2015 Conference Speakers

Brian Stiller

Brian Stiller was raised in a minister’s home on the prairies. Educated at the University of Toronto (BA in History), Wycliffe College (Master of Religion), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, DMin). During the 1960s, Stiller served as director of Montreal Youth for Christ, Toronto YFC, and Canadian president of Youth for Christ.

From 1983 to 1997 his leadership as president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada gave him national profile as a voice for people of biblical faith. By way of weekly television (Cross Currents), publishing a national magazine (Faith Today), authoring a number of books and public speaking, he helped move the evangelical community into the mainstream of influence and commentary.

Brian served as President of Tyndale University College & Seminary from 1995 to 2009. Tyndale is the oldest standing institution of its kind in Canada, serving some 1200 students. During his presidency they purchased a new campus. He was appointed President Emeritus by Tyndale.

Since July 1, 2011, Stiller has served as Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, a global alliance which serves some 600 million evangelical Christians.

His life mission comes from the time King David was rebuilding Israel. One group assisting him was described as those “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (I Chronicles 12:32).

Topic

  • His Call: Exploring God’s Heart for Justice

Audio

Michael Messenger

As President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision Canada, Michael Messenger is the head of Canada’s leading humanitarian relief, development and advocacy organization. With its Canadian operations based in Mississauga, Ontario, the Christian charity works in more than 100 countries around the world.

Prior to becoming president, Michael was the agency’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for five years, giving oversight to the senior leadership team and to all operations, including sponsorship activities that benefit over 480,000 children, emergency response in a variety of crises, and revenue of more than $415 million. Prior to this, he was Vice President of Public Affairs for three years, giving leadership to public relations, advocacy and education, government relations and communications.

Michael travels regularly to take part in World Vision’s work around the world. This has included on-the-ground assessment during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and an extended visit to Zimbabwe in 2013 to participate in community development and humanitarian relief programs. He is passionate about seeing every child reach their God-given potential, and about child and maternal health issues, community advocacy, and education. He believes strongly in the power of innovation to help bring lasting solutions to poverty. He is excited to engage with Canadians, to share
with them just how significant their support is in bringing about transformation for children.

During his years with World Vision, he has been a vocal representative to audiences in Canada and around the world, including with governments, media, churches, donors, and other non-governmental organizations. He has also been active in grassroots fundraising, participating six times in the New Year’s
Day Courage Polar Bear Dip in Lake Ontario, and running half and full marathons with Team World Vision.

Michael was born and grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts and a law degree from the University of Toronto. Outside of his professional role, he is a board member of The Meeting House church, Tyndale University College and Seminary, and the Burloak Canoe Club. He and his wife, Yvonne, have two high-school aged children, Aidan and Annie, and live in Oakville, Ontario.

Topic

  • Our Voice: Empowering the Church to Challenge Injustice

Audio

Rick Tobias

Rick Tobias is best known for his life-long advocacy on behalf of low-income and marginalized people and for collaborating with business and professional leaders to promote change in the city.

A native of Saint John, New Brunswick, Rick received a BA in Sociology from Acadia University and a Master of Divinity degree from Acadia Divinity College. He is also a graduate of the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education in Chicago. In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity from McMaster University and in 2012 he was granted an Honorary Doctorate in Laws by York University.

In 1983, Rick became coordinator of Yonge Street Mission’s Evergreen Centre, which he refocused to address the needs of street involved youth. His innovative work led to the invitation to become the agency’s CEO, a position he held from 1989 to 2012. At that time Rick stepped down as the Mission’s President and CEO to become the Mission’s Community Advocate charged with the responsibility to promote the wellbeing of the poor and vulnerable within the Mission’s Community and within the wider society. He continues to lead staff and volunteers as they craft programs that help break the cycle of multi-generational poverty.

