Conference Calling 24

January 2010

From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary

Dear Friends,

The graphic, heart-wrenching images and stories from Haiti cannot help but drive us deep – deep into our hearts for compassion, deep into our souls for understanding and meaning. And as Christians we are also driven deeper into our story, our gospel, into the book of Job, into the day of Good Friday. They may not be an “answer” to all that troubles us but at least we get to walk with the one who challenged God to act justly and with the One who discarded separation and joined a hurting, suffering world.


Our office receptionist, Missy Taylor, is on leave in order to attend Winter Session at the Naramata Centre. She returns in the middle of April. In the meantime, Heidi Wilkie is filling in. Listen for her cheery voice when you call the office.

This spring I will be on sabbatical from April through June 2010. Filling in part-time will be the Rev. Dr. Brian Thorpe, a former Executive Secretary. I have been warned it is dangerous for my job security to have someone filling in only part-time, especially if they do a good job! During my sabbatical I will be doing research on United Church governance. In June I will also serve as stage manager at the inaugural Uniting General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


The BC Conference website has now been completely revised (thank you to David Martyn and Andrew Tuline for all therir work on this). Check it out: Along with the new website, the e-mail delivery system for Conference news and information is being revamped. While we anticipate the transition for both the website and e-mail will be “seamless” we all know there are no guarantees… but we will do our best to bring you uninterrupted service.


In a changing world it is important for church leadership to continue to develop their understanding and skills. The Conference is launching a leadership development program for Ministry Personnel beginning this fall. The program is based on addressing three distinct but related aspects in the life and work of ministers: (1) spiritual discernment and nurture; (2) practical knowledge and skills in leadership; and (3) collegial relationships in ministry. Leadership is being offered by the Rev. Peter Short and a leadership team from BC Conference. The program includes two residential events, October 17-22, 2010 and April 1-6, 2011. Keep these clear on your calendar! More information will be coming soon.


The end of 2009 saw a brief flurry of property sale activity immediately following Christmas as two sales were completed: East Burnaby United Church and two acres of property at Bethany-Newton United Church, Surrey. East Burnaby was sold to the Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, an independent Anglican congregation, while the Bethany-Newton property was sold to a local developer. These sales follow two earlier sales in 2009, Renfrew United Church (Vancouver) to Pacific Grace Mennonite Church in June, and St. John’s United Church (Vancouver) to the Vancouver development company Westbank Projects Corporation in September. Many thanks to David Smith for providing property management services for East Burnaby after the closure of that congregation.

Already some assets from these sales have been used to support the Naramata Centre ($500,000), the building of a new archives facility at VST ($300,000), and the work of the Conference archives ($100,000). A further $2 million was pledged for the future property development of First United Church, Vancouver. Bethany-Newton United Church also saw a significant financial benefit from that sale. Conversations are ongoing with both Vancouver-Burrard and Westminster Presbyteries to fund future projects within those Presbyteries as well as providing significant financial support for the work of the Conference as a whole.


Construction is now well underway at both Camp Fircom (Gambier Island) and Camp Pringle (Shawnigan Lake). This $10 million renewal of the facilities and infrastructure of these camps is just one step in the Camp Future goal of ensuring a high quality camping ministry in BC Conference well into the future.


BC Conference has been playing host to an eclectic, ecumenical gathering of church leaders who are learning more about the national Truth and Reconciliation process and the church’s possible responses to it. Working closely with the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Society (IRSSS), former Moderator Bob Smith collected participants from the churches that ran schools (United, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian) as well as some that did not, including the Baptists, Salvation Army and Lutheran. The United Church played a significant role in helping the Truth and Reconciliation process begin; it is hoped that we will continue to play a major role as it proceeds in the years ahead.

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