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December 2, 2009

Canadian government cuts to ELCIC's partner KAIROS will result in a devastating impact on human rights work overseas; ELCIC members urged to contact members of parliament and express support for KAIRO

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) learned today that the Canadian government has cut funding to KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives; a decision which will have a devastating impact on KAIROS’ overseas partners and the thousands of marginalized people in local communities they support.

KAIROS, a church based non-governmental organization that represents seven of Canada’s largest denominations including the ELCIC, works on a range of social justice issues, including human rights in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

An official from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) called KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery on Monday afternoon, November 30, to inform her that CIDA would no longer fund KAIROS. Corkery was told that KAIROS no longer fits CIDA priorities. No other explanation or information was provided.

KAIROS’ current contract with CIDA expired in September, but it had received an extension until November 30, the day it was informed of the cuts.

In a message to Bev Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, requesting an explanation, Corkery writes, “I know of no precedent for the Canadian International Development Agency ending a decades-long funding relationship with a major Canadian organization without notice in writing, with no reason and no transition plan”.

“We are disheartened that this longstanding relationship and decades of support by the Canadian government has been ended,” says Corkery. “KAIROS and the millions of Canadians we represent through our member churches and organizations do not understand why these cuts have been made.”

“KAIROS is one of our most effective partnerships,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “By working ecumenically in the area of compassionate justice we have been able to maximize our ministry in this area. The denial of CIDA funding will be a huge loss in our collective ability to be In Mission for Others.”

Bishop Johnson urges members of the ELCIC to visit their members of parliament to express their support for KAIROS and to ask for a reversal of this decision. “I further ask that they write Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, and Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA, expressing their disappointment and the critical need for funding to be restored,” she says.

The CIDA-funded overseas program received matching financial support from KAIROS’ member churches, church related organizations and other donors. Since 1973, KAIROS, and the church coalitions from which it was formed eight years ago, had received funding from CIDA to support partners working in regions experiencing some of the world’s most egregious human rights violations.

KAIROS work is highly regarded in Canada and overseas. As the November 30 deadline approached, KAIROS member churches, its partners and other organizations had been writing Minister Oda to request that she approve the KAIROS contract which had been sitting on her desk since July awaiting her signature.

Further information on how to help is avialable at: http://www.elcic.ca/kairos/ (please copy and paste this url into your browser).


(with files from KAIROS)

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 162,100 baptized members in 611 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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