Under Siege: how and why I authored this book

This is a shorter version of the blog Under Siege: What it’s About originally published March 22, 2017 at Word Alive Press.           UNDER SIEGE: Religious Freedom and the Church in Canada at 150 (1867-2017) is my first book.

Writing and publishing Under Siege was intimate and personal, and also not possible without intentional interaction with others in the Body of Christ.

under siege HR

In April 2016 I was invited to speak at a pastors and spouses conference taking place in October 2016. The request was for two keynote talks on religious freedom, a subject that has been woven into my adult life through education and experience. One talk would be about religious freedom in Canada and other about the global persecuted church.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, I started work on the project early. Long before the deadline was even on the horizon, I was praying, outlining, researching and capturing thoughts—I sleep with a notepad on the nightstand. Waking early one morning with the idea of turning the Canada talk into a book, I scribbled out three section heading ideas and many of the chapter titles before going back to sleep. Beginning that morning in May, work on the talk was combined with work on the book.

At the same time, I was finishing teaching a course on living a public faith; part of the apologetics training year at Ottawa School of the Bible—OSB is a practical understanding and application Bible school that is an initiative of the Lifecentre, and is accessed by students and pastors from across the city. I was teaching those in or interested in Christian leadership, and in October I would be speaking to pastors and their spouses. As a result, I found myself writing for Christian leaders, pastors and their spouses.

There are well written books on religious freedom in Canada for lawyers and academics. Distinct from those who engage the courts and in universities, missing was something designed to equip the troops who are engaged in the daily frontline spiritual warfare of 21st century Canada. Christian leaders minister in a human rights minefield, both real and imagined. They are the people who will primarily benefit from an accurate understanding of the Canadian situation. Under Siege is written for them, for us.

It wasn’t until late August or early September that I convinced myself I was actually writing a book for publication and willing to accept the responsibility to finish the task. I’ve written blogs, opinion pieces for newspapers, and had a regular column in Faith Today. But I hadn’t written a book until Under Siege. As a result, I started seeking advice from people who had written, edited, published and marketed books.

When I was about seventy percent of the way through the writing process (and thinking I was ninety percent done) I invited input into the process from members of my target audience, pastors and Christian leaders, and some constitutional law lawyers. The lawyers were qualified to review my comments in the specialized constitutional law area of religious freedom. The pastors and Christian leaders gave me feedback on how to better communicate various concepts I was writing about.

Finally, when the draft was complete, I invited a couple of dozen people to read and comment on the full unedited text, including most of those who had input at the earlier stage. They had a four week deadline, which coincided with the deadline for approving the final edit of the text. I am exceedingly grateful for all who accepted, including those who ran out of time.

As each one was also invited to consider writing an endorsement, I ended up with seventeen endorsements from a good cross-section of Christian expressions and experience. I was excited— I cried when I read them all together at the deadline.

For editing, it was a privilege to work with an experienced, young Christian author/editor who was interested in the topic of my book. He held me to task on improving my footnoting, strengthened grammar and made good suggestions for adjustments in the text. Cover design and layout were done with similar thoughtfulness and professionalism.

Throughout the process I asked for advice from both the Word Alive Press team and a small group of personal-friend advisors—people praying for me while I was writing—who shared their thoughts on what they read, and were also invited to comment on cover design and layout.

In the end, Under Siege is available in offset and print-on-demand paperback, and a variety of electronic formats.

I applied for and received a license to use the Canada 150 logo based on the theme of the book, which only allows printing with the logo until the end of 2017. Extra fees would be required to remove the logo from print-on-demand and electronic formats effective January 1, 2018, so the offset press paperbacks printed by Word Alive Press are a kind of special edition Canada 150 cover. Get ‘em while they’re here!


Americans love an underdog

Americans love an underdog. The media, pollsters, and both major parties worked together to create one and now he is President-elect.

Don - "Love, Hope, Believe"

“Love, Hope, Believe”

Interesting to me as I followed the comments of too many evangelical Christian leaders supporting one candidate or the other is how those who were peacemakers for Hillary (this is the safe route for America’s future) and prophets for Trump (the world will end if Hillary is elected) have this morning on social media become prophets for Hillary (the world will end because Donald was elected) and peacemakers for Trump (it’s time to set differences aside and work together). Christians, including our leaders, are wonderfully human and imperfect.

Democracy is a flawed and incredibly interesting system of choosing governance. I was concerned that a Democrat majority in House, Senate, Oval Office and Supreme Court could prove troubling for the future. The same concern goes now for a Republican majority in House, Senate, Oval Office and soon Supreme Court. It will be very interesting to see how the U.S. constitutional checks and balances will function in light of this impending four institutions of governance sweep.

