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Justice Prayers - March 21, 2023

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas - Psalm 65:5

Ontario to see higher numbers of economic immigrants under federal agreement

Ontario is set to double the number of economic immigrants it welcomes to the province under an agreement with the federal government to boost the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.

The federal and provincial immigration ministers announced on Friday that the province will have more than 18,000 spots under the program in 2025. Ontario Labour and Immigration Minister Monte McNaughton called for the doubling in 2021 when the province was allowed to bring in 9,000 people under that program.The new agreement will see Ontario go from 9,750 immigrants under the program in 2022 to welcoming 16,500 in 2023, more than 17,000 in 2024, and more than 18,000 in 2025. “It's no secret that we're faced with historic labor shortages,” he said in an interview. “I'm going to prioritize, going forward, health-care workers and skilled trades workers as the two groups that we're really going to work to recruit to Ontario to fill labor shortages.” McNaughton said Ontario has already put measures in place to prepare for a hoped influx under this program, including removing Canadian work experience requirements, giving newcomers more access to training programs and working to approve applications on average within 90 days.

We pray for those around the world who will make their way to Ontario in the years to come in hopes of meaningful employment and a new life. We pray that they might be welcomed with open arms. We pray for the communities that will welcome them, and for both the homes and hearts that will expand beyond normal capacity in pursuit of a new community that reaches across borders, languages, and cultures.

International Churches of Christ leaders accused of covering up sexual abuse of minors

Michele “Chele” Roland, a former member of the International Churches of Christ, and her attorney, Bobby Samini have filed a series of lawsuits against the International Churches of Christ – abbreviated as ICOC – which allege that its leaders failed to report as well as plotted to conceal the sexual and emotional abuse of women and children who worshiped alongside them. “They have covered the spectrum of abuse,” Roland said. “This is abuse of power – spiritually, physically, psychologically, financially and sexually.” One of the lawsuits is from Roland herself. She accuses the church and its leaders of fostering an exploitative environment that resulted in her sexual assault by an ICOC recruit. Collectively, her complaint and the others accuse the ICOC of being a dangerous cult – the Los Angeles-based organization with about 118,000 congregants vehemently denies that characterization while saying it is on a fact-finding mission about the abuse allegations.The lawsuits, which seek damages, describe disturbing instances of molestation against minors. And they accuse the ICOC, its founder, Thomas “Kip” McKean, and associated organizations of creating “a widespread culture of acceptance of the abuse of children”.

“What happened to your girls isn’t that big of a deal,” a church elder allegedly told a mother of two young girls who were sexually assaulted on church grounds, according to a February filing. “Most girls have been molested by the time they reach 18.” Five women filed a complaint in December that said the ICOC failed to stop convicted pedophile and church member David Saracino from sexually assaulting them when they were between the ages of four and 17. According to the legal documents, Saracino received a 40-year prison sentence for raping a four-year-old in 2004.

God, we pray for the alleged victims of this physical and spiritual abuse. We decry the abusive behavior that is detailed in these lawsuits and pray for the legal process to be just. Lord, bring swift justice to this this crisis, and healing to the brokenhearted and violated.

The 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

Sunday marked 20 years since American and coalition forces invaded Iraq on a mission to topple Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and find weapons of mass destruction. Former President George W. Bush and his administration wagered to the American public and the international community that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. The coalition found no such weapons, and two years later the WMD Commission, established by Bush, acknowledged in a report that the "WMD" fiasco was “one of the most public – and most damaging – intelligence failures in recent American history.” Forces did succeed in knocking Hussein out of power, clearing the way for a fraught nation-building project that would stretch for nearly a decade.  By the U.S.’s withdrawal in 2011, the costs of the war stood high:

  • At least 4,480 U.S. deaths and more than 32,000 wounded
  • At least 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead 
  • At least $806 billion spent on the war
  • Thousands of troops with illnesses believed to be caused by exposure to burn pits 

For Americans, we tell stories of our greatness, of our liberating nature, of our helpfulness to the rest of the globe - though the reality, Lord, is that America, to some, is the enemy, the conqueror, the violator of human rights, and the one who brings death. Help us to repent of this, O Lord, even for those of us who have opposed war but whose tax dollars fund the efforts. 

‘We have money and power’: older Americans to blockade banks in climate protest

Climate activists across the US will on Tuesday blockade branches of banks that finance fossil fuels, cutting up their credit cards in protest and holding rallies featuring everything from flash mobs to papier-mache orca whales. Unusually for such a spectacle, the protests won’t be led by young activists but those of a grayer hue. The protests, across more than 90 locations, including Washington DC, are billed as the first set of mass climate demonstrations by older Americans, who have until now been far less visible than younger activists, such as the school strike movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg. In a nod to the more seasoned age of participants, older people in painted rocking chairs will block the entrances to some of the US’s largest banks to highlight their funding of oil and gas extraction. “So far the kids have had to do all of the work and they’ve done an amazing job but it’s not fair to ask 18-year-olds to solve this problem,” said Bill McKibben, the veteran climate campaigner who co-founded the Third Act group last year, which is designated for people aged over 60. The group has gathered momentum, attracting more than 50,000 members and recently holding a test-run protest in New York City, where participants marched under a banner reading “fossils against fossil fuels.” “Older people have got money and structural power coming out of our ears,” said McKibben, who is 62. “We have to show young people we have their back. I’m going to be dead before the climate crisis is at its absolute worst, but being nearer the exit than the entrance concentrates one’s mind to notions of legacy and we are the first generation to leave the world in a worse place than we found it.

Lord, we give you thanks for individuals like Bill McKibben and so many like him who have mobilized with vigor in their ‘third act’ to serve as a moral witness to the power of organizing, to the fusion of movements and interests, and to the hope found in people working across generations for our collective wellbeing. We pray that they might galvanize a movement!

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Advocate with Dreamers: Support Pathways to Citizenship!

A permanent legislative solution is needed to protect the lives, dreams, families, and futures of Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants, who are often exposed to vulnerable and dehumanizing conditions because of their status.  Using our editable email template, urge your Members of Congress to ensure a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS-holders, and essential workers.

Advocate for Reconciliation in Indigenous Education

Canadians join us in asking members of Parliament and Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu to continue Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and fully implement TRC Calls to Action 7-10 for Indigenous education.

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