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Conference Calling 7
I can hardly contain my excitement – a remarkable statement for one as introverted as me. On Wednesday I head off, along with a number of other BC Conference folk, for the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Brazil. It is seldom that the world church enters my mind; like most of you, there is enough to think about much closer to home. Every once in a while, though, some image from the 1983 WCC Assembly in Vancouver comes to mind, and I remember that God has not left us alone and isolated in this adventure of Christian faith but has joined us to sisters and brothers around the world. There are immense differences between the over 340 churches that make up the WCC and many of these differences are expected to surface in Brazil. But as the 3,000 delegates fight and squabble, they will be gathered around a table, a font, and the living memory of one who broke bread with the weak and prayed that all his “friends” might be one. I think it will make a difference.
Much of the news of BC Conference and the United Church is distributed to the Conference through our e-mail networks. While over 300 of you are already signed up for this news service, some may not. You can sign up for different e-mail groups. To do so, go to the BC Conference web site ( www.bc.united-church.ca ), click on Forums, the click on REgister in the top right corner and follow the instructions to sign up. To receive the news most people seem to want, make sure you sign up for BC Broadcast (general interest news) and BC Conference News (news about BC Conference people and events).
CAMP FUTURE PROJECT
The Camp Future Review Team met twice in January to review the submissions from around the Conference regarding the future of church camping in the Conference. The Review Team was: Derek Evans, Doug Goodwin, Joan McMurtry, and Doris Mowat. This group assessed the submissions that came to Conference, identified learnings from the submissions, then put together a plan that will be the basis of discussions between Conference, the presbyteries, congregations that own camp property, and the national church. After the last meeting this group was disbanded. Derek and Doug will continue to provide leadership for the Camp Future Project. It is expected that conversations with the groups mentioned above will continue into the early fall of 2006. Based on those conversations, a final plan will be developed for presentation to the Conference Executive at its November 2006 where final decisions will be made.
Thank you to Joan and Doris for contributing to the Camp Future Project in this brief, but vital, way. They brought perspective, wisdom, and decades of church camping leadership to this important undertaking.
Doris Kizinna has been instrumental in pulling together two upcoming youth ministry training events. On February 18 David Hatfield is leading work on “The Art of Facilitation” while on March 4 Dr. Nancy Reeves is leading “So What Do I Do Now? Helping Youth With Spiritual Decision Making.” Call Doris at the Conference office for more information.
M&P COMMITTEE WORKSHOP
Although she is presently off to Israel for two weeks, Treena Duncan has plans in place for a training workshop for Ministry and Personnel Committees on April 1. Give her or Cynthia Smith a call at the Conference office for more information.
Congratulations to Crescent Beach United Church for paying off their loan to BC Conference in December with rather remarkable dispatch. Earlier in 2005 Gilmore Park United paid off their sizable loan. Finally, almost 80% of Eagle Ridge United’s loan was paid off in December by a large grant authorized by Westminster Presbytery from the sale of Shiloh United Church. Loans for significant development work is one of the ways BC Conference provides direct support to congregations.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
Do not forget that a number of BC Conference folk will be attending the World Council of Churches 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, from February 14-23. Please pray for those attending: pre-Assembly information warns that temperatures will be 30-40 degrees C! You can get daily updates from the Assembly at: www.wcc-assembly.info
We are presently working on hiring two new people for Conference work. First, we expect to choose a new Executive Director for the United Church Health Services by the middle of March. UCHS runs three clinics and hospitals in northern BC on behalf of the United Church. Second, we are looking for a new archivist to replace Bob Stewart. Our goal is to have someone in place fairly soon. In the meantime, Grant Bracewell is serving as Acting Archivist.
LOWER MAINLAND PRESBYTERY WORK
The four Lower Mainland Presbyteries are still considering a proposal from BC Conference that the Conference financially support specialized work in each of the Presbyteries that focus upon mission enhancement and “special initiatives to ensure Presbytery administration and oversight of the congregations and ministries within their bounds is effective, fair and consistent.” BC Conference already supports Victoria and Comox-Nanaimo Presbyteries financially. It supports Cariboo, Kamloops-Okanagan, Kootenay, and Prince Rupert Presbyteries with staff.
Do not forget the General Meeting of BC Conference, May 25-28, 2006, in Esquimalt. Besides preparing for the General Council meeting later in August by electing Commissioners, we will be spending significant time in workshops focused around the theme “Roots and Shoots.” One of the more important tasks of the meeting is to elect a new President who will serve from 2008-2009. Please consider prayerfully who might next provide leadership in this significant role. If you are a member of the BC Conference General Meeting, you can register on-line at the BC Conference website.
All congregations take note: there is a new requirement for official donation receipts. On each receipt, the following must appear: “Canada Revenue Agency www.cra-arc.gc.ca/charities”
Indeed it does! This is an advance notice of the national symposium on “preaching, music and worship practice” at UBC on June 15-17, 2006. BC Conference resource people figure prominently among the leadership of the symposium, including Marion Best, Bruce Harding, Gary Paterson, Sandra Severs, Sharon Ferguson-Hood, and others. Watch for more information.