Conference Calling 32

March 2012


March 2012      From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary

Dear Friends,

Tenebrae is one of my favorite worship services. In my congregation we will do it Maundy Thursday after it gets dark. It is a simple service: the congregation gathers in near darkness, with thirteen candles lit at the front of the sanctuary, the central one being the Christ candle. A hymn is sung; a Psalm is heard. Then the Passion Story is read, one vignette at a time, with one of the candles extinguished after each reading. Slowly the sanctuary darkens and plunges into darkness after hearing that Jesus “breathed his last.” A cymbal crashes and slowly fades. In the darkness we hear the centurion say, “surely this man was the Son of God”… and the Christ candle is relit. In the light of that sole candle the congregation goes out silently into the night. In our high-energy world there is still power in a solitary candle, power in a story simply told, power in the One who self-emptied to be with us and for us… even in our darkness.

The Camp Future Project ended at the end of November 2011 after the completion of capital work at two camps (Fircom and Pringle), the sale of two camps (Moorecroft and Kwomais), and the establishment of an endowment fund, presently at $10 million. The end of the Project does not mean the end of camping, but on the contrary, the beginning of a new stage of ministry, having moved from being a “project” to a permanent ministry of the Conference.
Funds from property sales over the past few years have meant that money is now available for other work. In 2011 a ProVision Fund was established in which both Vancouver-Burrard and Westminster Presbyteries received significant benefit. In early 2012 new funds were added for the primary benefit of Comox-Nanaimo and Fraser Presbyteries. While the relationships and terms of reference for these funds are complicated, there is presently over $5 million of new money supporting work in the Conference, primarily but not solely in those four Presbyteries. These funds do not support the core work of the Conference, but rather, new ventures. In time, these funds will become more widely available throughout the Conference.
The Conference now has a Personnel Team of eight staff people, approximately five full-time-equivalent, headed by Treena Duncan. It is also piloting the new Candidacy Pathway process, which is intended to streamline the candidacy process. Plans are in place for a second “Sowing Promise, Growing Leaders” event, which was so successful in 2010 and 2011. Other plans are being looked at for further work in growing and supporting leadership within our church.
New work for the Conference was established by setting up the Property Resource Team. Terry Harrison is working in partnership with Justen Harcourt of Colliers International to offer assistance to congregations, presbyteries and other ministries in their property initiatives. The team will bring a level of professional assistance and consistent leadership to an area in church life where it has been spotty. It will also be able to view property matters on a broader, inclusive scale rather than as one-at-a-time projects. This work will operate through the Conference’s Property Development Council and is anticipated to be self-funding.
BC Conference has been hosting a regular gathering of representatives from many churches and denominations in the Lower Mainland to help plan for the national gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver in September 2013. A number of smaller events will also be held over the coming year throughout BC, including a Regional Event in Victoria on April 13-14, 2012. As one of the churches that helped run Indian residential schools for a hundred years, United Church congregations in particular are encouraged to support their local gatherings of truth-telling and reconciliation.
The Rev. Glen Davis has been hired part-time to provide some organizational and administrative support for ethnic and intercultural ministries. Although interest in both of these areas has been high, it has proved difficult for busy people to meet regularly and get things done. It is hoped that a modest investment in this work might yield significant results by making it easier to gather and focus the energy already present.
Terry Harrison has shifted her responsibilities from support for Victoria Presbytery to the new Property Resource Team (see above). Filling in for her in Victoria Presbytery is Bill Laurie who already works half-time in Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery. Paul Davis is on a medical leave from his work in Cariboo Presbytery, and Ivy Thomas is filling in while Paul is away. Treena Duncan returns after Easter from a short leave taken after she was diagnosed with celiac disease, which affects the digestive system and requires her to adjust to a new, careful diet. George Meier (Kootenay Presbytery) should be received into the United Church at our General Meeting from the United Church of Christ in the USA. Finally, Doris Kizinna is presently leading a group in Cuba, and will be returning to the office after Easter. 

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 ( Since the General Council meets in August 2012, part of the business of the General Meeting will be to consider Proposals for the General Council meeting. The Conference web page will soon have registration forms up, as well as other up-to-date information about the Conference meeting.