We’re Still Here! KAIROS Community Celebrates Its Resilience

Five years after losing its government funding, the KAIROS community in Canada celebrated its resilience with “We’re Still Here!” events that included at least one Christian Reformed congregation.

The denomination is a member of KAIROS, an ecumenical initiative of eleven churches—from mainline to evangelical churches. Its aim is to seek social change in response to the call to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

KAIROS had been receiving funds from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for more than 35 years. The foreign aid work of KAIROS had always been applauded by CIDA officials.

But in November 2009, the government rejected KAIROS’s application for funding. Although the official reason given for the decision not to fund KAIROS was that the organization did not “fit” the new CIDA guidelines, mystery surrounds the cessation of funding.

CIDA—now integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development—had recommended funding the KAIROS proposal. But somehow the word “not” was manually inserted into what was intended to be the letter of approval. By a literal stroke of a pen, the letter of approval was altered to say the opposite. Despite appearances before a parliamentary committee and persistent questioning in the House of Commons, to date, no one has surfaced to take responsibility for adding the handwritten word to the letter.

In the wake of that loss of funding, supporters, churches, and Catholic religious orders increased their support, and KAIROS survived. This survival was the incentive for cross-Canada events on November 30 to celebrate: “We’re Still Here!”

In Edmonton, Alberta, members of Fellowship CRC incorporated the celebration into their first Advent Sunday service by having a special offering for KAIROS that raised $2,154. After church, members posed for a communal photo to show their support for the organization. Children held signs with the words, “We’re Still Here!”

“You know how small a congregation we are, so this was a wonderful surprise!” exclaimed church member and KAIROS board member Louisa Bruinsma. “It is so affirming to see such strong support for social justice, and to stand with our ecumenical partners in the Lutheran, Anglican, Mennonite, Catholic, Society of Friends (Quakers), United Church, and Presbyterian communities, and together state that this work will continue, that KAIROS is not going away and is still around.” 

A T-shirt replicates the mysterious “not” that was inserted into a CIDA document, denying KAIROS funding. Members of Fellowship CRC in Edmonton rally to celebrate the survival of KAIROS.

About the Author

Janet A. Greidanus is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classes Alberta North and Alberta South/Saskatchewan.

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