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

                                          February* 2004
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*Note: Though the issue is labeled February, this is our first issue of the new year - you haven't missed one. Since each issue comes out at the
very end of the month, we figured it makes more sense to label it for the month in which our email and regular mail readers are most likely to
open up and read the issue!
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Inside this issue:
Just Trade Agreements?…News from a church consultation on trade and globalization.
News Briefs…A Canadian CRC youth pastor is deported, progress in combating illicit arms trade, more.
Justice and Worship…Look on web-based sermon databases for justice-themed sermon topics.
Job Opening…Social Justice Coordinator (Canada)
Websites and Resources…No video card necessary to rent from the OSJHA video library.
Action Opportunities…A CRC pastor takes on the issue of amnesty for undocumented workers.
Advocate Calendar…Stay in the loop on justice happenings.
Contact Information…Questions, comments, submissions?
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                                                     Just Trade Agreements?
Representatives from over one hundred grassroots organizations, global ecumenical agencies and churches,
including the Christian Reformed Church, met 11-14 January in Stony Point, NY for a consultation entitled “Just
trade agreements? Churches in North America discuss globalization.” The event was hosted by Church World
Service and the Canadian Council of Churches.

Theologian M. Douglas Meeks set an appropriate context for the event by speaking about the economy of God. He
explained that the ability to address globalization in a unique and meaningful way depends on remembering that we
are part of Christ’s household - one that is characterized by the grace of giving, forgiving and hospitality, and is
intended to be shared with the whole world.

Following the theological foundation by Meeks, the group heard testimony from Mexican, American, and Canadian
participants concerning the effects of free trade in their regions. These testimonies indicated that the promise of free
trade to stimulate economic growth and lift millions out of poverty has not materialized. In fact, economic conditions
for those who gave testimony (farmers in Mexico, farm workers in the U.S., textile workers in Canada) have
worsened significantly since the trade liberalization trend began in the 1980s.

With these inputs to guide discussion, participants spent the rest of the consultation refining a draft conference
statement and action plan. The Declaration on Just Trade Agreements includes a theological preamble and principles
for just and fair trade agreements, while the Action Plan provides ideas for denominations and the North American
bodies to promote and work for just trade, including fair trade purchasing. Visit the World Council of Churches at
www2.wcc-coe.org to view the Draft Declaration and Action Plan, as well as for information on five other
consultations held throughout the world.

In a related but separate initiative, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is examining economic
globalization through an approach called “covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth”. Visit
www.warc.ch/pc/index.html for more information.

Over the last two years, the Christian Reformed churches in Canada participated in a series of discussions on
globalization as part of our work with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC). The CRCNA has not done a
formal study of globalization and its impacts on the poor and vulnerable, but we have heard some concerns from our
sisters and brothers in the South. CRWRC-supported cotton farmers in Mali feel its impact (see Advocate story:
http://www.crcna.net/cr/crjs/crjs_art/crjs_advocate_0803.doc). And the Argentina Reformed Church has challenged
us to examine trade liberalization and the impact it has on communities (see Advocate story:
http://www.crcna.net/cr/crjs/crjs_art/crjs_advocate_0202.doc). The Stony Point consultation added to the urgency of
these voices in stressing the necessity of Christians everywhere bringing their faith to bear on the current reality of
economic globalization. -Written with help from the WCC release Jan 27th
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                                                    News Briefs
Canadian CRC mobilized around plight of popular youth worker
Ordinary citizens became advocates this month as the Christian Reformed community in Canada rallied in support of
Benjamin Osei, a youth worker who was to be deported. Osei, who came to Canada from West Africa after being
caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone, has spent the past four years working with teens in Toronto’s Jane-Finch
neighbourhood. He worked for the first three years as a volunteer, only recently receiving compensation from
Friendship Community Christian Reformed Church (FCC) and three other area churches. This month he received a
deportation notice from Immigration Canada saying that he was to report to the airport on January 23 rd.

Along with Osei’s other supporters, many Christian Reformed individuals and churches took up his cause.
Congregations as far away as Vancouver prayed over the situation, and many individuals also called or wrote their
Members of Parliament or Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro.

