ARPA Canada, a new Christian political advocacy group will be officially launching in April. ARPA Canada will serve as a centre for coordinating political action among Reformed churches; providing news, research, support, and motivation. It will also communicate a Biblical view of current political issues to our provincial and federal governments.
The Reformed church community has a history of political action and involvement in Canada. Already in the 1980’s local groups formed in churches and became known as ARPA’s (Association for Reformed Political Action). In 2000, an effort was made by the Reformed Perspective Foundation to encourage new ARPA groups across the country. Peter Veenendaal toured the country promoting political action in local congregations. As a result a number of groups sprung up and made some significant accomplishments.
Responding to Apathy
Unfortunately, only a small number of ARPA’s still exist today. This is a good indication of the general involvement of Reformed people in social and political action today. Due to a common cynicism towards politics, increasing demands on time, and a lack of will, the vast majority of Reformed Christians in Canada today have little interest or involvement in politics. Political action is viewed as a hobby for those who “like that sort of thing.” Instead of shining our light into the political sphere, we have become like most Canadian – relying on the mainstream media to inform our opinions about issues that got to the core of our faith. Even though our governments and courts are making ground-breaking decisions about family, life, and our freedoms, we are becoming ever more silent.
Whether through ARPA groups or individually, ARPA Canada’s goal is to mobilize members of the Reformed church community to let their light shine locally, provincially, and nationally. It is apparent that there is a need for coordination and support among the ARPA groups that exist. Furthermore, there is also a need to mobilize individuals who are not part of ARPA groups to care about what was going on in Canada and to equip them with the tools to respond.
Providing Tools to Help
Through the new website www.arpacanada.ca, anybody can get informed about what is going on in Canadian politics, from a Christian perspective. There is no need to belong to an ARPA group or to be involved with politics. The easy-to-navigate site will equip readers with research on issues such as the environment, justice, pro-life, and sexuality. More importantly, it also has action suggestions to help us respond to the things that we care about, such as abortion or the state of the family. Other features of the site include videos, an events calendar, information on local ARPA groups in your area, and the option to subscribe to a free e-newsletter that will be sent to you every two weeks and keep you informed.
ARPA Canada will also provide research and advice over the phone, especially for those who do not have internet access. Full-time director Mark Penninga is experienced with helping people get politically active. In addition to a Master’s degree in Political Science, Mark has worked as a research analyst for Focus on the Family and was an intern for Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott in Ottawa.
Working Alongside Other Groups
Other groups already exist which promote a Christian worldview in Canada politics. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Canada Family Action Coalition, and the ECP Centre are a few of the more well known groups. ARPA Canada is not attempting to compete against these groups. We believe that there is a significant shortage of Christian political action in this country and more groups and initiatives are needed. This is especially true in the Reformed church community. Furthermore, we see the need to convey a more optimistic perspective to our nation than what is sometimes associated with Christian political action. Our goal will be to shine as a light – to show the rich blessings of a Biblical perspective and why this is favourable for our secular country.
Structure and Organization
The ARPA Canada headquarters are located in Lethbridge, Alberta which is the home of Chairman of the Board John Voorhorst and Director Mark Penninga. Board members and advisors come from across the country. Unlike the Reformed Perspective Foundation, ARPA Canada is not a charity. Rather it has registered as a Not-for-Profit organization with Corporations Canada so that its political work will not be restricted by Canada Revenue Agency. Donations can be made online at www.arpacanada.ca or by mail to the address below.
Your Prayers and Support Needed!
We are excited to be a part of this new venture and we recognize that God’s blessing is imperative for ARPA Canada to be a blessing to our churches and our nation. Please pray for God’s blessing over this initiative.