Holy Cross Anglican Church Hackett

Following Jesus and building community in Canberra’s Inner North

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Easter and Social Justice

Chocolate’s great but tainted by child labour. Here’s what you can do about it.

Block of chocolate and cocoa beans

Lent is a good time to consider how we celebrate Easter. In our religious and our secular lives, it’s increasingly mediated by chocolate eggs, not only on Easter Sunday but in the days before!

What do we know about the production of retail chocolate? Where does it come from? And how does it stack up against social justice Christian principles? 

We know that the countries producing cocoa, much poorer than ours, are certainly not the ones consuming it. Australia is a growing market among traditional high-income countries.

What might come as a greater surprise is that hazardous child labour is widespread and growing

A recent report from the University of Chicago, commissioned by the US Department of Labor, finds that there are more children, as young as five, working in the sector than there were in 2008-09. 

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, where two thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced, an estimated 1.5 million children and teens under the age of 17 produce cocoa in dangerous conditions.

Minors use sharp tools such as machetes, carry heavy loads, burn fields and use other herbicides without protective gear.

Under pressure to produce ever-bigger yields, producers are using increasing amounts of toxic agrochemicals to control weeds and spreading into new areas cleared by deforestation.

The 300-page report details shocking injuries including wounds and cuts, back pain, fatigue, broken bones and burns. 

Children told researchers they would prefer working in almost any other related industry because it would not be as exhausting and dangerous.

As Christians we should be unnerved. We are taught not just to respect other people but also support them to flourish, whatever their condition or stage of development. 

The least we can do is try to prevent harm. 

And, there are plenty of references in the Bible extolling honourable and enjoyable work rather than exploitative “toilsome labour under the sun”. 

Back in 2001, big brands Mondelez, Nestle, Mars, Ferrero, Hershey and Lindt and the US multinational Cargill that collects much of the cocoa signed the ground-breaking Harkin Engel Protocol and the Framework of Action to Support Implementation of the protocol with cocoa industry representatives and the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, undertaking to eliminate child labour and certified employmehnt practices. 

Because the companies insisted they could self-regulate the protocol became a non-binding, although legal, agreement. 

Twenty years on, its aims are far from realised.

The root cause of child labour is, of course, extreme poverty. COVID-19 has made things worse. Cocoa farmers currently earn less than A$2 a day. Estimates suggest if they earned just 3% more, they could afford to hire adults to do the hazardous work of handling chemicals and machetes. 

The children and young people labouring in cocoa production would rather be going to school, playing soccer and dreaming of being doctors. Their parents would too.

The sector’s two-decade-old child labour monitoring and remediation systems are not responsive enough. Regulation with penalties would make child labour reforms mandatory.

Big Chocolate finally appears open to a binding agreement as the 20-year protocol reaches its expiry date this year – 2021 – a year the United Nations has co-oincidentally declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.

In response to survey questions prepared by charities, many of them Christian, 75% of companies in the industry backed mandatory due diligence which could include sanctions. 

It’s a good time for Christians and all people of faith to get informed, pray and put prayers into action to help end child labour in the chocolate sector (and elsewhere). Actions you can take today include: 

The Christian mission includes taking action to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. Children forced into involuntary work in the chocolate sector are certainly among them.

When we work to empower people – all image-bearers of the creator God – so they are treated well, social justice becomes part of evangelism. 

It’s an idea well articulated by influential theologian John Stott: “The gospel lacks visibility if we merely preach it, and lacks credibility if we who preach it are only interested in souls and have no concern about the welfare of people’s bodies, situations, and communities.”

Toni Hassan is an adjunct scholar with the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. She is also a volunteer board director with Be Slavery Free and a member of the community of Holy Cross, Hackett.

Lent quiet day

Small table with cross, open Bible and candle, in front of Holy Cross altar

Led by Rev’d Joan Smith
“Facing the Unknown: exploring the encounter between Peter and Cornelius, with prayer poems by Eddie Askew”
Tues 9 March, 10am-3pm,
Holy Cross Church Annex.
All welcome.

