Conference Calling 19

October 2008


A recent trip to Vienna powerfully reminded me again how vastly different the church in BC today is from our past. Trying to explain the position of the church in our society to a perplexed Swiss pastor also made the point clearly: you and I are in the midst of a sea of change in the life of the church in the West. This is not new news for us. We have been experiencing the upheaval such change brings, much of it painful. But we have also been gracefully surprised time after time at how the Spirit seems to open up new possibilities, new futures, even as former ones are closing. Clearly God is not finished with us yet. That makes it a very exciting time to be the Church. I am grateful to be able to share this rich kairos time with you.

You can view the minutes of the BC Conference General Meeting 2008

As usual there have been several changes and shifts in the staffing of BC Conference. As one of the primary ways Conference provides assistance to Presbyteries and congregations, staff jobs need to combine flexibility and responsiveness with fairness for employees, as well as good stewardship of financial resources. We are working hard at trying to achieve a good balance of all these elements. Bill Laurie has begun work halftime as Conference Minister for Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery. A search is presently underway for a halftime person for Victoria Presbytery while searches for staff for both Kamloops-Okanagan and Kootenay Presbyteries will begin this fall. Graham Brownmiller has begun working halftime as Assistant to the Finance Minister (Nellie Tang). We will also be seeking a new accountant this fall or early in the new year. Our Archivist, Blair Galston has had his time increased from halftime to 80% for the rest of the year in order to process the backlog that has accumulated during the building of the new archives facility at the Vancouver School of Theology. From time to time you may notice Ross Guthrie at the office as he substitutes for support staff who are away. All staff are gathering in early December for a staff retreat on Bowen Island. Finally, sabbatical plans are well underway for Doris Kizinna (winter 2008/9) and Treena Duncan (winter/spring 2009).

Significant progress has been made in the Camp Future Project over the summer. We have hired the team of Justin Harcourt and Gordon Easton of Colliers International to be our Property Development Managers. They have been meeting with the Pringle, Fircom and Grafton camp boards and supporters to put together plans for development on those sites. An architect will be hired imminently to draw up plans for the capital development of those properties. Difficult conversations regarding the future of the Moorecroft Camp property continue. At the same time Kootenay Presbytery is considering the shape it wants its camping ministry to take in the future.

The next General Meeting of BC Conference will be held May 21-24, 2009 in the Langley Sportsplex, just off the #1 Highway. Two side-by-side floor hockey rinks will host our plenary meeting room dining area, book room and displays. Another large children’s activity room will be available for our Children at Conference program. Hotels and restaurants are all within walking distance. Since General Council will meet in 2009 we will certainly be spending some time reviewing Proposals addressed to the Council. The Agenda and Planning Committee for the meeting meets twice this month to put together the plans for this gathering of around 550 people. We have found it is becoming increasingly difficult to find space that can accommodate this large number at a reasonable price. Changes in how our meetings are shaped may be forthcoming in the near future.

The Conference Executive next meets November 6-8. It is presently working on establishing a comprehensive set of Ends policies. For the past eight years the Conference Mission and Vision statements have guided Conference decisions but experience has shown that they are not concrete enough to provide the type of direction the Executive now expects to be able to provide. You may wish to correspond with members of the Executive about what you think should be the “Ends” (what good will we provide? for whom? at what cost?) BC Conference should be pursuing. Contact information for Executive members can be found in the Conference Directory grey pages.

The 40th General Council 2009 meets August 9th to 15th, 2009 at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBC-O at Kelowna). The theme will be “Down to the Potters House,” (based on Jeremiah 18:1-6) asking: How is God shaping The United Church of Canada? What are we being shaped to hold, to pour out? How do we make space for Gods work? In what ways are we being drawn down to hear God’s word?

You can participate in the meeting by:

  • being a commissioner
  • being a steward
  • being a delegate from your presbytery to Youth Forum
  • being a delegate to the Children and Young Teens Program
  • by nominating a candidate for Moderator.

For further information and updates on the 40th General Council 2009, go often to

The Conference staff are welcoming and sharing lunch with the Executive members of the United Church Women on October 23 at the Conference office. The Executive Secretary, Doug Goodwin, has been a guest at their meeting for a number of years now; this year he is returning the favour.

The new Conference Directory is expected to be delivered before the end of October to congregations, missions and ministry personnel. The basic information will be available on the Conference web page imminently.

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