This year, the annual Outreach and Advocacy Conference of the Diocese of Toronto will take place on Saturday, November 4, so as not to conflict with area Pre-Synod meetings scheduled in October. The conference also has a new venue, St. John’s, York Mills, which is readily accessible by TTC as well as by car from the 401. It is hoped that this location will make it easier for more people to attend.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Becoming God’s people: Embracing difference, building solidarity.” While the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God is that of a diverse multitude of people brought into communion through Christ as members of one body, all too often in our society, and even in our churches, there remain barriers to listening to and fully welcoming each other. This year’s conference aims at helping us to break down those barriers, examine our own privilege, and learn to hear what others in our pews and in our communities are saying. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Carl James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education at York University. Dr. James is well-known for his work on the impact of structural racism on youth in the GTA and is also Chair of the Black Experience Project Research Advisory Committee, whose report on the Black experience in Toronto was released earlier this summer.
Morning and afternoon workshops will include topics such as unpacking one’s privilege, learning about inequity in access to housing, building interfaith friendships in the face of xenophobia, dismantling racism in the parish, youth perspectives on social justice, and what Christians with disabilities have to teach us about being the body of Christ. By hearing from people of diverse experiences, we hope to gain a better understanding of how we can stand alongside each other and uphold each other. At a time when our world is seeing a disturbing increase in overt racism and xenophobia, we as a Church need to find ways to embrace difference in order to build solidarity.
As in prior years, several Faithworks ministries will host displays where conference attendees can learn more about their work and how to get involved. The conference also provides an excellent opportunity for connecting with people from parishes across the Diocese, and to learn how other parishes are addressing justice issues and outreach opportunities. All are invited to attend!
Cost for the conference is $30 per person ($15 for student or those with low incomes) and includes lunch and refreshments. Childcare is also available on request. For more information and to register, visit www.toronto.anglican.ca/outreachconference or contact Elin Goulden, Social Justice and Advocacy consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-363-6021, extension 240.