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The United Church’s New General Secretary

The Rev. Michael Blair
Becomes the General Secretary
of the United Church of Canada
on November 1, 2020

~ posted on the United Church of Canada’s website on August 28, 2020

The Rev. Michael Blair, incoming General Secretary, General Council for The United Church of Canada beginning November 1, 2020 ~ photo credit: Michael Blair

The United Church of Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Michael Blair as its new General Secretary beginning November 1, 2020. The role of General Secretary, General Council is a permanent position, providing leadership in the direction, management, and coordination of the affairs of the church working in close collaboration with the Moderator, who is elected every three years as the church’s spiritual leader and spokesperson.

The Rev. Blair is currently serving in the General Council Office, Toronto, as the Executive Minister, Church in Mission Unit, which maintains the relationships with overseas partners, develops faith formation resources for the church and initiates advocacy campaigns for the denomination. He has been in that role for eight years. Born in Jamaica, his faith journey began in the Anglican Church. He came to Canada as a young adult with his family, was ordained in the Convention Baptist Church, and in 2010 was admitted to the United Church’s order of ministry.

The Rev. Blair replaces Nora Sanders, who is retiring after almost 14 years as General Secretary. The Rev. Blair was appointed by the church’s General Council Executive during their online meeting August 27 after a search process that lasted 10 months. Sanders says, “I have worked with Michael for 12 years. I know his deep faith and sense of call to continue the life and work of the United Church in this time, with all its complexities. He is also well known in ecumenical circles and to many of our international partners, so he brings a broad horizon of expertise to the role.”

 

Providing Relief Support to Lebanon

Here’s How You Can Help

Our three denominations’ relief agencies are already working with their partners in Lebanon to determine how to best assist the people of Beirut after the deadly and devastating explosion on August 4th.  Until August 24th, the Canadian government will be matching donations up to five million dollars.

Photo: World Vision/Reuters

Each denomination has information about the efforts that are already underway and how individuals are able to contribute.

The Anglican Church of Canada

Archbishop Linda Nicholls asks the church to pray for the people of Lebanon and includes pictures of how the blast affected the Anglican Church in Beirut in this post.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is working with its regional partner, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and ACT Alliance.  PWRDF has issued a statement and ways to contribute to relief efforts.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

In this post about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s response, National Bishop Susan C. Johnson urges members to pray for all who have been affected by the recent devastation in Lebanon and to support relief efforts.

“We pray for all those impacted by the recent events in Lebanon,” says Bishop Johnson. “All those who have been injured, those who worry and wait for news of loved ones, for all who work to bring relief and aid. Supporting this appeal is a chance for us to show our love for our neighbour in a tangible way.”

Canadian Lutheran World Relief is responding to the devastation through its local partners in ACT Alliance who are on the ground in Lebanon, who are focused on life-saving immediate needs including shelter, food, clean water and trauma care.  More information can be found here.

The United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada has been in direct contact with Mission & Service partners in the region. They include the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and ACT Alliance.  The United Church has already been working with the latter group in Lebanon in providing assistance through its global COVID-19 appeal.  Find further information here.

Moderator Richard Bott shared this prayer for Beirut following the news of the explosion:

God –

Your servants in Lebanon are grieving, today,
the death of loved ones,
killed in the explosion which destroyed the port,
and was felt kilometers upon kilometers away.
I pray for those who have died,
their families and friends,
in all of their grief and loss;
I pray for those who are still waiting,
to hear about those who are missing,
in their anxiety and their grief;
I pray for the healing of those who live,
but whose bodies were damaged by the blast…
buildings and property can, and will, be rebuilt,
but healing the grief of loss
through death will take time,
and love.

And so I pray.

In your name and in your love.

Amen.

The Anglican Church of Canada Announces New General Secretary

The Ven. Alan Perry
Becomes the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada
on September 1, 2020

~ posted by General Synod Communications on July 25, 2020 to the Anglican Church of Canada’s website

The Ven. Alan Perry

On Saturday, July 25th the Council of General Synod confirmed the appointment of the Ven. Alan Perry as General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada as of September 1, 2020. Alan will succeed the Ven. Michael Thompson who finishes his ministry as General Secretary on August 31st.

