Conference Calling 30

December 2011

From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary

Dear Friends,

I have been reading through the book of Proverbs in the Bible, something I can’t say I do regularly. For a while I felt like I usually feel – all those little two-line moralisms are a little too naïve, too “pat”, too much like Ben Franklin. I usually prefer my wisdom literature to look more like the book of Job or even Ecclesiastes. But then I slowed down and actually thought about my life in relation to each saying. Some just did not speak; a few offended. But, surprisingly, many challenged me; it has become a spiritual discipline to be questioned by Proverbs.

Just where is my soul when it comes to truth-telling, work, humility, gentle talk, foolishness, patience, prudence, integrity, friendship, poverty and wealth? Proverbs is about as distant from the Christmas story as any in the scriptures, but as we await the coming of Christ, a little self-assessment spurred by ancient wisdom might not be a bad Advent practice to cultivate.


As I let you know in my September “Conference Calling”, I have been working half-time each for the Conference and University Hill Congregation during the medical leave of its minister, Ed Searcy. As a member of University Hill, I felt a special care for my home congregation. My own understanding of “call” relies heavily on the discernment of the church, so when the congregation asked me to take on this special task, when both the Conference Executive and General Council office agreed it was acceptable, and when it felt personally “right” to say yes… well, that felt like a call. I appreciate the many expressions of concern that I would be overworked during this time…and it has been a lot of work. I would not want to do it for a long time! But the congregation has been great, the Conference staff have been forgiving, and the work has been very rewarding. We have been blessed that Ed’s recovery is progressing very well so as he slowly returns to work at University Hill I will slowly move out of it. Thank you to BC Conference for allowing this unusual arrangement to happen.


Join us at the Conference office this Friday, December 9, between 1 and 4 p.m. for our Christmas Open House. Good food and conversation, colleagues and friends will all be there. The office is located at 4383 Rumble Street, Burnaby.


Nellie Tang, our Financial Manager, is back from her sabbatical… just in time for our Accountant, David Nanton, to head to Kenya to visit family for Christmas. Brenda Wolff, as usual, has been ready for Christmas (all gifts bought and wrapped, all decorations out, hand-made cards written and delivered) for some time now. Treena Duncan and Bill Laurie are off early this week to Florida for a course with Susan Nienaber on how church officials and staff can better handle conflicts within the church.


Last week 15 Conference staff spent a few days together in training and retreat… and enjoyed a Christmas dinner cooked by Doris Kizinna (helped by Doug and Nellie), and shared gifts and stories led by Terry Harrison and Ivy Thomas. Throughout the retreat staff were led by Sally McShane in a relaxed, reflective “spiritual spa.”


An Agenda and Planning team is in place and has begun to plan for the 2012 General Meeting of BC Conference.  In 2012 the meeting will be held at the University of BC from May 31 to June 3. Karen Millard is chairing the A&P team while Graham Brownmiller is heading up the Theme and Worship parts of the meeting. Our theme speaker will be Alanna Mitchell. As a result of conversation at our last General Meeting we will be investigating to see if we can move significantly toward providing meals that reflect “food justice” values.


The Conference office has entered the social media world with a Facebook page. The page is intended to help provide informal information about the work of the Conference and, in particular, its staff. If you are on Facebook (isn’t the whole world on Facebook?) simply go to the Conference page and click on “Like.” You will receive automatic updates and messages on your own Facebook page.


Early in November about 260 youth, young adults and their leaders from across the Conference gathered at Highlands United Church in North Vancouver for Evolve. It was an energetic, exciting and highly engaging time, even for those of us that just poked our heads in for a short period. If anyone thinks the church does not have a future, they should drop in to the next Evolve event!


Twenty-one people considering a call to ministry attended a Discernment Weekend November 18-20 at the Naramata Centre. Gathering in a large discernment group is part of the new Candidacy process which BC Conference is pioneering on a trial basis on behalf of the whole United Church. Emerging from the weekend will be several interviews of people who wish to test their sense of call into ministry.