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A community of courage

By Katie Pearn

Fighting for justice is a team sport. That is what the choir members of Harmony through Harmony (HtH) want to demonstrate in their ninth annual spring awareness concert.

“We believe God made us to be in community,” says Becky Timmons, HtH producer. “If we try to tackle the injustices of the world by ourselves, we will end up overwhelmed, burned out and broken. We have found in our own justice journeys, that being a part of a thriving community of courage, where people are supported as they authentically wrestle with these issues, makes all the difference.”

HtH, a Calgary-based network of singing ensembles, has been fostering community since its inception in 2009. The choir, founded by Beth and Reid McLean Wiest was created to see what could happen when a passion for community and love of making music were combined with a growing heart for hurting and oppressed people. Through their music-making and break-out discussions, members express what they think, believe and value. They also discuss current events, books, articles, the Bible, and the lyrics of their music. In the process, they discover how they can become “voices for the voiceless” – to sing out and speak up on behalf of those who currently are silent or not heard.

In their pursuit of standing up for the oppressed, HtH doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter. While they have learned about a variety of justice issues such as poverty, modern-day slavery and racial inequality, the cause that has gripped them is sexual exploitation.

“There is a worldwide epidemic of violence and oppression,” says Executive Director Beth McLean Wiest. “For example, the UN estimates approximately two million children are being sexually exploited. This is a problem that isn’t going away and it’s too overwhelming to tackle alone. Thankfully there are fantastic organizations working on the front lines to make a difference. They need our help. They need us to be courageous, to encourage them and join them in their vision for a better future.”

As a way to both process what they’ve learned throughout the year, and to help share their learning with others, HtH presents an annual spring concert. This year’s concert will focus on how fighting for justice is a journey with distinct phases that we all must go through.

“We have learned from reading the book Just Church by Jim Martin, that there are three phases of a justice journey: encounter, explore and engage,” says Timmons. “We’ve seen firsthand that each one comes with different emotions and responses, and that you need people in all three phases in the fight. We want our audience to come away with an understanding of where they are in their journeys and with a desire to get plugged into a community of courage.”

HtH’s spring concert will take place on April 29 at Dalhousie Community Church, 5511 Baroc Road NW Calgary, at 7pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.harmonythroughharmony.com  or at the door.