Social Justice Vestry Motion

Vestry Motion for 2020: Taking Action on Climate Change

Our 2020 Social Justice Vestry Motion calls for strong federal action on climate change that will enable Canada to meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Accord, support a just transition to a low-carbon economy, particularly for workers employed in the oil and gas industries, and assist Indigenous and coastal communities and other vulnerable populations, to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change on their local environments.  It also invites parishes to commit to increasing their own efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, in a way that is appropriate and achievable for them.

Social Justice Vestry Motion 2020 (PDF)

Social Justice Vestry Motion 2020 Backgrounder (updated January 17, 2020) (PDF)

For further reading:

Tips for presenting and following up on the Vestry Motion at your parish:

  1. Circulate the motion and backgrounder in advance of the Vestry meeting.
  2. Identify parishioners who are ready to speak to the motion both before and at Vestry.
  3. Consider exploring the subject in advance through an information session, such as a “Lunch and Learn” after a Sunday service.
  4. As part of your efforts, consider joining the annual Lenten “Give it up for the Earth!” postcard campaign from Citizens for Public Justice.  This year’s campaign calls on the federal government to invest in a national just transition and decarbonization strategy for Canada, which fits in with our motion.  Our Diocese has already been registered: contact Elin Goulden at egoulden@toronto.anglican.ca or 416-363-6021 ext. 240 to request postcards for your parish.

Why do we present the Vestry Motion? What purpose does it serve?

Throughout the history of our Diocese, Bishops and other church leaders have spoken out on issues affecting our society. Diocesan and Area Bishops regularly communicate with government through letters and meetings, and are invited to comment on government budgets and new legislation. Canadian law considers these communications as aspects of the Church’s charitable purpose.

For more than a decade, the diocesan Social Justice and Advocacy Committee has drafted annual Vestry motions on concerns with which our Diocese is connected: poverty reduction, affordable housing, care for the environment, welcoming refugees, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. These motions are non-partisan and the Diocesan College of Bishops must approve their final wording before commending them to parishes for consideration.

When parishes across the Diocese support the Social Justice Vestry motions, it strengthens the Bishops’ voice in their advocacy with government. The Vestry motions also serve to inform Anglicans about Diocesan social justice concerns. Each year the Social Justice and Advocacy Committee prepares a brief “backgrounder” on the issue at hand, which can be used as a bulletin insert. Additional resources are also available.

Some parishes shy away from presenting a Social Justice Motion at Vestry, seeking to avoid conflict. This may be understandable in some contexts. No parish is required to present the motion, and any parish has the ability to alter the wording of the motion if this is the will of its Vestry.

However, the Church cannot be insulated from issues that affect the world God loves. Learning about and speaking out on these matters – even learning to disagree well together – is part of the witness we bear to Christ who makes all things new.