Madeline Robins was one such church member who contacted her MP. Robins said that she felt compelled to take
action because the case showed an injustice or flaw in the refugee and immigration system, in particular that it
needed to have greater flexibility. Robins felt that since the system is designed to protect the Canadian public, the
goal in this case would be better served by allowing Benjamin to stay.

The flurry of activity surrounding Benjamin contributed to an unusual amount of media interest in the story. Osei’s
story was featured on Global TV, CBC radio, in the front sections of Toronto’s daily newspapers, and nation-wide
on the Crossroads Television Network. Said one advocate, the media attention is itself a success, giving such a
positive example of what refugees and churches have to offer to communities.

While the strong show of public support was not enough to change the outcome for Benjamin, it did serve its
purpose. As Pastor Fred Witteveen of FCC said, “God has won a great victory here. Serious questions are now being
raised from all quarters of the country about how our immigration and refugee system works.”

Attention and energy is now focusing on Benjamin’s return. A major fundraising campaign is in the works to bring
him and his family back and raise core funding for the youth program. Please continue to remember Benjamin and
his family in your prayers, as well as community in which he worked.

To learn more about Benjamin’s story, you could watch the January 15 television broadcast at :
http://www.crossroads.ca/broadcas/program.htm
Or read the front page article from the Toronto Star:
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358
637177&c=Article&cid=1074553808742

Progress in stopping illicit small arms trade
Small arms – weapons and ammunition that are easily transported and smuggled – have been a major fuel in
conflicts such as the one in Sierra Leone. Fortunately, according to a new report from UN Secretary General, Kofi
Annan, progress is being made on a global scale to curb this illicit trade in areas such as national legislation and
international law enforcement.
The report also makes suggestions for continuing progress, including greater efforts to block the flow of ammunition
to states that violate arms sanctions, and to pay more attention to the links between small arms trade and other
criminal activities.

You can read more about small arms, how they fuel conflict, and their impact on the ministry of the CRC: check out
this piece on small arms by Paul Kortenhoven, former missionary to Sierra Leone:
http://www.crcjustice.org/crjs_sierra_smallarms.htm, and the lead Advocate article here:
http://www.crcna.net/cr/crjs/crjs_art/crjs_advocate_0403.doc, by CRWRC Senegal intern, Valerie Stam. Kofi
Annan’s report on small arms can be found here: http://ods-dds-
ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N03/673/65/PDF/N0367365.pdf?OpenElement. Source- UN Wire

Getting out the vote
The National Council of Churches (NCC) unveiled earlier this month a $15 million get-out-the-vote effort aimed at
working poor families. The effort will include a “Presidential Candidate Dialogue with America’s Families” with
questions coming from low-income families, and a door-to-door get-out-the-vote campaign involving thousands of
volunteers. NCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar says that “the voice of the poor must be heard, loudly and
clearly. The ballot box provides that voice.”

The January 30th dialogue with candidates who accepted their invitations will be webcast on MSNBC.com and will
be taped and aired at a later time on C-Span.

Is your church involved in a voter registration drive? Let us know! Contact youngt@crcna.org. Are you registered
to vote? Want to change your party affiliation? Moving? You can take care of all your voter registration needs by
visiting an online voter registration assistance site like
https://www.workingforchange.com/vote/index.cfm?ms=NCC001 or https://ssl.capwiz.com/congressorg/e4/nvra/
and following the simple instructions.

Big increase in U.S. poverty-focused development assistance
Congress has approved a 33-percent increase in poverty-focused development assistance, plus policy directives that
will make the new Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) truly beneficial to people in poor countries.

“This is the biggest increase in decades in U.S. programs that help struggling people around the world escape from
poverty,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

The omnibus appropriations bill that passed the Senate on Thursday, January 22, included an additional $2 billion in
poverty-focused development assistance, roughly half for the MCA and half for the new AIDS initiative. –Bread for
the World Press Release

Thanks to those of you who contacted your members of Congress about the Millennium Challenge Account and
HIV/AIDS funding! Bread members sent 150,000 letters to Congress on hunger, poverty and health issues. Visit
www.bread.org to see how you or your church can join the Bread for the World network – and check out their
calendar for workshops on their Offering of Letters campaign called Keep the Promise on Hunger and Health.

