OttawaWatch is passing into history.
On Monday, February 28, I will assume the post of communications advisor to Senator Don Meredith. More about him in a moment or two.
A few weeks ago, things began to change in my world when the board of directors of Christian Info Society, the publishers of BC Christian News and www.canadianchristianity.com moved to reorganize CIS.
That meant suspending publication of BCCN, which I had helped to found 28 years ago and which, in recent years, I have served as editor-at-large. It also meant that canadianchristianity.com will be absorbed into www.christianinfo.com with a different thrust. More detail is available by checking the BCCN story list or February 2011 digital copy on the site. Just go to the BCCN pulldown in the top right corner. There, you will find CIS board chair Jeffrey Lowe’s vision statement and a brief history of BCCN, written by yours truly.
Edna and I feel a bit sad about the passing of BCCN. We are encouraged, however, about the emergence of Converge, a young adult publication edited by Shara Lee, to be published by CIS, and The Light, a Christian lifestyle magazine to be published by Steve Almond, a former publisher of BCCN. Jim Coggins, a seasoned Christian journalist, will handle the editing duties.
The web presence for The Light will be www.lightmagazine.ca.
All this has been happening 2,500 kilometres away from where we have lived for the past 13 years.
I am in my 72nd year. I will not comment on Edna’s age, except to say she is younger and still very beautiful. She continues to be administrative assistant to Maurice Vellacott, a Saskatoon area Conservative MP and former pastor, a position she assumed when we moved to Ottawa.
So, when Don Meredith, a Toronto pastor, business person and community organizer, was appointed to the Senate a few weeks ago, he and I had a conversation which led to the above-mentioned offer.
Meredith has a warm and vibrant faith. Jamaica-born, he is one of three black Senators.
For purposes of brevity, I have excerpted a few paragraphs from the OttawaWatch I wrote on January 3, shortly after his appointment:
Meredith is Jamaica born, 46, married to a woman whose first name is the same as that of Barack Obama’s wife and has two almost grown children, one now a York university student.
His gradual move from pastoral work — and a thriving landscaping business which still supports his family — began when two sons of one of his church leader friends died violently a few years ago. Frustrated at the growth of violent crime in several Toronto neighbourhoods, he met with then Toronto police chief Julian Fantino.
The chief challenged him to consider where the church has been, especially keeping in mind the biblical passage that suggests Christians “let their light so shine” in communities where there is darkness.
His challenge, he determined, would be to help churches in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) recognize their autonomy to act and work with violence among young people and in families. In due course, that vision extended beyond churches to other kinds of faith gatherings, such as synagogues, mosques and temples, to name a few. Today, GTA Faith Alliance is the vehicle through which many of his activist interests, and those of dozens of other faith leaders, are channelled.
“It is about people, for me,” he notes. “That is the way Jesus operated. We need not to be insular — but to look at issues together, not proselytizing.”
Through the years, he has structured things so that the churches he has pastored have been community centres, as well, engaging in helping young people and families to get a leg up socially and vocationally. The programs include such as computer training and conflict resolution, to name just two.–OttawaWatch January 2011
I encourage OttawaWatch readers to watch Senator Meredith with interest. It would not be surprising to see some of the initiatives that he has spawned in Toronto become models for what could happen in other parts of Canada. Those initiatives, I would predict, will be worked out in community-faith-family collaboration, especially in the interests of combating violence and developing leadership.
People who want to stay in touch with me can make direct connection at email@example.com. Otherwise, go to Senator Meredith’s website and check things out, both with respect to the Senator and to his humble “scribe.”
Veteran Ottawa journalist Lloyd Mackey is author of Stephen Harper: The Case for Collaborative Governance (ECW Press, 2006), More Faithful Than We Think: Stories and Insights on Canadian Leaders Doing Politics Christianly (BayRidge Books, 2005) and Like Father, Like Son: Ernest Manning and Preston Manning (ECW Press, 1997). Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org