In the early morning hours of Thursday, September 26th, two dozen delegates representing six of the nine different Ontario ARPA groups came together for a packed day of serious political engagement. And what a day!
The delegates met for breakfast and some much needed coffee (some reps were on the road already at 4:00 a.m. that morning!) at Westminster Chapel, a space graciously made available to us. After we dug into the meal, André Schutten led us through an orientation, giving tips on meetings with members of provincial parliament and their staff.
After some discussion of the various issues to be tackled that day, Dr. Scott Masson, professor of English literature and associate pastor at Westminster Chapel led us through a very encouraging time of devotion, focusing on the latter part of Jeremiah 32. We were encouraged that despite our failings and our society’s failings and the failings of our leadership, we remain God’s people and He remains our God and He will bring about the good He has promised.
With that powerful reminder on our hearts we hit the subway to Queen’s Park for a dozen meetings with various MPPs. The groups split up and spoke to different MPPs from all three parties about different issues. Not only did we talk politics, we also thanked these representatives for their hard work and service, encouraged them in their work and prayed for them. One staffer, visibly moved by our offer to pray with and for them, said, “No one has ever done that for me.” Another MPP said, “I’ve been doing this work for 23 years. This is only the second time that anyone has offered to pray for me.“
Between these important meetings we were able to enjoy a tour of the beautiful and historic building, observe a committee meeting and attend Question Period (which was, to our disappointment, even more a demonstration of childishness than the federal equivalent).
After a full day at Queen’s Park, each delegate made their way into the subway tunnels (a totally new experience for many) and back to Westminster for a debrief. Each team reviewed the meetings they had and the points worth following up on with elected representatives. During a delicious and hearty dinner, we also reviewed some of the future projects our different local groups are planning for the coming year.
The many representatives left exhausted, but encouraged. As Sarah quipped, “Although I am totally new to this and was terrified to come, it was actually easy to do and so rewarding! I’ll be sure to encourage many more people to come and do this next time!“
Scroll down for a few more pictures of this exciting event!
“Never say you’re too young for this stuff!” The two gentlemen here were happy to come and meet with representatives. One of them is 83 years young.
André, Bruce and Jonathan on the interior steps of the Legislature, outside of the Library.
Southwestern ARPA reps outside the Legislature.
Toronto ARPA reps outside the Legislature.
After a tiring day, we packed ourselves like sardines on the Toronto subway. Quite the new experience for most.