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 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.


Mark Sturman said...

I was at CAM from Saturday AM on, so was disappointed to have missed both hearing the Moderator, and seeing you there. Sorry I missed you!

I have not heard a lot of the discussion from Friday, but have heard opnions expressed on the Comprehesive review policy that seems to go to extremes. Some say this is not "fishing on the other side of the boat" but instead shooting holes in the boat. Other people seem to throw up their hands and say, "well we have to do something differently, this is not working"

My hope is this proposal is not a 'done deal', but a starting point to generate discussion and prayerful visioning. It will be a mistake, in my view to get rid of supervision of congregations, but there are good things in the plan as well.

Laura said...

David I wish you could have seen the second flash mob that was instigated by some young ministers in the Conference and fed into the kids to get it going, but it was to Great Big Sea's End of the World as I Know It (and I Feel Fine) was poignant to see the youthful optimism spread its energy til most of the court was moving with the Spirit. Our kids aren't afraid of the changes ahead....and I absorbed some of that outlook from spending time with them. Most days I feel optimistic and open to new ways of being church. The world is changing and they feel fine.

The less optimistic days, I wonder how we will make those successful transitions....and I honestly don't see the answers in the brief dealings I have had with the Comprehensive Review.

David Mundy said...

It's good to hear from you both, for lots of reasons including your presence at the Annual Meeting.

We do know that what we are currently doing in not working. But I have yet to speak to someone who feels inspired by the Comprehensive Review. I do wish I had been around for the flash mob!