AM2012 LogoWhat’s Left? We Are! Annual Meeting Summary 2012
by Norma Mills, Editor Maritime Conference Newsletter

The theme of the 87th Annual Meeting of Maritime Conference, “What’s Left?” was thought provoking in view of the declining membership in many United Church congregations. As conference delegates were led to consider that we live with abundance rather than lack, our response can be like that of the disciples who were inspired as Jesus showed them how to feed the multitudes.

The meeting took place at the Civic Centre in Sackville, NB from May 29 to June 3, 2012 with Conference President Jane Johnson presiding.

The theme speaker was former moderator the Very Rev. David Guiliano who addressed the court each day, and centred his messages on trusting God for abundant good. He shared stories about encountering God’s provision in life experiences and offered examples from scripture showing God’s love and constancy: manna in the desert, ravens feeding Elijah, and angels feeding Jesus after his temptation in the wilderness. Posing the question, “Could it be that God is emptying the churches?” he asked if God is calling us into the wilderness where the church is searching for a new place.

Led by Rev. Kelly Burke, Rev. Matthew Fillier and Rev. Valerie Kennedy, the worship services explored aspects of the theme through biblical images of light, oil, stones, and baskets.

A ministry of music was offered by Lloyd MacLean, Gwen MacLean, and Kate MacLean, and “The Message” performed throughout the four-day gathering.

A Service of Remembrance honoured Donalda A. Jardine, Vernon Smith, Renford Grant MacKenzie, Edward Francis Carey, James M. “Jim” Thorne, Fred Chester Burrill, and Donald R. Sutherland.

Church in Action Committee member Kathryn Anderson described “An Ethical Lens,” which reflects a responsibility to the earth in its wholeness. David MacPherson recounted his experience in Guatemala, the ethics of Reserve Extraction, and the environmental damage caused by a Goldcorp mine. Darlene Brewer talked about her trip to the Philippines where she learned about the effects of harmful mining practices on people and animals.

Linda Scherzinger and Bev MacDonald described the Just Peace for Israel-Palestine Working Group, and the WCC World Week for Peace.

Laura Hunter noted that efforts by the Children and Youth in Crisis working group have prompted the Nova Scotia government to review the Children and Family Services Act.

Red Letter Philanthropy representatives Harvey Gilmour, Jodi Hutchinson and Jennifer Bolt provided an update on the capital campaign currently underway to finance the new Conference Centre and Archives. Phase one is complete with the Maritime Conference Executive and Leaders reaching their $150,000 objective. Phase two will ask the delegates of Maritime Conference to consider a pledge of $500 a year for five years (with the tax receipt that would be issued by Conference, this works out to be $6 per week).  Gifts at this level would reflect the average of gifts from your Executive, and would match the leadership support of Phase one.

Rev. Phillip Kennedy encouraged delegates visit the new Conference Centre that is scheduled to open officially on September 29. He asked that all pastoral charges bring a small amount of soil to their next presbytery meetings, which will be used to plant a commemorative tree.

Bermuda delegates David Atwood, Lorraine Beasely and Leo Mills presented “Repainting the Letters of our Faith, Remembering the History of Racial Injustice in the Bermuda Wesleyan Methodist Synod”. A copy of the synod’s apology for racial discrimination was given for the new Conference Centre.

Rev. Keltie van Binsbergen reported on a team entered in the Bluenose Marathon held recently in Halifax to raise money for Mission and Service. “Runners United” ranged in age from 12 to 79 and raised more than $13,000.

Catherine Christie, Overseas Personnel in Seoul Korea described the ongoing militarization of life in a divided Korea since the end of the conflict in 1953, and the Korean Peace Treaty Campaign. There are plans for a peace train to travel from Berlin through Moscow and Beijing to South Korea for the World Council of Churches meeting in October 2013. She asked that Maritime Conference pray that the train will be able to pass through North Korea.

Delegates voted to concur and transmit the following proposals to the 41st General Council to be held August 11-18 in Ottawa:

  • Clarification of 363(c) during maternity/parental leave;
  • Copyright Procedures for Worship Resources;
  • United Church of Canada Pension Board Divestment from Goldcorp;
  • Review of Centralized Pastoral Charge Payroll Program;
  • Plain Language Handbook for the Sale of Property.

Delegates voted to approve a proposal entitled, “Calling for a Moratorium on On-Shore Shale Gas and Coal Bed Methane Development.”

The court voted in favour of the proposed operating budget for the year 2013, including a 2% increase in allocations.

As part of the General Council Report, Peggy Monague brought greetings from the Aboriginal Ministries Council/Circle. She noted that two important issues will be discussed at General Council: disowning of the Doctrine of Discovery that gave explorers the right to claim lands for their Christian monarchs, and revisions to the Basis of Union and United Church Crest to reflect the significant role of First Nations people. Maritime Conference endorsed proposed changes to the crest.

Rev. Meggin King was elected President-Designate of Maritime Conference, while Pauline Walker was named Lay Representative to the General Council Executive.

Delegates chose among a variety of focus groups on Saturday afternoon. In the evening, Intermediates at Conference thanked the court for its support and Youth Forum offered a lively program of music and skits.

Richard (Ricky) Bowley, Sarah (Sally) Budge, Janice Frame, Lynn McKinnon, Scott Stuart Mary Taylor were ordained during the Service of Worship on Sunday morning. Kimberly (Kym) Burke-Cole was ordained on behalf of Newfoundland Conference.

Rev. Phillip Kennedy was installed as President of Maritime Conference.

The next annual meeting of Maritime Conference will be held May 23-26, 2013.