May 18, 2017
Over the next few years, Naramata Centre will sell a portion of its 23 acres in the heart of Naramata village. The Centre's Board of Directors arrived at some difficult, but necessary, decisions this spring and presented the plans to Society members this month.
Naramata Centre Society Board Chair, Doug Wollard, says "We believe by creating a smaller footprint we can operate in a way that fits the demand in today's world. Having fewer acres will require less maintenance, and will better fit our registration requirements as the Centre no longer hosts large conferences."Read More
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).
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.
The LeaderShift program which has been led by Keith Howard and Treena Duncan has now shifted its own leadership.
Treena is now the Director for LeaderShift. Keith, as he gently enters retirement, lets go of many of his responsibilities but continues to do some part-time contract work on research and social media related to LeaderShift.
Starting January 1 Rhian Walker has been hired half-time to work alongside Treena planning LeaderShift events. She and Treena will also spend the next six months preparing a longer range plan for the future of LeaderShift.
It is widely recognized that the training and support of good leadership is central to helping our church move into the future. BC Conference remains committed to this work even as it, too, changes.Read More
Toronto Conference has made an announcement regarding their decision on United Church minister, Greta Vosper. To read it, please go to the Toronto Conference website.
Please read the letter from Moderator Jordan Cantwell, Disagreeing in Love, which is now on the national United Church website, explaining how the church wants to be a “an open and inclusive community that believes in God.”Read More
The Naramata Centre Society Board is working hard to develop the future direction for the Centre and ensure the Centre is safe and well cared for. We are in a period of transition and discernment over what the future will be for Naramata Centre.
This fall we engaged with people who care about the Centre during work weekends at the Centre and in communities across BC and Alberta. We heard many great ideas and some consistent themes started to emerge.
Many believe the Centre, as a place of spiritual nurture and renewal still holds true; a place for education, personal growth and transformation with strong connections to the United Church.
There were 20 public sessions and a number of individual submissions. Over 270 people participated providing us with valuable feedback about a possible future for Naramata Centre.Read More
Interfaith community building is an ongoing process in many communities across the province. Folk have been gathering in the spirit of welcome and curiosity in Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan and many other locations for a very long time. Formally and informally, friends from one faith have reached out to friends of another, sharing resources, support and care whenever and however they are needed. In recent times some have wondered if a Provincial Council could bring something similar to the province as a whole.
On November 16th, 2015 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver - Michael Miller, and the Anglican Bishop of British Columbia - Logan McMenamie, called a gathering of faith leaders from around the province to discuss forming a province-wide interfaith council. Folk from Christian, Hindu, Moslem and Jewish traditions attended the meeting, hosted in the offices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, and expressed their willingness to assist in the formation of the council. While all were supportive, some will have to check in with denominational structures, while others would have to ensure some way to have representation across a community that has no formal governing body.
BC Conference was represented by our President - Keith Simmonds. Keith sees many good things growing from the group and was especially pleased to note that one of the key advisors informing the meeting was United Church Spiritual Care Director Doug Longstaffe. Doug has experienced provincial organizations of a similar nature in Manitoba and Ontario and was able to share those experiences in a way that helped the group consider potential roles in areas like Spiritual Care in provincial facilities, speaking with one voice on hate crimes against faith communities, and other steps the group could take together.
Those attending agreed to sound out their communities with a view to taking up the conversation again in January of 2016. That meeting will focus on formalizing the relationship. Structure, decision making processes and support arrangements will be shaped out, with a view to having something concrete for faith communities to review early in the new year.
What is General Council?
The General Council is a national gathering of 356 delegates called commissioners. Close to 200 guests, observers, youth, children, global partners, staff and volunteers will also be present for the week-long gathering.
Why does General Council happen?
The General Council meets every three years to elect a new Moderator, to pray and worship together, and to approve new church policies. All General Council business reflects the church's deep commitment to concerns of peace and justice, and to God's call to mend the world.
From the 42nd General Council, part of the ongoing work is to conduct the remits arising from the Comprehensive Review. All the details of these upcoming remits are on the website for the 42nd General Council, including answers to the most frequently asked questions!Read More
In 2014, the people of British Columbia Conference contributed $2,100,454 for the Mission and Service of The United Church of Canada. This is part of the national Mission and Service total of $26,604,710.
"Gifts made through our communities of faith and gifts sent directly for Mission and Service truly make a tangible difference in people's lives," wrote Cheryl Curtis, Mission and Service Funding Officer in a letter to Doug Goodwin in March 2015.
The Mission and Service Fund supports ongoing ministries and sustains trusted partnerships for the healing of the world. Specifically in 2014, the fun enabled:
- 99 global partners in 25 countries acting for peace and justice
- community and justice work across Canada with 75 community ministries and 39 chaplaincies
- theological education and ministry support at six theological schools and four education centres
- faith formation and leadership support, including over 100 outreach programs for youth
- leadership in BC Conference and the other 12 Conferences
- grants for 86 congregations in transition or remote areas
"Heartfelt appreciation is extended to all the people of the United Church. Our generosity with both the local church and Mission and Service is a sign of compassion, builds community, and offers hope."Read More
2014 was a challenging year for Camp Fircom. A lightening storm in early September 2013 destroyed the two-year old, $2-million dining hall in a devastating fire, sending staff and board members into a year of insurance claims and rebuilding – all while sustaining the needs of its campers, families, school groups, weddings and retreat guests.
But they did it! On May 2, 2015, Camp Fircom will officially open its new, functioning dining hall and celebrate even more relationships within the community including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Surrey School District.
