Conference Calling 18

May 2008


If you dropped by the peaceful Conference office today you would hardly know the Conference General Meeting is in only two weeks. But behind the calm façade is a hive of activity comprising a wide network of staff, volunteers, and contractors all working very hard to ensure the upcoming meeting is as well prepared and hospitable as all our other meetings have been. As one who worked virtually alone throughout most of my ministry, I am constantly amazed at how teams of dedicated people, each taking responsibility for their own area of work, can achieve marvelous things. When I hear the lectionary text from I Corinthians 12 read this Pentecost Sunday, I know that I will be putting local names and faces to all those Spirit-gifted members of the one body of Christ.


By now all delegates to the Conference General Meeting should be registered. If you are a last minute registrant, go to the Conference web page to register on line; May 13 is the last day you can register on-line. You can also find information posted on the web site about the meeting being held May 22-25, 2008 at Capilano College in North Vancouver. By the way, this year’s Reports and Agenda book is being printed on 100% recycled, locally produced paper!


Several new initiatives are being undertaken by BC Conference. A Leadership Certificate Program is being planned which is designed to help train ministry personnel to provide leadership in a changing, 21st century church. Gaye Sharpe is undertaking a study throughout the Conference to determine how best to provide support for children’s ministry in congregations. Along with the General Council, VST, and the Native Ministries Consortium, a Designated Lay Ministry program is being planned to help train indigenous leadership for ministry in First Nations communities.


Successful workshops in the areas of Finance and Ministry Personnel were held over the past two months throughout the Conference. As both of these areas of responsibility are becoming more and more technical, people from our congregations are responding very positively to the training and orientation Conference provides.


Direct support to Presbyteries from Conference has significantly increased in 2008. The six Presbyteries receiving a Conference grant have had their grants increased from $17,000 to $25,000 each (from $102,000 to $150,000 total). More travel subsidy is being reimbursed to Presbyteries who have higher transportation costs (from $32,000 in 2005, $35,000 in 2007, $36,000 in 2008). Plans are being made to hire a halftime Conference Minister for Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery.


Summaries of BC Conference Executive meetings can be found on the Conference web page.


Progress on the Camp Future Project took several significant steps forward lately. The firm of Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc. has been hired to lead camp development. Together with Terry Harrison they are meeting with the Camp Pringle and Camp Fircom boards to discuss development plans. An advisory group is being established of professionals to assist Conference as it oversees property development. A new sewer outfall has been built at Camp Fircom. Meanwhile, discussions continue with Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery and Kootenay Presbytery over the future of camping ministries in those presbyteries.


Four years of local consultation, planning and hard work has resulted in the incorporation of the United Church Health Services (UCHS). Incorporation means our health care work in hospitals and clinics in three northern communities has a much firmer legal foundation and clearer lines of accountability. The first CEO and President of the new UCHS is Glen Timbers.


Kim MacMillan is retiring at the end of June 2008. Both Kootenay and Kamloops-Okanagan Presbyteries are assessing their need for Conference staff support. A search is about to begin for a Conference Minister for Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery. On July 1 we will welcome Michael Hare as the new halftime Conference Minister: Prince Rupert Presbytery. Interviews are presently underway for a halftime Assistant to the Finance Minister, and a search is just beginning for a part-time accountant. Since the death of Art Jones in 2006 we have been without a permanent accountant. Sabbatical plans are taking shape for Doris Kizinna (winter 2008/9) and Treena Duncan (winter/spring 2009). And both Missy Taylor (Receptionist) and Doug Goodwin have new cars sparkling in the office parking lot!

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