Conference Calling 31

January 2012

From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary

Dear Friends,

I have once again been struck while reading through Genesis how often our forbearers in faith looked like they had hit a dead-end (too old for children; unable to bear children; squatters with no land to call their own; sold into slavery; famine; plain stupidity and sin) yet God fashioned an unexpected, unnatural new way forward. No wonder the early Christians knew that God was at work when the deadliest of dead-ends – the cross – did not turn out to be, in fact, the end at all.

Like so much that happens with this strange God, what looks like “the end” to us may, in fact, be new birth. Raising life from death is not ours to do… but it seems like it just might be God’s.


With the return of Ed Searcy back to minister at University Hill Congregation, my half-time work there from September to December has come to an end. I am now back full-time at the Conference office. Ed comes back from his stem cell transplant with energy and enthusiasm, and I have found that I return to my Conference work equally enthused to get into it full-time again. Not every employer would have allowed such an unusual arrangement to happen; thank you to the Conference and General Council for taking the risk. While grateful for the experience, I am just as grateful to be again sitting in the pews on Sunday mornings, hearing the Word rather than preaching it!


Some new, important work has just begun at the Bob Stewart Archives. The United Church of Canada is party to the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which it signed in 2006. In that connection, the Archives is hosting several researchers hired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (a body established by the Agreement). The researchers are in the midst of identifying, reviewing, and duplicating documents and recordings relating to the history of residential schools and their aftermath. Records are an important part of truth-telling. The record copies they are now producing will ultimately become part of a National Research Centre for survivors and for the general public. The United Church of Canada operated five “Indian Residential Schools” in BC, located at Ahousaht, Alberni, Coqualeetza (Sardis), Kitamaat Village, and Port Simpson. The United Church was involved with the residential schools system until 1969.


Treena Duncan was in New Brunswick in early January, joining her mother, the Rev. Mary Duncan, and family as they grieved the loss of Treena's grandmother and Mary's mother, Florence Mary Nichol who died on December 27. Nellie Tang has been battling a lingering cold since Christmas and has just recently been able to return to the office. Accountant David Nanton continues his vacation in Kenya with family. Meanwhile Brenda Wolff is already busy preparing for the high school graduation of her daughter, Elisa, by scouring the racks for a retro bohemian grad dress.


Planning continues 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. Check out her blog and read the article by Alanna, “A Planet’s Progress”, in the January 2012 Observer. Curt Allison will be leading music. As a result of conversation at our last General Meeting we are investigating moving significantly toward providing meals that reflect “food justice” values. Since General Council 41 meets in August 2012 part of the business of the General Meeting will be to consider Proposals for the General Council meeting.


The present lease of the Conference office with Fair Haven Homes expires in 2018. Although it is still six years away, Gordon How is starting immediately to explore the options the Conference has for office space after that time. His first task is to become clear about the anticipated future needs for office space while also contacting potential partners. Gordon will be speaking to numerous individuals and groups through this year as he prepares a report providing options before the end of 2012.


The Conference office was in a festive mood on December 9 when we welcomed a few dozen people in for a Christmas Open House. It turned out to be a time to welcome old-timers and new-comers alike, helping transform our working place into a place of hospitality.


The Conference office has 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 (see address below) and click on “Like.” You will receive automatic updates and messages on your own Facebook page.