Like many Vancouverites, Amy Dauer has felt helpless watching the plight of Syrian refugees on the news. But the 24 year old theatre graduate was struck with an idea recently: She could use her gifts for acting and playwriting to make Syrian children laugh – and help them understand that Canada is a safe place they can call home.
Dauer partnered with the Syrian Canadian Council to put on Vancouver’s Welcoming Squad, an interactive theatre event for Syrian refugee children on Wednesday (December 16) at the Vancouver Welcome House. The story, penned by Dauer, was funny and non-violent, as well as non-verbal so children were able to follow even if they don’t speak English. Children were invited to participate in face-painting, music and dancing.
Dauer, who graduated from the theatre program at Trinity Western University in 2014, said she hoped the event would be a bright spot for parents as well as children: “For a lot of parents, the greatest cause of distress can come from seeing your children living in despair and hopelessness. If we can make the kids smile, maybe their parents will smile too.”
(Source: Amy Robertson: TWU media)
Churches and related groups all over Metro Vancouver are actively welcoming, and looking forward to welcoming, Syrian refugees. I’ve heard many encouraging stories; here are a few of them:
There wasn’t a familiar face in the crowd welcoming them to Canada in the international arrivals at YVR Monday, but Samer Alragheb and his wife, Amna knew who Justin Trudeau was.
“I don’t know how they knew who the Canadian prime minister was, but they said he was a good man,” said Subrata Chakrabarti, who coordinated Richmond’s Peace Mennonite Church’s sponsorship of the Syrian couple and their 18 month old son.
They are the first refugees from the war-torn region to find a new home in the Lower Mainland, as part of Canada’s recent efforts to provide sanctuary for thousands who have been displaced.
Chakrabarti said Samer, 30, and Amna, 20, are originally from the city of Edlib which is 60 miles south of the Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. They fled their home and for the last two years have been in a refugee camp in Lebanon – their son was born in Tripoli.
Now they are here, thanks in part to funds raised by members of the church, Chakrabarti said the couple is anxious to start new lives in Canada.
Peace Mennonite is now considering sponsoring another family.
It was listed on the Immigrant Services Society of BC website, along with several other groups, as a charity looking for donations for Syrian refugees coming to BC. Vikki Stevenson, the group’s executive director, said in 10 years, she had never seen so much support.
TWU law school
The chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in favour of Trinity Western University (TWU) December 11, concluding that the benchers of the Law Society of BC (LSBC) “improperly fettered their discretion and acted outside their authority in delegating to the LSBC’s members the question of whether TWU’s proposed faculty of law should be approved for the purposes of the admissions program.”
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) provided a very useful synopsis of the decision and the overall situation:
The BC Supreme Court ruled today in favour of Trinity Western University (TWU) in its legal challenge against the Law Society of British Columbia.
In today’s judgment, Chief Justice Hinkson ruled that the Law Society of BC had not adequately considered the religious freedom Charter rights of TWU and its students.
“We welcome the outcome of the decision and the court’s recognition that the Law Society’s refusal to recognize future TWU law graduates’ degrees ‘conclusively . . . infringe[s] [their] right to freedom of religion’,” says Bruce Clemenger, president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Lawyer Geoffrey Trotter of Vancouver, who served as co-counsel to the EFC, explains: “The court ruled that the benchers denied TWU the opportunity to present its case during their deliberations and to have its submissions fairly and fully considered, and that the benchers wrongly bound themselves to a referendum of all BC lawyers in which there was no evidence that the voting members gave any consideration to the Charter rights of TWU and its students.”
- TWU, a private Christian liberal arts university with six professional schools, won approval from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in December 2013 which represented the provisional approval of the LSBC as well. As a result, the BC government approved the law degree program two days later.
- In April 2014 the LSBC benchers (directors) considered a motion to not recognize TWU’s law school and the motion was defeated, thus confirming TWU’s law’s accreditation.
- In June 2014 a special general meeting requisitioned by LSBC members was held to reconsider TWU’s law school and a resolution not to recognize TWU’s law school passed. The benchers then put the matter to a referendum of all BC lawyers, promising to implement the results of the vote.
- In October 2014, based on the referendum results, the benchers reversed themselves and banned future TWU law graduates from admission to the law society. As a result, the BC government subsequently revoked its approval for the law degree as well.
- TWU’s legal challenge to the LSBC decision was heard in the BC Supreme Court in August 2015, and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Christian Higher Education Canada jointly intervened in support of robust religious freedom guarantees for minorities including through respecting voluntary Statements of Faith and Conduct, and a robust pluralism requiring the State to respect religious difference and not to restrict access to professions based on minority religious beliefs or affiliations.
TWU has already challenged similar decisions not to accredit its law school by the Law Society of Nova Scotia and the Law Society of Upper Canada, winning a favourable ruling in Nova Scotia while failing to do so in Ontario. These Nova Scotia and Ontario decisions are presently under appeal.
The EFC was one of several interveners supporting the petitioners (TWU and Brayden Volkenant) in the case, along with the Association For Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada; Canadian Council of Christian Charities; Christian Legal Fellowship; Christian Higher Education Canada; Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms; Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver; Catholic Civil Rights League; Faith and Freedom Alliance; and Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Canada.
A recent article in the Province noted that the SPCA turned 120 in British Columbia this year (and celebrated its one-millionth adoption). The society was initially formed in England in 1824, as part of a series of reforms initiated the Clapham Sect, led by William Wilberforce.
