Conference Calling 26

September 2010

Thanks to our governance system and financial planning abilities in Conference I now spend a lot of my work time with my head in the future. I have found myself writing the present date with “2013” instead of “2010”! The latest document I have been working on is a plan extending to 2020. Planning is big for me these days. But I also know that my life – and our life together – is not the result of our wise planning but the result of the surprising, astonishing, ever-new grace of God.

We might call it “God’s plan” if that did not push so many theological buttons. In his memoir, “Hannah’s Child”, Stanley Hauerwas says that who he became was the result of his mother’s fervent prayer for a child whom she would dedicate to God… and then he was born. Our lives are formed from grace and prayer. I will continue to plan… but I know that whatever the future may hold, it has far more to do with the adventurous God than with you or me.


I now have a new mantra: “sabbaticals are good!” I had April through June off for sabbatical, with another few weeks on vacation through July and August. Yes, I got a good rest… but more importantly I actually was able to do much of the reading that I had hoped to do. Those that know me will not be surprised to hear that I spent most of my time reading about church governance, management and history, but I also threw in a couple of more devotional books. I attended one course at VST for church bureaucrats, and served as stage manager for the newly inaugurated World Communion of Reformed Churches, once more able to serve the global ecumenical movement as I did for the World Council of Churches in 1983 and 2006. I even started Bikram yoga! Special thanks to Brian Thorpe, who filled in for me part time, and to all the Conference staff who had to fill in the gaps.


Soon after your receive this BC Conference should be hiring a full time “Mobile Counselor” who will work in several northern communities providing counseling services to those affected by the residential schools. We had close to 150 applicants for the job! This job is jointly funded with the General Council of the United Church.


After naming “Effective Leadership” as a priority focus, the Conference also recognized that ministry personnel, in particular, needed help and training to cope with a quickly changing church world. One response is the leadership development program for Ministry Personnel beginning this fall called “Sowing Promise, Growing Leaders.” Already the first program is fully enrolled. 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.


Welcome back to Missy Taylor, our office Receptionist (and support to Doris Kizinna), who took a leave of absence to attend Winter Session at the Naramata Centre earlier this year. Speaking of Doris, have you picked up her book “Go Deep: Spiritual Practices for Youth” yet? She also spent time this summer in Guatemala learning Spanish. Ivy Thomas took part in a Circle Practicum in August led by PeerSpirit where “Circle conversations” were introduced, a deeply rooted way of helping people really speak and listen to one another. Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery will explore this further in February. Beth Wertz (Support: Finance) moved this past summer into a new condo where she is able to care for her aging mother. Missy also moved late in the summer while Nellie took on major home renos. The Conference office was also renovated in July with new paint and carpets. It also welcomed a new resident with the arrival of Mikey the Mouse who has so far proved his superior intelligence by avoiding the maze of baited traps throughout the building.


I have started to rename our Camp Future Project the “Camp Present Project.” Construction has just about finished at Camp Pringle (Shawnigan Lake) and completes later this fall at Camp Fircom (Gambier Island). This construction stage of the Project is (as far as I know) unprecedented in the life of the Conference, with $10-11 million worth of new and refurbished buildings and infrastructure built. Come to Camp Pringle for their 60th Anniversary and Reopening celebration on October 9.

See Pringle construction pictures.

This fall should also see the sale of Camp Moorecroft which will free up more resources as the Camp Future Project continues toward its goal of providing a high-quality, sustainable camping ministry in BC Conference. The former Camp Kwomais, by the way, is now a City of Surrey park in full use by the community. We still receive public thanks for making this beautiful piece of God’s world available to the community. Finally, of great delight to those of us working on Camp Future was the marriage of Justen Harcourt (our Colliers International project manager) to Natalie on August 21.


The General Meeting of BC Conference will be held at the Penticton Conference Centre May 26-29, 2011. This will be our first year in a conference centre (although in 1997 we met in a Richmond hotel). Thank you to Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery folk who are helping host us so soon after the immense work of the General Council meeting in 2009.

Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary