Rev. Philip Vinod Peacock
The United Church of Canada

“Turning to Jesus who is the Way of Justice and Love”: Highlights from Decision Session 1

On July 21, the Moderator opened the General Council 44 Decision sessions, a process “soaked in prayer” and committed to Equity Aspirations.

After a moving four directions prayer and territorial acknowledgement, the Council passed a procedural motion to receive the Facilitation Team report, Suggested Ways Forward, as well as several Regional Council Reports.

The focal point of this session was a keynote address by Philip Vinod Peacock, an ordained minister from a long-time partner of The United Church of Canada, the Church of North India. Rev. Peacock serves as the Executive Secretary for Justice and Witness of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Focusing on the theme of the Council, “Who do you say I am?” Peacock urged us to see how Jesus places himself in the line of prophets who are killed—killed because they dared to speak truth to power. Peacock spoke of how faith in the radical God of justice is waning as new gods and demons are competing for places in our lives—demons of power and money, racism and prejudices. As Peacock warns: “We are slowly and surely being seduced to faith that has nothing to do with the world.”

Peacock urged the Council to see discipleship as “turning our backs on these demons, naming them as false gods, and turning to Jesus whose way is justice and love.” Peacock reminded the church that this Messiah who is murdered is also the one who is risen, who will turn the world around, who is hope when all seems hopeless, and who makes another world possible. Salvation can never be separated from politics, or disconnected from justice in this world.

Peacock also spoke of another story with a biblical question, that of the Good Samaritan, where the question posed is: “Who is my neighbour?” Peacock suggested that it is precisely those who lie wounded in the margins that offer healing and salvation. The United Church of Canada must align with those pushed to the margins of our world. To be the church of today, the United Church must be the “inn”—the place of hospitality and support—from which marginalized persons can see their vision of transformation carried out, their salvation realized.

The first of the Decision sessions concluded with announcements from Friends of Council and a prayer from the Rev. Elenor Thompson, Honoured Elder. Speaking in Cree, in Oxford House dialect, and using the words of her grandmother, Rev. Thompson offered a prayer of gratitude for this day, both its beauty and its challenge.

Watch the Decision Session 1 recording on YouTube.