Conference Calling 9

July 2006


By natural inclination I embrace stability and routine; I suppose that is one of the reasons an administrative job suits me. So it is with some surprise that I look over the past few months and at the summer ahead and discover all the change taking place in the Conference. Much of the change is exciting; some brings sadness. It is good to know, though, that whether in times of slowness (like the forty years wandering through the wilderness) or times of rapid change (“the appointed time has grown short…. The present form of this world is passing away”), God does not leave us abandoned. We are in good, loving hands: forgiving, leading, cajoling, resting.

It is with some sadness that I pass on the news that Nan Koldewijn will be leaving her job at the BC Conference office officially on July 7, although she has already headed out on holidays to Greece. With many changing priorities in her life, Nan and I have for a while been talking about her future and her work at the office. Recently she decided that the time was right for a change. With Nan’s knee surgery this summer and the need for significant recovery time, it made sense for both Nan and the office to make the change earlier rather than later. Unfortunately, this has resulted in Nan’s early departure. Nan has been a central, valuable member of the BC Conference staff for ten years, serving three Executive Secretaries. Her departure leaves the Conference bereft of a decade of experience and expertise which will be greatly missed. I know the many Conference volunteers and staff who have benefited from Nan’s tireless work and faithfulness will join me in wishing her God’s abundant blessings as she moves forward in her life.

The United Church Health Services (UCHS), which operates three clinics and hospitals in northern BC for the United Church, has a new CEO/President: Glen Timbers. Glen replaces Dr. Peter Newbery who has been a key figure in health services for numerous years. Peter will remain with this health care ministry for the next six months providing specialized services as UCHS transforms into a society with improved governance and management structures in place.

It took less than two weeks for a Congregational Board Chair workshop to fill up at the Naramata Centre, and two weeks after that a second workshop being held this Fall was also filled. Led by Derek Evans and myself, the 25 people who gathered June 23 & 24 took a hard look at what special leadership the Chairs of congregational boards can provide. The overwhelming response to this offering makes me wonder what lies behind it. Is this a “if only we were more organized we could do much better!” response, or does it reflect a real sense that our church needs good, trained and faith-filled lay leaders who can help us keep an eye out for God’s leading in this “foggy” (according to one participant) time. Based on those who attended the first event, I am leaning toward the second explanation.

When General Council 39 meets August 13-19 in Thunder Bay, BC Conference will have 26 commissioners in attendance. The commissioners are: Angus, Jim; Ashbaugh, Martha; Autio, Jake; Bois, Alex;; Bourke, Beth; Boyd, David; Burton, John; Carr, Marion; Carter, Jenny; Carter, Sarah; Copeman-Haynes, Cari; Cryder, Cathy; Freed, Foster; Gillespie, Evelyn; Harris, Marianna; Hill, Clare; Kao, Everest ; Kasmer, Julianne; Lewis, Syd; Odney, Blair; Seal, Hilde; Shearer, Jo; Theunissen, Bethan; Tupholme, Sarah; Tysick, Allen; Young, Janice. Jim Angus has been nominated for Moderator.

Conference Minister for Prince Rupert Presbytery, Charlotte Sullivan, is recovering after undergoing hospitalization for leukemia. Charlotte has responded well to treatment. Presently she is living in Vancouver so she can be close to the hospital as treatment finishes. We are looking forward to Charlotte’s full recovery and return to work.

Due to heavy use this Spring, the Congregational Learning Fund, used to assist people financially to attend education events, is already depleted. The good news is that more people than ever seem to be taking continuing education. The bad news, of course, is that people hoping to use the fund this Fall will not be able to do so. The fund should be replenished again in the new year.

General Meeting time is always busy for the Conference staff, but this year special thanks go to Jim Beal and the regional planning volunteers from Victoria Presbytery. Without their efforts and commitment the meeting – quite simply – could not have happened. Many, many thanks.

This summer the Conference office will remain open despite staff coming and going on holidays. If an unexpected voice answers the phone, it is likely Stefanie Seto who will be with us for much of July and some of August. While Conference staff will try to get back to you as soon as possible, please plan for a bit more response time than usual. Also, Kim MacMillan will be on sabbatical until the middle of August while Nellie Tang plans to be off on sabbatical all summer and into September. 

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