Around Town: Best of Enemies, More Witnesses, TobyMac, Jean Vanier . . .

We live in divisive times – conversations across political and cultural gulfs seem tougher than ever. Maybe we can learn something from Pacific Theatre’s new offering, Best of Enemies

Here’s how they describe the play:

Civil rights activist Ann Atwater is fighting a pitched battle for her daughters’ education. C.P. Ellis is the Exalted Cyclops of the local KKK chapter.

When a Washington mediator arrives in Durham to institute nationally-mandated desegregation Ann and C.P. are forced into an uneasy truce as they wrestle for control of the future. Based on true events.

Shawn Conner interviewed Celia Aloma for a February 25 article in The Province. Here is a portion:

Atwater “had a loud voice and a big mouth,” said Celia Aloma, who plays the brash historical figure (who passed in 2016) in an upcoming production. “She also has these zingers. My favourite is ‘You think you’re Jesus Christ coming to church on Palm Sunday and I think you’re the ass he rode in on.’” . . .

“It’s not very often I get to audition for roles that are fully-fleshed characters and who aren’t racist stereotypes,” said Aloma.

To prepare for the role, the actor listened to recordings of Atwater “to get the cadence just right.”

She also delved into the background of the activist, who was 36 when she took on the KKK. Atwater’s father was a church deacon and a sharecropper.

“She said her whole life she was taught to survive,” Aloma said. “And she wanted to show everyone else in her community how they could survive.”

Go here for the full article.

Aloma is joined by Rob Salvador, Anthony Santiago and Rebecca deBoer in Best of Enemies. Ian Farthing is directing the Canadian premiere of the Mark St. Germain play.

Pacific Theatre’s Ron Reed offers his evocative artistic director notes on the Soulfood Vancouver blog, moving from a row of red lunch counter stools to idyllic childhood memories punctuated by TV scenes of violence in Watts and Detroit and back to the present:

Pacific Theatre presents the Canadian premiere of the civil rights drama Best of Enemies. Photo: Emily Cooper

Only as I write these notes does it strike me how these things eventually manifested themselves in my art, and in my artistic direction, decades later. Remnant, and The Top Ten Thousand of All Time. Refuge of Lies, The Quarrel, even Talley’s Folly in the shadow of anti-Semitism.

That quintessential Pacific Theatre show Cotton Patch Gospel grew out of the soil of the Civil Rights Movement, from Koinonia Farm’s quiet, costly stand against racism in rural Georgia.

We’re not an issue-based theatre, so I’d never say these themes have been constantly front and centre. But as this play takes shape on our stage, I instantly trace a direct line back to my childhood nightmares, and a suburban white kid’s quiet obsession with trying to come to grips with unthinkable evil. . . .

And as far away and as long ago as these stories may be, the terrible realities they manifested are still entirely with us, even here. The past hasn’t really passed, and perhaps re-membering our old stories might reshape the stories we are living now.

Go here for the full comment.

Best of Enemies runs from February 28 to March 21.

Call for ‘More Witnesses’

Canada’s former Ambassador of Religious Freedom will address the Civic Affairs Committee gathering at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Marc Vella is so convinced that Christians need to get more involved in public life and politics that he has created Civic Affairs Committee (CAC for short; the full name is Christian Civic Affairs Committee of Canada). To that end he is bringing in a series of speakers to address local churches.

Next Wednesday (March 4) a presentation – More Witnesses: Lessons for Living a Robust Public Faith – will be made at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Main Street:

Christians are being silenced in all walks of public life. Pro-lifers are not allowed to run for political parties and Catholic doctors are being forced to refer patients to be euthanized.

How should we respond to today’s challenges?

Come listen to Canada’s former, and only, Ambassador of Religious Freedom, Rev. Deacon Andrew Bennett, and learn how to apply the hard-won lessons of such towering figures as Saints Thomas More and John Henry Newman to today.

