The Advocate by chenmeixiu


									                                 The Advocate
             A paper and portal serving Christian Reformed social activists
                      A publication of the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action of the CRC

                                                   April 2004
Inside this issue:
Back to Eden...A CRC farmer tells us about making moral food choices.
Justice and Worship...Worship material for Easter and ideas to celebrate and reflect on Earth Day.
News Briefs...Micah 6:8 survives a storm, java justice at the CRC, youth pastor to return to Canada, and more.
Websites and Resources...In Exile for a While, Jubilee action kit, job opportunities, eco-justice resources, more.
Action Opportunities...Hunger Day, plus a reader writes in on her actions.
Advocate Calendar...Stay in the loop!
Contact information...Questions, comments, submissions?
Christ is risen! Shout hosanna! Celebrate this day of days! Christ is risen! Hush in wonder; all creation is
amazed. In the desert all surrounding, see, a spreading tree has grown. Healing leaves of grace abounding bring
a taste of love unknown.
-From Sing! A New Creation, 147
                                                 Back to Eden
                                                  By Anja Mast
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1

My husband and I recently made a journey back in time. We decided to return to the land – my husband’s
grandfather’s 50 acre farm in Jenison, MI to be exact – and to return to a vocation and way of life practiced by
both of our sets of grandparents and great-grandparents.

We felt that in order to live out our convictions of what constituted ―The Good Life,‖ we would have to take on
the complex responsibilities of caretaking and giving-back that are inherent in stewardship. And for us, as
Christians, environmentalists and conservationists, that meant taking care of a little piece of God’s earth.

We had discovered a farming model in Massachusetts that very much appealed to us: Community Supported
Agriculture. CSA is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farmer and community of supporters. Our
members make a commitment to support their farm, Trillium Haven Farm, by purchasing a share of the
season’s harvest. In return, from early June through late October, our farm provides them a healthy supply of
fresh seasonal produce. CSA represents a viable alternative to our current model of industrial agriculture:
where most food travels, on average, 1,300 miles from farm to supermarket; at least 85% of each state’s food
comes from some other place; and food is considered a cheap commodity, as opposed to something which
supplies life, health and growth.

The high quality and diversity of our produce is accomplished using organic methods and is the main reason our
members join our farm. But they are also making a moral choice to support a community food system that
helps a farmer continue to care for the land by paying him a fair wage. Our current global food system produces
cheap food either because land and labor are cheap (as in the developing world) or because farming has become
highly mechanized and chemicalized to cut the production and processing costs (as in the United States). In
either case the land and the people are abused.

The current idea that farming is just another industrial system, analogous to running a factory, shows how far
we have traveled from the Garden of Eden. To be earthkeepers (the biblical term for farmers) and stewards of
God’s creation, we need to view the earth’s resources—its land, water, air, and people—as gifts worthy of
praise, gratitude, responsibility, good use and good care.

So…visit your farmer’s market this summer, develop a relationship with a farmer, prepare the season’s bounty
and eat it with gratitude, surrounded by those you love: ―Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all
for the glory of God,‖ (1 Corinthians 10:31).

CRC member Anja Mast and her husband, Michael VanderBrug, run Trillium Haven Farm in Jenison, MI. To
contact Trillium Haven Farm, call 457-5822 or You’ll find links to more
information on the concept of moral food choices, Community Supported Agriculture, and links to justice and
creation in our Websites and Resources section below.
                                            Justice and Worship
For Easter:
As always, Alternatives for Simple Living offers a number of interesting sounding resources. Visit the Easter
index here: to order resources like The Way of the Cross
Continues: Reflections on the Suffering of Christ Present in People Throughout the World – a modern Stations
of the Cross which uses posters and a CD to help young people and adults see their faith in the world today, or
Stages on the Way, worship resources for Lent and Easter from the Iona Community.