Rick has spoken hundreds of times on Canadian poverty, urban ministry, youth-at-risk and strategies for community-wide change and he continues to be sought after as a consultant and coach. Since 1984 he has been a regular lecturer at Tyndale University College & Seminary, and has both taught and consulted abroad.

Rick lives in Toronto with his wife Charis, who owns a graphic design business. They have two adult sons, Jeremy and James. Apart from family and work, his key interests are motorcycling, music, and deepening his understanding of personal spirituality.

Topic

  • Your Turn: Engaging Personally-Moving Beyond Compassion to Justice

Audio

Unfortunately, there was an error with the audio file for Rick’s presentation. We do apologize for the inconvenience.

Workshop Facilitators: Session 1

Michelle Porter (Souls Harbour)

Michelle Porter cashed in her RRSP’s not once, but twice, to live and work among the poor in Canada’s inner cities. She is a social entrepreneur who co-founded two non-profits that seek to rescue men, women and children from homelessness, hunger and addiction. She is a regular columnist for the award-winning AGRM RESCUE Magazine, and a long time blogger at MissionMusings.com.

Topic

  • Serving the Homeless in Our City
  • Have you ever wondered how you can make a difference in the lives of people in your own back yard? No one need travel far and wide to find men, women and children in need. Join us to learn practical ways to have a lasting impact in your community and learn why putting feet to your faith is key to a successful Christian life.

Audio

Mark Miller (World Vision Canada)

Mark Miller grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to joining World Vision Canada in 2008, he was involved in church ministry for more than 15 years, first as a Youth Pastor in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and then as a Youth Ministries Project Manager with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada. Mark has always wanted to make his life count by making a difference in the lives of others. When the chance came to work at World Vision, he knew it was another opportunity to serve God by engaging the local church in global mission.

Topic

  • Making Global Missions a Local Passion
  • Jesus commanded us to “…go into all the world…”, but in our Canadian culture it can be a challenge to think globally when so much competes for our attention here at home. Come discover some practical ways to make global missions a local passion.

Audio

Unfortunately, there was an error with the audio file for Mark’s presentation. We do apologize for the inconvenience.

Rickola Brinton (Nova Scotia Legal Aid)

Rickola has practised law in the area of youth justice for almost 12 years. Based on Psalm 33:5 (He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord), she believes it is her responsibility to be God’s representative in the field of justice. As we see our justice system stray further away from Godly principles, her hope is to be a light in this dark world.

Topic

  • “Not In My Backyard!” What does Human Trafficking Look Like in Halifax?
  • There is often a perception that human trafficking happens in bigger cities or that it only involves gang leaders and organized crime. The fact of the matter is that sex trafficking is happening more commonly and much differently than we’ve traditionally seen. Rickola will discuss the youth justice system, contributing factors to trafficking, the warning signs and what we are still learning about this increasing problem.

Audio

Dr. Rhonda Britton (Cornwallis Street Baptist Church)

Rhonda is a native of Florida, having lived in New York/New Jersey working for two major corporations before answering the call to ministry and to Nova Scotia. She has earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Master of Communication and Information Studies, a Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry degree. Her desire is that everyone would grab hold of God’s promises of liberation; laboring so that the hungry are fed, the thirsty receive the living water of Christ’s mercy, the naked are clothed, drug and alcohol addictions are broken, domestic and street violence is stopped and people thrive as healthy, vibrant community.

Topic

  • Poverty and Racism in Halifax: What Change is Needed?
  • Can ordinary individuals do anything to affect our racialized society? This workshop will explore links between systemic racism, socio-economic disparity and the everyday needs of people in the Halifax region. If you have ever thought, “I keep hearing that racism still exists but I don’t see it,” “I’m not a racist, so what can I do?” or “I really want to stamp this out!” then this workshop is for you.

Audio

Matthew Barbour (Teen Challenge Moncton)

Matthew has been serving with Teen Challenge Atlantic since 2008.  He has a background in Psychology, is pending ICADC Certification through CACCF in Addictions Counseling and is a licensed minister in the Church of the Nazarene. Matthew’s heart and desire is to see those caught in the strongholds of addiction find freedom through Christ and become effective leaders in their homes, churches and communities.