The B.C. Catholic introduced Vella’s work last year. Agnieszka Ruck wrote:

Marc Vella won’t tell you who to vote for, but he will urge you to vote.

Vella has launched a Civic Affairs Committee at St. James Parish in Abbotsford that hopes to encourage more Catholics to get interested and engaged in local politics.

“I started to volunteer, as a lowly door knocker, in the 2015 election campaign,” said Vella.

That’s when he started to realize “Christians just aren’t really involved all that much” in politics.

“It’s no wonder that our country is going down a non-Christian path. It’s not that we’re fighting a battle and losing. We’re just not fighting.” . . .

“We, mainly, as Christians, don’t get involved, and when we do get involved, we do it in an un-strategic way,” said Vella. “I think a huge factor is people are simply unaware” of the options available to them. “How many of us have voted in a nomination race?” . . .

He hopes Civic Affairs Committees will catch on and spread to more churches across the Lower Mainland. Already he is in touch with some interested Christian faith communities.

“Every church you can think of, Catholic or Protestant, has some kind of finance committee, parish council. . . . The hope is eventually they will all have a Civic Affairs Committee (too),” said Vella. “It’s a key aspect of our lives. Why are we not talking about where the church and state rub up against each other?”

Marc Vella

Vella – who describes himself as “finance industry professional by day, volunteer do-gooder by night” – points out that the Civic Affairs Committee is non-partisan, hoping to involve Christians of all stripes in the political process.

The CAC’s executive team and their most-mentioned issues (abortion, euthanasia, parental rights . . .) suggest a socially conservative approach, but he firmly believes that church and state will each be healthier as Christians of all political persuasions get active.

Vella acknowledges that the current political situation – where it seems that even the federal Conservative Party (CPC) is being forced to the middle ground on social issues – creates difficult terrain for many Christians. (A recent Angus Reid Institute study found that “Canadian voters’ sensitivity to party stances on social values shows CPC has room to move to the centre.”)

He acknowledges the challenges, but responds that not only do Christians have the right and duty to get involved, but also that only way to influence the political scene is to actually join the fray.

TobyMac tours in shadow of tragedy

We’ve had a nice little run, lately, of Christian celebrities from decades past – Tony Campolo, Philip Yancey and now TobyMac. Fortunately, they’re all still going strong.

TobyMac co-founded DC Talk, which had a string of gold and platinum albums through the 1990s, before going out on his own. Along the way he has sold more than 10 million albums and won seven Grammy Awards.

TobyMac and his Hits Deep Tour will be at the Abbotsford Centre tonight (February 27). His musical career is thriving, but this tour is tinged with personal tragedy.

An article in Variety magazine addressed the loss of his son Truett last year, and its effect on his music:

Christian music star TobyMac has channeled his anguish over his adult son’s sudden death . . . into a new song and music video, ’21 Years,’ that is full of gospel overtones but doesn’t sugar-coat the anguish and questioning the singer continues to feel over the tragedy.

“The last couple of months have been the hardest I’ve ever faced,” TobyMac wrote on Instagram in announcing the song Thursday night, shortly before its Friday morning release. “Thank you for the love and support. Part of my process has always been to write about the things I’m going through, but this went to a whole new level. What started out as getting some of my thoughts and feelings about losing my firstborn son down on paper, ended up a song. ’21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write. I hope it’s for someone out there, or maybe it’s just for me.” . . .

“Writing this song felt like an honest confession of the questions, pain, anger, doubt, mercy and promise that describes the journey I’m probably only beginning. The rest is yet to come,” TobyMac wrote in another social media post Friday. “One thing I know is that I am not alone. God didn’t promise us a life of no pain or even tragic death, but He did promise He would never leave us or forsake us. And I’m holding dearly to that promise for my son as well as myself.”

He is going through with a four-month arena tour that [began] January 25 at Universal Studios in Orlando, in which ’21 Years’ is now likely to figure as an emotionally rough centerpiece.

