Conference Calling 5

November 2005


A little later today I will have the privilege of reading Psalm 121 during worship at the funeral for friend and colleague, Bob Stewart, archivist of the BC Conference Archives.

Reading such a Psalm at a time like a funeral always amazes me. At that very moment when our hearts and minds cry “God does not care; death rules all” we are confronted by a strange, powerful witness: “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; God will keep your life.” We are lifted out of our own, personal experience and immersed in the far broader experience of sun and moon, day and night, where we catch a glimpse, yet again, of the One who tenderly watches our coming and going, now and forever.

One of the many gifts Bob brought us was his constant reminder that you and I and our church today are all actually just part of a far broader story, a far longer story, than any one of us can experience or remember. More importantly, without knowing that story we are impoverished.

You will be much missed, Bob.


With David Anderson now serving Eagle Ridge United Church, the four Lower Mainland Presbytery Chairs and I have been talking about how BC Conference might support their presbyteries. A plan to provide significant financial support for special presbytery initiatives is presently being tested with the presbyteries. We hope that decisions on how to proceed might be finalized early in the new year. BC Conference already supports the Vancouver Island presbyteries financially and supplies staff support for Prince Rupert, Cariboo, Kootenay, and Kamloops-Okanagan Presbyteries.


Flying under the radar of most of us for decades has been the United Church Health Services which operates clinics and hospitals in three northern BC communities. A recent affirmation of this important work has led to a great deal of work to restructure UCHS to ensure its survival into the next decade. It is also looking for a new permanent Executive Director to replace the Acting Executive Director, Dr. Peter Newbery.


Barb Gregg, Jon Jessiman, Bruce Cowburn and others took finance and stewardship workshops inland in October to Kelowna. The Finance Council tries to hold annual workshops to provide training to those who work with our money, property matters, and general stewardship.


Doris Kizinna is coming off a very busy fall filled with youth conferences and the Children and Youth Ministry Institute at the Naramata Centre. This year Treena Duncan joined Doris at Naramata in leadership.


Ministry Personnel often feel lonely and isolated in their work; who can they turn to for pastoral care? Treena Duncan has pulled together a group to develop a pastoral care plan for Ministry Personnel. Thank you to Margaret Harper who has volunteered to be a leader in this piece of work.


BC Conference wants to identify women who were affected by the “disjoining” rule that removed deaconesses and ordained women from their jobs upon their marriage. At the General Council in 2003 it was decided to offer an apology to these women. The “disjoining” rule was in force from 1925 until 1957. It meant that deaconesses who were about to be married had to resign from the order of deaconesses. Once women were allowed to be ordained in 1934 the same principle was applied to them. If you were affected by this rule, or if you know someone who was affected, please send names and contact information to the Conference Office. We would like to offer both personal and public apology over this next year.


With last May’s General Meeting of Conference still fresh in mind, plans are well underway for the 2006 meeting at the Archie Browning Sport Centre in Esquimalt. We last met at the Centre in 2000. Rev. Karen Verveda has taken on the daunting task of chairing the Agenda and Planning Committee. Inspired by Job 14: 7 the theme of the meeting will be “Roots and Shoots.” Bruce and Cheryl Harding will be our music resource people. Mark your calendars: May 25-28, 2006.


The congregation of Sharon United talked a lot before giving their blessing to their minister, Karen Verveda, as she took up her new role as Chair of the Agenda and Planning Committee for BC Conference. When they did, they decided to celebrate it in worship. Here is part of the litany they used:

“Karen, today we acknowledge and celebrate your call to be chairperson of the Agenda and Planning Committee for BC Conference. This ministry is a blessing, an honour, and a responsibility. It recognizes your special gifts and calls you to work among the larger church on our behalf. We thank you for taking up this ministry and challenge you to offer your best to God and to all God’s people. Karen, as you take up this ministry be assured that you do so with the blessing of the Board and the Congregation of Sharon United Church.

(Congregation) “We rejoice in your gifts and recognize and affirm your ministry to members of BC Conference. We pledge to you our support, encouragement, and our prayers as you take up this ministry to the wider church.”


Recognizing their significant leadership role in the church, the Chairs of congregational Boards (Sessions, Councils) will be offered special training by BC Conference. Watch for more information in the new year, but at the moment mark June 23-25, 2006 at the Naramata Centre on your calendars.


When the World Council of Churches meets for its 9th Assembly in February 2006 in Brazil, a number of BC Conference people will be in attendance hard at work. Leading the group will be Marion Best who will play a very important role as one of the Vice-Moderators of the WCC. Carmen Lansdowne will be a delegate and part of a major plenary presentation. Kerry Child will be kept busy as a Steward, Gordon How is helping organize the public events (“Mutirao”), Rod Booth will be (once again) producing daily video and television, and I will be stage directing the major plenary presentations. Although not technically a BC Conference person, I like to claim Allan Seal, son of 100 Mile House minister Hilde Seal, as one of our own, too. He will be attending as a Steward.

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