Letter from Jay Olson, BC Conference president

  December 20, 2018 Friends,   On the eve of our winter solstice I am filled with gratitude and hope for you.   What a privilege it has been to be invited to be with you as you both celebrated and grieved through your final, official Presbytery meetings.  I experienced at each of those meetings […] Read More

Message from president Jay Olson

October 9, 2018 Friends, So much has happened since our meeting in June. There have been vacations, moves, camps, weddings, memorials, VST Indigenous Studies Program and other summer schools, General Council, mission partnership trips in B.C. and beyond, and so much more. Serious matters have challenged British Columbians to the limits such as the worst […] Read More

Update letter from President of BC Conference, following the final report of the Boundaries Commission

Update from the President of BC Conference Following the Final Report of the Boundaries Commission Dear friends in Congregations and Communities of Faith across BC, stretching into the mountains to Banff, and reaching north to Whitehorse, What an interesting time to be part of the Body of Christ. We are being asked to be flexible, […] Read More

Pastoral Letter for Ash Wednesday 2018

Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ, As we enter into the season of Lent, traditionally a season of introspection and penitence, we are aware of the attention of our nation on the acquittal of Gerald Stanley in the shooting death of Colton Boushie. We would like to invite the United Church in BC, its members […] Read More

Pastoral letter regarding summer 2017 wildfires in BC

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. Many of our congregations are ministering right in the heart of the threatened and enflamed territory. And meanwhile, the fires keep on starting and spreading. At a time like this, when fear, anxiety, loss and dislocation trouble the hearts of many, we turn to prayer, we turn to Scripture, and we turn to each other. Read More

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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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. Read More

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. Read More

A Commissioner’s Reflections on the 42nd General Council

September 4, 2015 - Keith Simmonds

When I review my daily journal entries from GC42 (found at, 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.

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President’s Letter regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis

In September 2015, BC Conference President Keith Simmonds wrote to the honourable Stephen Harper about the Syrian refugee crisis. This letter is meant to serve as an example for those people who may choose to write their own letters.

Read the letter.

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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.”

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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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Preparing for Corner Brook

July 23, 2015 - Keith Simmonds

BC Conference General Council Commissioners Gathering

On July 4th, while our neighbours to the south were celebrating the birthday of their nation, some of the commissioners chosen to attend the 42nd General Council of the United Church of Canada (GC42) met at BC Conference offices in Burnaby to learn more about our roles and responsibilities.

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The way of reconciliation

July 2, 2015
Keith Simmonds

This blog post was published by Victoria's Times Colonist online column, "Spiritually Speaking". 

I was born in Kitimat, but didn’t know a lot about the Indigenous kids in Kitimaat Village. They were across the channel from us, too far away for me to know. We moved to Flin Flon when I was 12, at the time a white/European community surrounded by thousands of Cree on various reserves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I didn’t know much about them either. They weren’t in town a lot, weren’t all that welcome in restaurants and hotels. Not in some of the stores either.

Looking back I can see we lived in a racist culture. It wasn’t as easily seen then as it is now. Although it should have been. I served drinks in the Royal Hotel, the only bar in Flin Flon that would serve First Nations customers. Not out of any sense of altruism or human rights. No, we were told to keep ‘them’ in ‘their’ section, no straying into the other seats, to serve ‘them’ until they were too drunk to drink any more, then toss ‘them’ out to make room for the next one.

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There is no word for apology

June 30, 2015
Keith Simmonds

This blog post was published by Victoria's Times Colonist online column, "Spiritually Speaking". 

Stan McKay is a wise and respected elder. A minister and former moderator of the United Church of Canada, he is rooted in the traditions of the Swampy Cree of Fisher River, Manitoba. I was fortunate to have him as a teacher during my formation in ministry and hold his teachings close to my heart.

Especially on days like these.

Days when I shudder under the enormous implications of being a white male protestant who has mined, milled and smelted much of the beauty of the earth. Who has been deeply engaged in the adversarial systems of political discourse that thinly veil our struggles to be the direct beneficiaries of the ongoing exploitation of planet and people.

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Thank you: An inaugural blog post

June 23, 2015
Keith Simmonds

I would like to begin by saying thanks.
Thank you to my predecessor, Karen Medland, for so ably and capably filling the role of President of BC Conference. 
Thank you to my successor, Cari Copeman-Haynes, for being willing to take up the position in two years, bringing years of experience and ability to her role as President Elect. 
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An opinion on the Supreme Court’s ruling on physician assisted suicide

February 7, 2015
Karen Medland
This comment was prepared in response to request from journalist Susan Lazaruk of The Province newspaper.
As someone who has walked with people on that part of life's journey that we call death, I know that it is not an easy journey for all. It is a privilege to be asked to help others in such moments to listen to their hopes and fears and to help them strive for a "good death".
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