For Earth Day celebration and reflection: Web of Creation is an interdenominational/interfaith organization working to provide
on-line environmental resources for faith-based communities. Click on ―Worship‖ under the Parish section for
lots of worship resources, including sermons, ―eco-exegesis,‖ liturgies and more. Browse through the ―Justice
and Poverty‖ link while you’re there for exploration of the links between poverty and the environment.
                                                 News Briefs
A Week with Micah 6:8 Successful Despite Storm
The snowstorm that hit Halifax, Nova Scotia, in February 2004, may have shut down the city, but it did not stop
the enthusiasm and commitment of the students, organizers and volunteers of the Micah 6:8 Project. During
their Reading Week, nine university students from Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia undertook hands-on
service within the inner city of Halifax and explored the themes of Biblical justice through daily experiences
and reflections.

A Week with Micah 6:8 was a collaborative project of All Nations CRC in Halifax, Christian Reformed
Campus Ministry at Dalhousie, the CRC Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, SeviceLink, and Operation
Manna. Service and learning opportunities offered by members of the Halifax Homeless Network comprised
the main daily activities of the students. Serving at breakfast programs, a drop in for street involved youth, and
other sites along with challenging speakers and Biblical reflection made for a memorable week.

At the close of the week one of the students, Annelies, shared, ―I enjoyed helping to meet other people’s needs
out of love not duty. I learned a lot about how hardships affect a community and break it apart, and it takes
people to really care to mend that brokenness.‖ Despite the weather, and other hurdles encountered during the
week, the group left with a deeper understanding of the causes of poverty and social injustice; a rich
appreciation of those who walk alongside people in need every day; a sense of blessing from having given of
themselves for others; and, a renewed commitment to seek out ways to serve in their own communities.

Check out the photos and reflections at
CRC offices get a taste of java justice
The ―Justice Café‖ opened for one hour only in the U.S. Christian Reformed Church offices, in what is usually a
rather drab meeting room. Employees were invited to bring in their lunches one noon hour in March to learn
about Fair Trade coffee – coffee that has met strict social, environmental, and quality standards and – most
importantly, guarantees a fair price to the farmers who grew and harvested it, many of whom live in poverty.

Response to the fun event, which featured Fair Trade prize drawings, lots of Fair Trade coffee to taste-test, and
a speaker from the building’s coffee provider, was good. In fact, employees in CRC Publications switched their
break-room coffee to Fair Trade a couple of weeks after the event. The Office of Social Justice and Hunger
Action is now working on the next steps to bringing the coffee in to the building regularly.

Is your church considering switching to Fair Trade coffee during its fellowship time? Read all about the
―Justice Café‖ at, check out the photos, and gather some ideas on how to make it happen!

CRC in Canada signs letter against ballistic missile defence
In a letter dated March 15, leaders of the twenty denominations and traditions of the Canadian Council of
Churches (CCC), including the CRC, sent a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin urging him ―to guide Canada
toward an intensified commitment to nuclear disarmament and binding controls over ballistic missiles as the
most effective and practical means of working for the safety and protection of Canadians.‖

Said Peter Noteboom, associate secretary of justice and peace for the CCC, ―Twenty heads of churches in
Canada signed this letter, which represents something of a record in Canadian church history, I believe.‖

The letter can be found here:

Deported youth pastor to return to Canada with family
The sudden announcement in January that youth worker, Benjamin Osei, was to be deported from Canada,
kicked up of storm of activity from CRC churches and individuals. Osei fled West Africa after being caught up
in Sierra Leone’s brutal war, in which he lost his first wife and two children. Once in Canada, Osei began to
volunteer his time with the troubled youth of the Jane-Finch neighborhood in Toronto. ―Ben's work is
amazing,‖ said Rev. Fred Witteveen, of Friendship Community CRC. ―The impact he's having on the lives of
young people in the community is profound.‖ From prayers to writing to MPs, to flooding phone lines, church
people from across Canada did what they could to keep Osei, in the country.