Topic

  • Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation
  • This workshop will look at the current epidemic of substance abuse in Atlantic Canada and the roles that we can play as individuals, churches or organizations in helping those struggling with addictions to get the treatment they require. The hope is that, through this workshop, your perspective on addictions and those who are addicted will be shifted so that it is seen and understood in a new light.

Audio

Terry LeBlanc (Indigenous Pathways)

Terry is Mi’kmaq / Acadian and in his 43rd year of marriage to his wife Bev. Together, they have three adult children – twin daughters and one son. Terry holds an interdisciplinary PhD from Asbury Theological Seminary, specializing in Theology, Anthropology, and Indigenous Studies. He is the Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways and the founding Chair and current Director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community.

Topic

  • After the Truth Telling: How Do We Walk in Reconciled Relationship?
  • After seven years of truth telling, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has made 94 recommendations. They describe the essentials of a renewed relationship between Indigenous peoples and all others who live in or migrate to Canada. How do we navigate the challenges that each of them present? Equally important, is how do we ensure that we don’t repeat, yet again, the errors in attitude, ideas about and behavior toward Indigenous peoples that the recommendations address? This workshop will examine in a Q & A format, some of the ways that we might begin to address the TRC’s call for reconciliation.

Audio

Panel Discussion 1: How Do We Better Engage Young People in Social Justice Issues?

Youth and young adults have so much passion and potential to make a difference in our world. If you look at any major social movement in the past century, most have had young people at the forefront. This panel will be a great opportunity to talk with young people, youth workers, and pastors about how we can better connect young people to the work of social justice.

Featuring:

  • Gavin McCombie: Gavin is co-pastor at First Baptist Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
  • Matty Murray: Matty is a grade 12 student working with International Justice Mission Canada through her campaign Justice Awareness
  • Renee Embree: Renee serves as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries for the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches and as the Director of the Youth & Young Adult Ministry program at Acadia Divinity College
  • Lauren MacEachern: Lauren is MSVU World Vision Society President and Halifax Youth Ambassador
  • Moderator: Mathew Wilton

Audio

Panel discussions were not recorded at this event.

Workshop Facilitators: Session 2

Michelle Porter (Souls Harbour)

Michelle Porter cashed in her RRSP’s not once, but twice, to live and work among the poor in Canada’s inner cities. She is a social entrepreneur who co-founded two non-profits that seek to rescue men, women and children from homelessness, hunger and addiction. She is a regular columnist for the award-winning AGRM RESCUE Magazine, and a long time blogger at MissionMusings.com.

Topic

  • Serving the Homeless in Our City (NOTE: This is a repeat of Michelle’s workshop from session 1)
  • Have you ever wondered how you can make a difference in the lives of people in your own back yard? No one need travel far and wide to find men, women and children in need. Join us to learn practical ways to have a lasting impact in your community and learn why putting feet to your faith is key to a successful Christian life.

Audio

Please see session #1 for the audio recording of Michelle’s workshop.

Emily Pelley (Dalhousie University)

Emily is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary program at Dalhousie University, doing research on child trafficking in situations of armed conflict. She is also a researcher with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier’s Initiative. Emily is passionate about the fight against human trafficking and she has used any avenues that come her way to raise awareness and mobilize people to stand up to this injustice.

Topic

  • The True North Strong and Free? Human Trafficking in Canada?
  • Do you know that slavery still exists? Do you know that it never went away? The enslavement of human beings is a crime taking place in our own nation. This workshop will focus on vulnerability to human trafficking and how we as community members can be involved in fighting this injustice.

