General Council 43 REFLECTION #4
- Friday, July 13, 2018
- By Rev. Dirk Jessen
What Will Change? What Will Remain? - Rev Dirk
The reason for beginning this series of blogs is to look ahead to substantial changes imminent in the structure of the United Church of Canada, something that hasn’t taken place since the church’s founding in 1925. In all likelihood, the structure of the United Church of Canada will be significantly changed as of January 1, 2019. For a brief overview of why this change is needed I would recommend viewing this brief video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDB-jPnhSKk&t=22s . This video clip also talks about the whys and hows of funding for the continued work of our national church, starting next year.
While the video shows what will change in structures and processes, I believe that the most important things will remain.
In my first blog on this topic, I referred to an article by Kathryn Dorrell, a woman whose Christian faith was rekindled and deepened by her connection with a congregation in Toronto that took seriously its commitment to LGBTQ2 members in her community.
Next, I started to share my own experience of the United Church of Canada in the early 1960s, in my case at Tofield United Church. My German immigrant parents were welcomed there during a time when Germans were still seen with a significant level of post-war suspicion and mistrust. Germans were “outsiders” and, because of that, so was my own family.
Then I made the connection between my family’s experience and that of LGBTQ2 people—the importance, even sacredness of the safety, care and welcome for all people, especially those considered outsiders by many.
These stories have two things in common. First, is the wider United Church of Canada. The national part of our church body has taken official stands on a number of important, sometimes controversial topics over the decades. In addition to its position on gender identity and sexuality, the United Church of Canada has also over the years discussed and put into practice policies such as the ordination of women, the use and abuse of alcohol, interfaith dialogue, apartheid in South Africa, Canada’s history with its First Nation treaty partners, and Israel-Palestine relations, to name a few.
Second is the role of local communities of faith. Policies on the topics I just mentioned (including the formation of our denomination in the first place!) all originated from those “close to the action,” - congregations and other forms of ministry at the grass roots throughout our country and sometimes elsewhere in the world, where life meets faith and vice versa. Our faith is rooted and practiced in our relationships with those around us.
In other words, what will not change as of January 1 is the vital roles of congregations and other communities of faith within the United Church of Canada. What will also not change is the unfailing commitment of our national church to gather, develop,
communicate and help us put into action the best ways we know to continue to be followers of Jesus, now and into the future.
Next week: General Council 43 begins.
For much more on the United Church of Canada, please visit www.united-church.ca.