Encouraged by the success of its advertisements in the Toronto Star, the Anglican diocese of Toronto is getting ready to have more published.The ads, which ran before Thanksgiving and then again before Christmas, urged Canadians to remember the poor, the homeless, and how God’s love manifests.The response to the ads has been “very positive right across the province,” said the diocesan bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson. “People said they were proud to be Anglican.” Non-Anglicans also weighed in, telling the diocese, “Thank you for reminding us what it’s [Christmas] supposed to be.
The diocese decided to publish the ads because it felt that “we need to be engaged in both service to people who are in need but we also need to advocate on their behalf,” said Bishop Johnson. “…The poor should not be forgotten, particularly at a time of economic downturn.” With the economy rebounding slightly, he said people need to be reminded that the church, the government and the wider society still have obligations to the poor.In the pre-Thanksgiving Toronto Star ad, readers were asked to reflect on the 300,000 Ontarians who must rely on food banks to survive. Written as an open letter, it urged Anglicans “to continue to give more generously and do more for those who are poor in our communities.”
A few days before Christmas, the diocese ran another ad in both the Star and the free tabloid daily, Metro, asking, “Does Jesus really matter any more? Christmas is about shopping, presents, family and feasting, right?”
It proceeded to say, “in our frenetic world, it’s easy to forget that Christmas marks the birth of a child some 2,000 years ago. His name was – is – Jesus.”
In that ad, Bishop Johnson reminds readers that today’s world is no different from the one Jesus was born into. “We suffer from worries and concerns, broken relationships, wars and famines. The very things that kept our ancestors awake all those years ago keep us awake still,” he writes. “In a society scarred by fear, injustice and homelessness, it can be difficult to see God’s love for us. But it’s there …”
The intent was also to remind readers that Jesus is “…still as relevant today as he was back then, and address issues that are really the heart of who we are as a people,” said Bishop Johnson in an interview.The ad also includes an invitation to “connect with God” by joining others at a local Anglican church.