On Saturday, April 7, at the historic Osgoode Hall Courthouse (Toronto), CLF's founders, members, directors, staff, supporters, and friends gathered from across Canada for a sold-out Gala to celebrate 40 years of the ministry of Christian Legal Fellowship.
Incorporated in 1978, Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF) celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2018 as Canada's national association of Christian lawyers. CLF was founded by law students out of the conviction that the vocation of law is a calling from God. With many of the founding and long-time members in attendance, it was wonderful to gather and celebrate, as one body, the fellowship and work of CLF.
The evening began with a cocktail reception in the Upper Barristers' Lounge at Osgoode Hall, where lawyers caught up with old friends and made some new ones. After taking a group photo to commemorate the evening together, the celebration moved downstairs to the Great Hall for a delicious dinner catered by the Osgoode Hall Restaurant team.
The formal program opened with the reading of congratulatory 40th Anniversary greetings extended from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette (the Governor General of Canada) and Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell (the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario).
The program then moved into a time of worship. It was an exciting moment for many of us, to be able to sing about the goodness of God and blessing His name, as a collective of legal professionals at Osgoode Hall. This time of worship collected songs from throughout the ages.
A very exciting portion of the program was the Celebration of the various aspects of CLF Ministry, from CLF's work for the church and Christian community, CLF's international reach, CLF's advocacy, CLF's Christian legal scholarship, CLF Law Student Ministries, and CLF's professional development training, including the Christian Legal Institute.
Here are a few excerpts from these inspiring celebrations and remarks:
Christian Legal Fellowship is a true fellowship. As we celebrated the many aspects of CLF's arms of ministry, we also celebrated the many people who have championed the work of CLF, past and present, from CLF's founding members, to its executive directors and staff, board of directors, local chapter leaders, and student chapters leaders, CLF is rich in dedicated lawyers and leaders. Some of these CLF heroes have been with the ministry since the very beginng. Here are some of the remarks from CLF's community:
After we heard from many of CLF's members, we were inspired by the Honourable David C. Onley as he challenged us as Christian lawyers to continue in our pursuit of justice and compassion, especially in our efforts for persons with disabilities. His address was titled "Living the Truth in a Post-modern World".
CLF's own Executive Director & General Counsel Derek Ross then provided an address: "A fresh vision: looking ahead to the next 40 years of Christian Legal Fellowship", in which he traced the history of CLF, having reviewed 40 years of corporate minutes and other important documents. He found that, among many other important pillars of CLF's ministry, religious freedom has been a part of CLF's core mandate since the 1980s.
Derek then painted a vision for CLF's next 40 years, a vision where Christian lawyers prominently serve in the public square, a vision of "CLF 2.0". A vision where Canadians don't have to ask, as they did in Dr. Francis Schaeffer's A Christian Manifesto, "Where were all the Christian lawyers?". It was truly inspiring to celebrate how far CLF has come since 1978: as of 2018, we have grown into an organization of over 700 legal professionals who are passionate about pursuing justice in Jesus' name.
CLF has celebrated many more significant milestones in its 40 years of ministry (enclosed in the Gala program):
At the Gala, we also watched a commemorative video, celebrating 40 years of the ministry of CLF. It was amazing to see the generation of laywers who founded, developed, and strengthened this fellowship, and it was even more inspiring to see the next generation of lawyers rising up and taking vested interested in the work of CLF.
The evening closed in worship and corporate prayer, hands linked from one side of the room to the other, together praying for Canada's decision makers, for lawyers, for our families, and for God's will to be done. The night was one for the books, from exquisite food to delicious fellowship. And the most memorable part of the evening was the overwhelming theme of God's faithfulness.
Through the steadfast work of ordinary people, God has been faithful, and He will continue to be faithful. God has allowed CLF to stand in the public square, proclaiming His truth, for the past 40 years, and by His grace, CLF will continue to do so. We are just getting started!
Don't miss out on the next opportunity to fellowship with CLF! Register for the 2018 CLF National Conference (September 27-30, BC) by May 25 for the best registration price!