General Council 44 of The United Church of Canada is going virtual when it meets in 2022. Commissioners elected from the 16 regional councils and the National Indigenous Council will gather for worship, learning, prayer, discussion, and decision entirely online.
The decision to meet in this way was made by a special meeting of GC43 in the spring of 2021 because of uncertainty about how health regulations would allow us to gather due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because planning for an event like General Council takes a good amount of time, this was seen as the most prudent direction to go.
A virtual format offers challenges and opportunities for everyone involved, and planning has already begun to take these into consideration. One of the most significant changes is the time span the GC44 meeting will cover. Unlike previous General Councils, which typically met for a week in the summer, GC44 will be constituted in February 2022 and culminate with the induction of the new Moderator after the July 2022 portion of the meeting.
Because virtual meetings come with their own challenges, we are hoping that an extended meeting time will give the space to ensure that some of these challenges can be better addressed.
Virtual meetings also come with opportunities, including being able to connect with those who may not otherwise be able to participate. We are hoping that the virtual meeting format will make it easier for people who haven’t been able to be part of previous General Councils to attend and participate.