Conference Calling 36

June 2013

From: Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary


I recently took part in two meeting where the disbanding of the congregations and the eventual sale of their properties was discussed. There was a lot of sadness at both gatherings. The sales, though, will free up assets which can be used for other forms of ministry, seeding the church that is coming. I used the image of fertilizer: when something dies it can fertilize the new. The ProVision Funds in the Conference, now at about $6.5 million, are already providing funds for a host of projects with many more presently being planned. It is one way that we are ensuring the legacy we have inherited is still going to be alive and at work in the years ahead.


BC Conference was surprised to hear that when the late Judith Jardine died she left an endowment with the Vancouver Foundation which will provide approximately $700,000 annually to BC Conference. This gift happened at a good time for the Conference, with our finances already in good order and the Conference Executive clear about the purpose and focus of Conference work. About half of the income will be used to fund our new Leadership Development work (see below). Some will stabilize the campus ministry funding while a small amount will provide support for initiating the General Council initiative to move oversight of personnel from Presbyteries to Conference. With our finances in such good order the Executive also decided to receive a much-reduced General Council grant starting in 2014. This will allow the whole United Church to benefit from the Conference’s financial stability. Read more here


The BC Conference Executive met May 23-25 and will meet again September 17 by conference telephone call. In November it will meet at the Naramata centre along with the youth Evolve gathering, helping the Executive get a better sense of the youth and young adult work in the Conference. This is one way the Executive is “listening to the ownership” to ensure it is as well-informed as possible about the life of the whole church. At past meetings it has heard directly from people from ethnic and intercultural ministries, retired ministry personnel, Presbyteries, emerging forms of church, and others.


Although the Conference is one of the “courts” of the church where judgments and decisions get made, the usual work of the Conference has intentionally taken on a much more service orientation. Most of the work of Conference is in providing some kind of service to others – to ministry personnel, to Presbyteries, to church leaders, to congregations, to different constituent groups. These days we focus far less on holding others accountable and far more on working together with others in the church to achieve things. There are still a few places where the Conference role is to hold others accountable but these are unusual. Working together within clear lines of authority and ability is now the norm.


At its recent meeting the Conference Executive approved an ambitious plan to provide leadership development for ministry personnel and lay people in BC Conference. Based on a plan developed by Keith Howard, the project will establish a leadership institute which will provide programs and services to help develop the skills and supports needed by those in church leadership. Part of the services offered will be providing financial support for working with mentors, coaches, and spiritual directors. Programs like the present Sowing Promise will be available with the addition of programming for those in their first five years of ministry. Local training, particularly for lay people, should also become available for those further from urban centres. The hope is that partnerships with the Vancouver School of Theology and the Naramata Centre might also develop to provide more coordinated services. All of this will take some time to establish but over the next two years watch for more and more of these services to start to become available.


Kathy Hogman has taken on the task of helping congregations and individuals participate in the Truth and Reconciliation events throughout the province, leading up to the national gathering in Vancouver September 17-22, 2013. Regional events are planned for: Prince George (May 13-14); Williams Lake (May 16-18); Kamloops (May 28-29); and Terrace (June 25-26). As one of the churches that ran residential schools, the United Church is committed to participating in these events as much as possible to demonstrate our continuing responsibility for and commitment to healing. Find out more about the Commission. Keep in touch with BC events here.


BC Conference is supporting three young people – Cole  Burneski, Jake Highfield, and Emily Rowell – to  attend the visitors program at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, Korea, in late October. The Assembly meets every seven years with delegates from 345 member churches from 110 countries around the world. Such gatherings are often life-changing events for young and older people alike. In addition to the support of the Conference, these participants will have to do their own fund-raising and contribute personally. If you would like to help financially support these young people as well, please be in touch with dkizinna [at] bc [dot] united-church [dot] ca (subject: WCC%20Assembly) (Doris Kizinna) at the Conference office. I will be attending the Assembly as co-opted staff, helping with the stage management. Allan Buckingham, who has been our techie for the past few Conference General Meetings, is also attending as staff in the same capacity.


The Celebration of Ministry worship service was held on May 25 at Queens Avenue United Church in New Westminster. Ordained were Bethel Lee, Dona Lethbridge, and Nancy O’Higgins. Commissioned were Beth Walker and Alice Watson. Received from another denomination was Sang Won Cha. The theme of the gathering was “Love Letters to the Church.” Some pictures from the service are posted on the Conference Facebook page.


As we move into summer Conference staff will be coming and going on vacation. The office will remain open throughout the summer so your general inquiries will be hear and responded to quickly but your specific notes and calls to staff may not. If you need a quick response and the person you need is on vacation, please leave a message with the Receptionist and he will transfer your request to the next best person. Your patience and understanding through the summer are appreciated.


Katie Purych is now the new Assistant to the Executive Secretary, replacing Scott Reynolds who is working half-time in youth and young adult work at the United Churches of Langley. Scott is also getting married on August 24 to Sam Knopp in Edmonton. We are also in search for a new position, a fulltime Conference Minister for the Lower Mainland. Soon we will be looking for someone to head up our Leadership Development work, as well. The positions of Conference ministers for Cariboo Presbytery, Prince Rupert Presbytery, and Native Ministries have been left intentionally vacant while an assessment of the ministries in those areas goes on. In the interim Wally Hargrave is working approximately half-time providing pastoral care and worship as needed in several of the First Nations communities in that area. Irene Champagne continues full-time as the Mobile Counsellor providing professional psychotherapeutic services in some of the smaller coastal communities.

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