We welcome Alan as the new General Secretary after eight years as Executive Archdeacon in the Diocese of Edmonton. Previously he served in several parishes in the Diocese of Montreal. Alan holds degrees in theology and a Masters degree in Canon Law. He has attended many General Synods since 1998 in a variety of capacities, including as an assessor, a member of Synod and member of the Resolutions Committee. He has been a member of the Council of General Synod and served on the General Synod Pension Committee since 2007. In the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada he served the Provincial Synod as a member, Clerical Secretary and as Prolocutor. In addition, he has observed and studied General Synods across the Anglican Communion. Alan has a passion for justice work and ecumenical relationships.

Alan brings strong administrative gifts to the oversight of the work of General Synod and a deep love for the Anglican Church. We welcome Alan to the staff of General Synod.

The Most Rev. Linda Nicholls
Primate & Chair, Council of General Synod

The Rev. Karen Egan
Prolocutor, General Synod

Emancipation Day

August 1, 1834
The Day Slavery Was Abolished in British North America

August 1, 1834 is the day the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect, ending slavery throughout most of the British Empire, including in the colonies that would become Canada.  There is a movement in Canada to have August 1st to be designated Emancipation Day every year.  Both the United Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have written letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of Majid Jowhari’s private member’s motion to do that.

More information about the Slavery Abolition Act and previous attempts by abolitionists can be found in the “Slavery Abolition Act, 1833” article in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

The recognition of August 1st as Emancipation Day provides opportunities to intentionally learn about discrimination and systemic racism and to take time to develop strategies to combat racism.  In a video of less than four minutes, Moderator Richard Bott, using lines of the United Church’s Creed as a focus, gives a message about becoming aware of the racism in our midst and undertaking the long and sometimes hard work that will be needed to become an anti-racist church.  The video is posted to the United Against Racism website.  That site and the Anti-racism webpage on the United Church of Canada’s website provide a wealth of ideas and information.

Coin marking the abolition of slavery in the British colonies on August 1, 1834. Credit: Leeds Museums and Galleries, Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Holy One,
In your image
You have created humankind,
in great diversity.
We give thanks for the
differences—

Holy One,
In your image
You have created humankind,
in great diversity.
We give thanks for the
differences—
of cultures and ethnicities,
of histories and life-stories,
of skin colour and language and
hearts that love the world.

We watch in horror as Power
desecrates Black and Brown bodies;
walks on their sacredness,
kills and subjugates,
in thousands of ways,
hidden and overt.
We must not stop at watching—
held back from right action by our horror
or seeming powerlessness.

Grant us hearts that listen and learn;
egos that are willing to accept
when our own racism is called out.

Grant us courage,
to disassemble the systems,
the stories, the mythos,
that privilege whiteness over all others.

Give us your Holy Spirit’s wind
to call out racism in all its forms—
inside our hearts,
inside the church,
and in your world,
give us the strength,
the wisdom and the will
to root out White Fragility,
and White Supremacy,
so that they would never again do harm,
never again take away,
never again kill.

Help us to be anti-racist,
in all that we say,
in all that we do,
in all that we are.
It is time. It is well past time.

God of all creation,
bless us all with what we need,
to march on.
To live this work of anti-racism.
Today.
Every day.
Always.

In Jesus’ name.
May it be.

—A prayer by the Right Rev. Richard Bott. Originally posted on Facebook and now found here.

United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

This international day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.  The theme for this year focuses on first responders to human trafficking and how their efforts need to be sustained and replicated.  These are the people who work in a variety sectors to identify, support, and counsel victims of trafficking, to seek justice for them, and to challenge the impunity of the traffickers.

Here are some links to learn more:

The Anglican Church of Canada

“Human Trafficking and Its First Responders” – an article published on July 29, 2020

This web page on human trafficking includes information about human trafficking globally and in Canada as well as describing the work the Anglican Church is doing with partners to end human trafficking.

The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), a partner of Anglican Church of Canada, released this statement.  In it, CAPA urged all to “look at the plight of people in our communities who have been reduced to merchandise.”  Within the explanation about human trafficking, this statistical information is included:  “According to the Global Slavery Index (2018) Regional Analysis of Africa, 62% of Africans are vulnerable to modern slavery and the estimated number of people living in modern slavery is about 9,240,000.”  Read about CAPA on the Anglican Church website or visit CAPA’s website to discover what our Anglican siblings are doing in Africa.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

This news posting on July 24, 2020 provides many links to additional resources including those from The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, KAIROS, Canadian Council of Churches, Canadian Council for Refugees, and the RCMP.

The ELCIC’s 2013 National Convention committed to addressing human trafficking with this resolution.

