Cardus Gives Canadian Millennials a Forum For Public Faith

Andrew Bennett (center), director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, welcomes participants to the first Faith in the Future summit in November 2019.
Trevor Black
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Cardus is a faith-based think tank centered in Hamilton, Ont., and “dedicated to promoting a flourishing society through independent research, robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary.” Their Faith in the Future initiative is building a network of young faith leaders in Canada, to support the development of living a public faith.

The idea for Faith in the Future came out of a millennial summit that Cardus hosted in Ottawa, Ont., in July 2017 as part of Faith in Canada 150 initiative. The event gathered millennial leaders of different faiths to discuss what it would look like to engage fully in public life while fully living one’s faith. Andrew Bennett, director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, said “I think there was a lot of skepticism when we launched, but over the summit, the young adults were so engaged, and they had so much joy at the end that we thought we had to do something like this on a more permanent basis.”

Faith in the Future has since hosted a summit in Toronto, Ont. (November 2019), and plans to host another in western Canada this Spring. The intention of the events is to “give young faith leaders the tools, knowledge, and confidence to live a public faith within and outside of their own faith communities.”

Chantal Huinink is an endorsed chaplain with the Christian Reformed Chaplaincy Care Ministry, attends Waterloo (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church, and works for Christian Horizons as the coordinator for organizational and spiritual life. Through her position at Christian Horizons, Huinink was recommended to apply to the Faith in the Future summit that took place in November.

Huinink said, “Faith in the Future impacts me in recognizing that as people who live out different faiths, we can still support one another to be authentically and passionately who we are.”

Sam Oosterhoff is Canadian Reformed and the Member of Provincial Parliament for Niagara West, Ont. He attended the initial Ottawa event and was a panelist and participant at Faith in the Future’s November summit. Oosterhoff has been involved in conversations with other young adults to discuss the role of faith in public life. He said, “These are not things that are necessarily discussed, even though people know they're very important. We live in a culture where even if it’s important it's not considered normal to speak about, it’s considered preachy, but (Faith in the Future) is a chance to work together to create an understanding culture around the diversity of religious expression.”

Huinink said, “The more valuable approach that Cardus offers is that we are not to overlook each other's differences or to avoid them. The things that differentiate us are some of the things that are the most important, so (we are) learning to speak about those things in ways that are respectful and honor one another as image bearers  God.”

Bennett said future summits may look at specific dimensions of living faith publicly, “something like public faith and the environment, public faith and human sexuality … there are a bunch of themes we’re playing with.” In the meantime, the organization is growing the Faith in the Future network. Young people of faith interested in getting involved can contact info@faithinthefuture.ca.

About the Author

Kristen Parker is a freelance writer. She has a passion for words and creativity. Kristen and her husband Chris, enjoy board games and thrift shopping. Kristen attended Barrie First CRC her whole life, though she has recently moved to Toronto.

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