President's Blog

Thoughts and comments from current and past BC Conference Presidents.

Pastoral letter regarding summer 2017 wildfires in BC

BC Conference President Cari Copeman-Haynes writes to all of those in BC Conference:

This weekend has marked the most extraordinary set of circumstances with regard to fires in the interior of our province for more than a decade. Hot weather, dry lightning, high winds, and human activity have all conspired to endanger many people in many parts of our province due to the huge spread of fire through dry tinder.

Many of our congregations are ministering right in the heart of the threatened and enflamed territory. Some of our people are among those evacuated from their homes, and others are among those who seek to support and house those who have been evacuated. And meanwhile, the fires keep on starting (97 new fires on Saturday alone) and spreading.

At a time like this, when fear, anxiety, loss and dislocation trouble the hearts of many of our neighbours (and ourselves) in BC Conference, we turn to prayer, we turn to Scripture, and we turn to each other.

Continue reading.

The United Church of Canada sends this prayer to all.

Saskatchewan Conference Refugee Action

Saskatchewan Conference takes action for refugees: increase sponsorships and end the Safe Third Country Agreement

On Friday, January 27th US President Trump signed an Executive Order that temporarily halts all resettlement of refugees to the US, halves the number of refugees to be resettled in the current year, and bars Syrian refugees and discriminates against refugees of Muslim faith or background. The Order also imposes a temporary ban on the admission of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Over the past year, United Church people have welcomed thousands of refugees into their communities.  As people of faith, the church continues to ask and respond in this time and place to Jesus’ question: “And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you?” (Matthew 25).

Take action
There are positive, immediate steps Canada can take to respond to this crisis, but our government will need to hear that message from us.  Read the full call to action.

A Prayer for Love

January 30, 2017

Dear Friends,

Events in the world in general, in the country to the south of us in particular, and at a mosque in Quebec City in awful detail, prompt me to write as the President of BC Conference to confirm the steps I am sure you are already taking. To confirm your instinct to reach out, to offer assurance, to stand with, to take your place alongside our friends and neighbours who count themselves, as we do, as sons and daughters of Abram and Sarai.

Letters regarding the stand off at Standing Rock

Our president, Keith Simmonds, has written two letters regarding the stand off at Standing Rock. 

To President Obama

To the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

HOW ARE WE BEING CALLED?

Dear Friends,

I’ve been reading a lot about what Christians should be doing at this time in history. I agree with a lot of what’s been written:

  • What are we called into if not solidarity with the life force of our planet, all creatures great and small?
  • What are we called into if not solidarity with the lives and living of those seeking refuge, those persecuted for faith, for gender, for racial heritage?
  • What are we called into if not solidarity with those deprived of economic equality, humane treatment, religious freedom?
  • What are we called into if not solidarity with those who are marginalized in the world?
  • What are we called into if not speaking truth to power?
  • What are we called into if not proclamation of the Gospel of loving relationship witnessed in the birth of the Christ child at Christmas, the witness of the cross, and the truth of resurrection?

What we are called into is beyond question.

But how are we being called?

The Myths We Live By

Richard Rohr, a fabulous Franciscan who constantly illuminates in his writings, wrote recently that we are, in many ways, defined by the prevailing myths of our culture. Our defining myths, whether based in fact or not, are the background against which we measure ourselves and our society.

For instance, one might say the people to the south of us once believed every man started from common ground and that any man could aspire to greatness. Canadians once believed we were strong, kind, firm, caring, polite, respectful, respected and egalitarian in nature.

Mr. Rohr noted that the current mythic statement about North Americans seems to be that we are either producers or consumers, or perhaps, both. He went on to draw a parallel from that mythic statement to current rates of depression among North Americans.

The Work of General Council

The work of General Council is never done.

That is not, as we learned at General Council 42, just an adaptation of an old ‘saw’; it is an accurate statement of fact.

Our capable, efficient, and deeply caring General Secretary, Nora Sanders, told Commissioners that much of the good work we did together could not possibly be addressed any further by General Council staff or committees -- there just are not enough of them to go around. Asking us to prioritize our proposals to guide staff in their responses, she left the knowledge of good work ‘left hanging’ in our hands and on our minds.

A Commissioner's Reflections on the 42nd General Council

Read more reflections from Keith regarding the 42nd General Council at keithsimmonds.ca.

September 4, 2015 - Keith Simmonds

When I review my daily journal entries from GC42 (found at keithsimmonds.ca), our time together seems to fall into four main areas: Worship; Structure; Mission; and Vision. We worshipped together, made recommendations for restructuring, called out the prophetic ministries of our times and grappled with our vision of God and kin-dom. We chose a moderator uniquely qualified to lead us and speak of us, in church and world.

Pray, Write and Act for Syrian Refugees

September 10, 2015 - Keith Simmonds
Dear friends in Christ,

In Corner Brook, at General Council 42, we learned that we were all dear. Dear to the heart of the greeter, dear to the folk we met, m’dear and m’darling to just about anyone who claims ‘The Rock’ that is Newfoundland, as home.

Each day we’d be asked “How’s she cuttin’, b’y?” and each day we’d respond “Best kind, b’y, best kind”. It was true enough. There among so many church folk, surrounded by so much love and so much care, it was ‘best kind.’

This past week, though, I’d have said “The bottom’s gone right out of her.”

On the eve of leaving for #GC42

August 5, 2015 - Keith Simmonds

Hello My Friends,

In two days I'll be travelling to the 42nd General Council in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. By the time I get there I should be as ready as I'll ever be for the conversations, considerations and discernment that will follow. Our schedule looks fairly packed, with lots of intentional work before us over the course of our week together.

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