Joining TobyMac tonight will be Tauren Wells, Jordan Feliz, We are Messengers, Ryan Stevenson, Aaron Cole, and Cochran & Co.

Jean Vanier / Burnaby L’Arche

The B.C. Catholic reported February 24 that Burnaby L’Arche community [is] ‘grieving’ over Vanier allegations:

Members of the L’Arche community in Burnaby are devastated after learning of serious allegations of sexual misconduct regarding founder Jean Vanier.

“The news is deeply disturbing and shocking for all of us,” said Denise Haskett, executive director and community leader of L’Arche Greater Vancouver. “We are a community in grieving.”

L’Arche International was founded in 1964 by Canadian Catholic philanthropist Vanier as an inclusive community for people with intellectual disabilities. The Burnaby branch serves about 33 people.

On Feb. 22, the findings of an independent investigation into sexual misconduct by Vanier were released, saying Vanier had inappropriate sexual relations with six adult women between 1970 and 2005.

The report described the testimonies of the women as “credible” and “consistent,” saying the women did not know each other and the inappropriate relationships Vanier had with them were “manipulative and emotionally abusive and had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships.”

None of the victims had intellectual disabilities. . . .

Vanier was an icon of L’Arche’s mission to create welcoming spaces for people with and without intellectual disabilities and visited Burnaby several times over the years.

Go here for the full story.

The article also noted that “The news comes as L’Arche Greater Vancouver is in the midst of a campaign to raise $30 million to replace its aging facilities in Burnaby with a new three-storey building for programs and housing as well as affordable rental units for seniors.”

L’Arche operates in a dozen cities across Canada and runs communities in 38 nations.

Feb 2020

Integrating Business, Life and Faith: Special Breakfast with John Neate, Sandy Tai & Enoch Weng – February 27, 2020 at 7:00 am - 8:30 am
TobyMac Hits Deep Tour – February 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
WomanCare Trivia Night – February 28, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Pier Giorgio Frassati on Friendship and Social Justice – February 28, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Singin’ In My Soul: Gospel Music Workshop – February 28, 2020 - February 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Spark 2020: Brighter – February 28, 2020 - February 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Delta Leadership Prayer Breakfast – February 29, 2020 at 8:15 am - 11:00 am
For This Generation: Family Ministries Conference – February 29, 2020 at 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Leverage Winter Summit 2020 – February 29, 2020 at 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Cathy Peters: Modern Slavery – Hidden in Plain Sight – February 29, 2020 at 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
BRAVE – February 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Roddan Jubilee Lectures: Stéphan Corriveau – February 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Amabilis Singers: Magnificat – February 29, 2020 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Mar 2020

