Kairos gathers to strengthen ecumenical social justice movement

Published September 1, 2009

SING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, L-R: Jennifer Henry of Kairos; Becca Whitla, music director at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Toronto; Alfredo Barahona of Kairos; and Anne Marie Jackson of the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in Toronto sing at one of the plenary sessions at the Kairos gathering in June.

Cydney Proctor, a second-year university student in Halifax, had her “first brush with Kairos,” with about 350 other people at the first national gathering of the ecumenical social justice organization in Waterloo, Ont. One of the aims of the June conference was to bring long-term supporters and activists together with people who hadn’t been involved with Kairos before. The result was “awesome,” according to Ms. Proctor, who said she was inspired by meeting so many people passionate about social justice issues.

“It was both a gathering of Kairos present, the folks who are currently involved, but we also wanted to make it a Kairos gathering of the future that invited in people who would strengthen and expand the ecumenical social justice movement,” said Jennifer Henry, Kairos dignity, rights and development manager. About 40 young people aged 18 to 30 attended.

“There was work done by denominations and regions and through the application process to put a priority on diverse voices and new voices,” said Ms. Henry. The gathering also brought together board members, staff, regional delegations and program committees with representatives from all 11 churches and church-related organizations, including the Anglican Church of Canada, that jointly created Kairos.

Ms. Proctor , who helped organize the Anglican Church of Canada’s Justice Camp, held in Halifax Aug. 9 to 15, also learned about a plan to bring 100,000 young people together on Parliament Hill in Ottawa at the start of the next G8 Summit to express their concerns about climate change.

The theme of the conference was “The End of the World as We Know It – Thank God!” and keynote speakers reflected on various aspects of that theme. Ms. Henry said the response to two speakers on the first morning was particularly enthusiastic. “We had Sheila Watt-Cloutier who is an Order of Canada Inuit activist on climate change – very wise, very gentle, very reflective, and on the same morning Sharon Ruiz Durendez, who is a partner from the Philippines, a theologian, fiery, strong, very action-oriented. And between the two of them, they were a wonderful counterpoint for inviting both reflection and action.”

Other speakers included Denis Couture, a professor of ethics and interreligious dialogue at the Universite de Montreal; Dan and Marylou Smoke Asayenes, who offered traditional native ceremonies and teachings; Lilia Solano, a Colombian human rights activist, academic and member of the Mennonite church; and Sylvia Keesmaat, a gardener and biblical scholar at the Institute for Christian Studies.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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