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March 3, 2008

ELCIC National Bishop and ACC Primate Urge Canadian Government to Address Homeless in Canada; Congregations and Members Called on to Advocate for Affordable Housing Solutions

The Anglican Primate and the Evangelical Lutheran National Bishop call on the members of their respective churches to advocate for affordable housing solutions for the homeless with letters and visits to their Members of Parliament.

In a letter sent to the Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, Monte Solberg, on Feb 27, 2008, the leaders urged the government “to address homelessness in Canada as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.”

The letter follows the tabling of the federal budget which left the estimated 150,000 to 300,000 homeless people in Canada out in the cold and another 1.5 million Canadians in desperate housing need without relief.

The joint Anglican-Lutheran initiative takes inspiration from the prophet Isaiah who asks what true religious observance is: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” (Isaiah 58:7).

“Our vision,” the leaders’ letter concludes, “is to go beyond the prophet’s call, to create a society where the hungry are able to eat their own bread, and the homeless poor are brought into their own house.”

“Being in full communion means more than worshipping together,” says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican Primate. “Members of both our churches give generously of their time and money to help people who are homeless. They run thrift shops, food banks, overnight shelters, and hospitality programs. But they know that charity isn’t enough. Advocating together for justice is also part of being in full communion.”

“I’m excited by this initiative,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “It demonstrates how working together in full communion we can make a much larger impact and a stronger witness, hopefully inspiring our government to address the realities of homelessness in Canada.”

The joint initiative is modelled after a campaign of the diocese of Toronto encouraging Anglicans to visit their local MPs to express concerns about housing and poverty.

Hiltz and Johnson are inviting Lutherans and Anglicans to write or visit their federal MP, and where possible, to do this jointly. The purpose is to ask the Government of Canada to:
Renew and increase the affordable housing funding which is set to expire at the end of 2008
Join with the provinces to develop a comprehensive housing strategy as part of an overall national poverty reduction strategy

On line resources are available at www.elcic.ca/ghda to help people participate in this initiative:
“Bringing people who are homeless into their own house” – a resource that explains this initiative and gives tips for writing and visiting with your MP.
A bulletin insert for use in church bulletins, encouraging congregations and parishes to become involved.
A copy of the joint letter from The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Reverend Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Monte Solberg.

To read a full version of the joint letter, visit: http://elcic.ca/GHDA/documents/LetterSolberg.pdf

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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