by Michael Zwiep
On the second day of non-partisan advocacy and national conference on Parliament Hill, delegates – along with some of the national board and staff of ARPA Canada – returned to the Rideau Room of the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel, Thursday morning, April 19, beginning the day with a meditation by Rev. Raymond Sikkema, Pastor Emeritus of the Rehoboth United Reformed Church of Hamilton.
Delegates were directed to Revelation 6:9-11 and called to bear witness of the Word of God in the halls of Parliament. The assembly responded by singing the great hymn of faith, ‘How Firm a Foundation’.
On the heels of a brief orientation, delegates mobilized on Parliament Hill, engaging in faith-based advocacy and connecting in person with over fifty Members of Parliament and Senators in prearranged meetings throughout the day.
Delegates also attended a number of Parliamentary committee meetings, observing the behind-the-scenes work of Parliament including studies on a new marijuana bill and investigation of human rights abuses in Turkey. Some delegates also had opportunity to visit the Gallery of the House of Commons during the Thursday session of Question Period.
Delegates returned to the Rideau Room of the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel in the early evening for a celebration banquet. Director of Law & Policy, André Schutten, opened the evening in prayer and scripture, delegates singing the first and fourth verses of the national anthem, and raising a toast to the Queen.
The Jubilee Octet sang two Genevan versifications of Psalm 130 and Psalm 2 and the crowd of 120 joined in to sing In Christ Alone.
During dinner, the inaugural ARPA Canada 2018 Courage Award was presented to two members of Parliament, including Cathay Wagantall, Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville, and Arnold Viersen, Member of Parliament for Peace River-Westlock, in recognition of courageously introducing, promoting and advancing good public policy on Parliament Hill. Here too we could celebrate God’s goodness in inspiring women and men of courage to actively pursue and promote principled policy.
Grassroots Manager, Colin Postma, presented the third ARPA Canada Salt & Light Volunteer of the Year Award to member of the ARPA Hamilton chapter, Diana Schouls, thanking the dedicated volunteer for her active support and advocacy.
The evening concluded with board chair, Bryan Grim, documenting the growth and advocacy of the association, expressing appreciation for the faithful efforts of the staff and volunteers, in Ottawa, and in local constituencies across the country.
After playing a video to gales of laughter – a bit of a fun dig at some of his colleagues – Executive Director, Mark Penninga, honoured for ten years of faithful leadership of the association, closed the evening in prayer. The delegates responded by singing Psalm 134 and the doxology, ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow’.
*Photo credits to Michael Zwiep