Sundays are always busy for churches. This is especially true for one that is situated in the heart of a tourist hotspot like Montreal. Christ Church Cathedral could be forgiven if it dedicated Sundays solely to serving the hundreds of parishioners, occasional worshippers, and camera-toting visitors that walk through its doors every weekend, but that’s not the case. Instead, on almost any given Sunday, you will find members of the Cathedral community working tirelessly to improve the world we live in.
The Social Justice Action Groups
Inspired by faith and driven by a sense of community, Christ Church Cathedral’s Social Justice Action Groups (SJAG) do their part to ease the suffering of some of society’s most vulnerable members. For SJAG volunteers, Christian life is not simply about beliefs or ideas, but about living in a way that declares God’s love for the world. It is about striving to serve the community, locally and internationally, by placing the lessons of their faith at the heart of their social endeavours.
From ethically sourced coffee to sinfully delicious fair trade chocolate, the third Sunday of every month at the Cathedral is dedicated to encouraging people to shop with a conscience. Working in cooperation with local business and in partnership with Dix Mille Villages St-Denis, the Fair Trade group hosts a kiosk displaying and selling a range of goods such as coffee, tea, chocolate, herbs, Palestinian olive oil, spices, as well as crafts from producers around the world. The group is a member of the Association québécoise du commerce équitable and has engaged on numerous occasions with Equifruit, Camino (La Siembra Cooperative), and Umano,among others. Recipes and tastings are provided as part of its advocacy for Fair Trade practices.
The group, currently made up of eight volunteers, is trying out something new for Christmas this year: a service that allows you to put together your own customized basket filled with ethical fair trade foodstuffs ordered through Ten Thousand Villages. The kiosk will be open this coming Sunday, December 17th, from 11:30 to 12:30, just in time to help with last-minute gifts!
The Christ Church Amnesty Action Circle’s efforts have focused on postcards and petitions. Every second Sunday of the month volunteers meet to pen letters, write postcards, and otherwise fight for social justice in Canada and abroad. Visitors and parishioners are encouraged to participate by adding their names to a letter. Thanks to the group’s efforts, the congregation and many visitors have advocated for prisoners of conscience, and for people throughout the world whose own advocacy for women’s rights, aboriginal rights, gay rights, or the right to clean water and air, places them at risk of imprisonment or even assassination.
Promoting Truth and Reconciliation
The Social Justice Action Group actively supports the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and other Indigenous rights organizations, through disseminating information on issues faced by First Nations communities. The group has collaborated with KAIROS on a letter writing and postcard campaign asking the government to revise the school curriculum to teach students about Indigenous history. It has also collaborated with KAIROS and members of the United Church of Canada Extraction Justice Committee to host information sessions with Pilipino mining justice activists as well as Indian Act historian and critic, Dr. Karl Hele.
Help us ensure our social justice and social service volunteers have a safe place to work
Our Campaign was initiated to pay for urgent repairs to the spire and to fix the Cathedral’s electrical system and masonry, all of which had reached unsafe levels of disrepair. Our Social Justice Action Groups and our century-old Social Service Society all work out of the building, the central location of which is ideal for them to conduct their activities. The dissemination of information and opportunities for advocacy often take place during citywide events and street fairs. Your donation to the campaign will help pay for repairs to the exterior and to the roof and allow us to upgrade the electrical, heating and lighting systems. Of the proceeds of the Campaign, $100,000 will go toward the installation of an electronic lift to give people with reduced mobility access to the mezzanine area used by the Sunday school, the choir, and community groups. To donate to the campaign, click here.
Have a Say
Are you part of a social justice group at the cathedral? Have you purchased fair trade products from the kiosk or written a letter on behalf of at risk people? Would you be interested in telling us about your experience? Please contact us at Campaign.Communications@montrealcathedral.ca.
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