Laudate Singers: – March 1, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The Book of Esther: a Multifaceted Discussion – Christian & Jewish Perspectives – March 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Bruce Kuhn: Luke – March 4, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
More Witnesses: Lessons for Living a Robust Public Faith – March 4, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Dalannah Gail Bowen – March 4, 2020 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Provincial Leaders Dinner – March 5, 2020 at All Day
Team Church One Day: Vancouver – March 5, 2020 at 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
WEA Webinar on Artificial Intelligence – March 5, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast – March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am - 9:00 am
BC Student Forum – March 6, 2020 at 7:15 am - 10:00 am
Apologetics Canada Conference 2020 – March 6, 2020 - March 7, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 3:30 pm
An Evening with Tony Campolo – March 6, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Israel: the People, the Land, the Future – March 6, 2020 - March 7, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Worship Central Conference 2020: Sons & Daughters – March 6, 2020 - March 7, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Project Dovetail: SOGI Training for the Church – March 7, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
St. Mary's Padre Pio Prayer Group Prayer Meeting – March 7, 2020 at 9:30 am - 11:30 am
Pray for Hong Kong – March 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Angela Verbrugge – March 8, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tony Campolo: Why Christians Should be Involved in Seeking Social Justice – March 8, 2020 at 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Waterfront Seafarers Centre: Open House – March 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Intersection: A Networking Opportunity for Leaders in Mission Agencies – March 11, 2020 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: The Hot Mammas – March 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Homegrown: Jazz Coffeehouse Concert – March 12, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Martyn Joseph in Concert – March 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
I Still Believe (Movie) – March 13, 2020 - March 17, 2020 at All Day
I Still Believe (Movie) – March 13, 2020 - March 17, 2020 at All Day
Tapas & Tabletalk: What God Cares About – March 13, 2020 at 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Surprised by Jesus Again: Reading the Bible with the Communion of Saints, with Rev. Dr. Jason Byassee – March 13, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Theology for Non-Theologians – March 13, 2020 - March 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 3:00 pm
For the Beauty of the Earth – March 13, 2020 - March 14, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Business as Mission Conference – March 14, 2020 at 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
SIM Monthly Missions Meeting: Past, Present and Future of Missions with SIM – March 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Tax Preparation Clinic – March 15, 2020 at All Day
A Multi-Faith Discussion on the Climate Emergency – March 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Closed: Knights of the North Castle: Broadway Church Day Camp – March 16, 2020 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Webinar: Canadian National Communion Service – March 18, 2020 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Postponed: Ray Aldred on Truth & Reconciliation – March 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: The Leading Ladies Little Big Band – March 18, 2020 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
24-7 Prayer Canada Virtual Prayer Room – March 19, 2020 - March 30, 2020 at All Day
Cancelled: Best of Enemies by Mark St. Germain – March 19, 2020 - March 21, 2020 at All Day
Closed: Shekhina: By Caitlin Ambery & Bailey Carrick – March 19, 2020 - March 27, 2020 at All Day
Webinar: Building an Effective Prayer Team – March 19, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Webinar: Ready or Not? The Urgent Missional Response to C19 – March 19, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Cancelled: SAMC Theatre Presents: The Tempest – March 19, 2020 - March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Christian Legal Fellowship's Prayer and Devotional Webinar Series Week 1: Trusting God in Uncertain Times – March 20, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Moved Online: The 41st Covenant Awards – March 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Postponed: Praise: with Kim Walker-Smith – March 21, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Nancy Newman – March 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Cancelled: Dead Sea Scrolls Conference – March 23, 2020 - March 24, 2020 at 12:00 am
Webinar: Epidemics – How the Church Has Responded Throughout History – March 24, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Postponed: Alzheimer Café – March 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Postponed: for King & Country: Burn the Ships World Tour 2020 – March 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Day of Prayer and Fasting Across Metro Vancouver – March 25, 2020 at All Day
Moved Online: Business Babes Collective: Passion to Profit – March 25, 2020 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cancelled: Business as Calling: Speaker Josh Davis – March 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Cancelled: Canadian Family Ministry Strategy & Practice Workshop – March 27, 2020 - March 28, 2020 at All Day
Lionsgate to Release ‘I Still Believe’ Online Amid Coronavirus Pandemic – March 27, 2020 at All Day
Cancelled: Into the Deep: Stop the Buying! Stop the Violence! – March 27, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cancelled: Biblical Apologetics 1: Answering the Challenges – March 27, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Postponed: Renewal 2027: Jesus Christ: Our Hope – Intercultural Conversations and Celebrations – March 28, 2020 - March 29, 2020 at All Day
National Day of Prayer & Fasting – March 28, 2020 at 7:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cancelled: Basic Creation Training with Mike Riddle – March 28, 2020 at 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Postponed: From the Margins: The Diaspora Effect – March 28, 2020 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Cancelled: SAMC Music Presents: Beautifully British – March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Cancelled: Worship Invades Glad Tidings! – March 28, 2020 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
EFC / WEA Global Day of Prayer and Fasting – March 29, 2020 at All Day
EFC Webinar: Being Church & Neighbour During the Pandemic – March 30, 2020 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
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