The United Church of Canada

One of the Minutes for Mission articles from 2019 highlights how Mission and Service Funds have supported the work of the United Church’s partner, Church of North India, in combatting human trafficking.

Government of Canada

National Strategy To Combat Human Trafficking 2019-2024

United Nations

This page on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime includes stories of people on the front line working to end human trafficking both in print and video.

“Committed to the Cause — Working on the Frontline to End Human Trafficking”, via United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

Faith organizations express concern about Israel’s planned annexation of occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank

ELCIC reports on a joint letter to the Government of Canada, an ecumenical statement, and a webinar

Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada and Canadian Lutheran World Relief write joint letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs opposing proposed annexation of Palestinian land

ELCIC and CLWR have long supported the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East through the realization of a viable and sustainable two-state solution.  This letter, dated June 15, 2020, provides background of their more than sixty-five years of work in the region, the context of international laws and agreements, and their request of action by the federal government.  The following is from the letter.

In light of the situation, we urge the Canadian Government to show leadership in:

    • Taking decisive action, including employing all available lawful countermeasures to uphold accountability, in order to halt further annexation and severance of Palestinian territorial integrity, and ensure rapid reversal of those measures announced or already implemented;
    • Rejecting the inequitable “Peace to Prosperity” plan for Israel and Palestine presented by the United States administration and urgently advance an alternative peace plan, based on human rights, international law, and realisation of self-determination for all peoples;
    • Working with the European Union and like-minded allies to take all diplomatic and political actions available to hold the government of Israel accountable for violations of international law, including annexation of any and all parts of the occupied Palestinian territories;
    • Protecting the human rights of Palestinians, including their right to self-determination, and to resist occupation and annexation; and
    • Review the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to insure that Palestinian producers have access to Canadian markets and that Canadian Trade Policy does not legitimate Israel’s tacit annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Read the entire letter here.

Annexation will undermine peace and justice ~

Ecumenical Statement on the Planned Annexation of Occupied Palestinian Territory

Faith based organizations, representing believers worldwide, issued an ecumenical statement on June 29, 2020 expressing their concern over the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank by the Government of Israel.  The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) joined with ACT Alliance, The World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Council of Churches in calling the international community to take immediate action to directly address the unilateral action.  The new threat of annexation entrenches and compounds the ongoing situation of occupation that has far too long undermined the rights and future of Palestinian people.  The statement includes the following:

Watch tower in the separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

We lift up the cries of all people of goodwill, of all those Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered in the conflict, and particularly the Palestinian people who suffer every day under the occupation regime and the unbearable situation of blockade in Gaza. We recognize that this present crisis has historical and complex roots, but it is also a result of unilateral actions, power imbalance, and the use of force and violence instead of dialogue and negotiation. Peace can never be unilaterally imposed or achieved by violent means.

The planned annexation of Palestinian territories by the Government of Israel would be a serious obstacle for the achievement of justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It will undermine even more the rights of Palestinians, reducing their mobility, their access to land and livelihoods, to adequate infrastructure and basic services. It will increase forced displacement, and it could prevent humanitarian organizations’ access in order to provide basic services and the necessary lifesaving interventions.

Read the full text of the Statement here.

On the World Council of Churches’ website, there is a post describing how various faith organizations and church leaders from around the world have expressed concern over the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank:  https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/church-leaders-across-the-globe-express-deep-concern-over-israeli-plan-to-annex-parts-of-west-bank-1
Searching “Palestine” in the Press Centre menu on the World Council of Churches’ website gives a list of other articles.

Webinar hosted by KAIROS Canada discusses human rights and women as well as peace and security in Palestine

Sign at entrance to Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

On July 9, 2020, Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS, hosted a discussion with Wi’am (The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre) located in Bethlehem, Palestine and members of the KAIROS Palestine-Israel Delegation who travelled to Palestine and Israel in November 2019.  Wi’am staff provided an update about their work and the current context including the impacts of COVID-19 and annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.  Members of the Palestine-Israel Delegation shared what they have undertaken to promote human rights and a just peace in Palestine and Israel as well providing stories from their 2019 trip.

