It can be fun to be Anglican. Combine 75 Anglicans from Newfoundland to Alberta. Enrich with 10 Christians from other churches. Spice with 30 young people ages 16 to 30. Enrich with passionate worship, music and dynamic preaching. Leaven with laughter and joy.
That’s a recipe for joyful faith and it explains why the Shalom Justice Camp was such an amazing experience. Every justice camper has ideas and experiences to share, leading to new ideas, fresh energy and renewed faith. For six days we heard each other’s stories, broke bread, met local social justice activists, prayed and laughed.
The days were long and intense. We were made painfully aware of how tough it is to strive for shalom in the church and in society. Yet, as I surveyed our justice camp gatherings and saw how people were being transformed and renewed in their faith, I said to myself: this is God’s vision of shalom.
I’ve attended four of the six justice camps sponsored by a diocese since 2005. To me, they embody what our church rises to when we look at Jesus’ message with fresh eyes. We talk about our declining numbers, and how we need to attract more youth. Yet all too often, there’s a yawning gap between the energy, exuberance and concerns of young people and what they see and experience in our parishes.
Events like justice camp that truly welcome youth, as well as others who often feel excluded by our parishes—low-income people, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians—are so urgently needed. Nor is justice camp a one-shot event. Among other things, we’ll be monitoring follow-up action through our Facebook page.
Murray MacAdam is the social justice and advocacy consultant for the diocese of Toronto and served as co-chair for the Shalom Justice Camp.