How fitting that CPJ celebrated our 50th anniversary of engaging faith, politics, and advocacy in Ottawa on November 1, All Saints’ Day! For half a century, CPJ members and supporters have pursued the inevitable connectedness between faithful Christian living and seeking justice in public policies. CPJ continues to “show up” and to “stand up” for societal injustices by accepting the responsibility of walking in solidarity with the vulnerable, the exploited, and the marginalized.
Even at the mature age of 50 years, the buzz and energy present in the staff, board members, and supporters remains that of a passionate youngster, resilient and enthusiastic for public justice for all. For the next 50 years, CPJ will grow to be ever more present in the political arenas, affecting public policies and bringing attention to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised in Canada context.
Building on the successful 2011 publication of Living Justice: A Gospel Response to Poverty, Karri Munn-Venn and Rev. Dr. Mishka Lysack assembled a selection of thoughtful and diverse contributions on climate change and creation care, called Living Ecological Justice: A Biblical Response to the Environmental Crisis.
Festivities marking both CPJ’s 50th and the new book were held at the Parliament Pub on Sparks Street, just across from the Parliament Hill, a familiar location of many CPJ advocacy actions and events. Mark Huyser-Wierenga, Chair of the CPJ Board, opened the evening with a welcome to the audience of CPJ supporters, board members, and curious pub clients. The room buzzed with anticipation and excitement as Mark reported on the work of CPJ and the various anniversary events that have taken place across Canada.
The highlight of the evening was the two readings from Living Ecological Justice. Carol Thiessen, a CPJ Board member and senior policy advisor at Canadian Foodgrains Bank, shared her essay from the book which told the story of a Bangladeshi man impacted by climate change. Carol spoke to the importance of storytelling in the midst of advocacy work. Offering a more contemplative view, Board member Sr. Sheila McKinley warmed our hearts with her reflection on a childhood moment with her mother marveling at a spider. She urged us all to acknowledge the interconnectedness of nature and human beings. The readings demonstrated the diverse appeal of Living Ecological Justice and its versatility to be used as a worship, group study, and personal reflection resource. One of the Board members reported that the book has become an essential worship resource at his church since its release at the end of September – you can order your copy online or by email. We are grateful for the enthusiasm with which CPJ’s newest publication has been received. It is encouraging to have the continued support of fellow partners in seeking justice in the Canadian context and globally.
The evening wrapped up after Michael Krakowiak, CPJ’s communications and development specialist, unveiled our new website. The redesigned website enlivens the spirit of CPJ: fresh, energetic, and in action. Michael expressed our collective hope that this new site will expand the reach of our important public justice message.
All Saints’ Day was truly a gathering of the saints of the past and present; those who started CPJ on a journey for public justice and the ones who will continue this adventure until the next generation arises. The need for social change will never disappear and neither will the spirit and footprints of CPJ. Thanks be to God.