Apology for April 6 Incident

The United Church of Canada apologizes for an unacceptable incident at the April 6 Learning Session.

The April 6 learning session, focused on the theme Embolden Justice, began with worship and a presentation by a member of the Equity Support Team. The General Secretary also addressed the Commissioners at the top of the session, urging the utmost respect while engaging in difficult conversations related to the proposals, specifically proposals on Palestine and Israel. 

Close to the end of the gathering, an obscenity was uttered by a participant while one of the two Jewish interfaith guests was speaking.

The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Janzen-Ball, Executive Minister for Theological Leadership; the Rev. Michael Blair, General Secretary; and the Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, Moderator, apologized on behalf of the church. Commissioners also added their personal apologies using the chat function.

In the Moderator’s apology he said, “What has just happened is unacceptable for our community. I know there are feelings that run strongly, but we have agreed to treat each other respectfully.” It wasn’t clear who had voiced the obscenity, and the Moderator asked that the person involved speak with him after the meeting.

The United Church of Canada will seek to further its apology in private with Mr. Richard Marceau, Vice-President, External Affairs & General Counsel of The Centre for Israeli and Jewish Affairs, and Rabbi Allan Finkel of Temple Shalom in Winnipeg and will discern the most respectful and appropriate way forward.

Learning sessions, which invite questions of clarification on proposals, are one part of the ongoing convening of General Council 44. Following the conclusion of Learning Sessions on May 4, 2022, GC44 will continue in June discussion sessions and July decision sessions before concluding with the installation of a new Moderator on August 7, 2022.