Rev. Dirk Jessen
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3 days and counting
the Opening of the 43rd General Council
of The United Church of Canada
on July 22, 2018

What’s at Stake?

The most fundamental issues are mission and identity.

How is God calling us to live out our faith, today and into the future? How can we best prepare ourselves to do this?

According to Christian scripture, Jesus reflected the goodness and love of God in many ways. One way was in how he was open to individuals and groups, in his place and time, who were often either invisible to or actively shunned by the majority of people. He listened to them, spoke with them, actively cared for them, assuring them that they were noticed, loved, important.

The United Church of Canada, since its beginnings in the early 20th century, has often been at the forefront of doing the same in Canada. Being there for and with the overlooked or ignored has been the niche of our church. Today, we find ourselves almost in competition with other organizations who are doing much of the same work. Further, people no longer claim a religious tradition as their default understanding of life. "Spiritual but not religious" is the new norm.

Especially in the two or so decades following World War Two, being part of a church was a strong social expectation, as was financially contributing to your local congregation. For many years, the United Church of Canada has been the largest non-Roman Catholic Christian denomination in the country. With the financial and people strength of these years, the United Church hummed along in spite of an organizational structure that was outdated and less than straight forward from its very beginning in 1925. We find ourselves today no longer able to maintain, sometimes even explain, how our national church works.

These two features, our identity of being a church for people on the margins when we increasingly find ourselves there, and how we best organize our efforts, are the key topics of General Council 43.

Tomorrow: How GC43 will discuss these two central questions

                                - Rev. Dirk