Worship leaders, planners, musicians, pastors, artists, and justice seekers will come together on Oct. 21 for an all-day workshop at First Christian Reformed Church in Toronto, Ont., to discuss how justice, the arts, and worship intersect in today’s society.
The event, For Such a Time as This: Worship Meets Justice and the Arts in Turbulent Times, is a collaborative effort by the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue, CRC Worship Ministries, First CRC, and the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS).
Participants will be able to choose one of six workshop “streams” for the day, with the hope of building up learning, relationships, and practical tools throughout the day. Streams include topics such as Justice and Creative Writing; Justice, Prayer, and Soul Care; and Preaching Justice.
Héctor Acero Ferrer of ICS, one of the presenters at the event, said he hopes to see participants really look at how we think about justice. “This workshop will be an opportunity to think about this topic more deeply, allowing participants to explore their own motivations for action, and how their biblical knowledge, worship experience, and personal formation shape their commitment to a world in great need,” he said.
Students of Toronto District Christian High School will help to open the day with a performance of the play Just Faith? Included in a time of worship and welcome, the play will reflect on what it means to pursue justice as people of faith.
Organizers saw it as a good fit, both in its topic and in the youthfulness of its cast. Teacher and director Richard Peters, reflecting on the choice, noted, “While these students are young and don't have the skills and training of professional actors, they are at the beginning of their journey struggling through these issues. . . . My hope is that their youthful idealism, energy, and outlook will add an element that polished professional players could not.”
In a workshop about race and racism, leaders Bernadette Arthur of the office of Race Relations and Kim Radersma, an anti-racism educator and scholar, plan to focus on how to engage church communities in healthy, respectful, and fruitful discussions about race.
To counteract a common tendency to avoid dialogue because we don’t see it as “our” problem, or out of fear of offending, they hope to equip participants with ideas and inspiration for discussions that can build diversity and awareness.
James Dekker, a CRC minister and former missionary, will help to lead a workshop on justice preaching. “We’re going to explore the need, risks, and pitfalls of justice preaching,” he said, “including anecdotes of experience of preaching for justice.”
The impact, he hopes, will be that preachers will dig into justice themes throughout the different church seasons, helping Christians to see the Scriptures as a story of God doing justice with grace.
Participants can practice justice even in how they purchase tickets for the event. The general admission cost is $95; however, participants can choose to sponsor an equity ticket, paying the balance to make tickets available to other participants with limited resources for just $25. Further information about tickets and other event details can be found on the event website.
Justice should be part of our daily lives, says Cindy Stover, a justice mobilizer with CRC Canadian Ministries. “The long-biblical story has justice weaved all the way through it, because when you get right down to it, our understanding of what is 'just' and 'good' comes from God's own character and his commandments of how his people are to treat one another. So it's an image of God thing, but also an obedience thing.”