A BBC documentary had this to say:
Wilberforce was a leading member of the Clapham Sect, a group of evangelical Anglican Christians with a strong bias towards social improvements, who worked for the abolition of the slave trade and promoted missionary work. One of their causes was the formation in 1824 of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. . . .
Chairing the first meeting of the Society in 1824 was Thomas Fowell Buxton; another BBC entry points out that he was also leader of the anti-slavery movement when Parliament voted to abolish slavery in 1833.
(Full disclosure: Family lore – my family lore that is – has it that Buxton is one of our ancestors. This fact is undisputed, though untested, and will probably remain that way, for fear that it might be disproved.)
Bible Society bookstore closing
The Canadian Bible Society has decided to close its high-profile bookstore on the corner of Kingsway and Fraser in Vancouver by the end of the year. A letter on BC page of the society’s website from interim national director Don Hutchinson announced the closure, making it clear that Bible distribution will continue:
For many years, it has been the privilege of the Canadian Bible Society to provide quality Bibles and Christian resources in the province of British Columbia through the local ministry of our Vancouver bookstore. However, after a careful evaluation of bookstore operations in Vancouver and across the nation, our Board of Governors has reached the difficult decision to close the Vancouver bookstore, effective December 31, 2015.
In making this decision, consideration was also given to the expanding distribution of Scriptures within the province through our ministry partners – churches and other ministry organizations – which do not require the overhead costs of operating a bookstore.
In conjunction with the BC provincial board, we are looking at possible locations in the Vancouver region to continue to maintain offices and a small display area. We hope to announce a suitable location in the near future.
Given the loss of spaces available for church meetings – and the store was ideal because of the large room on the top floor – one hopes the Bible Society will be able to find a purchaser who will allow churches to continue to meet there.
In the meantime, Grace New Covenant Pentecostal Church, which has been meeting in that space for 16 years, will have to find a new meeting place. Pastor Shawn Selvarajah would love to hear from anyone with a suitable location; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 778.881.3714.
The Bible Society has a long history in BC. From its website:
The Bible Society’s first work in BC was during the Gold Rush of 1858 – 1861, when the Upper Canada Bible Society sent Scriptures in several languages to miners panning gold on the Fraser and other rivers. . . . In 1899 a branch began in Vancouver.
December 10, 2015Bev Ellis: Splendour of the Raw & Flawed – December 10, 2015 - December 18, 2015 at All Day
Timberline Country Christmas 2015 – December 10, 2015 - December 20, 2015 at All Day
December 13, 2015Christmas Presence (not every night) – December 13, 2015 - December 21, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
December 16, 2015Bethlehem Walk – December 16, 2015 - December 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
December 17, 2015A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Winter Harp – December 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 17, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
December 18, 2015A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 18, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 18, 2015 at 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
musica intima: A Christmas Story – December 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Vancouver Chamber Choir: A Dylan Thomas Christmas - A Child's Christmas in Wales – December 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
December 19, 2015Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Vancouver Cantata Singers: Christmas Reprise XIII – December 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Laudate Singers Free Family Christmas Concert – December 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Christmas Eleganza Tour with Claudia Santiago and Special Guest Performers – December 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Gloria Project Concert – December 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Story of Christmas – December 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
musica intima: A Christmas Story – December 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Winter Harp – December 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Vancouver Chamber Choir: A Charlie Brown Christms - Finding the True Meaning – December 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
December 20, 2015Winter Harp – December 20, 2015 at All Day
Early Music Vancouver: Festive Cantatas – Praetorius Christmas Vespers – December 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
A Traditional Christmas with the VSO – December 20, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 21, 2015Blue Christmas – December 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 22, 2015Light: A Christmas Concert – December 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
December 23, 2015Christmas Eve Eve: Carols in the City – December 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
December 24, 2015Good Noise: Gospel for the City – December 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Jesus' Birthday Party for Children – December 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Journey of Christmas – December 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
December 27, 2015Canada Chinese Christian Winter Conference 2015 – December 27, 2015 - December 31, 2015 at All Day
December 31, 2015Worship Invades 2016 – December 31, 2015 - January 1, 2016 at 9:00 pm - 1:00 am
January 4, 2016Encountering the World of Islam (online) – January 4, 2016 at All Day
Take Back the Land: Voices from the Frontlines! – January 4, 2016 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
January 5, 2016Kairos Course (Tuesday evenings, one weekend) – January 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
January 8, 2016YC Conference: Just Jesus – January 8, 2016 - January 9, 2016 at All Day
Towers and Trees – January 8, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
This Thin Place – January 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
January 10, 2016Willingdon School of the Bible: Winter 2016 – January 10, 2016 at All Day
John Arnott: Forgiveness and the Father's Love – January 10, 2016 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: K Graves / M Black – January 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm - 6:15 pm
January 13, 2016Vancouver Pastors Prayer Fellowship – January 13, 2016 at 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
God and Reason: A Christian Perspective (Wednesdays) – January 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
W.L. Hibberd: Winter Aesthetic - Opening Reception – January 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: The Daniel Reynolds Trio – January 13, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
January 14, 2016#SingItFwd Finale: Concert / Fundraiser for Saint James Music Academy – January 14, 2016 - January 15, 2016 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
January 15, 2016City in Focus: So You Wear a Uniform on Our Behalf – January 15, 2016 at 7:00 am - 9:30 am
January 16, 2016The Daniel Plan – January 16, 2016 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Worth - Whats it to ya? Comedy Gospel Illusionist – January 16, 2016 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Missional Cafe – Re:Placing the Church (Sean Hall) – January 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm