It’s election time in Canada once again. You might be wondering if this election really matters, or if your vote can really make a difference.
That’s why it is timely to draw attention to some work of the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada – in which Mennonite Church Canada is a member - and to point you to some related work of our valued partner, Mennonite Central Committee.
This election, I call on you and your congregation to engage in what we can all to together: challenge ALL electoral candidates in your respective ridings on what the church has already agreed upon: reduce poverty, counter climate change in meaningful ways, increase overseas development assistance, use non-military efforts to end war in Afghanistan, eliminate nuclear weapons, and more.
·Together with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), Mennonite Church Canada is lending our voice in an appeal to federal party leaders. The CCC represents 23 member denominations, including Mennonite Church Canada, and represents 85% of Christians in Canada. Together, we have a powerful and influential voice for change – if we choose to use it. A CCC letter of challenge has been sent to all political party leaders (http://councilofchurches.ca/en/news-view.cfm?newsID=142). Everyone – whether you are in the pew, an area church leader, or staff in Mennonite Church Canada, can add their voice to this letter by ensuring that candidates in as many federal ridings as possible also receive this message, and a request for a response to the challenges issued.
·The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has produced an election kit for congregations that addresses many if the same social issues as the CCC letter, plus some additional issues (http://www.theefc.ca/election).
·Via Mennonite Central Committee’s Ottawa Office, you can track the government’s responses and progress on issues that are MCC priorities (http://ottawa.mcc.org/legislation-log).
·In addition, ask your candidates to respond to the Campaign to Establish a Federal Department of Peace in Canada (http://www.departmentofpeace.ca/). Would your candidate support this initiative?
It’s hard to know if candidate responses to these challenges will help you decide how to vote, but challenging candidates on these issues helps to build awareness among political leaders that there is a compassionate church in Canada that cares about these matters. Doing so in an ongoing way – beyond just election times – is important too, and has a positive cumulative effect.
Your voice is important during this window of opportunity. Thank you for working with Mennonite Church Canada and our partners at the national level to do together what is much harder to do alone. And please do share your experiences with the Candidate Challenge by firstname.lastname@example.org or posting a short description of your candidates response to http://www.liveforpeace.org/forum/2.
--April 6, 2011