An Internship in Advocacy
While studying psychology at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., Rose Henderson wondered about how, as a Christian, she could or should play a role in what the Canadian government was doing. Thanks to an internship with the Centre for Public Dialogue, she was able to explore and answer this question.
The Christian Reformed Church in North America’s Centre for Public Dialogue is a ministry-share-supported organization that, according to communications coordinator Victoria Veenstra, “presents a positive voice of Christian faith in Canadian public life; seeking justice, hope, and reconciliation in political dialogue and active citizenship.”
The Centre’s work comes out of the grassroots Committee for Contact with the Government that was founded in 1968. And the work of this committee “is rooted in a vision that the CRCNA has a calling to interact with Canadian society and governments on the significant and pressing issues of the day,” said Veenstra.
Training up the next generation of Canadian Christians who are committed to speaking into policy for the common good is one of the Centre’s goals. That’s why it regularly hosts interns as part of its programs.
Most recently, the Centre hosted students from the Laurentian Leadership Centre, a program of Trinity Western University, which included Henderson.
Students in the Laurentian Leadership Centre program spend a semester living in Ottawa, taking focused courses and working with professional organizations. Throughout her time in Ottawa, Henderson met with Centre for Public Dialogue director Mike Hogeterp and chose a meaningful project to be completed over the course of the internship.
As part of her project, Henderson reviewed Faith in Action, a workshop developed by the Christian Reformed Church to help congregations and small groups learn how to navigate the political system to have their voice heard by local, provincial, and national leaders. She then helped to translate it into an online course that individuals could take at their own pace and on their own time.
While contacting elected officials may be daunting, the Faith in Action course breaks down the process into simple steps that show how easy and effective it can be to engage with elected officials.
Henderson described her learnings this way, “The institutions that govern us can become avenues of change for us — but first we have to learn how to work together with our elected officials and build relationships with them that will outlast the ups and downs of the changing tides within the political sphere.”
Alyssa Broadbent, another past intern, helped create materials to advocate for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She was even able to participate in meetings with the minister of justice as part of her work. She described her experience this way: “I gained both hands-on experience and a peek into the inner workings of how this advocacy work unfolds.”
“Many of the interns have contributed greatly to the work at the Centre for Public Dialogue,” added Veenstra. “You might not expect that contributing ministry shares to the offering plate on a Sunday or donating to an advocacy ministry would help equip young people as they educate themselves and choose career directions — but it does!”
This fall, CRC News is sharing stories that demonstrate the impact of ministry shares. To learn more, visit crcna.org/ministryshares or invite Jeff Bolt (U.S.) or Roshani Morton (Canada) to speak to your council, congregation, or classis.