Audio

Cheryl Hotchkiss (World Vision Canada)

Cheryl has been working in the social justice advocacy field for 25 years with experience ranging from local community projects to international campaigns. Her career began with Amnesty International where she campaigned on issues related to women’s rights, human rights in Asia and business & human rights, including Amnesty’s campaign on missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. At World Vision, she with a team of colleagues, has led contributions to the global campaign on child and maternal health as well as the uniquely Canadian campaign No Child for Sale focused on ending the worst forms of child labour.

Topic

  • Just Living: Contributing to the Creation of a Just Society Locally and Globally
  • In this workshop we will walk through the different types of advocacy actions that can be taken by individuals or churches with concrete examples. The workshop will also look at advocacy activities that are frequently questioned or criticized such as political activities, ethical consumerism, corporate confrontation or boycotts. As well, we will look at examples of the kind of advocacy that World Vision is supporting in the communities where we serve and how those efforts connect to global advocacy efforts on issues such as child and maternal health.

Audio

Dorothy Patterson & Emily Hutten (ARK Outreach)

Dorothy and Emily have been faithful advocates and educators for justice and change. Over the past 20 years, they have been discovering the transforming potential of what it means to ‘Give and Receive’ in the midst of poverty, separation, isolation and loneliness.

Topic

  • Street-Involved Youth in Halifax
  • Welcoming youth experiencing homelessness and marginalization, the drop-in has become a place of home and celebration for the past 16 years. Along with daily essentials, youth find a place where they are valued, respected and encouraged to thrive. This workshop will explore youth homelessness, discuss the importance of finding a sense of home and belonging and celebrate the gifts youth bring to our community.

Audio

Unfortunately, there was an error with the audio file for Dorothy & Emily’s presentation. We do apologize for the inconvenience.

Brenda Leenders (Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

A public health nutritionist working in Nova Scotia for over 25 years, Brenda now shares the roll of NS Coordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains bank with her husband Ian MacHattie. They have three daughters currently exploring God’s roll for them; Myra in Halifax, Josee in Bradford England, and April in Bellville Ontario. They have a wood fired pizza oven in our backyard in Truro NS. Their favourite thing to do is to invite people over to build pizzas and new relationships together.

Topic

  • Changing the Water on the Beans: What Happens When We Apply a Christian Lens to Our Response to Food Insecurity?
  • What would happen if we applied the principles of pray, give, educate and advocate to our own challenges of food here at home? Learn how the Canadian Foodgrains Bank addresses food insecurity from food aid to policy change and be prepared to brainstorm parallel actions for our own communities.

Audio

Terry LeBlanc (Indigenous Pathways)

Terry is Mi’kmaq / Acadian and in his 43rd year of marriage to his wife Bev. Together, they have three adult children – twin daughters and one son. Terry holds an interdisciplinary PhD from Asbury Theological Seminary, specializing in Theology, Anthropology, and Indigenous Studies. He is the Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways and the founding Chair and current Director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community.

Topic

  • After the Truth Telling: How Do We Walk in Reconciled Relationship? (NOTE: This is a repeat of Terry’s workshop from session 1)
  • After seven years of truth telling, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has made 94 recommendations. They describe the essentials of a renewed relationship between Indigenous peoples and all others who live in or migrate to Canada. How do we navigate the challenges that each of them present? Equally important, is how do we ensure that we don’t repeat, yet again, the errors in attitude, ideas about and behavior toward Indigenous peoples that the recommendations address? This workshop will examine in a Q & A format, some of the ways that we might begin to address the TRC’s call for reconciliation.

Audio

Please see session #1 for the audio recording of Terry’s workshop.

Panel Discussion 2: Careers & Social Justice

So often we are challenged by how we can best use our time and abilities to make a difference. This panel will provide an opportunity to hear from people working in different fields – from education to social work to law – about how they are able to combine their faith with their passion for social justice.