Praying for the USA.


Pray for me

Today, the blog is personal.

I like Kirk Franklin’s “Pray for Me” for several reasons. It reminds me of the need for prayer, your need and mine. It speaks of the deep desires heard in Leonard Cohen’s cri de couer,Hallelujah,” but with the hope found in a community of voices responding. Perhaps, most strongly for me, Franklin communicates in story. Those who know me, know I speak in stories. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get to the point, but point there is and the story usually makes it better understood. Usually.

Pray for me. DonParlForum

I’ve posted on Facebook the incredible view from my room at the Banff Springs Hotel. And maybe I lost you at “Banff.” But it’s a journey to get here.

Yesterday morning, I rose at 3:00 (1:00 Mountain Time) to take a friend visiting from South Africa to the airport for her flight home. At the airport for 4:30, it didn’t make much sense to head back home when my flight was leaving at 7:30. A friend picked me up at the airport in Calgary and I made my first trip to Big M Drug Mart. If you’re a Canadian freedom of religion geek, you’ll get it (or click on the link for a hint). Yes, Big M is still open on Sundays.

But to do all that meant leaving home before my daughter arrived to send me off. Gosh, I hate to miss those moments. It meant leaving home while my grandson was still in bed, knowing he would wake up to my absence and that of his South African friend whose company John had come to enjoy. At least he would wake up to his Mum being there with his Nana. And, leaving Gloria to get the boy off to school and home again for a few days. And, simply, again, leaving Gloria as I scoot off on another adventure.

Driving into the mountains, I found myself shedding a few involuntary tears as I thought about my Dad. I miss him. It was in the backdrop of the mountains at The Salvation Army’s Miracle Valley that we had what I consider our first significant talk about faith. It altered the trajectory of our relationship and opened the door to a conversation a dozen years later that would heal a brokenness that had long existed between us.

I know God’s in it. I know He’s with us. … I know we need Him.

Tonight when I get to my feet to speak, it will be about 7:45 (9:45 Eastern Time, 10:45 before we turned the clocks back, i.e. after my bedtime) and I need prayer for strength. Tonight when I get to my feet to speak, the big news will likely be the name of the next President of the United States of America, or a continuing nail-biting (for some) wait. Please pray about the distraction.

Tonight’s message is called, “Under Siege or Under Fire: Religious Freedom and the Church in Canada at 150.” It’s an important message. It’s also the tentative title of a book that is almost finished. Negotiations with a publisher (hopefully, soon to be referred to as “my publisher”) going well, it will be available in the Spring of 2017. Pray for tonight, pray for the negotiations and pray for me to finish the remaining few chapters on time.

I won’t likely get back to the blog before I speak tomorrow morning (11:45 Mountain Time; 1:45pm Eastern) on the topic, “Under Siege and Under Fire: The Global Church in a Multi-Religious World.” Prayer for that would be appreciated as well.

I just really need my praying friends to pray for me. And, I’m daring to ask openly. To express a bit of my current story. And share my appreciation for an artist like Kirk Franklin being an encouragement to do so.

I’m off to join the community of pastors and their spouses that are gathered here as we share in prayer and communion to start our day. I am looking forward to it as something I simply need right now.

Pray for me.

Rev. Don Hutchinson Named as Interim National Director of Canadian Bible Society

Toronto: The Board of Governors of The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) is pleased to announce the appointment Rev. Don Hutchinson as Interim National Director and CEO, effective April 27, 2015.

Don - "Love, Hope, Believe"

Don Hutchinson is a nationally recognized executive leader, consultant, and public policy specialist. Most recently, Hutchinson was the Vice-President, General Legal Counsel, and Director of the Centre for Faith and Public Life for The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Hutchinson’s background also includes ordained ministry. He and his wife, Gloria, led congregations together, beginning with service on a First Nations reserve in Northern British Columbia to a church plant in Markham, Ontario. Hutchinson has wide experience serving on boards of organizations and as a valuable resource to not-for-profit groups across the country. A graduate of Queens University, Hutchinson received his law degree from the University of British Columbia.

“We are delighted to be led by God to a person of Don’s many gifts and broad experience,” says Dr. William H. Brackney, Chairman of the Board of Governors for CBS.

Hutchinson is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canada in promoting freedom of religion and development of public policy. He resides in Ottawa with his wife Gloria and a grandson.

“It is an honour to fill this transitional role for the Canadian Bible Society,” says Hutchinson. “The Bible is the sacred text that is foundational for the Canadian and world-wide Christian community, so the translation, publishing and distribution work of the Canadian Bible Society is critical work for the Kingdom of God.”

Don will remain in his role as Interim National Director and CEO of the CBS until a permanent National Director assumes responsibilities.

