Thea DeGroot and her friends from Redeemer Christian Reformed Church in Sarnia, Ontario, wanted to do more than just talk about social justice.
The group started discussing social justice issues during a Sunday-evening Bible study last year. Then the idea of creating a community social justice group with the hopes of holding a social justice film festival began to take root.
“We didn’t want this to be a ‘church thing,’” said DeGroot. “We haven’t said we are doing this because we are Christians. We want to get a wide variety of people to become interested in the world around them.”
Karen Bokma of the CRC’s Office of Social Justice said many social justice groups with roots in the CRC move into the community. “Very often people find there is a supportive community outside the church—support which isn’t always found in their own church,” she said. “Much of the work that goes on, in Canada especially, is ecumenically based. . . . People can get a lot of support by meeting with others in their community.”
For the group from Redeemer CRC, moving into the community seems to be working. In April the Sarnia Justice Film Festival Committee hosted its first film, Toxic Trespass, which explored the effects of industry on human health. The event drew about 75 people.
A screening of China Blue, about blue-jean sweatshops, will be shown in September.
DeGroot said that after each film, the committee will provide speakers who are knowledgeable about the subject and who can help others get involved “so that people know there is hope for change. As Christians, that is [the message] we can bring—that there is always hope.”