Conference Calling 20

December 2008


Today I read a wonderful description of Advent: “Advent piety – an eschatological piety – consists of an often unstable mixture of eager, tip-toe expectation and watchfulness, sturdy prophetic discontent with the world’s pain and travail, and confident contentment and hope that rests in the promises of God.”* The only change I might make is to change “confident contentment” to “longing patience.” If so, I think this description of Advent also fits our church well these days. When I look around and hear from others it is this same “unstable mixture” of expectation, discontent, and longing that I notice. If that makes us in our time an “Advent Church” then perhaps that is not a bad place to be.

* John D. Witvliet, “Sing to the Lord No Threadbare Song,” Interpretation, October 2008


At its November meeting the Conference Executive adopted Goals which will help shape the central work the Conference offers. Following up on the Priority set in 2004 to focus on Effective Leadership and, in particular, Ministry Personnel, the Executive adopted the following Goal: “Provide a full range of human resource management support and services for ministry personnel in BC Conference.” Taking on more responsibility for the good functioning of personnel work is a response to the persistent cry of Presbyteries across the country that personnel work is burdening – and even debilitating – Presbyteries. Some of the other Goals adopted call for financial stability, developing the capacity to do research and long-range planning, good oversight of all church structures, better coordination of the candidature process, work on recruitment of ministry personnel, and a sustainable plan for supporting program work in the Conference. For a full list of Goals and Objectives adopted by the Executive.

You can also view and download a summary of the actions taken at the Conference Executive meeting from the web site. Watch the same web page for the minutes of the meeting which will be posted soon.

You can view and download the minutes of the BC Conference General Meeting 2008 on the Conference web site.

In 2009 some of the income generated from the sale of Camp Kwomais will be used to support the priority work of the Conference, primarily the personnel support work in Presbyteries. The Conference Executive felt this use of income is an important way the Camp Future Project might benefit the whole priority work of Conference and not just the camping ministry. No capital money is being used for this work and only approximately one quarter of the anticipated income (interest and dividend income) from the funds has been budgeted.

In the meantime, work proceeds quickly with the Camp Future Project. Capital development has begun at Camps Pringle and Fircom. A fortuitous land swap was also made to double the property size at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island. Conversations continue with Kootenay and Comox-Nanaimo Presbyteries about the future of the camping ministry in those Presbyteries, and with Kamloops United Church regarding the future of Camp Grafton.

Several staff changes have occurred since my last Conference Calling. Terry Harrison, already employed as the Camp Future Project Manager, has been hired half time to work with Victoria Presbytery, primarily on personnel matters. As I write plans are being put into place to interview people for the two Conference Minister jobs in Kamloops-Okanagan and Kootenay Presbyteries. We have also hired an Accountant, our first permanent accountant since the death of Art Jones in December 2006. David Nanton has been helping us since the summer; we were so pleased that we offered him a long-term contract. Doris Kizinna is presently on sabbatical and Treena Duncan leaves on hers for three months in January. During Treena’s absence Kim MacMillan will be filling in to ensure the most pressing issues and tasks are dealt with.

Recently our spam filter reported that the Conference office received in a single day 2,484 piece of junk mail compared to 200 authentic messages. Such is life in the 2008 on-line world, I am afraid. Luckily those two and a half thousand spam messages get caught and do not make it to our computers… but occasionally the filter mistakes a legitimate message for spam, especially if it is a note that has more than one recipient. We try to check regularly, but if you have not received an answer to your e-mail and you suspect it might not have made it to one of us, well, you might be right. Please give the recipient a quick call and check. We are committed to responding to your notes as quickly as possible.

General Meeting of BC Conferencewill 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. Former Moderator Peter Short has recently been confirmed as our theme speaker. Since General Council will meet in 2009 we will likely be spending some time reviewing Proposals addressed to the Council. The Agenda and Planning Committee for the meeting meets regularly to put together the plans for this gathering of around 550 people.

As one more sign of the changing times, BC Conference rarely sends out information any more by Canada Post. Instead, we rely upon e-mail messages. Occasionally we use direct e-mail to everyone we know with e-mail, like we are doing now for Conference Calling. Usually, however, we rely upon our voluntary e-mail lists to get information out. If you have not signed up for at least one of these lists, you are missing out on important information about the life of the United Church in BC. To view these lists and to sign-up, visit our Forums on the Conference web site.

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