The diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee will host its annual Outreach & Advocacy Conference on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., via Zoom. The theme is “Re-membering and Re-making Community” and will feature the Rev. Gerlyn Henry as keynote speaker.
The theme was developed over the course of several conversations between the committee and the Rev. Gerlyn Henry this past spring. “After a year and a half of the pandemic, people are yearning for an opportunity to gather together again,” says Elin Goulden, the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy consultant. “Social isolation has reduced our opportunity to connect in person with our extended family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours and parish communities. While the experiences of the last eighteen months have taken their toll on our common life, they have also taken a toll on the lives and bodies of some members of our community more than others.”
The Rev. Gerlyn Henry describes the current moment as a “hinge moment. We are standing on the edge of what has been and wondering what will be,” she says. “The pandemic has illuminated the inequities in our society, and we don’t merely want to ‘get back to’ what was but look forward to the new community to which Jesus is calling us. Like the dry bones in the book of Ezekiel, we need the Spirit to give us life for what is to come.”
Ms. Henry, who is the assistant curate at St. Timothy, North Toronto, was born in Chennai, India and moved to Mississauga at the age of five. At the age of 14 she moved back to India, where she completed high school and a degree in social work. She then joined the ecumenical movement and worked with the National Council of Churches, the Council of World Mission and the youth department of the World Council of Churches. Soon after, she began her Master of Divinity at Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, where she discerned a call to parish ministry. After graduating in 2018, she worked as a chaplain at the children’s hospital in Atlanta and in other local parishes before returning to Toronto, where she was ordained in 2020.
Workshops in the morning and afternoon will explore the day’s theme from a number of dimensions. As the pandemic has revealed both the importance and the vulnerability of low-paid workers, how can Anglicans support their calls for better wages and working conditions? How are marginalized communities creating food security in the diocese? How can churches become places of welcome and belonging for transgender people? How can Anglicans support new affordable housing options in their neighbourhoods or respond to the increasing numbers of displaced people around the globe? How can they build alliances for environmental advocacy, and demonstrate solidarity with Indigenous peoples?
For the second year in a row, the outreach conference will be held virtually, over Zoom. As was the case last year, registrants will need to register separately for each portion of the day’s events – the morning and afternoon plenary sessions and the morning and afternoon workshops – and receive a Zoom link for each one. Generous breaks will be built into the day to prevent “Zoom fatigue.” For each session, a moderator will assist with timekeeping, technical assistance and keeping track of participants’ questions.
Registration will open after Labour Day. There is no cost to attend; however, donations to assist with the cost of honoraria will be gratefully received via the diocese’s website. (Donations over $10 are eligible for a tax receipt.) All are welcome to attend – whether for the entire day or only a part. “This is an event for everyone in the diocese – old, young, clergy, lay, deeply involved or just curious,” says Elin Goulden. To register, visit www.toronto.anglican.ca/outreachconference.