BC Conference: How BIG is our tent?

BC Conference General Meeting met on the sunny days of May 25 to 28 at UBC…
The theme of the gathering was “How BIG is our tent?” referring to the inclusion of various faith streams within The United Church of Canada The theme presenter was the Rev. Janet Gear, United Church Director of Formation, staff at VST. Although it is tempting to think her presentation was simplistic, she was very quick to say that as simplistic as this seems, it is indeed a very complex and complicated theory to explain, and she took the next three days to try to do so…
She began by explaining there are “chart lovers and chart loathers, but suspend your disbeliefs and bear with it.” 

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So, in chart fashion, she identified 5 main streams of faith expressions: (please note that there is no way I am able to do her presentation any real justice by reducing her explanation into this very brief space…) (for her full presentation, sessions of this conference are available for viewing in their entirety on the BC Conference Facebook channel)



Rev. Gear suggests each faith stream can be described by our New Creed: We are called to be the Church:
          Evangelical:  to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.
          Ecclesial: to celebrate God’s presence,
          Missional:  to love and serve others,
          Ecumenical: to seek justice and resist evil,
          Spiritual: to live with respect in Creation,

click to read

During the weekend, by her design, Rev. Gear hosted panel discussions with members who have preferences for one of the various faith streams who gave testimony of their faith expression and we experienced five worship services embedded with each theme and sang hymns of praise reflecting this variety.
To help differentiate the five streams, each was identified with a colour (noted above) to help describe the possible mingling and blending into a “spectrum” of faith traditions. These colours enlivened the TENT decor and table settings in the Great Hall.

Conference Band
 (click to view)

Music was provided by Lonnie Delisle, the Music Minister at Canadian Memorial United Church as well as the Musician in Residence at Vancouver School of Theology, accompanied by members of his Church band.


Youth at Conference
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There was a large contingent of children attending this weekend and they were included in various parts of the agenda and in providing parts of worship.


PROK Delegation
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We were introduced to a delegation from the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of South Korea (PROK) who were invited in an exchange operation with BC Conference as we sent a delegation to S. Korea last year to explore the possibility of mutual ministry relationship.



The Conference Reports and Agenda
is available here and provides a comprehensive accounting of the business of BC Conference, including information on the various ministers and church staff who have retired, died, moved, or, on this weekend been ordained, commissioned, accepted, or appointed to Ministry in BC Conference.
The Kootenay Presbytery report submitted by Greg is on page 69.

Some business items presented to the court included two items from Kootenay Presbytery, presented by Greg Powell, the first was Kootenay Presbytery action in support of Ktunaxa First Nations claim of the Qat’muk (Jumbo Valley) by application to the Supreme Court of Canada.

and second, a report on the recent Nelson BC court decision regarding the rights of the Sinixt people:


click to view


Retiring Conference President, Keith Simmonds, was gifted with a “talking stick”; the court members elected Rev. Jay Olson from Vancouver as the president-elect, and at the conclusion of the meeting, outgoing Conference President, Keith Simmonds and Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary, installed the new President, Rev. Cari Coleman-Haynes, with Keith passing on the President’s stole to her for her term in office.The 86th General Meeting of BC Conference takes place May 31 – June 3, 2018 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, Penticton, BC.


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