Osei is now planning his return, this time with his family, and now churches are taking action by raising money
for the ―Ben Fund‖, to cover legal and immigration fees, airfare and setup. You can read all about this
fascinating story and get a feel for the problems in the Canadian immigration system by checking out the News
Archive here and the Advocate article on the Osei deportation case here:

KAIROS Agenda for Just Peace
In Canadian Christian Reformed churches across the country, people have been signing the Agenda for Just
Peace action cards and sending them in to KAIROS. The Agenda is an attempt by the member churches of
KAIROS to ensure that a broader vision of security has a voice, in light of the present tendency to rely on
military security alone. Visit the KAIROS website ( to find out what a federal budget
aligned with the Agenda for Just Peace would look like, new fact sheets on each of the five demands in the card,
and a theological reflection on security from a staff person at Mennonite Central Committee. Use these
resources to deepen your understanding of the issues, and remember, it's not too late to fill out your own card
and send it in!
Good news from the Senate!
Earlier this month the U.S. Senate finished work on its Budget Resolution, which sets guidelines for
Congressional actions to come. This resolution, through a series of amendments, added $1.4 billion for
international affairs over the Budget Committee’s recommendation.

Through bi-partisan cooperation, Senators supported the Millennium Challenge Account, Global AIDS Fund,
and Child Survival and Health programs with their dollars. Read all about the Budget Resolution, what comes
next, and Bread for the World’s reaction here:
                                          Websites and Resources
Earth Day is April 22 - check out these eco-justice resources for some interesting perspectives on the
environment and social justice:

National Catholic Rural Life Conference This site explores the ―Ethics of Eating‖ - the
concept of food choice and consumption as moral decisions. For more on Community Supported Agriculture,
check out

Foodshare learning centre has an array of resources and suggestions on topics such as food distribution
(including community shared agriculture), food and hunger policy/advocacy, and community based programs.
Search the on-line catalogue at:

This book is the classic explanation of how the industrial food system works, an essential read for anyone who
wants to work for change in this system. Called From Land to Mouth, Understanding the Food System: Second
Helping, it is by Brewster Kneen, and now available (free) in PDF format from The Ram's Horn website:

Eco-Justice Ministries:, an independent, ecumenical agency that helps churches answer the
call to care for all of God's creation, and develop ministries that are faithful, relevant and effective in working
toward social justice and environmental sustainability. Sign up for the weekly Eco-Justice Notes e-newsletter
while you’re visiting.

And don’t miss the Web of Creation resource listed above in the Justice and Worship scection!

Job Opportunities: Students and others, looking for a job with international relief and development
organizations – here or abroad? Check out this page from InterAction: with suggestions of where to start your search.

A summer internship opportunity with Jubilee USA is available. While working at Jubilee interns will take part
in research, campaign organizing, coalition meetings and activities, outreach, media, and much more.
Applicants should have strong written and verbal skills, basic computer knowledge as well as enthusiasm for
social justice and debt cancellation! Interested? Send your resume and a cover letter (make sure to note the
dates you are available) to Jubilee USA Network, attn. Intern Search, 222 East Capitol St. NE, Washington, DC
20003, e-mail, or fax 202-546-4468.

Take a tour of Poverty USA. View the thought-provoking flash movie from the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops here:
Order your free Jubilee USA Network action and organizing kit, "Making the Links to Break the Chains of
Debt" for 2004. The kit contains educational materials and statements that draw out the links between issues of
debt, trade, health and peace, and resources on how you can take action in 2004 for Jubilee Justice. Just e-mail
Jubilee USA at or call them at 202-783-3566 and they will send one out.

The Rules of the Game: an Election Year Legal Guide for Non-Profit Organizations: a pdf guide to all the ins
and outs of legal advocacy and political involvement for non-profits (U.S.). Download the document here and
have your questions answered!