The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) exists to promote and encourage, without doctrinal note or comment, the translation, publication, distribution and use of the Scriptures throughout Canada and Bermuda, and to co-operate with the United Bible Societies in its worldwide work.

Originally published at www.biblesociety.ca

50 years of evangelicals working better together

This week, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (the EFC), will celebrate half a century of evangelical Christian collaboration. It was in the autumn of 1964 that a group of Evangelical leaders decided to be more formal about the structure of exploring how they could be more effective in cross-denominational fellowship, as well as cultural understanding and engagement, than they could be separately. The EFC aligned itself with the World Evangelical Fellowship (now World Evangelical Alliance, which engages internationally for the planet’s 600 million evangelical Christians and has grown to over 120 member national associations).

Speaking at a rally on Parliament Hill

Speaking at a rally on Parliament Hill

It wasn’t until 1983 that Brian Stiller was hired as the EFC’s first Executive Director – a position that came to be called President when the board chairman came to be called Chairman instead of President. Brian initiated the magazine that is now known as Faith Today. He marketed the magazine through a coast to coast speaking tour encouraging Evangelicals to develop an understanding of our times and re-engage in the public policy process as Evangelicals had done in the early days of nationhood. In the seven and a half years I worked for the EFC I heard from several Members of Parliament and former MPs that the Stiller message shared in those days had inspired them to get involved in their communities and ultimately in politics. One said that when he needs to know his informed position on a serious moral matter, he checks the EFC’s!

When Brian became president of the then struggling Ontario Bible College and Seminary in 1997, which under his leadership became Tyndale University College and Seminary, the reins of leadership at the EFC were passed to Gary Walsh. Gary focused on building and nurturing partnerships within the Evangelical community, which when combined with the EFC’s public policy engagement added strength to both efforts and paved the way for rapid expansion in denominational affiliation.

Following Gary’s departure, Bruce Clemenger has been leading the fellowship since 2003. Bruce had been hired by Brian a decade earlier and pioneered the EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life, located in Ottawa. Bruce led during a period of affiliate expansion and, in October 2006, he hired me.

With 50 denominational affiliates, representing over half of Canada’s self-described evangelical Christians, the EFC has played a significant role in building cross-denominational relationship and partnerships as well as promoting biblical principles on matters of law and public policy. In addition the EFC has been a leader in interfaith conversation.

During my time with the EFC it was a privilege to appear before the Supreme Court of Canada on seven separate occasions to advance biblical positions – with sound legal reasoning to support them – on a variety of matters of public interest, particularly religious freedom; contesting for the practices intrinsically linked with our beliefs; the beliefs of millions of Canadians. The EFC’s engagement is practical and contemporary; advising the courts on socially supported legal policy that has the endorsement of millions of Canadians.

The range of public policy interventions over the seven and a half years of my personal experience as the EFC’s vice-president, general legal counsel and director of the Centre for Faith and Public Life offers a glimpse into the EFC’s longer history and a testimony to the strength of working for better, together.

Canada’s age of consent to sexual activity with an adult was raised in 2008 from 14 years of age to 16, providing a new measure of protection from sexual predators who were grooming 12 and 13 year olds for legal sex at 14. Efforts to legalize state sanctioned killing through euthanasia or assisted suicide were defeated in Parliament in 2010 and at the B.C. Court of Appeal inn 2013, with the Supreme Court of Canada having heard the B.C. case last month. In 2012 a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking was implemented and, earlier this month Canada’s prostitution laws were amended to a more compassionate and effective model that targets prosecution of the purchasers and pimps instead of those being prostituted. 70% of human trafficking in Canada is for the purpose of sexual exploitation. And, in 2013, Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom was established in the Department of Foreign Affairs; an Office which has had tremendous impact internationally as an advocate for religious freedom within Canada’s continuing promotion of human rights.

There were other public policy successes and, of course, efforts that did not meet with as much success; building on earlier work of the EFC and strengthening the foundation for future efforts. Dozens of research papers, discussion papers, reports, committee appearances and countless media appearances reflected well researched and well-reasoned presentation that counter a longstanding stereotype of Evangelicals as out of touch Bible thumpers. The EFC is a rare organization that combines think tank like quality of research with lobbyist like engagement across political boundaries and top flight legal participation in the courts, all supported by a substantial constituency of Canadians. And if you don’t subscribe to Faith Today either in print or online, you’re missing one of Canada’s finest and most informative publications; regular insight into Christianity in Canada that will expand your horizons.

Congratulations to the denominational and ministry affiliate leaders as well as the staff and volunteers of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, both past and present!

May the EFC’s future continue to as wisely and effectively shine His Light!