Morning tea provided; please bring lunch. To sign up, contact Rev’d Joan or the Rector.

Contemplative worship at Holy Cross

Following a challenging year and as the holidays come to a close, our meditative prayer services are returning from 1 Feb, offering a chance to pause amidst busy lives and return our minds to God.

4.15pm Mondays — Meditation Group

5.30pm Tuesdays — Contemplative Evening Prayer and Meditation

North Canberra Nativity Festival

The North Canberra Nativity Festival is back for a second year running! Holy Cross is proud to co-host an exhibition of over 200 nativity displays and Community Carols by Candlelight with our friends at St Margaret’s and Holy Rosary.

Thursday 10th-Sunday 13th December
Exhibition 10am-5pm every day

Sunday 13th December
6.30pm Community BBQ
7.30pm Carols by Candlelight

Mt Majura Trail

Women’s Retreat done differently – 5&6 December

It’s been quite a year, and more than ever many of us are feeling the vital need – and the significant challenge – of carving out time for fellowship and quiet reflection.

This year, our women’s retreat will, like so many other things, be done a little differently. Join us in a welcoming atmosphere as we spend time together the weekend of 5-6 December:

Saturday 5 December
7.30-9am Bushwalk on Mt Majura reserve (meet at the Hackett Gate on Grayson Street)

Sunday 6 December
7pm Evening of contemplative prayer and fellowship, followed by
8pm Wine and cheese under the cherry tree.

Advent & Christmas Services

Celebrate the festive season at Holy Cross and St Margaret’s with the North Canberra Nativity Festival, Carols by Candlelight and special worship services for Advent and Christmas.

Advent Sunday Worship
10am 29 Nov Family Service
7pm 29 Nov Darkness into Light

Nth Canberra Nativity Festival
Thu 10 to Sun 13 Dec
6.30pm Sunday Community BBQ
7.30pm Carols by Candlelight

Christmas Services
7.30pm Mon 21 Dec Blue Christmas Service
5pm Thu 24 Dec Kids Nativity Service
11pm Thu 24 Dec Midnight Mass
9am Fri 25 Dec Christmas Day Family Service


Creative festival connecting community, faith and sustainability

In a spirit of community building and healing, the faith communities of Holy Cross Anglican and St Margaret’s Uniting in Hackett in Canberra’s inner north recently hosted a festival focussed on sustainability.

Stall with seed packets and stallholder demonstrating seed sourcing
A stallholder from Canberra Seed Savers shares the fruits of their work

The ‘Sustaining Our Future’ Festival on the weekend of September 19-20 brought together local groups and speakers to offer information on climate change and inspiration on how to reduce one’s individual or household waste and carbon footprint. 

“During these pandemic times, it’s even more important we find ways to get together safely and discuss common concerns, be inspired and make a difference,” said Reverend Chris Lockley of St Margaret’s.

People were able to test ride electric bikes and learn about composting. There was also a concert in the church featuring  singer-songwriter Lucy Sugerman and local youth bands, a visual arts exhibition, and an ecumenical ‘Celebration of Creation’ worship service.  

Dickson College students facilitate the ACT Candidates' Forum
Dickson College students facilitate the ACT Candidates’ Forum

The program included an ACT election candidates forum moderated by Dickson College students. 

“It was a great opportunity for our young people, who have a lot invested in a low-carbon future, to quiz local candidates about their sustainability policies ahead of the October poll,” said Reverend Tim Watson of Holy Cross.

This event, the first of its kind in Hackett, demonstrated the potential of the venue for more community events in the future where people can gather for spiritual and personal resourcing, community development, and to encourage each other in working for the Common Good.” 

The Festival was organised as part of Holy Cross/St Margaret’s joint Carbon Action Project, launched earlier this year. Both churches have committed to make their operations carbon neutral within two years, and to help church members and the local community take climate change seriously through local action and engagement.

The once-fixed pews in the ecumenical Hackett church were recently removed to allow for more dynamic and mixed uses of the interior worship space. 

