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Conference Calling 35
It has been a long time since I preached regularly but I had the opportunity on the Sunday after Easter. While any time to preach is a good time, there is an added – what shall I call it? – burden or responsibility in the season of Easter because in order to preach resurrection you really have to believe resurrection.
You have to have confidence that there really is Good News in the story you are asked to proclaim, even when you do not fully feel or understand it yourself. And you have to be able to proclaim it without being trite, especially when faced by the Boston bombings or the many troubles and anxieties in the hearts of those listening.
Luckily the Sunday after Easter had this wonderful text about the disciples gathering in fear and doubt yet still visited by the risen Christ. I was reminded that the power of preaching is not in the wisdom or cleverness of the preacher but in the power of the story to take hold of people and transform lives… an insight that should give me the courage to say “yes” when my turn to preach comes up again.
Since the last Conference Calling two new ProVision Committees have been added to the two already operating. Fraser Presbytery has begun distributing funds and Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery has distributed application forms for their first intake. Meanwhile Victoria Presbytery is finalizing their terms of reference for their ProVision funds and the Fund open to the rest of the Conference (that is, areas without their own Presbytery fund) will be ready to go in the next month or so. It has been one of the primary foci of the Conference Executive to support the work in Presbyteries and the ProVision Funds are one of the major ways of doing so.
Keith Howard is presently working on a plan for a leadership development program in the Conference which would see greatly increased training and support opportunities for those in leadership in congregations and other ministries in the Conference. It is anticipated that the first stages of the program will be put in place this fall. Meanwhile existing work in the area of leadership development is being reordered to provide better, more integrated training.
PROPERTY RESOURCE TEAM
Terry Harrison is now working full-time on the Property Resource Team, paired up with Justin Harcourt from Colliers International. They are working closely with a number of congregations on plans to redevelop their property to provide renewed facilities, community benefit, and, in some cases, a new, steady income source. They also provide advice and research for others who are beginning to look at how they can better use their property asset, as well as advise Presbyteries who need to assess congregational plans for property use.
Ian Fraser has begun contract work as the Conference Camping Coordinator, replacing Terry Harrison. Ian will focus on taking the camping ministry to the next level by establishing a new governance and management system involving camps Fircom and Pringle. This work is being supported by a multi-million dollar endowment fund.
Chris Corrigan has begun his work visiting and talking to those in the northern half of BC about what ministry might look like in the years ahead and how it might best be organized and supported. He is focusing on the work undertaken by Cariboo and Prince Rupert Presbyteries, as well as Native Ministries and the Coastal Marine Mission. This initiative was not undertaken as a cost-cutting effort but as a response to the frustration in those areas about the lack of clarity regarding the purpose and realistic goals for ministry in this changing time. It is expected that some analysis and recommendations will be offered early in the fall, and that these might lead to renewed energy and focus.
TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
Kathy Hogman has taken on the task of helping congregations and individuals participate in the Truth and Reconciliation events throughout the province, leading up to the national gathering in Vancouver September 17-22, 2013. Regional events are planned for: Prince George (May 13-14); Williams Lake (May 16-18); Kamloops (May 28-29); and Terrace (June 25-26). As one of the churches that ran residential schools, the United Church is committed to participating in these events as much as possible to demonstrate our continuing responsibility for and commitment to healing. Find out more about the Commission here. Keep in touch with BC events at Reconciliation Canada.
The BC Conference Executive met March 14-16 and will meet again May 23-25 at the Conference office. The minutes of the meeting and a summary will soon be posted on the Conference web site. You can see a few pictures from the meeting on the Conference Facebook page.
CELEBRATION OF MINISTRY
Since there is no General Meeting this year a special Celebration of Ministry service will be held in order to ordain, commission, and admit candidates. It is being held May 25 at 3:00 p.m. at Queen’s Avenue United Church in New Westminster. Find out more here.
Scott Reynolds has taken on half-time youth and young adult work at the United Churches of Langley but remains at the Conference office as the Assistant to the Executive Secretary half-time until a new Assistant is chosen (hopefully not too long after you receive this Conference Calling!). The positions of Conference ministers for Cariboo Presbytery, Prince Rupert Presbytery, and Native Ministries have been left intentionally vacant while an assessment of the ministries in those areas goes on. In the interim Wally Hargrave is working approximately half-time providing pastoral care and worship as needed in several of the First Nations communities in that area. Irene Champagne continues full-time as the Mobile Counsellor providing professional psychotherapeutic services in some of the smaller coastal communities. Doris Kizinna has led trips to both Cuba and India since the last Conference Calling. I was off in February for about three weeks for very successful hip replacement surgery. While not back to full strength yet recovery has been very satisfying. Thank you to Treena Duncan who ably filled in as Acting Executive Secretary during my convalescence.
From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary