Mennonites mark 50 years in Newfoundland and Labrador
Delegates to the Mennonite Central Committee Canada annual meeting November 26 – 27 celebrated 50 years of service in Newfoundland and Labrador, during which time 417 workers have been placed in 79 communities in that area. The delegate body asked questions during the Members Forum, participated in a long-term planning process, and attended workshops on Eastern Canada programs. Gay Lynn Voth, professor at Columbia Bible College, offered a Biblical reflection on ‘Listening With Our Hearts.’ She called for action that springs from hope — a hope that rises from “listening in prayer and silence to the Spirit of God” and a hope that is able to “continue in the face of the human need that threatens to overwhelm the mind.”
FOCUS editor now an MLA
Dr. David Swann, medical doctor, professor of community medicine, and editor of FOCUS Magazine, is now a Member of the Alberta Legislature. Swann overthrew the Tory incumbent in a major upset in the Calgary riding of Mountainview. David says on the Christian Medical and Dental Society website that his riding “has provided a tremendous expression of support for a new voice of integrity, courage, and accountability,” and that he “presents a challenge to a government that has stopped listening.” David was fired as Medical Officer of Health in Medicine Hat two years ago, allegedly because he supported the Kyoto protocol for climate change, whereas Premier Ralph Klein did not.
Council issues warning against profit-motivated charitable donations
The Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) has issued a warning against profit-motivated charitable donations. “The promoters of these schemes and the ‘donors’ to these schemes end up with a financial gain, while in many cases the charities end up with a major headache,” says CCCC CEO John Pellowe. The most prominent of these donation plans are gifts-in-kind in which the donor buys a product at a low value and donates it to charity at a much higher value. Although effectively shut down last December by changes in the Income Tax Act, these schemes have recently reappeared in modified form. Canada Revenue Agency has also taken a position against these “buy low, donate high” schemes. Contact John Pellowe at 519-669-5137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anglican settlement fund half full
Over the past 18 months, the Anglican Church of Canada has raised more than $13 million of the $25 million it pledged to raise over a five-year period to compensate former residential school students. Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of the General Synod, said in a news release last week that the money Anglicans contribute to the fund is given as compensation to former students of church-run schools whose claims of physical or sexual abuse are validated. To date, the Anglican church has paid about $3.5 million to 130 claimants. The Anglican Church of Canada and the federal government signed an agreement in March 2003, under which the church’s liabilities in lawsuits by former residential school students would be limited to $25 million. The Anglican General Synod and all the dioceses agreed to raise the $25 million within five years.
WCC rates video games for violence
Five parent, church and women’s groups issued a “10 worst violent video game” list November 23 to warn parents and grandparents about the aggressive, demeaning and/or bloody nature of the games that might be on their kids’ wish list. In a joint statement, they called for stores to cease selling certain games directly to children and challenged the industry to create an improved rating system. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, president of the North American Region of the World Council of Churches, said: “There is ample evidence today that playing violent video games leads to increased aggressive thought, feelings and actions. We also have considerable anecdotal evidence of the fact that parents don’t understand the industry rating system. And retailers must stop turning a blind eye when it comes to sales to children.” The joint statement claims that 70 percent of children live in a home with at least one video game player, and 33 percent with one in their bedrooms. $7 billion was spent in the United States in 2003 on video and computer games.
Foreign women advocate peace in Toronto
To urge support of community-based peace-building initiatives, Elizabeth Majok of Sudan, Amneh Badran of Palestine, and Ana Teresa Rueda Lozada of Colombia visited the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto November 29 to address the conflicts in their respective regions. Their visit was part of a nationwide tour emphasizing the impact of war on women. Known for their work in their own communities, they came to Canada as partners of KAIROS, a group whose aim is for “Canadian churches to work together for justice and peace.” They each called on the Canadian government to increase the involvement of civil society groups in peacebuilding efforts; to strengthen its voice in relationships with other governments and multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, in protesting human rights violations and the impact of conflict on women; and to ensure that women are full participants in all peace building efforts, including involvement in decision making at all levels.
Rogers Television to Showcase the work of CBMI
Inside India: Vimala’s Story profiles Christian Blind Mission International‘s (CBMI’s) work in Southern India. In August, Rogers Television reporter Fil Martino and videographer Steve Walsh accompanied CBMI executive director David McComiskey, his wife Cathy, and CBMI public relations manager Lindsay O’Connor on a 10-day excursion to India where they documented the charity’s sight-restoring work in the lives of the country’s children. The program will be broadcast in various locations in Ontario December 9 – 11 and December 18. CBMI provides medical and rehabilitation services in more than 100 developing countries, helping more than 11 million disabled and at risk people every year.
End-times movies get mainstream distribution
Cloud Ten Pictures, the studio that produced the Left Behind movie series, has struck a deal with Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment that is making Christian films available wherever DVDs are sold. “We have always dreamed of the day when truly Christian films would have the kind of distribution and accessibility that only a major studio can have,” said Cloud Ten CEO Peter Lalonde. “And now with our new relationship with Columbia Tri-Star Home Entertainment, we are seeing the fulfillment of that dream.” Cloud Ten Pictures was founded in 1996. The Financial Post called it “one of the most successful independent studios in the English-speaking world.”
Hanegraff and LaHaye tussle over end times
The Last Disciple, a new book by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer, was written as a response to the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins — and it has been published by the same company, Tyndale House. But the similarities end there, for as the Left Behind series focuses on a hypothetical 21st century apocalypse, The Last Disciple works with the preterist premise that the prophecies of Revelation were already fulfilled in the first century, as Christians struggled to survive and spread the gospel during “the last days.”
Marketing firm looks for worship songs
Christian Marketing Canada Distribution is holding a nationwide song search for the second compilation of Canadian worship music on a double CD set to be entitled: Sea to Sea: I See the Cross. Canadian worship leaders and songwriters can submit original compositions on CD or cassette and will be judged on compositional merit. Entries should be sent by June 30 to CMC Distribution, Attn: Martin Smith, P.O. Box 7000, 590 York Road, Niagra-on-the-Lake, ON, L0S 1J0. Each song must be submitted independently, with a copy of the lyrics, the entrant’s name, address, phone number and email address. Submissions will be returned if a self-addressed, stamped envelope is included.