Plus, with the recently sunk Annapolis (a former battle ship), Camp Fircom is now the premier site for BC’s newest artificial reefs. Campers this summer will have the delight of paddling over and seeing the ship underwater.Read More
On April 7, 2015, the following message was posted to the Naramata Centre website:
The Board of Directors of the Naramata Centre Society and CUPE, Local 608 (Naramata Centre Unit) have reached a mutually acceptable resolution to the ongoing labour dispute between the Centre and the Union. This resolution brings an end to the Strike Action and resolves outstanding issues relating to the closure of the Centre at Naramata.
We are grateful for the many years of faithful work given to the Centre by all employees and for the way in which this mutual agreement has been able to be reached.
Camp Fircom is a gift of The United Church of Canada that helps people from all walks of life experience spirituality, education, health and wellness, and, as the David Suzuki Foundation has highlighted in their latest initiative, the environment.Read More
On October 31 to November 2, 73 social justice activists from across British Columbia gathered at Chilliwack United Church.
What happened? Community art, storytelling and relationship building. Discussion about homelessness and poverty. A petition to BC Conference Executive to focus on climate change and fossil development. Plans for a future workshop to tackle structural issues on homelessness.Read More
Upcoming Event: Online Sermon Study: An Experiment, Oct 13, 2015.
LeaderShift is a 3-4 year initiative of the British Columbia Conference of The United Church of Canada to provide opportunities for Presbyteries, collections of congregations and leaders to develop customized solutions for rapid societal change. Visit leadershiftbcc.ca for more information or to register for upcoming LeaderShift events.Read More
BC Conference is pleased to welcome the following new staff members to fulfill the revised staffing model for the Northern Ministries alongside Wally Hargrave who continues halftime providing pastoral care and worship to congregations and villages that do not have settled ministry in Prince Rupert Presbytery.Read More
Across British Columbia, ministry with children and families is recognized to be a critical area for the health and development of vital United Church congregations. The challenge is creating a supply of trained people to lead this fundamental area.
In late 2013, Provoking Leadership consulted key practitioners within BC Conference who have demonstrated interest and experience in children and family ministry. With support from Eric Hamlyn and Ingrid Brown, two key recommendations emerged from these consultations.Read More
The 2014 BC Conference General Meeting was at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, BC. If you couldn't attend but want to know what happened check out the following YouTube feeds.You can read Ed Searcy's sermon on his blog. Minutes of the meeting are now available.
Making the best use of our diverse, leadership resources
The Effective Leadership Project is an initiative of General Council that intends to make best use of our leadership resources. The project is currently being piloted by all Conferences of The United Church of Canada. The premise of this project is to move the more technical aspects of Pastoral Relations work to the Conference from the Presbyteries, to be dealt with by the Conference Personnel staff team.Read More
Vancouver School of Theology announces that it has finalized a sale/purchase agreement with the University of British Columbia for the Iona Building at 6000 Iona Drive. Following a recent comprehensive review, the VST board concluded that its programs require different facilities and approached UBC about a possible deal. UBC has determined Iona would provide new academic space as various initiatives draw more students, faculty and staff to its Vancouver campus.Read More
From coast to coast to coast, a conversation has begun about the future of The United Church of Canada. Through the work of the Comprehensive Review Task Group, the church is exploring new ways of being faithful in a rapidly changing time and society. Please join the conversation at http://www.unitedfuture.ca.Read More
Church in Mission NEWS has information about a variety of programs being run at various levels of the church and accross Canada, which may also be of interest to people doing ministry in BC. This Quarterly Newsletter is from the Church in Mission Unit of the General Council. This newly combine unit was formerly the Communities in Ministry and Partners in Mission Units. Read it here!Read More
At its regular meeting November 7-9, 2013, the BC Conference Executive agreed to provide immediate financial assistance to The Centre at Naramata.
BC Conference has agreed to forward $2.6 million over the next year to the Centre. The money will be used to pay the existing bank and other debt of $1.8 million, with the balance to cover urgently required maintenance expenses and likely operating losses in 2014
Monies beyond $2.6 million, up to $ 4 million, will be considered in the future if the Centre meets key objectives in its business plan and operations.Read More
On Thursday afternoon, September 19, 2013, Jenny Carter and Jim White made an "Expression of Reconciliation" at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission meeting in Vancouver. Below is the text of what they said.
"Commissioners, elders, survivors and families, friends: I am Jenny Carter, the President of BC Conference of The United Church of Canada, and with me is Jim White, a Co-Chair of our Native Ministries Council.
We recognize that we are meeting on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish nations and we are deeply grateful for their warm, open welcome and hospitality.Read More
This from Camp Fircom "We are very sad to let you know that we had a fire last night/this morning and the Dining Hall has burned down. Everyone is safe. There were no rental groups on site. All staff are unhurt. We are very blessed the fire did not spread." The new of the fire was on Global News. Updates will be on their Facebook page. Donations can be made on their web page.Read More
Under the leadership of Jenny Carter (the Conference President - pictured left) the British Coluumbia Conference Executive has made a decision about the use of the Jardine bequest.The late Judith Jardine left close to $35 million to the Vancouver Foundation to establish the W. E. Jardine Memorial Fund. That money will be invested in perpetuity, with one half of its annual income, estimated to be approximately $700,000, to be given each year to the British Columbia Conference. About half of the expected income from the recent Judith Jardine bequest, estimated to be about $700,000 annually, will be used to support Leadership Development in BC Conference.Read More
Making Room for Women is a coordinated effort to identify and preserve personal papers of women in The United Church of Canada, and the records of organizations in which they have participated.
An important part of this initiative is an oral history program. The national church and the conferences are now beginning to identify women who have been influential in the United Church over the past several decades, and preserving their stories.