Trumpeting Jubilee, year three: Renewal of the Earth

Recently, Anglican staff of the Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative Working Group sounded a new horn for dioceses and parishes across the country: prepare ye for year three of the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative, Renewal of the Earth.

The ecumenical focus of this theme will be right relations with Aboriginal people and the earth. Nationally, churches and jubilee communities will work on issues such as Aboriginal land rights, climate change, and also on deepening commitments to global debt cancellation. The Anglican focus will be Aboriginal land claims and healing and reconciliation.

Information packages have been distributed to Council of General Synod members and Anglican Jubilee Network participants. In September, letters from the working group will invite parishioners to share news of any existing work on land claims, and to join in the national campaign.

The global ecumenical Jubilee campaign, which began in 1998, is based on the biblical concepts of debt forgiveness, liberation and renewal as outlined in Leviticus (“You will sound the trumpetÖ you will proclaim liberationÖeach of you will return to his ancestral property,” 25:9) and as echoed throughout the biblical liberation stories.

Despite the fact that some dismissed the campaign as utopian, it has had some success in petitioning the world’s richest countries, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel massive unpayable debts of the world’s poorest countries.

Since 1999 all G-7 nations, including Canada, have announced that they will cancel bilateral debts, (debts between themselves and a poorer nation) owed by countries included in the “Highly Indebted Poor Countries” (HIPC) category. However, the Jubilee campaign is pushing for more substantial relief, noting that these measures do not affect the bulk of existing debt. For this reason, the worldwide Jubilee coalition is calling for the expansion of the HIPC category to include many more countries. Most significantly, the coalition wants to see the cancellation of multilateral debts – debts owed by poor countries to more than one partner as mediated by the World Bank and the IMF.

Included in the year three kit are Jubilee postcards to be sent to Canadian federal politicians to coincide with a United Nations meeting and major world finance events.

In Canada, the ecumenical campaign broadened its scope to “make deeper connections to issues that affect us at home,” said Rev. Maylanne Maybee, Mission and Justice Education Co-ordinator, who sits on the national Jubilee planning committee and the Anglican Church working group for Jubilee. Anglican parishes will be encouraged to pledge support for the establishment of just land claims procedures, and to propose local healing and reconciliation initiatives.

According to Indigenous Justice co-ordinator Chris Hiller, the year three initiative on land claims allows Anglicans “who now have a solid grasp on international debtÖto extend this analysis to focus on the debt we have right here in Canada to Native peoples and to the earth.”

The Anglican Church has worked closely with the Aboriginal Rights Coalition — which has in turn consulted with the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association — to prepare actions and educational resources.

Ms. Hiller, who also sits on the ecumenical Aboriginal Rights Coalition, said that parishes will be encouraged to sign a pledge petitioning the government to establish a separate body for settling land claims.

This recommendation was made more than five years ago in the Royal of Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The United Nations and the Assembly of First Nations have also called for the creation of a new body to settle land claims.

“We’re hoping that Anglicans can help realise this vision in the same way that they really moved on the global debt issue,” said Hiller.

“It’s a real opportunity to join hands with other networks seeking justice for First Nations peopleÖ [and] to deepen our collective understanding of the global jubilee movement.”

Currently, 17 of the 74 churches and community groups that have signed the “jubilee pledge” and become official “jubilee communities” in Canada are Anglican parishes, including the first declared Jubilee community of Christ Church in Flamboro, Ont.

In the past two years, Anglicans have been active ecumenically in centres across the country and at the parish level, participating in everything from bible studies to letter-writing campaigns to a “J2K festival” in Edmonton. Most recently, in the parish of Cleopas, Kamloops, Cariboo diocese, parishoner Jack Jones penned a short play on forgiveness of global debt which parishioners performed.

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