May 12, 19, 26 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm SK time
People are dying from substance use disorder in record numbers in Canada, and we as a society, and as a church, desperately need better ways to address their needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made this even worse, since many of the social services these people have used to reduce the harm to themselves have been closed or limited by pandemic restrictions. Medical authorities also report increasing number of toxic drugs on the streets of our communities, small and large, which are more deadly than the street drugs that were available even a few years ago.
As a church, how shall we respond to this social crisis? How shall we live our call to support the most marginalized in our communities? What might it mean to frame this as a medical issue, rather than an opportunity for moral judgment? How shall we respond to Jesus’ call to be agents of healing?
In 2018, the General Council Executive considered a proposal from then BC Conference regarding the decriminalization of illicit substances for personal use. In this series of webinars we’ll consider that proposal, and the hopes that gave rise to it. We’ll provide an opportunity for a national conversation among church leaders on the need for harm reduction and safe supply engagement with illicit substances. And we’ll consider some practical ways that your community of faith can help make your community a safer place.
May 12th – Harm Reduction and UCC Engagement
We will discuss how the United Church of Canada is engaged in harm reduction across the country. We will be introduced to ways in which communities of faith live out their mission by working towards building a relationship with people who live with substance use disorder.
May 19th – Decriminalization of Illicit Substances for Personal Use
We will discuss the topic of decriminalization of illicit substances for personal use and how this connects with the various social service organizations throughout Canada. We will also hear about the ways in which social services are seeking to reduce harm through creative ways, including: technologically, creatively and immediate. We will learn about the ‘Good Samaritan Act’, its strengths and its limitations.
May26th – The Theology of Harm Reduction
We will examine how harm reduction is lived out through our faithful witness within the message of our scriptures. We will hear from theologians who work in rural and urban contexts and how the toxic drug crisis has influenced their understanding of faith.
This event is supported by: The Church in Mission Unit (General Council), Shining Waters Regional Council, Living Skies Regional Council, Antler River Watershed Regional Council, Northern Spirit Regional Council, Western Ontario Waterways Regional Council, Horseshoe Falls Regional Council, and Prairie to Pine Regional Council. (Note: The support offered by our Regional Council is support for the conversation and learning space. The Regional Council does not currently have a position on decriminalization of illicit substances for personal use. There has been considerable public attention lately on the provincial government’s refusal to fund Prairie Harm Reduction’s Saskatoon safe consumption site as overdoses and related deaths throughout the province increase. Our hope is this shared learning space will be a place where our Regional membership can reflect and discuss. )