Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | August 17, 2012

Church and Politics GC41

Today General Council passed the motion that included recommending avoiding products that come from Jewish settlements. It was a very difficult decision, and a difficult discussion. There was incredible respect for different opinions, and the conversation remained civil. I am thankful for that. At the same time, the room was tense, and sometimes challenging. Amendments were made and then discussed and changed, challenged then defeated. Other amendments were passed. When it felt like we were becoming bogged down, someone started softly singing “Lord Listen to Your Children Praying”. Soon, the entire room was singing and harmony evolved in this well known hymn. It became a prayer, and helped to reduce the tension and bring us back on track.

Please check this link to learn more than about the issue. The press seems to be stating that the UCC is against Israel, and is against the Jewish people and is boycotting Israel. It is a far bigger issue than that. http://www.gc41.ca/israelpalestine-recommendations

I have had people ask me why the church is involved with politics, and saying the church needs to be involved in spiritual concerns. Others recognize just how important it is for us as a church community or as individuals to speak out against oppression and injustice. The theme for GC41 came from Micah 6:1-8 which concludes with: “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Marie Wilson from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission spoke to us today. She suggested that Jesus didn’t walk quietly, but that he created a racket! We can do justice, love kindly and walk humbly in a way that creates a racket. Sometimes speaking out against oppression stirs the pot….in fact, if done properly, it likely does stir the pot because those in power don’t always like to be challenged.

My friend and fellow commissioner says: “If we are to follow the lead of Christ to live a faith of action, faith of justice, faith of love and right relations then we MUST call to account those in places in the world who are not living in right relation – with each other, creation and indeed as Christians” ~Lynn Elliott

I see this decision as a starting place for discussion and conversation. I am honoured to have been part of this discussion. I pray that this begins a process that brings peace to this area, and to other areas with similar issues.

And this we should believe: that hope and volition can bring us closer to our ultimate goal: justice for all, injustice for no-one.  ~ Eyvind Johnson 
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Responses

  1. WOW! I am more than a little disappointed. I am not one for oppression nor am I one for religion. However, first and foremost the Jewish settlement of Isreal was created by allied forces because no other country would take the displaced Jews from Europe (that is a little simplified I know). The other issues I have is that speaking out against oppression – is speaking out against oppression! Not picking and choosing which countries you as a group see fit as being oppressors. I could name a whole host of countries and regions where there is oppression, in fact it is still happening in Ireland with the British. I have friends who were in Ireland within the last 5 years with the British military – the occupation is not over and the fighting is still happening. The continent of Africa, the middle east etc… it does not end. Does the church get to pick and choose which oppressors they are against and which ones they will silently let slip by?

    So to sum up here is my point – the church should stay out of political matters. By this I mean picking and choosing what oppressed group they are going to be rallied behind and what oppressed group they are not going to be rallied behind. Leave the picking and choosing for government.

    The church should be for spiritual matters – to end oppression through education, self reflection, love and patience. It is important to speak out against oppression absolutely. But it is also important to universal love without condition. That to me is the role of spiritual guidance. Stand up with love not condition.

  2. I agree with you on the picking and chosing oppressed groups. At the same time, we have to start somewhere. There was a study group that looked at the issues, and came back with a report. The report is at the link I put in the post. There is most certainly some terrible stuff happening there. Today we heard from Cindy Blackstock who spoke of how we are treating children, especially Aboriginal children. We are working at “right relations” in general, but I do think we can do better at home. We do need to be looking in our own backyard before pointing too many fingers.

    I do not think the government is the only one who needs to be addressing issues in the world. In fact, our current government is not exactly the best group to be speaking out on social justice issues. The church does address oppression through education, dialogue, self-reflection, etc. If you check the workbook, and look at the issues we addressed, you will see it was a variety of things, including spiritual matters. The media makes it look like we were only concerned with Israel and Palestine.

    As far as I am concerned, Jesus was an anti-oppressive social worker, among other things. He stood up against oppression and “The Empire” and was crucified for his efforts. As Marie Wilson from the Truth and Reconcilation Commission said today, he spoke out against injustices and did not do it quietly. He made quite a racket. He is supposed to be our role model. I am involved in the United Church partly because it is one place where I can be part of a group that speaks out. I may not agree with everything, but this is a place where I can feed my spirit and learn to love without condition.

  3. Thank you! I came upon your blog while googling our new Moderator. I appreciate your comments on GC41

    • Thanks Jennifer. I was really impressed by our new moderator. I think he will be good for us. He has a very gentle spirit, and I think will represent us well.


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