What Is Done and Left Undone: Highlights from Decision Session 9

The Council returned to the series of proposals originating from regional councils related to Palestine and Israel (referred to as CS01, SW09, FSL01, PM 02, RC1501, SW02). The Council chose to postpone these proposals on Palestine and Israel until the work on the principle-based approach, committed to earlier in the Council, is completed. Following this motion, acknowledging the deep challenge and pain, the Moderator paused the process for a time of prayer to the God of every beloved child.

The Council then considered a motion that addressed the variance in pay and pensionable earnings calculations for ministry personnel and lay employees based on job position, geographic location, and a pastoral charge’s ability to pay. The Council agreed to ask the General Secretary to create a task group to study total compensation, including our theology of compensation (PM03 and SW06).

The Council then affirmed an amended proposal related to maternity and parental leave, enabling a survey of ministry personnel who have taken maternity/parental leave about their experiences, developing a document outlining best practices, and directing that maternity/parental leave top-up payments come from the national level in order to share the cost across the wider family of the church (RC1502).

On a motion regarding accompaniment of ministry personnel in immigration and citizenship processes, Council affirmed the proposal, referring it back to the General Secretary for further review of discussion notes to determine a way forward (NEW03).

The final motion (GS03) considered by this Council concerned the amalgamation of congregations. This motion was approved, enabling changes in the Manual to add an additional step in the amalgamation process. The step includes the amalgamating congregations jointly preparing a ministry plan for the newly amalgamated congregation, indicating the property and other resources required to carry out the plan. The amalgamating congregations would then make a decision on both the amalgamation and the ministry plan, and the regional council would consider the ministry plan in determining if there is surplus property. It is hoped that requiring amalgamating congregations to prepare a ministry plan will provide a clearer picture of the resources actually needed.

As the work of the business came to an end, the Moderator spoke of the challenges of decision making as a Council, recognizing that even when decisions are deeply painful, we express our respect and care for all those voices who have spoken.

The General Secretary Rev. Michael Blair spoke about the work of developing principles for justice action to which the Council has committed the church. He indicated that he has heard about the urgency of that work and will seek to begin it as soon as possible with the Theology, Interchurch Interfaith Committee. He reminded the court that engagement in solidarity for justice and companionship in partnership has not changed. As Moderator-Elect Carmen Lansdowne indicated, the work continues. We hear the cries for solidarity and have been reminded that one day is too long to wait for justice—we will continue to seek that justice.

Former Moderator the Very Rev. Stan McKay continued his reflections on Jesus as family and liberator. He spoke of the need to liberate theology, and recognizing the ways denominations are failing in unity, expressing his hope that we will continue to seek to be family, relatives of one other in the spirit of the Jesus of reconciliation. 

The Council covenanted with the 44th General Council Executive who will lead the church over the next three years. General Secretary Michael Blair extended gratitude to many committees, task groups, and persons who have made the General Council possible, finishing with thanks to the Commissioners of this extended Council, and to the Moderator who, despite ill health, led this Council with grace and love. The session concluded with a closing procedural motion referring all unfinished business to the General Council Executive and enabling remits, changes to the Manual, and the publishing of the record of proceeding. Rev. Elenor Thompson shared closing words of gratitude and Rev. Graham Brownmiller and Rev. Kenji Marui led the community in extinguishing the worship candles.

The Council will conclude at the end of the Installation of the new Moderator and Closing Worship, scheduled for August 7.

Watch the Decision Session 9 recording on YouTube.