The webinar features:

From Wi’am: Palestinian Centre for Conflict Transformation: 

  • Zoughbi Zoughbi, Director
  • Tarek Zoughbi, Project Officer and Youth Coordinator
  • Lucy Talgieh, Women’s program coordinator

From KAIROS delegation to Palestine and Israel: 

  • The Rev. Andreas Thiel, Rector of St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Windsor, Ontario
  • The Rev. Mary Helen Smith, The Presbyterian Church in Canada
  • Paul Hansen, Roman Catholic priest of the Redemptorist Congregation
  • The Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
  • Lori Ransom, Indigenous Ministries and Justice, United Church of Canada
  • Lana Robinson, Canadian Friends Service Committee of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • The Rev. Rosalyn Kantlaht’an Elm, Anglican Church Diocese of Huron
  • Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS
  • Wendy Gichuru, United Church of Canada

KAIROS’s Palestine-Israel delegation from November 2019 at the Wi’am Center with the separation wall behind them.
photo from KAIROS website

The delegation’s final report was published in February 2020.  It is available here.  The following is from the introduction:

The delegation aimed to strengthen collective, ecumenical and denominational policy and partnership work in Palestine and Israel, highlighting support for grassroots women’s organizations in peacebuilding and deepening the understanding of the impacts of conflict and occupation on women and girls.  Delegates met with partners in Palestine and Israel, learning about their work and context with a focus on women’s empowerment and women’s role in building sustainable peace.

During the ten days, delegates travelled to Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Jericho, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Nazareth, and Tiberias.  They met with women’s groups supported by Wi’am in four communities including Thabra, Beit Umar, Jericho, and Bethlehem, visited community development and infrastructure projects, and met with civil society organizations, Canadian government representatives, human rights groups and religious and community leaders both in Palestine and Israel.

Photos from outside the Wi’am Center,
which is located near the Separation Wall in Bethlehem, Palestine

Separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Graffiti on Separation Wall in Bethlehem – photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Wi’am Center playground in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Separation wall with graffiti, including the words “Rachel is weeping”, is seen beyond the Wi’am Center playground.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Fruit trees next to Wi’am Center’s playground.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Viewing the Wi’am Centre playground through the barbed wire fencing along the road next to the separation wall.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Separation wall and watch tower from entrance to Wi’am Center
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Graffiti on the separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

A Sense of the Extent of the Wall and Banksy’s Commentary in Art

The separation wall. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2020

Banksy’s Armoured Dove, Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Summer Services at the Church of St Paul

Outdoor Worship Planned for Alternate Weeks in Barriere
Weather Permitting

We are not able to gather in the church for regular Sunday worship services at this time.  However, we are offering outdoor worship on the church lawn on alternating Sundays through the remainder of the summer.  The services will take place at 11 a.m. on

July 19
August 2
August 16
August 30

Please bring your own lawn chair or blanket.

All are welcome!!

Services will not be held if the weather is inclement.  If it is overcast and rain seems imminent on a given Sunday, you are invited to call the church that morning – a message will be left on the answering machine greeting indicating whether or not the service will happen.  The church phone number is (250) 672-5653.

Come join us as we worship in the midst of God’s creation.

 

 

International Responses to COVID-19

Our Denominations and Their Partners
Provide Aid and Assistance

Community health educators demonstrate handwashing techniques at an agriculture cooperative in Cambodia as part of the response to COVID-19.
Credit: ACT Alliance/LWF

The following links provide information about the needs and work being done in various parts of the world.  We already will be helping a bit through our Joy Box contributions.  Those contributions are divided equally among the development and relief funds of our three denominations.  If you would like to do more, there are also directions on some of these webpages explaining how individuals may make donations.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief

As COVID-19 reaches every corner of the globe, ELCIC’s partner Canadian Lutheran World Relief and their global partners are responding to make sure some of the world’s most vulnerable are not forgotten during this crisis.

At this link, you can read about the work being done in Southeast Asia, Jordan, Ethiopia, Jerusalem, and refugee camps.  https://www.clwr.org/covid-19

Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada

This link provides a list of stories and information that have been published since April 2020.  When donating to a specific Mission and Service Fund appeal, 85% goes to that appeal and 15% goes to the Emergency Response Fund.  The Emergency Response Fund allows the Church to respond to new needs immediately without waiting for donations.  So by early April, the United Church had contributed $20,000 to the ACT Alliance’s Rapid Response Fund for its Global COVID-19 Appeal.  https://www.united-church.ca/social-action/act-now/covid-19-global-response

In this link, there is information about the work being done in Zimbabwe, The Philippines, and Palestine.  It also includes a link to the Moderator’s letter to global partners.  https://www.united-church.ca/news/covid-19-finding-tangible-ways-supporting-each-other

Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund

The Government of Canada provided the Primate’s World Development and Relief Fund with a $1.98 million grant to continue its work with the All Mothers and Children Count programme in Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burundi.  The funding will assist as the PWDRF’s partners work to ensure physical distancing, access to clean water, soap and disinfectant, acquisition of PPE, and the dissemination of reliable health information.  Read more here.

