Assembly 2023 delegates are bringing home a new tool to help their communities, parishes and congregations discern and engage in social and ecological justice issues.
Ryan Weston, lead animator of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Rev. Paul Gehrs, assistant to the bishop, justice and ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), presented a 15-page document, the Parish Engagement Resource for Social and Ecological Justice: Let there be greening!, to the Assembly July 1. The subtitle “Let there be greening” is also the Assembly 2023 theme.
“One of the ways that our full communion relationship is brought to life is through our shared efforts to bring God’s justice and compassion into our world,” Weston said.
The idea for a parish engagement resource for social and ecological justice, Gehrs said, “began as a vision and a desire that delegates would have something to take home to support discernment and action for peace, justice, and the integrity of creation.”
The resource is available online and includes prayers, reflections and worship practices; “discerned priorities” that Anglicans and Lutherans have identified for working together; first steps for engagement, such as possible actions and partner organizations; and links to further discernment tools for discipleship in social and ecological justice. It also encourages Anglicans and Lutherans to consider meeting together when possible to do their discernment.
Justice priorities identified in the resource—based on prayer, reflection and conversation by Anglican and Lutheran leaders in preparation for Assembly 2023—are reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; addressing the climate crisis; dismantling racism; addressing human trafficking, poverty and housing; and peace in Palestine-Israel.
The introduction also features a list of principles—for example, that social and ecological justice are “integral parts of God’s mission”; that local wisdom is essential and that “listening and building relationships are key elements in following God’s call to seek justice.”
The parish engagement resource was uploaded July 1 to anglicanlutheran.ca, the website for joint projects and ministries of the Anglican Church of Canada and ELCIC. Weston told the Anglican Journal he expected the resource to be posted elsewhere and distributed more widely following General Synod.