Sunday, May 25, 2014
Grief and Hope in the United Church of Canada
On Friday, the first day of Bay of Quinte Conference of the United Church of Canada, our moderator, the Rev. Gary Paterson, spoke during opening worship. He was eloquent, and offered a poem from memory about the thread running through our lives despite the times of grief and pain which threaten to overwhelm us. He invited the 400 or so participants of all ages to consider Christ as the thread which runs through our lives as individuals and our Christian communities. He was genuine and pastoral and Christian.
Later in the day the court discussed the Comprehensive Review http://www.united-church.ca/general-council/gc41/comp-review which is well underway in our faltering denomination. Of course there are many signs of life in the United Church and Christ is still with us, but we know that we are aging and shrinking. The Review is a way to ponder how our denomination will look and carry out ministry in a changing time. We certainly aren't willing to give up, but we must be different.
As might be expected, the conversation was thoughtful and honest. Some felt that it was a mistake to begin the discussion with finances, because how we are going to pay for what we do can dominate and discourage. The conversations about mission came afterward and there wasn't sufficient time. Perhaps there is never enough time in the midst of change.
I was glad for Moderator Paterson's leadership and his message needs to be the touchstone for the United Church. This isn't about money, even though money is important. It is about Christ-with-us in every aspect of our life together.
What are your thoughts about the changing landscape of the United Church? Is there hope mixed with your grief? I was delighted to reconnect with the eight or nine young people from my former congregation, St. Paul's, and their presence gives me hope.