In April, the PWDRF announced that it would be allocating $200,000 to respond to COVID-19 around the world and in Canada.  This link provides more information:  https://pwrdf.org/pwrdf-directs-200000-to-covid-19/

Staff from the Diocese of Masasi in Tanzania are able to screen families for fever with newly acquired fast read thermometers. Photo from PWDRF’s website.

A Prayer in These Critical Times

Merciful God in this Holy week
when our world is in turmoil,
faced with an unseen foe
where thousands fall by the wayside
when there seems to be no end in sight
with mounting infection, more deaths, no cure.
Where can we turn to, but to you, our God
who had been our help in ages past,
our refuge, our comfort, and our strength?
And we hear you say:
“If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray,
seek my face and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven
forgive their sins and heal their land.”
We confess that we have taken so many things for granted:
in our human relationships
in the interaction of nations
in our relationship with the rest of creation.
We have not done what you required:
to do justice, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with you.
We implore your mercy and loving kindness;
turn your eyes once more toward us
that in your compassion
there may be healing
and restoration to wholeness.
There are those more unfortunate than us,
with no resources on their own.
May a cup of water given in Jesus’ name
and a bread broken to be shared,
become channels of your grace
to our neighbours
and to a world in dire need.
May your blessing and protection be with those
on the frontlines who have chosen to serve,
putting their lives at risk
so that others may live.
Restore us, O God, that we may be restored.
Heal us, that we may be healed from Covid-19 and its devastating effects.
In the name of Jesus, who by his wounds we are healed,
and who overcame death. Amen.

—Written by Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, a United Church Mission & Service partner. Bishop Marigza previously served as General Secretary of The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, with whom the United Church shares in mutual recognition of ministry. Bishop Marigza also served as a member of the United Church’s Partners Council.  https://www.united-church.ca/prayers/prayer-these-critical-times

A Prayer During Times of COVID

In this time of COVID-19, we pray:
When we aren’t sure, God,
help us be calm;
when information comes
from all sides, correct and not,
help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe,
and anxiety seems to be the order of the day,
slow us down, God;
help us to reach out with our hearts,
when we can’t touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected,
when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can,
knowing that “perfect love casts out all fear.”

For the doctors, we pray,
for the nurses, we pray,
for the technicians and the janitors and the
aides and the caregivers, we pray,
for the researchers and theorists,
the epidemiologists and investigators,
for those who are sick,
and those who are grieving, we pray,
for all who are affected,
all around the world…
we pray
for safety,
for health,
for wholeness.

May we feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked and house those without homes;
may we walk with those who feel they are alone,
and may we do all that we can to heal
the sick—
in spite of the epidemic,
in spite of the fear.

Help us, O God,
that we might help each other.

In the love of the Creator,
in the name of the Healer,
in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all,
we pray.

May it be so.

—A prayer during times of COVID-19 by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, originally posted on Facebook.  https://www.united-church.ca/prayers/prayer-during-times-covid-19

Outdoor Worship Service on July 5th

Church of St Paul Hosts an Outdoor Worship Service
Sunday, July 5th at 11:00 am
Weather Permitting

The Board of the Church of St Paul has decided that the congregation will offer an outdoor service on the church lawn at 11 am on Sunday July 5. This will provide an opportunity to gather together for some worship and conversation after a three month hiatus, something that many people have missed. The Board has extended an invitation to the congregation of Trinity Shared Ministry in Clearwater to join with the Church of St Paul for this service.

 

A few practical matters:

  • People are asked to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets.
  • Social distancing will be practiced.
  • Following the service, we will have a “picnic time”.  Everyone is invited to bring their own picnic lunch, including drinks, plates, cutlery, etc.  In this way we are able to break bread together while maintaining social distancing.
  • If the weather is inclement, the service will be canceled because there is no way for us to gather in the church hall while maintaining distancing.

If you haven’t already, come and meet our new Priest/Minister/Pastor!

This outdoor service is a week later than the usual Annual Parish Worship Service and Picnic, yet will provide a bit of the same flavour of that annual gathering.  This will also be an opportunity for many to meet the Rev. Bruce Chalmers who took up the position of priest/minister/pastor of our Parish on June 15th.