Festival of Faith Workshops Tackle Social Issues

The United Church is renowned for its social justice work and being on the forefront of social issues. These three workshops educate participants about mental health, Palestine/Israel, and medical assisted dying.

Mental Health Awareness in the United Church

One in five Canadians experiences a mental health illness in any given year. In the church, a growing number of ministry personnel struggle with mental illness. In fact, mental illness is the primary source of claims to the restorative care and long-term disability plans, at levels well above other “helping professions.” Because we yearn for flourishing ministry leadership, this is worrisome. Members in communities of faith also struggle with their mental health.

The workshop will help participants understand the impact of a mental illness, and develop strategies for helping themselves, or others, struggling with a mental illness. It will also provide participants with data about the current state of vitality and resiliency of our ministry personnel, as well as any challenges relating to mental health. There will be an opportunity to reflect on how the Scriptures inform our understanding of mental health. Participants will be encouraged to share some best practices on how their communities of faith are developing ministries focused on mental health.

The workshop will uplift participants with new perspectives on how the Christian story intersects with mental health. People will leave with inspiring and practical ideas about how they may begin to address mental health in their local setting. The take home message of the workshop is an invitation to break the silence and end the stigma and shame related to mental illness, especially in the church. 

Speakers: Adam Hanley, Morneau Shepell

No Way to Treat a Child

We are a denomination rooted in social justice, and Palestine/Israel is one of the focal points of our justice work. This workshop will look at the take-home message of the Gospel’s call to work in solidarity with our partners—who stand for peace, dignity, and human rights. The workshop will have a particular focus on the rights of Palestinian children in the face of an oppressive Israeli military system that puts 12 year-olds on trial, and violates the human rights of all Palestinians. This will be an informative and eye-opening workshop.

Speaker: Steve Berube

End of Life Decisions: A Pastoral Conversation

Recent changes in legislation around medical assistance in dying (MAID) highlight the importance of engaging communities of faith, and the broader community, in conversations about death and dying. The United Church’s report on Medical Assistance in Dying (May 2017) offers reflections on these issues, and acknowledges the need for pastoral and liturgical resources to support communities of faith in end-of-life conversations. The stories and symbols of our faith are a resource for supportive, pastoral conversations with those struggling with suffering—either their own, or a loved one’s—or struggling with making end-of-life decisions.

How can we bring these resources into pastoral conversations that take into account the new reality of access to medical assistance in dying? How can we best address the issues surrounding access to palliative care? What can we contribute to the ethical challenges that healthcare workers face? How can we compassionately support vulnerable populations in making end-of-life decisions? The workshop is an opportunity to explore all of these questions, and discover resources for continuing this important conversation in local communities of faith. 

Speaker: Gail Allan

All workshops will be held on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22 at Durham College + University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, ON.

The date, time, and room for each workshop was not determined when this news story was posted. Please visit the Festival page for updates on workshop information.