BC Conference Executive meets in Nelson

In lieu of a Conference General Meeting, our May 26-28th, 2016 Conference Executive meeting was held at Nelson United Church with the intent of meeting with members of Kootenay Presbytery on Thursday evening May 26th in a “Listening to the Owners: a Circle Conversation” session. This evening gathering included presentations, discussions and comments from members of Kootenay Presbytery.

Rev. Keith Simmonds, President BC Conference opened the “Listening to the Owners” session with a group reading of a litany and story based on the memories of the Very Rev. Stanley McKay and others who took part in the earliest national Aboriginal ministries consultations in the 1980’s. The reading was entitled “From Apology towards Reconciliation” recognizing the 30th Anniversary of the United Church’s Apology to First Nations Peoples. The Very Rev. Stanley McKay, was the 34th Moderator of the United Church of Canada from Fisher River Cree Nation, Manitoba, who shared with the United Church the Seven Sacred Teachings of Love, Respect, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility and Truth*. Keith Simmonds also led a discussion with the Conference Executive on these teachings at the Conference Executive Worship Service on Friday morning.

As our business meeting resumed on Friday morning, the Executive was informed that the BC Conference audit was completed and accepted. Rolfe Benson will continue as our external auditors for another year. As to the External Organizational Review which is done every three years to determine whether, and to what degree the Executive Secretary is complying with the Ends** and Executive Limitations policies*** of BC Conference, Dan Hotchkiss, author of “Governance & Ministry Rethinking Board Leadership” and a former consultant at the Alban Institute, will be reviewing the BC Conference policies, evaluating the work of the Conference Executive and leading several governance workshops.

Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator of the United Church of Canada will make an official visit to BC Conference March 10-15, 2017 in conjunction with the BC Conference Executive March 9-11th, 2017 meeting at the Burnaby Conference Office.

Four options presented by the Finance Council in regard to the Investment Policy and Fossil Fuels, were tabled for further education and discussion at the BC Conference Executive November 3-5th, 2016 meeting.

The BC Conference Executive further discussed “Affirmations”**** and developing a plan where the major administrative and professional responsibilities that presently reside in Presbyteries are transferred to the Conference. As the plan is made, attention would be given to the desire that Communities of Faith should be less burdened with bureaucracy and have more power to determine their own life without losing necessary supports.

Naramata Centre Society Board of Directors presented their Business Plan 2016-2020 to the BC Conference Executive. This 47 page document outlines the future vision for the Centre. The Centre has planned for programming in the summer of 2016 and will be able to better assess its plan after the summer programs have been completed. The Conference position is that the loan of $2.7 million not be called in at least until the end of 2017 and that conversations between BC Conference and the Naramata Centre Society continues in the fall of 2016 to help determine the best “next steps” in its mission.

The Conference Executive participated in an Education of Ends** Visioning workshop, presented by Morgan Gould of Nelson United Church. This workshop included discussions on the Executive’s personal aspirations regarding United Church Executive participation, setting norms for working together and visioning for a new role given the present Remits on structural changes in the United Church. A vision that generates energy, articulates values, celebrates and builds on past successes.

A meeting of the Property Development Council, of which BC Conference Executive are members, was held Friday evening May 27th, 2016. The Property Development Council receives and distributes income received from property sales where BC Conference is beneficiary. It also holds and manages property on behalf of BC Conference. With the new constitutional change accepted earlier this year it is also now in the position of being able to construct, hold and manage affordable rental properties. The Property Resource Team (Terry Harrison and Justen Harcourt) is presently leading seven development projects in partnerships with congregations, each is in a different stage of planning. The Congregations involved are West Burnaby United, Oakridge United, First United (White Rock), Brighouse United (Richmond), Brechin United (Nanaimo), Como Lake United (Coquitlam), St. Andrew’s United (Port Moody).

To each member of Kootenay Presbytery who attended or tried to attend via internet the” Listening to the Ownership” meeting with the BC Conference Executive on Thursday, a sincere thank you. Throughout continued discussions at our Executive meeting, members of the Executive were clearly impacted by what they heard from Kootenay Presbytery. Many members remarked that this meeting changed previous assumptions about rural ministries in BC. As BC Conference moves forward in plans regarding Clusters and Networks, your input at this time was especially important. Thank you, also to Nelson United Church members, especially Rev. David Boyd, Morgan Gould and Leah Gray and the Nelson United Church women who looked after us so well with wonderful food and hospitality.

Respectfully submitted,
           Cheryl Swedburg
Kootenay Representative to BC Conference

* The traditional concepts of respect and sharing that form the Aboriginal way of life, are built around the seven natural laws or sacred teachings. Each teaching honours one of the basic virtues intrinsic to a full and healthy life.

** Ends: The board (Executive) defines which human needs are to be met, for whom, and at what cost written with a long-term perspective, these mission-related policies embody the board’s long-range vision

*** Executive Limitations: The board establishes the boundaries of acceptability within which staff methods and activities can responsibly left to staff. These limiting policies apply to staff means rather than ends.

**** Affirmations- On February 12-13, 2016 a consultation with representatives from the Presbyteries met to discuss whether there was interest in pursuing the vision of the Comprehensive Review and moving toward a Region – Cluster-Network system that would be structurally situated between Communities of Faith (Churches) and the Denomination (General Council). That gathering produced a list of Affirmations which, after being tested with the persons who attended the Consultation, was sent to the Presbyteries and Conference staff for comment.


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