Conference Calling 21

February 2009


I was caught by surprise at the end of the day when I realized I had been dealing with staff matters for the full day. I guess I should not have been all that surprised: by July 1 BC Conference will have 16 staff people at work. No wonder I am reporting staff changes in each Conference Calling! In addition, we are working with at least ten contract people and, if you start adding up contracted services and all the folk working on the Camp Future Project, the list seems endless. I suppose one way to look at it is that it takes a lot of people to do ministry... and there is some truth to that. But I like to look at it as an overwhelming abundance of gifts showered upon us by an abundant God. As an introvert, the sheer energy of so many people threatens to submerge me at times (thank goodness I have an office door!), but as a Christian I can't help but notice the diverse, multi-faceted incarnational face of God.


The Assistant to the Executive Secretary, Christine Ackermann, left Conference staff on February 20. Her "can do" attitude and, in particular, the expertise she brought to the computer systems of the Conference office will be greatly missed. Ross Guthrie has been hired on a part time basis to do the basic administrative support work for the short term until a permanent replacement can be found. Graham Brownmiller has been working this year on a half time basis providing financial support to the Finance Minister. A replacement for Graham needs to be found by the summer since Graham is planning to be ordained this May and be settled into a pastoral charge. On April 1 George Meier begins his half time work as Conference Minister for Kootenay Presbytery while on July 1 Ivy Thomas will begin three-quarter time work as Conference Minister for Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery. Treena Duncan remains on sabbatical until the end of March while Doris Kizinna just returned to the office on the completion of her sabbatical which saw her at work and relaxation in California, Guatemala, and at home in Naramata.


Arrangements have been made with the real estate company Colliers International to provide free property development consultation for congregations. Up to three face to face meetings with experts in the field are available to talk about how your congregation might sell or develop your property to meet your longer range goals. While consultation is free, congregations might be expected to pay travel and/or accommodation costs if they are significant. If you are interested in finding out more about this service, send me an e-mail.


Planning proceeds for the General Meeting of BC Conference on May 21-24, 2009 at the Langley Sportsplex, Langley, BC just off the #1 Highway. The Very Rev. Peter Short, former Moderator, will be the theme speaker. The theme will be "Holding the Centre." Once again the group rEvolve will be our music resource. Among the other usual pieces of work the meeting will address, the Conference Executive will also ask the meeting to consider how the membership of the Executive is composed. On-line registration will be available on the web site soon. 


BC Conference has completed several major property transactions recently. The final transfer of St. Paul's United Church to Korean United Church was completed. Conference also assisted the transfer of Oak Avenue United Church to the Taiwanese congregation of Amazing Grace United Church. The properties of both Renfrew United Church and East Burnaby United Church which closed in 2006 and 2008 respectively were transferred to the Property Development Council, which holds property on behalf of BC Conference, while the property of St. John's United Church in downtown Vancouver was transferred after the closure of that congregation earlier this year. Both Renfrew and St. John's are presently up for sale while decisions are yet to be made regarding the East Burnaby property. Meanwhile, a trade of properties at Camp Fircom on Gambier Island has resulted in almost doubling the property size and value of the camp, while the settlement of a road construction trespass on the property led to the sale of a small piece of Fircom property.


Plans are still being put in place for a Leadership Certificate Program to begin this fall. The program, intended to help church leaders understand and respond better to the challenges of the 21st century, will begin advertising later this spring. This promises to be a significant resource for those who wish to use their continuing education time to come to grips with current thinking and practice about what it means to be the church.