The Centre for Public Dialogue (CPD) had its 2019 work plan approved at the recent meeting of the Christian Reformed Church’s Council of Delegates. (The Council acts on behalf of synod, the CRC’s annual leadership meeting.) The Centre is a Canadian ministry of the CRC that focuses on dialogue with the Canadian government and empowering citizens on a range of social justice issues.
Indigenous education reform remains at the top of the Centre’s work, as it has been for the last number of years. Director Mike Hogeterp said they plan to do careful analysis and advocacy on this issue in advance of the federal election in October.
Work also continues on refugee settlement and integration, working in partnership with World Renew, Citizens for Public Justice, and the Mennonite Central Committee. The Centre’s report noted that controversies over irregular border crossings into Canada continues to influence negative public opinion with respect to refugees in general. The Centre plans to collaborate with its partners to encourage positive public narratives about refugees.
The Centre moved creation care and climate justice to its main project list, eliminating a designation for “second tier” projects. CPD dropped its work regarding commercial sexual exploitation (human trafficking), due to lack of capacity.
Biblical and Theological Foundations
A new focus added to the CPD tasks is work on biblical and theological foundations. Hogeterp told The Banner that this is matter of course in all of the work they do. “However,” he said, “with the evolving context of deepening polarization, we’ve elected to dedicate some focused time to it in the coming year.”
Speaking to Canadian delegates, Hogeterp noted that the changing political context, how media shapes political understanding and creates echo chambers for many, is weakening the understanding of a shared sense of citizenship. “The church is unique in that it is one of the remaining groups in society that gathers a diverse group of people around shared commitments,” he said. “As such it has an opportunity to demonstrate civility and unity in diversity in the manner of salt and light.”