WCC-supported film will share stories of Canada’s poor

In this big, diverse country, different kinds of people exist on the margins: Immigrants earning minimum wage in downtown Vancouver, farmers sowing crops in rural Saskatchewan, or Aboriginal teens job-hunting on a northern reserve—all share challenges of isolation and accessing resources.

Urban Rural Mission (URM) Canada is passionate about supporting these many marginalized communities. A new $16,000 grant from the World Council of Churches (WCC) will enable URM to make a film sharing some of these stories. The resource will then be shared at Edinburgh 2010, a major WCC global mission conference.

The Rev. Canon Maylanne Maybee, General Synod’s Ecojustice coordinator, is a key link in URM Canada’s work. She served as moderator from 2006 to 2009, when WCC cut funding for the international URM network.

“Urban Rural Mission brought together an interesting mix of people—not necessarily church-related, but related to the church” she said. “The story-telling became a very powerful way for them to support each other in their struggle. It was kind of a spiritual exercise.”

While active, URM Canada facilitated story-telling circles in Black Nova Scotian communities, hosted an intercultural women’s day in rural Saskatchewan, and organized a wilderness retreat for Aboriginal youth, among other activities.

Story telling was so powerful for URM Canada that in 2002 it produced a video and handbook resource called “This Is Our Story and We Live By Telling It—Storytelling as Community Development.”

Using skills from this first project, a core group of five URM Canada women will collect stories for this next DVD. The final product will be a collage of text, audio, and video, scheduled for completion by January 2010.

Looking towards Edinburgh 2010

The DVD’s final destination is the Edinburgh 2010 conference, which will gather Christian scholars and mission workers from around the world in Edinburgh, Scotland, from June 2 to 6, 2010. Organizers have identified eight themes and eight countries will host discussions on these themes. Canada was assigned the theme “mission and power,” and has already developed a case study on residential schools. The DVD will provide a creative complement to this.

Edinburgh 2010 will also mark 100 years since the Edinburgh 1910 conference, the first major international gathering to discuss global Christian missions. Many now criticize this event for being dominated by the Western church.

This is where the DVD resource fits in: “Edinburgh 2010 is striving to be more inclusive of a range of Christian traditions and of people from the global south,” said Ms. Maybee. “There is still a risk, however, of having the voices of the institutional church and academics prevail. This DVD project is an effort to offer stories of God’s transformative action at the edges or outside the boundaries of institutional religion.”

As Edinburgh 2010 draws closer, the staff in General Synod’s Partnerships Department will learn more about how they can support it. Several staff members are already promoting the conference, and some may attend as delegates. Since the Anglican Church of Canada is a member of WCC, these upcoming discussions about mission, justice, and the grassroots will both reflect and influence mission activities on the ground.

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