Synodical study committees met this week
The synodical study committees on peace and war and restorative justice met early this week. We’ll update our
committee webpages at www.crcjustice.org with summaries of the meetings, and any other material that can be
posted.
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                                             Justice and Worship
Looking for sermons that focus on justice themes? There are lots of sermon collections out there in the cyber-
universe, but the Ministry Resource Center (MRC) at Calvin College’s Hekman Library is one way to do an
organized search through the web.
The MRC is a premier collection of practical resources for all aspects of congregational ministry. Browse through
the various databases and collections of sermons and search by justice themes, keywords or verses. Visit
www.calvin.edu/library/mrc.

Do you have justice-themed sermons you would like to share? Send them to youngt@crcna.org. We are compiling
a section of sermons on a new and improved Justice and Worship section of www.crcjustice.org.
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                                                   Job Opening
Social Justice Coordinator

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), an agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North
America (CRCNA), has a full-time opening for a Social Justice Coordinator position in the Burlington office. This
position is responsible for educating Christian Reformed churches in Canada about justice issues and engaging
members in related advocacy work.

A bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience related to Political Science or Development is preferred, and a
minimum of five years experience in a related field are required. Experience in researching, analyzing and writing
about global justice issues is preferred. Strong interpersonal, oral and written communication skills are essential.

In keeping with our Equal Opportunity policy, we encourage applicants from ethnic (racial) and first nation
communities.

A detailed position description is available upon request, or visit www.crcna.org or www.crwrc.org. For
consideration, submit your resume (electronic preferred) and a letter of interest by February 11, 2004 to:

Director of Personnel
Christian Reformed Church in North America
3475 Mainway, PO Box 5070 STN LCD 1
Burlington, ON L7R 3Y8 Canada
Fax 905.336.8344
Email: colemann@crcna.org
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                                            Websites and Resources
The Micah Challenge: www.micahchallenge.org The Micah Challenge is a global Christian campaign that will raise
a prophetic and powerful voice for and with the poor. Visit the website to learn more about the Challenge, and to
sign the Micah Call. CRWRC-Canada director Wayne deJong wrote about the Micah Challenge in this Advocate
piece http://www.crcna.net/cr/crjs/crjs_art/crjs_advocate_1003.doc.

American Rhetoric: www.americanrhetoric.com A nifty database site with thousands of speech texts, audio, and
video. Find everything from the Gettysburg address to Oscar Award acceptance speeches. Includes a large section
on Christian Rhetoric, and a section for scholars.

OSJHA Video Library: The Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action has some great video titles for you to use in
an adult bible study, education hour, or other group setting. The U.S. office has several videos on racism and civil
rights, including the PBS civil rights movement series, Eyes on the Prize. We also have several Primary Focus
programs, the award-winning Cry Freetown documentary on the Sierra Leone civil war, and much more. The
Canadian office also has a number of good videos for loan. On the subject of AIDS, the United Church video Beads
of Hope offers interviews on the global situation with Stephen Lewis, among others. Also available is A Closer
Walk, a documentary narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith. The video Websight: Connecting Youth to Global
Justice contains four different stories about situations of injustice. And Salvation is a National Film Board film on
the Salvation Army and homelessness in Toronto. For more video info, contact Tracy in the U.S. at 1-800-280-5275
x165 or youngt@crcna.org, or Sandra in Canada at 1-800-730-3490 or elgersms@crcna.org.
Updates on www.crcjustice.org. Social justice committees and small groups – check out Stephanie Baker Collin’s
article, Repairing Broken Walls, Restoring Streets with Dwellings, linked on our homepage. Ms. Collin’s article of
encouragement for social justice work works well to prompt discussion or to use for devotions or reflection. While
you’re on the website, check out the new material from the Committee for Contact with the Government. They’ve
posted some new papers, and updates on their work. Visit: http://www.crcjustice.org/crjs_ccg.htm.