Featuring:

  • Gail Baurle: Gail is a board member for the Pathways to Freedom Ministry, a mentoring program for offenders, as well as on the board for the Halifax Community Chaplaincy Society.
  • Amanda Winsor: Amanda teaches Social Studies at the junior high school level and is passionate about planting seeds of justice and courage in the hearts of her students through public education.
  • Rickola Brinton: Rickola has practiced law in the area of youth justice for almost 12 years and is Managing Lawyer in the Nova Scotia Legal Aid youth office.
  • Brad Saunders: Brad is Ministry Resource Specialist for World Vision Canada. Prior to joining World Vision, he spent 15 years in the Christian publishing industry.
  • Moderator: Jamie Wilkinson

Audio

Panel discussions were not recorded at this event.

Workshop Facilitators: Session 3

Jayme Hall & Philip Appleby (Outflow Ministry)

Jayme is Executive Director and co-founder of Outflow, a street level acts of kindness ministry that has been operating in the inner-city of Saint John, NB since 2008. He and his wife Donna have four sons and live in a small town outside the city of Saint John.

Philip is a co-founder of Outflow Ministry. He has been involved in street level ministry in Saint John for seven years. In 2014 Philip joined Outflow in an official capacity as the Director of Programming and Spiritual Care.  Phil and his wife Melanie have three girls and one son.

Topic

  • Living Without a Home: A Christian Response to Homelessness and Those Living on the Streets
  • Outflow began with the simple idea to provide a weekly meal to a few homeless people in a park in uptown Saint John in response to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40. We had no building, no money, limited experience and no big plan. Some regular people simply felt called to show up and offer a meal to hungry people. Today Outflow serves nearly 800 suppers a week over five nights and makes daily food deliveries of fruit, vegetables, and other healthy food to people who, for a variety of reasons, are shut-in or isolated. We hope this workshop will encourage you to take it to the streets whether or not you have the experience and support of anyone but the great commission of Jesus.

Audio

Doug Blackburn (World Vision Canada)

For almost twenty years with World Vision, Doug has been helping Canadians find their own ways to respond to issues of global poverty and injustice through campaigns such as Make Poverty History. Doug works with Canadian churches to help them effectively respond to the call to “love mercy and do justice.” Prior to World Vision, Doug worked with the Methodist Church of Brazil in community development.

Cheryl has been working in the social justice advocacy field for 25 years with experience ranging from local community projects to international campaigns. Her career began with Amnesty International where she campaigned on issues related to women’s rights, human rights in Asia and business & human rights, including Amnesty’s campaign on missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. At World Vision, she with a team of colleagues, has led contributions to the global campaign on child and maternal health as well as the uniquely Canadian campaign No Child for Sale focused on ending the worst forms of child labour.

Topic

  • Justice Advocacy: Practical Applications for Church Ministry
  • The church has a history of being at the forefront of critical social change movements such as the anti-slavery movement. Today, with the increase in the number of non-faith based justice movements, many churches have opted to focus on other aspects of ministry. However, the church can and should be a key contributor to justice work because we are called to act and live justly. This workshop will explore practical ways that churches can make advocacy part of their ongoing ministry. We’ll unpack some best practices in advocacy today and provide useful tools to help participants and their churches have an impact on local or global justice issues.

Audio

Paul Carline (Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches)

Paul and his wife, Kelly, worked with refugees in Kenya under Canadian Baptist Ministries for 16 years. Since 2012, Paul has been encouraging congregations in Atlantic Canada to interact cross-culturally and better reflect their changing communities. Refugee sponsorship is one of his portfolios and he would like to see this become a movement across the region.

Topic

  • The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Sponsorship and You – Bringing Middle Eastern Families to Atlantic Canada
  • There are 60 million forcibly displaced people in the world; 19 million of these are refugees surviving outside their countries and searching for a permanent home. The Syrian crisis has produced over 4 million refugees, endangering the Middle East. Canada is the only country in the world with a private sponsorship program by which citizens can play an active role in applying for and settling refugees. Find out how you, your church and your community can bring a refugee family to Atlantic Canada.

