Kairos Organization Carries on Work of Jubilee Initiatives

Article excerpt

Group is `exercise in good faith'

Pat Steenberg's office at Kairos is all dangling wires, empty shelves, boxes and stacks of papers -- bearing witness to the challenge of combining 10 social-justice agencies into one. Executive director since July 1, 2001, Ms. Steenberg and 24 staff are perched in rabbit-warren quarters in a struggling neighborhood in east-end Toronto until offices in another location are renovated.

"We are building an organization, building an infrastructure from different focuses, different budgets, different people. It's been an enormous exercise in good faith on behalf of the staff and the people who support them," Ms. Steenberg said in an interview.

Kairos, subtitled Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, was born early in 2001 after several churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada, realized that church resources were stressed by maintaining membership in several groups pursuing such initiatives as Third-World debt cancellation and land rights for indigenous people.

Kairos' major campaign currently is called Turning the Tables, which carries forward the work of the Jubilee initiative -- a multi-church effort to persuade developed countries and institutions to cancel debt owed by the poorest nations in the world. The three-year Jubilee project ended in 2001.

Turning the Tables, which refers to the story of Christ overturning the moneychangers' tables, is aimed at "turning the tables on the way people think of debt," said Ms. Steenberg. …