This is one of a series of reflections about Courageous Risking, the 2018 gathering of DUCC (Diakonia of the United Church of Canada). 

It was an amazing few days of learning about forgiveness, colonization and economics with a social justice bent, and being inspired by filmmakers, survivors and change makers. Hearing amazing stories from amazing people about how we can, as the saying goes, be the change we want to see in the world. Wonderful, inspiring.

Then there were a couple of moments that I looked out and on the other side of the window was a guy. You probably know the guy: disheveled, boots too big, wearing a winter coat in spring weather. The kind of guy we might find at one of our outreach ministries or asking for change on the corner. A reminder that yes, it’s great to be inspired, and yes, that world is right out there, just on the other side of the window.

The visit to the archives at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was also an inspiration. We heard about people who had secrets they hadn’t told their husbands, wives, kids, parents or best friends, things that happened to them at the residential schools. People who told their stories, those stories, at the Truth and Reconciliation commission. People who decided they needed to have their voices heard, and told their stories, bearing witness about what happened to them, what happened to their people. Unspeakable horrors, spoken at last. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission turned those stories into calls for action on issues such as health, education, justice, child welfare, and yes, church apologies and reconciliation. The commission gave us a way to respond to the courage of those who shared their stories, to honour their courage. They give us a road map to follow, a way to turn their memories into action and another way to be the change we want to see in the world.

Finally, the evening of remembering deaconesses was both surprising and an inspiration. I didn’t know much of the history that these women lived through. I didn’t realize women had to leave their work as deaconesses when they got married, and for how long that went on. Didn’t realize they were called ‘cover girls’ for being on the front page of The Observer. Didn’t know all the obstacles they had to overcome, how they were treated by the church for so many years. Amazed at how recently some of it was still happening, but amazed at how quickly things have changed. Challenged to take what we learned and were inspired by at the conference and put that into action.

There were some geese outside the TRC archives, on the lawns and in front of a tipi. Yes, there were lots of DUCCs at the conference, but there were also some geese coming back to Winnipeg after a long winter. It felt like a hopeful sign.


Nancy Renwick is a member of Augustine United Church in Winnipeg.

More reflections on Courageous Risking at the DUCC conference.

Heartbeat of Healing
5 minutes to bust myths at 1JustCity
Courageous Risking at DUCC national gathering 2018