Friday, May 25, 2018
This week I’ve been downloading some rather large files to my most portable devices – which doesn’t sound all that revolutionary or exciting, except there is something of a first in there for me. For background, it’s been part of preparing for this weekend’s Annual Meeting of Hamilton Conference. A good piece of that prep is trying to wade through the many reports submitted for our collective reading and knowing, and up until the very recent past, many of those reports were available and/or read in paper form. I don’t want to guess how many forests were sacrificed in that process. I can say for certain that it is so very convenient to have them accessible online; and even more so to have them sitting on these smaller-than-my-purse devices. Believe it or not, that’s the first, and it’s a whole lot lighter than my laptop.
There is a small irony that this relatively new way of bringing reports to the Annual Meeting is happening at what will be the last Annual Meeting – at least in this iteration of this part of The United Church of Canada. This 93rd gathering of Hamilton Conference will be its final, trusting that the many proposed changes to our church structure will pass officially at the 43rd General Council, this July. With a sometimes involved and complicated but ultimately grassroots and very United Church process, there has been nationwide consultation with every congregation and Presbytery of our denomination, and from that there has been clear support by the majority for significant change to our governance. The most notable, for this weekend and beyond, is that Conferences and Presbyteries will cease to exist, and beginning in January 2019, we will have Regional Councils. Those are all the details I’ll lob at you for now.
There are plenty of sites and documents to read, online and in hand, if you’d like to learn more, but for the moment I will say this: in the words and the chosen theme of our Conference President, The Rev. Heather Leffler, we are in a time of ‘Changing Seasons’. We are moving through and responding to a cultural reality in which the plans from our 1925 beginning are struggling to thrive as they did once. We are still church, and we are still entrusted with this extraordinary message of God in Jesus – but we are likewise called to sift and sort through the best ways to be church in these ever-changing seasons. There is fear in the unknown of it all, but there is also great invitation, promise, and God’s abiding presence.
So I don’t mind asking for your prayers for me, for our Rosemary and Dyane, and all the delegates to Conference, but above all please pray for all of us together: for the work of the Conference as it is now, and the work that will continue, in a new and different way. Please pray for courage, release, joy, and hope; and for trust that God still has so much wonderful for us all.
With love to you all,
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1, NRSV)