Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship, Daring Justice

Process, Experimentation, Discipleship: Highlights from Decision Session 3

In the third of the Decision sessions, the General Council began considering proposals. As the first proposal was considered, some Commissioners raised concerns about the overall process of General Council 44 decision-making. The process, which has included Learning sessions, small group discussion, and Decision sessions was voted on at the opening of Council in a motion (referred to as GS01).

Issues raised included whether every small group had discussed and given their view on every proposal and whether corresponding members should be included in the online polling leading to putting the motion wording forward (even though Commissioners are the only ones to vote on the ultimate motion). It was moved and seconded that the Council reconsider GS01, the motion that outlined the process to be used in this General Council. After some discussion, the vote was held and the motion, which would have required a two-thirds majority, was defeated.

Returning to the process, the Council considered and approved a motion on living into the newly developed strategic plan (originating as GS03). The motion enables regional councils and communities of faith to experiment with new ministry initiatives over the next three years, provided such initiatives are within the bounds of the authority of, and on terms agreed to by, the regional council and community of faith. Reflection on this experimentation will come to General Council 45 for information and further action.

Out of reflection on questions of membership, the Council approved a motion (originating as TICIF01) that requests the Theology and Inter-Church Inter-Faith Committee to lead the church in a study on discipleship. Such a study will wrestle with questions such as: “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?” “Are we, as individuals, prepared to pay the cost of being a disciple?”

Several motions dealt with church-to-church relationships. The Council considered and approved a motion (referred to as GS11) enabling The United Church of Canada to enter into a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Bermuda Synod of The Wesleyan Methodist Church. On another motion, one regarding initiating dialogue on church union with other Canadian denominations (referred to as CW02), the proposal was referred back to the Facilitation Team and Business Table for further reflection on the wording, after which it will return to the Council.

The Council once again heard from the Friends of Council, the Rev. Nancy Nourse and the Rev. Marie-Claude Manga. The Rev. Manga highlighted the importance of commemorating Emancipation Day on August 1. The United Church of Canada, with the Black Clergy Network, is hosting a panel discussion on July 31 as well as offering a virtual worship service.

The Council viewed a video prepared by the sole Moderator nominee, the Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne. The election for Moderator will be held on July 23.

The session concluded with testimony by Aisha Francis, Executive Director of KAIROS, on Jesus as accepting of all, truly welcoming—the One accompanying and creating space for the least of these toward fullness of life for all.

Watch the Decision Session 3 recording on YouTube.