Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | August 15, 2012

General Council thoughts on Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, our afternoon break from GC41. It is a glorious summer day. I thought I’d write some notes here before heading off to explore downtown Ottawa, and have dinner with a friend. It is nice to have a break from this intense gathering.

Yesterday we discussed the Israel-Palestine report that addressed the issue of settlements in that area. It was a difficult discussion because really, is there any right answer to that problem? Yesterday’s discussion focussed more on the grammar and wording than on discussing the issues. Some of the changes were necessary and tuned up the proposal appropriately. Some seemed to be avoidance tactics on a certain level. That seemed natural for such a delicate subject. We ended up putting that report aside until later.

Yesterday afternoon was Commission time. This is the time when the larger group split off into three “Commissions” to deal with the issues that were assigned to them. We started off slowly by spending over an hour dealing a small issue. Ultimately, we realized the amount of work ahead of us, and things became more productive. Occasionally disjointed voices floated into our room, causing everyone to pause. It turned out the PA system had some crossed wires or something, and we were getting speakers from the Commission in the next room. We later discovered they were getting our voices. Fair is fair after all. 🙂

We worked hard through the afternoon, and into the evening. We managed to get through some contentious issues with a fair amount of good will and respect for diverse opinions. Things warmed up and headed towards conflict when one of my fellow commissioners from Alberta pointed out that using the term “tarsands” was much like using the F word, and that it would not help the conversation. We were able to modify that particular proposal to include the proper name “in situ bitumous sand” into the motion. She quietly posted a status update in Facebook to say she had said the F word, and said it as “The F word” so she didn’t get fired. Discretely following that FB discussion was a fun diversion while we were listening to the discussion.

The evening ended last night with a benediction and hymn. We sang Breathe on me Breath of God, an hymn well known to many. It started out in unison, and gradually evolved into full harmony. It was amazing to hear over 100 or so voices singing at the end of the day. A truly magical way to end the day.

This morning we were back in the main room with the entire group of over 300 people. We passed the Statement of Ministry report with some modifications, and looked at the Ecclesiastical statement. We also moved to have a study on local ordination conducted over the next three years. The we were back to Israel and Palestine. After some discussion, the motion to accept the report from the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy.

Our pop-up prophets have so much to offer. Today we heard from “Ivan” an Acadian man who spoke on exile. It was an excellent talk with humour and great points.

This week has been a full one with business, dinner conversations, laughter, spiritual food and education. I am learning a lot, and am finding I have learned a lot up to this point, prior to coming to GC41. I know this experience will have a big impact on me. It might even be some material for some future blog posts.

“Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.”  ~Bridget Willard

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