Bending the System as Far as It Can Go

For our Second Friday gathering last week we invited local people who had attended the United Church General Council gathering in Newfoundland this past summer to have some conversation with those of us who didn’t about what it was like.  Shelly Manley-Tannis, Bill Millar, Adrian Jacobs, and Stan McKay all told stories, recounted experiences, and reflected on what happens when “the church” meets to do business.

Although the discussion touched on decisions like the proposed restructuring of the church courts, the “one ministry” report, the divestment from the fossil fuel industry, etc., much of the conversation centered around the form of the meeting itself – how much time is given (and not given) , whose voices get heard and whose are silenced, and the ways that processes for decision-making shape the outcome.

Shelly admitted that she spent much of General Council crying, sometimes in joy and sometimes in grief.  Bill noted that the way a meeting like General Council is structured works well for the middle class intelligentsia, but creates disconnection for others, including newcomer Canadians.  Adrian worried about the co-opting of the language of “covenant” and “consensus.”  And Stan told a story about how the live video stream from General Council was cut off when the gathered participants tried singing Happy Birthday to some of their members.  (Happy Birthday is copyrighted, and General Council didn’t have performance rights!)

All admitted that there were attempts to keep the proceedings human, but their sense was that the adaptations (like coloured cards to gauge whether the group was close to consensus) didn’t really touch the underlying structure, which was adversarial and colonial.  The planners and organizers bent the system as far as it could go, but at some point, the system itself needs to be examined.

Wonderful and challenging stuff to think about, and we’re grateful to those who came to share their impressions, and those who came with curiosity and questions.

One thought on “Bending the System as Far as It Can Go”

  1. Kasthuri Gospel Charitable Organization
    India Andhrapradesh Social Actives Dear Beloved in Christ,

    Love and Greetings to you in Jesus’ high and most Exalted name. I feel very happy to introduce to you as Pastor v. lajarus a Pastor serving the Lord in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India for the Last 8 years, ministering in 6 Churches with 5 co-Pastors who are young, anointed and dedicated to the service of our Lord.

    We are serving the Lord independently without joining in any other Fellowship or Ministry or Mission or Organization but are doing with utmost faith.

    We are serving among Dalit and Tribal people hailing from yanadi and Yerukula communities who are far behind in education, social, medical and financial. We are striving hard for their development in their living conditions.

    We are reaching the unreached proclaiming the Gospel as Jesus said at Mark 16:15, planting new Churches as has said at Matt 16:18 and winning many a perishing souls according to Romans 10:9. Part of it we are also working with Orphan and Street children as Jesus said at Matt 18:5 and Matt 19:14. God also called on us to look after the needs of poor widows and old aged people according to Deuteronomy 26:12, 13.

    We like to develop our Ministry reaching many more unreached areas with your ablest leadership and guidance. We are much interested to work with you joining in your Fellowship.

    Part of it we invite you with our heart and soul to visit India to see our work and to take part in our activities. We believe you are a blessing for us, for our Ministry and for our people. We are constantly praying God for you, for your family, Ministry and for your untiring services upholding before God daily.

    We request you to kindly pray for us and for our Invitation to visit India to work with us.

    I look to hear from you soon.

    In Jesus most Trustworthy name,
    (Pastor v. lajarus KASTURI GOSPLE CHARTABLE OGR
    JANGAREDDY GUDEM
    PACHAM GODAVARI MADALAM
    ANDHRA PRADESH
    INDIA
    PH ON; +91_9885078304
    PH ON; +91_7702189754 contract 91 9848415739 7075937350 email-johnmessi55@gmail.com

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