Thursday, 27 August 2015

Behold, I make all things new.

Behold, I make all things new.
Rev 21:4
                General Council 42 met in Corner Brook, NFLD from August 8 to 15 with the overlying theme from Revelation 21. This Council gathering would prove to
be historic, filled with hope for the church we are becoming and with the level of commitment and faithfulness shared by the commissioners we have reason to say, “God is with us, we are not alone.”
                With many different topics, concerns and the need to ground all our work in worshiping our God, priorities were set for the work which must be completed. Priority one was to receive the report of the Comprehensive Review Task Group and to learn of the 190 proposals which were generated in response to the recommendations. A Sessional Committee was set up for this purpose and this group began meeting prior to everyone’s arrival in Corner Brook. Their task was to come up with a working document based upon the recommendations of CRTG and all the proposals. This working document then served as the basis for the GC business priority of the framework for a new governance structure for the United Church. This structure based upon all the information gathered and the recommendations will include Communities of faith, regional councils and a denominational council.  The task before GC was then to define these in terms of general practise. For it was also agreed that another task group would be established to refine and define each of these statements. The concern for many leaving the meeting was how many regional councils and where they would be established. As there is no definitive answer at present this could be 6-60 and more reasonably around 15-20.
                Other business priorities were what would occur in the meantime for transitions to take place. Financial considerations were discussed well before GC42 met and there will most likely be layoffs in the spring if not before of GC staff. It is hoped that these individuals might be rehired into the regional councils but this is not certain at this time.
                The recommendations of the CRTG were received but not all were approved as presented. Instead of establishing a College of Ministers, there will be denominational office of vocations which would oversee ministry personnel as a whole. A working group will also be established to consider the Association of Ministers which would be a support network.
There were several other topics under that sessional committee review of the CRTG report, but what is apparent is that people from the churches were heard and responses made. It is time for change and transition in the church and it begins not at General council but in the church. We need to have the hope of Christ’s resurrection if we are to continue to be his faithful followers serving today. We need to look at our local communities of faith and ask serious questions regarding stewardship of time, energy and money and the best use for God’s ministry and mission with what we have received. The question is are we willing to be changed and transformed by God’s spirit as we encounter something new?
                A new song sung at the GC 42 became a favourite very quickly because it not only asks us about our faith, but to put this faith into action. Thank you to Wanda Stride for this song:
Do we dare? Eat the produce of the hills do we dare? Touch the gifts of the earth? Do we dare? Dip our feet in the oil? Do we dare try God’s new thing? Do we dare?
As for me and my house we serve the Lord! Let the soles of our feet touch the rivers we ford
Baptism blessings for our new beginnings yes me and my house we dare to serve the Lord!


Holy One we thank you for challenges and the opportunity to change who we are because your Spirit is moving in and around us. Help us to realize that we are not alone when changes occur- you are with us as we strive to serve you in faith and with hope. Guide and protect us as we share with one another in Christ’s name. Amen.