Showing posts from June, 2015

My Report to the Congregation on General Assembly 2015

At the beginning of June, our minister, Scott McAndless and one of our elders, David Krueger, attended the meetings of the 141st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The meetings were held on the campus of the University of British Columbia in the heart of the city of Vancouver – one of the most beautiful urban settings in the entire country.
The meetings were marked by many good things: great conversations, renewals of old friendships and the making of new ones and worthwhile discussions. Both David and I are grateful for the opportunity to attend. 
These are some of the highlights: ·The moderator of the 141st General Assembly is the Rev. Karen Horst. She took on her position with grace and wisdom and fulfilled her duties admirably. We are particularly pleased, of course, that Karen (who once worked at St. Andrew’s when she was known as Karen Timbers) has agreed to be our special anniversary guest preacher this October 25th. Not only will she bring a wonderful message,…

Same Words, Opposite Application

In discussions around this General Assembly (not seeking to specifically reflect the private discussion in our table group, of course) I have notice something that is happening around these discussions connected to the place of LGBTQ persons within the church.
I am remarking that in a lot of our discussions we are saying the same things and yet meaning the opposite.
For example, in our discussions I hear people saying, "The most important thing is that we follow the Bible," and everyone absolutely agrees with that.
Some mean, that we must uncritically agree with the passages that condemn homosexual activity.
But others mean that we need to do what Jesus did and go out of our way to accept the outsider and give them a place within the church. They mean that the church is, as Paul taught, a place where all distinctions between people disappear.
In our discussions I hear people saying that we welcome all with the grace and acceptance of Christ but that the process of growing in grac…

Spiritual but not Religious - My Reasons for Dissent

Today at General Assembly, we opened up the terms of reference for the standing committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. In the midst of those discussions, the point was made that nowhere in the mandate of this committee were there any instructions regarding our relationship with the fastest growing belief group in Canadian society - those people who see themselves as "spiritual but not religious."I strongly felt that we really could not say that we were engaging in interfaith dialogue if we completely ignored such a large and influential group in Canadian society - even if they are not organized as most religious groups are. (Indeed they fiercely resist any organisation, that's kind of the point.)So I proposed an ammendment that would address that important lack.Spoiler alert for those who are waiting to read it in the minutes, my motion was soundly defeated.But I did dissent and asked for an opportunity to have my reasons recorded. I would like to share those …

Who Cares

Today, on Saturday, the General Assembly will enter into an open discussion regarding the multitude of overtures that it has received that touch on issues of human sexuality. In an effort to make sure that the space in which those discussions takes place is safe -- that is to say that everyone who participates will feel free to express their feelings without fear of judgement or repercussions -- the commissioners have been told that we must not text or tweet or blog about what happens in the hall.
I completely understand and respect those instructions. (Though I do think we could perhaps make a distinction between respecting private discussions around table groups and being able to report on what is done and said in open court.) I certainly want to do my part to make sure that everyone does feel safe to fully express themselves. I know how important that is to move forward.
So I am not going to blog about any of the discussions inside the meetings of the General Assembly. But I would li…


"Ooh, that happy little bluebird has left a happy little do-do on your hand!" -Broomhilde (Robin Hood, Men in Tights)

During the Friday morning siderent of the 141st General Assembly, I noticed that one brief presentation caught the imagination of more than a few commissioners.
Robert Geddes, convenor of the McLean Estate Committee and also an avid birder, drew a parallel between the population of bluebirds in Canada and population of Presbyterians in Canada. Both populations have been in serious decline in recent decades. But, Mr. Geddes added, there was some good news because populations of bluebirds have been recovering.
I think that people connected with that because it sounded a note of hope to some. If the bluebirds could recover, why couldn't we? Others, I am sure, saw it as a statement of pessimism - seeing the contrast between the bluebirds hopes and ours.
Now, I know that Mr. Geddes was not trying to make any sweeping statements about the future of the church - that…