Rev. Dirk Jessen
Slideshow image

2 days and counting
the Opening of the 43rd General Council
of The United Church of Canada
on July 22, 2018

How does the United Church of Canada make its decisions?

Some pretty high-stake decisions are about to be made by this United Church of ours.  How do we go about being followers of Jesus in the 21st century?   How will we share our vision in a world in which the church doesn't seem to be have relevance in people's lives?  

Some of the things that will to be decided include how we will re-structure ourselves, how we will relate to First Nations, how will we find the resources needed to continue the work that Jesus began in the 1st century.  

Contrary to what some may think, decisions in the United Church of Canada are not made on the spur of the moment. Starting in the congregation, there is a set of bylaws in place for how decisions are to be made in all aspects of church life. Similar bylaws apply to all levels of the church, including the ultimate “court” (the formal, legal word), that is, “General Council, which meets every three years.

So it is that General Council 43 is being held in Oshawa, Ontario from July 21 to 27. It is at General Council that particularly far-reaching decisions are made. By the time an issue,(like the proposed change to the governing structure of the United Church of Canada), makes it to the floor of General Council, it has been refined by many different types of discussion. Sometimes there is the need for expert investigation and consultation that becomes a special commission report. Then there is almost always a study guide or process that is created and distributed for study and discussion by congregations and other groups and asking for feedback. Usually there are suggestions to be incorporated or questions to be answered before a final draft of a proposal even makes it back to the floor of General Council for a decision.

Even for those proposals that make it to General Council, there is a further process that involves listening sessions with those most directly affected by each proposal under consideration. Based on these listening sessions there is further discussion by Commissioners and it is possible that changes can still be made at the direction of the Commissioners. Then and only then are proposals voted on by Commissioners working, if at all possible, to a consensus.

These decisions will affect all of us.  We encourage you to engage in this process as you are able.

For much more information and up-to-the-minute news of this year's General Council, visit the website:

- Rev. Dirk