Conference Calling 1

April 2005

 Friends,

I guess I could simply blame the Spirit, but sometimes several things just seem to drift into place to give rise to an obvious, good idea that hadn't been thought before.

I hope this newsletter will prove to be one of those good ideas.

Here is the concept: I will write a regular (every 3 or 4 weeks), informal email newsletter for Ministry Personnel and congregations of BC Conference, highlighting the work of the Conference staff and committees. I do not anticipate listing every "happening" in BC Conference, nor do I want to send you condensed minutes of every meeting.

I just want to keep you in touch with what Conference staff are up to, what work is being done, what major issues we are facing, and how you might benefit from some of the programs and grants Conference offers.

Keeping this newsletter short and readable will be the challenge — so much can be reported! but that is the challenge I am setting for myself. So, no more introduction: I trust the rest of this note speaks for itself.

Shalom, Doug Goodwin
Executive Secretary, BC Conference


General Meeting

We are now in full swing preparing for the General Meeting May 26-29 in the Comox Valley. Keith Howard has been chairing the Agenda and Planning Committee and will head up the Business Committee once the meeting is underway. We will be spending significant time sitting under scripture, with Ed Searcy leading us through texts in Ezekiel and John. Two persons are being ordained, one recognized, and one admitted from another denomination in a service where Michelle Slater will be preaching. A major piece of business will be looking at the future of camping ministry in BC Conference. As usual, there will be lots of opportunity for singing, visiting, debate, book-buying… and, this year, even dancing! For reports and more information, follow the links on the BC Conference web page www.bc.united-church.ca.

Audio-Visual Educational Library (AVEL)

The AVEL service will be consolidated for western Canada in Winnipeg starting July 1, 2005. BC Conference had been providing services for both BC and Alberta for the past few years but rising costs meant significant cutbacks. By consolidating service in one location AVEL will now be able to once again offer five day a week, consultative service at the end of a toll free telephone. Watch for more information soon. Thank you to Gerildine Smith who has been providing transition work for AVEL since Beth Jennings‚ retirement at the end of 2004.

Troubled Congregations

Treena Duncan, Personnel Minister, reminds us that there are several congregations in Conference that are facing significant trouble and division. Trouble is not unknown in the church; read I Corinthians for a report on real congregational strife. But despite its long history, trouble is never easy. Please keep those congregations and ministry personnel who are presently bearing this cross in your prayers during the days and weeks ahead.

Grants Available

Nellie Tang returned from a national gathering of financial wizards reporting that several national grants are again available. Manse Modernization Grants match up to $5,000 if you are fixing up your manse. Technology Grants match up to $1,500 for congregations upgrading their technology. Camp Grants match up to $2,500 for capital camp projects. She also reports that Continuing Education grants are also available again, up to $300 per individual annually or $1,000 to a group from a congregation attending the same event. Contact Nellie for more information on any of these grants or see the national web page.

Personnel

Treena has been busy on many fronts (as those who know her will not be surprised to hear). She has made an arrangement with "Infocheck", a company that offers thorough and speedy police records checks for a very good price. She also reports that the Ministry and Personnel Council is working on a system of offering pastoral care to ministry personnel. A volunteer position, Pastoral Care Coordinator, has been created who will serve as a member of the Council and work with Treena. Treena is also providing Ministry and Personnel Committee training starting in June and continuing through the fall. Busy? Yes, but here is what Treena says about her work: "When contemplating accepting this position nearly three years ago, I was looking for a way to integrate my professional and spiritual life. This is now a reality, for which I am truly grateful. Thanks be to God!"

"For Such A Time As This"

Keith Howard has been helping the national church develop a national media campaign and congregational preparation program called "For Such A Time As This." This is a major undertaking with over two million dollars budgeted for the next two years. We are anticipating that Keith will continue to be a major factor in this venture. The project raises some very deep questions for our church: what do we really have to say? what can we say truthfully about ourselves, about our faith, about the God we worship and the Christ we follow? And how would we do it in only a few, short moments allowed by modern media? Stay tuned!

Youth

Doris Kizinna has just returned from leading eleven youth in a wonderful, although demanding, exposure visit to Cuba, just in time to start gearing up for major youth participation at the General Meeting.

There is much more than can be reported but … I promised to be disciplined.

But before I finish: Nan Koldewijn (Assistant to the Executive Secretary) celebrates her birthday on June 2.

May this Pentecost Sunday be a time when the Spirit of Christ falls among you in joy, power and truth!

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