Audiences enjoying the live music concert at the end of a great day

“The event was joyful and inclusive, and it put our mandate to evangelise as followers of Jesus into practice in so many different ways. It was a real celebration of beauty (art, music, God’s creation), truth (political debate, scientific and practical learning) and goodness (community, social and environmental action)”, said Reverend Watson.

“It also resonated with Bishop Mark’s encouraging comment about enabling people to return to church after lockdown: ‘re-integrating people to community through community, and helping us think about how we could implement similar steps with people who’ve never been part of our gathered worship’,” Rev. Watson added. 

The two ministers also thanked volunteers who worked hard to make it happen. 

“So many people made the event work. There were many hours served planning it and then during – to ensure it was safe and kept the festival moving along,” said Rev. Lockley.

Large glass and recycled metal snail pedalled on the church lawns
Pedal Powered Snail by Kinetic Sculptures

Sustainability Festival on WIN News

The Sustaining Our Future festival made it to Canberra WIN TV news. Watch it here:

Sustaining Our Future North Canberra Sustainability Festival Sept 19-20 St Margaret's - Holy Cross

Sustainability festival to offer practical tips, question local ACT election candidates

MEDIA RELEASE 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Canberra’s inner north will this weekend host a Sustaining Our Future Festival that seeks to reduce our carbon footprint and build resilient communities.

The churches of Holy Cross Anglican and St Margaret’s Uniting in Hackett have put together an afternoon of talks, demonstrations and tips for action. 

“If you want to do something about climate change but aren’t sure where to start, the festival can help identify simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint, tell you how much CO2 you would save and inspire ideas for the future,” said Reverend Chris Lockley of St Margaret’s.

“During these pandemic times, it’s even more important we find ways to get together safely and discuss common concerns and to ways to make a difference.”

The program includes an ACT election candidates forum moderated by college students. 

“We think it’s great and appropriate that our young people, who have a lot invested in a low-carbon future, will have this opportunity to quiz local candidates about their sustainability policy ahead of the October poll,” said Reverend Tim Watson of Holy Cross.

Also speaking will be Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Jamie Isbister.

The full program is as follows:

Saturday 19 September

  • 12.00 noon – 12.20 pm  Welcome to Country by Aunty Vi Sheridan
  • 12.25 – 1.00 pm Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment and head climate negotiator, Jamie Isbister in conversation with author, Toni Hassan
  • 1.05 pm – 1.35 pm Brook Clinton from Capital Scraps Composting on “The science of composting”
  • 1.40 pm – 2.00 pm Holy Cross/St Margaret’s Carbon Action Project talk
  • 2.05 pm – 2.45 pm Mia Swainson from Zero Waste on “How to halve your household waste”
  • 3- 4 pm  ACT Candidates’ Forum run by students from Dickson College, with Kurrajong candidates including Elizabeth Lee and Shane Rattenbury. To book https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=659164
  • 4.30 – 6 pm Free concert with Lucy Sugerman (The Voice / National Folk Festival Youth Ambassador 2020) plus local bands including Northbourne Flats and Pig Dog  To book: https://www.trybooking.com/654789    
  • All afternoon – stalls by Society, Environment and Economy (SEE) Change, Canberra Seed Savers, Switched on cycling, ENJO & Women’s Climate Congress, photography on display, art for kids and food/coffee cart    

Sunday 20 September

* 9.30am Ecumenical “Celebration of Creation” outdoor worship service

Contemplative Evening Prayer and Meditation

An invitation to take a pause mid-week and invite the Spirit in.

Prayer, “the intentional lifting of the heart and mind to God Father Son and Holy Spirit”, is the most basic Christian activity – and it’s also the key spiritual practice that forms our character as people of faith. At 5.30pm Tuesdays for three weeks from Tuesday 8 September, we will be holding a contemplative evening prayer service as part of our regular worship life. The service will include an invitation to pause in silence for 10 minutes of silent meditation.

All are welcome.

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