Rev. Dirk Jessen
Slideshow image

General Council 43

 A Window into the United Church of Canada

As I write this reflection, General Council 43 is in its final hours, even minutes. The gathered Commissioners are working hard to discuss and pass remaining proposals that will help shape the entire United Church of Canada. I have yet to examine and think about the wide variety of decisions made and worship services offered over the past few days. I will offer some thoughts on some of the content of the meeting next week.

This week I’d like write a bit about how the past week has unfolded, the process. To be sure, it helped that I’ve been to numerous regional meetings that were similar in format. It also helped that I recognized quite a few more people than I thought. Seeing ministry colleagues and other church leaders I’ve met over time was quite a pleasant surprise.

Even more than that, technology allowed me to follow the various proceedings live four provinces away. The General Council website served as a portal connecting me with those gathered in Oshawa and, by extension, with the entire United Church of Canada. From providing up-to-the-minute edits to proposals as discussion took place to livestreaming worship services and many decision-making sessions, I often felt as if I was right there. Not only was much covered live, but there are recordings of the meeting sessions and worship services to view again.

What I most appreciated about the coverage of this General Council was that it made it possible for me to see and hear a wide variety of people that I would never have met or encountered all together. Observing worship services with congregation members and sharing our impressions has already yielded some rich and deep conversations that would likely never have occurred otherwise.

I must admit that I have no idea how extensively the previous General Council meeting was covered. I’m not even sure where it was. This reflects my sense that General Council is something that happens far away and is attended by who knows who, doing who knows what. Because of the miracles of modern communications technology and those who employ it, my perspective on and connection to the United Church of Canada has grown significantly in the past few days. Thanks be to God! - Rev. Dirk

Next week: What happened at General Council 43?