During General Council 43, various people will be reporting on what’s happening, sharing moments and offering their reflections. Deborah Laforet and Marlene Britton-Walfall found connection at GC43.
General Council is a place to reconnect. As someone who was a candidate in one conference, a student in another, settled into a third, and am now in a fourth conference, General Council becomes a place where I can connect with people across those conference and across provinces.
Today, at GC43 in Oshawa, I was pleased to connect with four women in ministry that were a part of Twin Valleys Presbytery in Saskatchewan Conference at the same time, which I think happened in 2006 and 2007. Three of us have moved on to different conferences. I am grateful for their friendship and was happy be in the same place at the same time once again.
Deborah Laforet is a diaconal minister at St. Paul’s United, Oakville.
Nous ne sommes pas seuls. We are not alone. Ubuntu. All my relations.
The showers which dominated the morning’s weather had no power to dampen the energy and spirit of the General Council’s gathering. Some braved the showers to attend the sunrise ceremony, others to participate in the Alvin Memorial Walk. All were present for the opening ceremony, and what a communion it was, with all my relations!
Greetings, prayers, scripture readings and the blessing were offered in the languages of the First Nations peoples on whose land we were worshipping, in English and in French. We were given a challenging sermon by Rev. Miriam Spies, speaking on Mark’s account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, expertly weaving the theme, “Send Them Away…No You Feed Them” all through a powerful message. Having communion with all my relations was a wonderful way to seal the morning.
The afternoon was marked by robust discussion on business matters of great import, (including the vote to enact the remits) followed by an introduction to the nominees for Moderator. This session closed with an interactive worship session which introduced the term, “Ubuntu” – I am because you/we are. A time acknowledging that change is coming, but we can do it together. Ubuntu. All my relations.
The day was capped by a presentation from Michael Redhead Champagne. He talked about what gives him hope, even as he works with the Aboriginal Youth Organization (AYO) and Meet Me @ The Bell Tower, programs that aim to work in community with First Nations Youth. His presentation was followed by the Panel Discussion, which focussed on what is the way forward for right relations. The hope recognized and expressed, that the United Church will continue to advocate and work towards making reconciliation a reality for all my relations.