Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | August 16, 2012

What a day at GC41!!

The Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson

Today we elected a new moderator for the United Church of Canada. The moderator is the head of the church and serves in the role for three years until the next General Council. The process to elect the moderator was long, yet thorough. There was a record 15 candidates for the position. Each of the candidates was well qualified, and most likely would have done a good job, so it was a difficult decision. We were given biographies of the candidates, and heard them speak earlier in the week. The voting took six ballots to complete. Four candidates were eliminated after the first ballot, then three after the second, two after the third, until there were two left on the ballot. The Rev John Young was on the final ballot with Rev Paterson, and was an equally good choice. This was by all acounts, an historic event, since we are the first major denomination to elect an openly gay leader of the church. I am proud to be part of this church and look forward to the next three years with this accomplished man at the helm.

The moderator candidates 2012 with Moderator Mardi Tindal

Today we participated in a process called “Open Space”.  I had never heard of it before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. The facilitators told us that this concept was developed when it was noticed that the most productive work at conferences is done during coffee breaks. Participants choose topics to discuss and post them on the wall. The topics are assigned numbers and the originator of the topic acts as facilitator. If you are interested in discussing the topic, you go to the place in the room where the number is on a pole. You can wander to the discussion that interests you and stay in it like a butterfly, or buzz around and drop in on different discussions like a bumble-bee. I ended up talking with people on a one-on-one basis, for a bit, then participated in two discussion groups. One  discussion was about post church Christianity, and the other was about the significance of adding “Akwe Nia’Tetewa:Neren” or “All My Relations” on the United Church crest. I came away from the discussions inspired, and ready to share some of the information/ideas at home. 🙂

Anne Hines helping us channel our inner Baptist

Rev Anne Hines came back to entertain us at the end of the day. She encouraged us to channel our inner Baptists….and become more energetic. She had us laughing at material she collected during GC. It was a great way to wrap up the day before learning the results of our voting.

So far it has been an honour to have been a part of this General Council. We have made some fairly historic decisions, and have done some pretty mundane business. Participating in the election of a moderator of the United Church of Canada was quite the experience. No lobbying or pressure, just mindful, prayerful voting and then waiting for results. I wonder if there is a way to bring some of this to our government elections….

We will have a challenging day tomorrow as we finalize the recommendations for the church’s response to the Israel – Palestine report.

From Twitter ~ “REVocable (@REVocable): This is not my grandfather’s church – and I thank you all, and God, for this! #GC41 Well done commissioners and leaders!”


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