General Council Commissioners will be making reports to Presbytery over the coming months but we have invited them to offer brief reflections in response to four questions.

1.       What part of General Council did you like best?
2.       What part of General Council was the most important?
3.       What part of General Council moved you in a special way?
4.       What part of General Council could you leave out and still have everything you needed!

 

Pauline Walker

Pauline Walker (right) with commissioners, Sheila Gallant and Ginny Coleman

Pauline Walker, Lay Representative to the General Council Executive.

1. What part of General Council did you like best?

It was wonderful to meet people from across our country who were so willing to share ideas and who in most ways thought the same as we did.   I loved the cohesiveness of the event, the quiet ways and blunt honesty of the aboriginal commissioners, the energy of the youth, my table group…amazing people including a moderator nominee.

2. What part of General Council was the most important?

I cannot say that one part was anymore important than the other.  The fact that we were present from all across this great country under the umbrella of The United Church of Canada and all for the same purpose showed unity, an all inclusiveness unity.

3. What part of General Council moved you in a special way?

The signing of a covenant by the Aboriginal Ministries Council and The United Church of Canada that acknowledges the place of the Aboriginal church in the formation of the denomination in 1925.

4. What part of General Council could you leave out and still have everything you needed!

I missed, from what I heard was a great message because I did not know French.   I know I could go online and find the message but the moment was lost.  Apart from that everything was great.


Sheila Gallant, PEI Presbytery

1.  What part of General Council did you like best?  I enjoyed meeting people from different parts of our Church and exchanging ideas, problems, concerns, etc. about our Church and where it is going.

2.  What part of General Council was the most important?  For me, all of General Council is important.  Meeting people and the exchange of information is important.  I felt at times that we were rushed to complete/discuss the proposals that were before us and I think this was the reason we were there.  But equally important was listening to others and we had many different cultures represented at General Council. 

3.  What part of General Council moved you in a special way?  That’s hard to say.  So many stories were shared: the Aboriginal stories, the Israel and Palestine situations, hearing the different and varying languages spoken as we prayed together.  So many different cultures represented yet we were all praying together for peace, for our families, for others!  It was very moving and special to be a part of it.

4.  What part of General Council could you leave out and still have everything you needed?  Getting soaked to the skin in a heavy downpour on our way to lunch!  General Council was amazing: the different style of worship, the pop-up prophet – I can’t think of anything I could leave out because everything added to the whole experience.  It was uplifting and even when there was dissention on issues, we could see past the differences and move on in faith and trust that all would work out.


 

 Don Uhryniw, Saint John Presbytery

1. In retrospect the best part of the entire Council was the election of a new moderator.  I did not start the week thinking that it would be, however.  The election of the first out moderator in the history of the Church brought a sense of completion for me:  we have long talked about affirmation of members of the LGBTQ community, and the election of Gary Paterson was a kind of seal, a denoument of what was formally begun in 1988.  Of course, in asking what we liked the best, I also have to offer what I liked the least:  I think the Statement on Ministry, and the report on Ecclessiology, both of which are so very important, and both of which I perceived as weak documents, received scant attention.

2. The Statement on Ministry, which was given, in my opinion, insufficient consideration.

3. The celebration of the Aboriginal Ministries Council.  And the words from our Global Partners.  If folks in Churchland could only hear how our Global Partners admire, and at the same time, demand more of us.  I think we have forgotten how gifted we are as a Church.

4. I didn’t go to General Council with ‘needs’.  I went with a sense of an awesome responsibility on behalf of Saint John Presbytery.  If there is anything that I would have preferred not to have experienced, it is the way some membes of Council, and staff, stifled discussion and dissent.  Clear and unhindered voices are essential for any authentic discernment.


Lori-Beth Sheffield Bowles, Woolastook Presbytery

1.       What part of General Council did you like best?  Meeting with people from congregations across Canada and Bermuda (at my table group alone we had people from British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Bermuda).

2.       What part of General Council was the most important? Discussing the issues that face the United Church of Canada

3.       What part of General Council moved you in a special way? Gathering in large circles and singing Amazing Grace in Cree, it is an experience I will never forget.

4.       What part of General Council could you leave out and still have everything you needed! The coffee, drank way too coffee during the week. On a serious note, I don’t think there was anything I would leave out.