General Council Executive smiling and standing as a group at their September 2022 meeting

GCE September 2022 Meeting: Summary

From September 16 to 18, 2022, members of the 44th General Council Executive (GCE) gathered in person in Mississauga, ON. This gathering overlapped with meetings of the Staff Leaders of the General Council. The time together included community building and worship, as well as orientation sessions preparing the Executive for the work in front of it. On September 18, the GCE held its first business meeting.

Beginning with more procedural matters, the GCE adopted the minutes of the 43rd General Council Executive (April 2022), ratified the subsequent decisions of the Sub-Executive, named corresponding members to the meeting, received a financial report, and nominated members of the Executive to key committees and the Pension Board.

Work of the Moderator

The new Moderator, the Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, and the Executive shared common appreciation for a moving installation service, expressing particular thanks to the Rev. Graham Brownmiller, the host community of Canadian Memorial United, and the whole of the worship committee for making the close of General Council 44 a beautiful expression of faith. Moderator Lansdowne also thanked her parents, aunt, uncle, and the Hereditary Chiefs who enabled Heiltsuk culture and tradition to be powerfully present.

In the immediate period following the installation, the Moderator’s Advisory Committee met to discern the highest and best use of the office of the Moderator and the Rev. Lansdowne’s particular skills and gifts. In addition to being an ambassador for the new Call and Vision of The United Church of Canada, the Moderator has identified three main priorities:

  • Engage Canada in change-making conversations involving for-profit, non-profit, faith, and corporate communities on issues that matter, resulting in deep dialogue and bold commitments.
  • Widen the engagement of the Moderator’s office within and beyond the church.
  • Mentor and lift up next-generation leadership in the church, including Elders in the process.

The Moderator began her tenure by joining the United Church delegation to the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, being present at the funeral of respected Elder Bernice Saulteaux, and representing the church at a Government of Canada consultation on unmarked graves.

Outstanding business of General Council 44

The General Council Executive considered a number of the proposals from GC44 in consent. In so doing it affirmed the direction of the General Council 44 Way Forward Team (WF). It chose to take no action on a proposal regarding communication with persons on the Discontinued Service List (WF26/ARW05 & SW08). A similar decision was made regarding a proposal to review the 2018 structure of the church as there is already a review for 2024 (WF38 and SW07). On a proposal regarding the discipline of members and adherents, the Executive chose to direct the General Secretary, in consultation with the GCE, to clarify the recommendations, paying careful consideration to the notes from the General Council 44 discussion sessions. (WF28/GS05). (Proposals are available at: United Church Commons / Governance / General Council / 44th General Council / 6. Facilitation Team / “What We Have Heard (Suggested Ways Forward”).

Regarding a further GC44 proposal on meeting quorum, the Executive directed the General Secretary to clarify that called or appointed ministry personnel need to be present at meetings of a community of faith for quorum to be met (WF34/NS02). Given the importance of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the Executive decided to recognize April 24 as Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, while leaving questions of implementation to the General Secretary (WF40/NEW 02).

A number of the proposals were considered in plenary. On a proposal regarding membership in the United Church through non-congregational communities of faith (WF06/N:ka02), the Executive affirmed enabling these congregations to welcome new full members to The United Church of Canada by baptism, confirmation, or profession of faith, with implementation informed by an anticipated study in discipleship and membership. A remit may be required.

Recognizing the significant developments since the creation of a regional proposal on Alberni Residential Institution in May 2021, GCE decided to focus action on committing to developing a principles-based approach to reparations, continuing to be in relationship with Indigenous communities in an Indigenous-led and trauma-informed way, and ensuring communities impacted by the Alberni Institution and others have access to the Bringing the Children Home initiative (WF01/PM01).

The Executive deferred until its next meeting a set of interconnected proposals on ministry personnel and ongoing essential agreement with statements of doctrine (WF13/CS02, CW01, WOW01), as well as another proposal related to criteria for ending a pastoral relationship (WF35/NS03).

Decision of the General Secretary on cost of living and travel reimbursement

The Executive concluded their meeting by hearing about the difficult decisions regarding the 2023 cost of living adjustment and travel reimbursement for ministry personnel and General Council and regional council staff. It was recognized that in a high inflation environment any decision has implications both for ministry personnel and staff, and for communities of faith. The decisions also impact the capacity of the church across the country to recruit and retain ministry personnel and employees. With this context the General Secretary shared his decisions:

  • Continue current policy, which sets the Cost of Living Adjustment in relation to the year previous. For 2023 this amount will be 3.2 percent.
  • Extend the current kilometre reimbursement to 0.46 cents for 2022, and change an approach to mileage starting in January 2023 that will have the impact of increasing it to 0.55 cents, consistent with that paid by other mainline denominations.

The General Council Executive concluded its meeting by considering its current membership vacancy and decided it will gain a broader sense of the experience around the table and the work in front of it in before moving to an appointment.

The General Council Executive will meet again on November 18 and 19.