Elections Matter: Vote to End Hunger is a Bread for the World voter resource created with support from the
Christian Reformed Church that provides tools to help individuals and faith communities become involved in the
election process. It includes: state-by-state federal election information and statistics on hunger and poverty; tips on
organizing a voter registration drive, working with the press and putting together a candidate forum or debate;
suggestions for how youth can make an impact on elections and political issues; resources for worship and reflection.
Download a copy online at www.bread.org or order a hard copy for free. You can also download voter resource
bulletin inserts in English and Spanish.
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                                              Action Opportunities
The CRC, product of immigrants, has always had a heart for immigrants, undocumented aliens, and refugees. Our
growing number of CRC Hispanic brothers and sisters are asking for our help in solving the growing problem of
undocumented workers in the United States. This is our problem, too, since as many as half of those attending our
Hispanic churches may be undocumented workers.

President Bush has proposed a guest worker program that would allow workers to stay legally for a period of time.
This is not acceptable to many Hispanic pastors such as Rev. Elias Burgos of Sun Valley CRC in Denver, Colorado.
Pastor Burgos is part of an evangelical group that has met personally with President Bush, asking him to support an
amnesty program for undocumented aliens who, for many years, have been living, working, paying taxes, and
raising families in the US.

Here is how you and your church group can help:
1. Sign a petition by going to the following web site: http://www.petitiononline.com/i1pacman/petition.html
2. If you want to be more involved, contact Pastor Elias D. Burgos at: E9987@aol.com or (303) 825-0121.
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Want your Sunday school or youth group to get involved in a justice issue that touches children and youth? Read on.

Each year more than 5,000 foreign-born children are found in the United States unaccompanied by parent or
guardian. Many of these are seeking asylum, fleeing trauma that includes persecution, abuse, and abandonment in
their home countries. Others are smuggled here for forced labor or prostitution. Children need special protection
and they are not getting it now. They are very often detained for long periods of time and have no right to legal
counsel or to adult guardians who could look out for their best interests.

This is a shame and blight on the US immigration system and needs to be corrected. You can help change this by
contacting your senator and representative urging them to co-sponsor the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act
of 2003. (S.1129 and H.R.3361)

For more information:
 Go to http://www.churchworldservice.org/Immigration/rene.html for an on-line resource for children.
 Go to http://capwiz.com/churchworld/issues/alert/?alertid=2440501 for an easy way to contact your Senators
 For even more good information and a sample letter to your Senators and Representatives go to
    http://www.lirs.org/DonateServe/advocate/Unaccompanied/index1.htm

For a Canadian perspective on this issue, check out:
http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040124/COVERFOCUS24//?query=child+refuge
es
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                                                     Advocate Calendar
February is Black History Month in Canada and the U.S.

A Week with Micah 6:8: the week of February 16-20, ten young adults will gather in Halifax for a week of service,
pursuit of justice, and a deeper understanding of what God calls them to in these areas. This project is the initiative
of All Nations CRC, ServiceLink, OSJHA-Canada, and the CRC Chaplaincy at Dalhousie University. Please pray
that the week will run smoothly, and that it would be a transformative experience for all involved.

Offering of Letters Workshops! This year’s Bread for the World Offering of Letters Campaign is called Keep the
Promise on Hunger and Health. An Offering of Letters is where church congregations, Sunday school groups,
college campuses and others write letters to congress about anti-hunger legislation. This year’s Offering focuses on
the connection of HIV/AIDS to hunger and poverty. The local workshops will introduce you to the campaign and
hunger and poverty legislation. Click on the Keep the Promise graphic at www.bread.org for more information.

There's lots going on this election year to educate, motivate, and equip folks to voice their values by making poverty
and hunger significant campaign issues. Save the dates for: Call to Renewal's Pentecost 2004 in Washington D.C.:
May 23-25 and Bread for the World's Annual Gathering: June 20-23, 2004 in Washington D.C. Another date of
interest: March 28-30 for the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office’s Spring Seminar 2004, which
will explore a biblical response to U.S. security policy.
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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
Subscribe: subscribe-advocate@list.crcna.net
Unsubscribe: unsubscribe-advocate@list.crcna.net
Contact Tracy at youngt@crcna.org or call 1-800-280-5275 x165 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.
                                                 The Justice Site at www.crcjustice.org.

				
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