General Council – Last thoughts

August 16 It is finished. Yes, General Council is over, and I am exhausted. It’s been absolutely awesome. For seven days we have flown on God’s Spirit, as we worked long hours, worshipped together and even played occasionally. One of the highlights for me came Saturday when we discussed the Saskatchewan proposal suggesting we shift the twenty articles of faith that were set out in 1926 to the status of historical document. I expected hours of heated debate and even anger. Instead, Rev. Dr. John Young, professor at Queen’s Theological College, suggested we add the statement of faith made in the1940’s, the New Creed from the 1960’s, and our most recent document A Song of Faith to the twenty articles. Each one is an expression of faith for the time in which it was written. Each one carries our story. The commissioners received this suggestion with joy. It allowed us to be inclusive of the broad spectrum of beliefs that are held by our United Church members.
Yesterday, goodbyes were tearful, especially for the teens. “I’ve made some really good friends,” one young man said to me. “I sure hope that I will keep them.” Another teen responded, “We have lots of friends on the internet but they don’t seem as close as the friends we’ve made here. This has been really special.”
This week, I glimpsed the church as God intends it to be – warm, loving, accepting people, enthusiastic about their faith. Love and respect for all people opened us to transformation by our encounters with God in the people around us.
As we worked together we practiced giving, not just emotionally but also concretely. Through joyful requests, our teens gathered over $13,000 from us, for the solar water heater at the Naramata Camp and Conference Centre. “These kids can certainly give us lessons in fund raising,” one Commissioner commented.
Our meeting started with a young mom, her eight week old baby asleep in her arms saying, “I’ve worked on this conference for three years. I want baby Nicholas to be here. With your help I will do my best to fulfill my role as chair of business and agenda.” Yesterday as we said good bye she thanked us for our enthusiastic help. We received her work as a job well done, and learned that the You Tube video clip of “Baby in Council” had received the most hits.
We human beings, with all our flaws and fears, can truly follow Jesus’ teaching to love God and love one another. For one whole week, we lived it. I am truly grateful for the experience.
Go to the United Church website at for all the details.

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