Intertwining mission and justice at first PMEJ meeting

Fall is committee season at the Anglican Church of Canada, when teams of volunteer Anglicans meet to guide the work of particular departments of the national office. One meeting was totally new this year; the “Partners in Mission” and “Ecojustice” committees used to work separately, but now the two have been merged into the complete “Partners in Mission and Ecojustice” (PMEJ) committee, which met for the first time from October 12 to 14.

The merger was approved at General Synod, the church’s national meeting last June. The merged PMEJ committee will oversee the newly integrated programs within Partners in Mission and Ecojustice, evidence that missions and justice work is growing closer in the Anglican Church of Canada.

“We were doing the justice work in one place and relationship-building internationally in another place, it didn’t make any sense at all to me,” said Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships, the larger department that PMEJ is part of. “It’s like two things working in vacuums, so we decided, let’s put them together. It makes sense!”

Twenty-five people travelled to the first meeting, in Orillia, Ont.: nine staff members and 16 committee members from as far away as Inukjuak, Que., and Richmond, B.C. Some had worked as Volunteers in Mission, while others had attended Justice Camps. Still others had done grassroots mission or justice work in their communities. There was a real diversity of age, race, ethnicity, and experience.

“When you get a group like that at the table, you can do anything!” said Dr. Johnson. The committee will focus on topics that encompass both missions and justice: Anglican Communion in Mission, Ecology and Economy, Indigenous Justice, and Peace and Conflict Resolution. Members will work intensively within one of these groups before General Synod in 2010.

The committee also spent time looking beyond the work of the Canadian church. “We must lift up our heads!” said Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator, who reported on a recent trip to visit Anglican partners the South Pacific. Maylanne Maybee, coordinator of Ecojustice, also spoke about her trip to Rwanda and Burundi as part of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network.

There were other in-depth presentations, including one from John Kafwanka of the Anglican Communion Office, who spoke about his work in the Mission and Evangelism Department.

The committee is just starting to merge its justice and missions work. “Of course it’s going to evolve as well, as it needs to,” said Dr. Johnson. “My experience is that when you bring people together and let them brainstorm, it’s amazing what happens. So one wouldn’t want to start with the whole thing tidied up tight — not at all. You need to let the creative stuff happen.”

The current creativity of PMEJ will continue under the direction of co-chairs Sue Winn and Peter Fenty. The committee meets again in April 2008.

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