UCC Admissions Orientation 2023
The first week of CCS’s two-week online orientation learning circle for ministers entering the United Church of Canada from other denominations has just ended. Fourteen “Admissions” ministers at various points in their process are taking part. Some of them are already serving in United Church congregations in Canada and adapting to a new context. Others have accepted an appointment to a United Church congregation and are in the (sometimes complicated) process of immigrating to Canada. And others still are seeking an appointment, hoping to find a United Church congregation that would be a good fit for them.
CCS program staff Marcie Gibson and Janet Ross, along with Scott Douglas and other visitors and special guests, are helping to orient the ministers to some of the particularities (and peculiarities) of the United Church and the Canadian context. Conversations about denominational structure and doctrine mix with discussions of snow pants, sales tax, and “polite racism”. Most of these ministers will be taking, or have taken, courses on UCC theology and polity as well as required trainings on boundaries and anti-racism. The purpose of CCS’s UCC Admissions Orientation is to provide an opportunity for these ministers, all of whom have been recognized as skilled by their own denominations, to form connections with each other and to have conversations about how the UCC context they are stepping into will be different.
So far the participants in the orientation circle have found it enriching and insightful. One participant, who is coming from India and preparing to enter a ministry appointment in rural Newfoundland, said, “I have found it very good, especially when we talked about practical issues. It helps us to see what things might be like on our arrival.”
Technology is always a challenge in online education, especially across various time zones and contexts. The learning circle takes place online for two weeks, Monday to Friday, for four hours each day. Those four hours start at 7am for one participant in Saskatchewan, which is 3pm for the participants from Zambia and Zimbabwe, and 6:30pm for the participants from India. Some participants have experienced network and power fluctuations during the sessions, but they are committed to being present for each other and they persevere in trying to reconnect.
As a group, the participants in the UCC Admissions Orientation learning circle bring a breadth and a depth of wisdom and experience. CCS is pleased to be able to help them bring their ministry gifts to the United Church of Canada.