Most of us in North America have no idea what it’s like to be a refugee; that’s why the Mennonite Central
Committee (MCC) organized ―In Exile for Awhile.‖ ―In Exile‖ is a refugee simulation that takes youth groups
through an elaborately staged, but seemingly real, experience of running from sudden danger, navigating rebel-
manned checkpoints, and arriving in refugee camps where they cannot speak the language. CRWRC-Canada
will be organizing their own refugee simulation soon, so keep your eyes and ears open. MCC’s version, with
stories and pictures from former participants, is found here:
                                            Action Opportunities
US folks – get involved in Hunger Day!
Fight hunger as a community, and as a nation! June 3 is National Hunger Awareness Day. You can find all
sorts of ideas on how to participate in Hunger Day by visiting Click on the links at the top
of the page for ideas and tools to take action for individuals, businesses, organizations, and church/faith groups.
Get started on your planning today, and join others across the country to fight hunger!

What’s happening on the Justice Network?
Advocate reader Kathy Hulst wrote to tell us about the work she and Hillcrest CRC (Hudsonville, MI) are doing
regarding the controversial topic of gay marriage. Kathy wrote about Hillcrest’s participation in a petition drive
supporting a federal marriage amendment to the constitution. (The text of the amendment and more
information can be found on this website: Kathy hopes to connect with others
in the church on this issue - if you are interested please contact her at:

What’s your social justice committee/church group/youth group doing? Have you held an education hour on
refugees? Gone through a poverty simulation? Working to bring Fair Trade coffee to your fellowship hour?
Let us know what’s going on with your group! Contact Tracy at
                                            Advocate Calendar
April 13 and 14, 2004: Coordinating Council for Church in Society (CCCiS) meets. CCCiS is made up of
representatives of the Christian Reformed agencies and institutions and meets bi-annually to discuss and
collaborate on social justice issues. These meetings help to guide the work of the OSJHA throughout the year,
and so we ask for your prayers for our gathering!

April 19, 2004: Followers of Jesus, Doers of Justice: Can there be peace and justice for all in a polarized
and violent world? Join Gerald Vandezande, the elder statesman of Canadian Christian political advocacy, and
Mark Vander Vennen, Canadian political thinker, translator and playwright, for a faith-driven exploration of
current ―hot button‖ issues, including same-sex marriage, the war in Iraq, poverty issues and more. This
seminar is sponsored by the Paul B. Henry Institute at Calvin College and the Christian Reformed Church
Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action. Monday, April 19, 7:30 p.m. at the Calvin Theological Seminary
Auditorium. Contact Cor Smidt, 526-6233, or Peter Vander Meulen, 224-0807, for more information.
May 1-15, 2004: National Fair Trade Weeks (Canada). National Fair Trade Weeks is a two-week event
promoting Fair Trade. Join others for the celebration of Fair Trade Certified as an alternative to conventional
trade and a tool for economic justice. The theme this year is "Small change, Big difference"! Keep your eyes
open for local events in your area, or check for updates on events.

May 23-25, 2004: Pentecost 2004: A Call to Unity in Washington D.C. Call to Renewal’s annual Pentecost
gathering will gather Christians from across the political and theological spectrum to make poverty a religious
and electoral issue. Speakers include Jim Wallis, Bill Moyers, E.J. Dionne, Wes Granberg-Michaelson and
many more. Info about Pentecost 2004, including a tentative schedule of events and registration information
can be found on

June 3, 2004: National Hunger Day (US). Start now to organize a Hunger Day event in
your area!
Contact Information:

Editor: Peter Vander Meulen
Canadian Issues Editor: Sandra Elgersma
Managing Editor: Tracy Young
The Advocate is a publication of the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action
of the Christian Reformed Church in North America
Contact Tracy at with any subscription problems or questions, to receive the Advocate via
regular post, or to submit your questions, comments, submissions, etc. regarding The Advocate.

                                          Plug in. Log on. Do justice.
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