology, magnificent in its history but there are issues that need resolution.
The Kumi Now project is an attempt by many people and organizations to “stand firm in the face of oppression”, to seek justice and inclusion based on international law and to commit to non-violent resistance. Each week Kumi Now introduces a “different organization working to raise awareness about specific issues in Israel-Palestine”. The personal reflections will give you an account of what visitors saw and heard during their travels.
The Social Justice Committee and sub-Committees are active in many areas including the following:
- Togogos support grandmothers in Africa, who are raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, by raising money and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
- The Refugee Outreach Program raises money each year to send refugee mothers and children to summer camp. They also collect toys for an annual Refugee Christmas Party.
- The Social Justice Committee collects funds and gifts each Advent Season for designated organizations and also raises funds in response to Relief Appeals through the United Church of Canada.
The Social Justice Committee, as part of its educational role, advises the congregation when there is a call to action on particular issues. This can include information about petitions, letter writing campaigns, demonstrations and lobbying of community or political leaders. If the Social Justice Committee or others within the congregation believe that Bloor Street United Church as a whole should advocate on a particular issue a proposal can be made to the Church Council for their consideration.