Audio

Gavin McCombie (First Baptist Church)

Gavin Mccombie is co-pastor at First Baptist Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Topic

  • Doing Justice By Building Partnerships
  • Churches are often known for being exclusive and having a silo mentality when it comes to ministry. Yet, if we are truly serious about issues of justice, we need to consider how we can partner together with other churches and community organizations. Let’s come together to talk about the importance of partnerships: the benefits, the risks and how we can better do justice in our city.

Audio

Unfortunately, there was an error with the audio file for Gavin’s presentation. We do apologize for the inconvenience.

Brenda Leenders (Canadian Foodgrains Bank)

A public health nutritionist working in Nova Scotia for over 25 years, Brenda now shares the roll of NS Coordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains bank with her husband Ian MacHattie. They have three daughters currently exploring God’s roll for them; Myra in Halifax, Josee in Bradford England, and April in Bellville Ontario. They have a wood fired pizza oven in our backyard in Truro NS. Their favourite thing to do is to invite people over to build pizzas and new relationships together.

Topic

  • Changing the Water on the Beans: What Happens When We Apply a Christian Lens to Our Response to Food Insecurity? (NOTE: This is a repeat of Brenda’s workshop from session 2)
  • What would happen if we applied the principles of pray, give, educate and advocate to our own challenges of food here at home? Learn how the Canadian Foodgrains Bank addresses food insecurity from food aid to policy change and be prepared to brainstorm parallel actions for our own communities.

Audio

Please see session #2 for the audio recording of Michelle’s workshop.

Christina Dunfield (Mennonite Central Committee)

Originally from Iroquoian traditional territory (Ontario), Christina studied cultural anthropology and conflict resolution at the University of Denver, and has been working and volunteering in various social justice fields with secular, faith-based and government organizations since 2007. Since returning to Canada in 2010, she has been living on unceded Mi’kmaw territory (Moncton, NB) and has been blessed and challenged to learn more about the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, both historic and current. In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the call for churches to engage in building relationships of respect and trust with our Indigenous neighbours, she is grateful to continue the dialogue with others who are striving to follow Jesus as we wrestle with tough questions and the burdens of history.

Topic

  • Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples
  • All Canadians and specifically churches have been challenged through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take action to change the relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who share this land. This workshop will provide an introduction to the need for reconciliation, a discussion of the Scriptural call to work towards reconciliation, and a time to share our responses to this call and resources for moving forward. Whether you have been deeply involved in reconciliation efforts for many years or this is brand new to you, your voice and presence will be welcome.

Audio

Panel Discussion 3: Leading Churches with a Heart for Justice

The church has a vital role to play in sharing Jesus’ message of love and grace to a lost and broken world. As leaders, we are seeking God for answers as to how we can shine His light into the darkest corners of our society in order to bring restoration and hope. This panel will provide an opportunity for pastors and church leaders to discuss how they can engage their congregations with a heart for our communities and the injustices that many people face.

Featuring:

  • Pastor Sharon Guptill: Sharon is Pastor of Worship and Spiritual Formation at Hillside Wesleyan Church in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
  • Pastor Lennett Anderson: Lennett is the Senior Pastor of EBC: The Meeting Place in Halifax and has been credited by Maclean’s Magazine as “one of five Canadian pastors who are breathing new life into their communities.”
  • Pastor Martin Zwicker: Martin is co-Pastor at First Baptist Church in downtown Dartmouth where he has been involved in a variety of street-level initiatives including a food bank, soup kitchen, mental health, homelessness and restorative justice issues.
  • Pastor Rhonda Britton: Rhonda is Senior Pastor at Cornwallis Street Baptist Church. Her desire is that everyone would grab hold of God’s promises of liberation, abiding peace, and the power to overcome life’s challenges.
  • Steph Robbins: Steph is a motivational speaker and writer ministering to marginalized women and teen girls and is part of the leadership team at Deep Water Church in Halifax.
  • Moderator: Bill Wozney

Audio

Panel discussions were not recorded at this event.