I am writing from midway through my sabbatical. It’s my first ever experience of a sabbatical, and a wonderful experience. It’s wonderful, but also slightly disorienting.
Right now I am sitting in the front room upstairs at our cottage, (my past and future home). There is a strong wind off the lake and a bit of fresh snow outside but inside all is peaceful. The dogs are stretched out on the floor next to me, sound asleep.
In his final year at seminary at The United Theological College in Montreal, Isaac Mundy worked on a special project that looked at the pastoral dimensions of social media and how it can be used for pastoral care.
Connecting to young adults is a problem for churches across the land. Brenda Timpson, minister at College Hill United Church in Belleville, Ontario, may have found the answer: invite them to a cooking class.
“Everybody has to eat,” says Timpson. “These classes have proven to be very successful in reaching an age group that is traditionally very difficult for churches to reach out to.”
Attendance at a Friday afternoon Muslim prayer service at the General Council Office (GCO) almost doubled last week, thanks to the presence of about two dozen GCO staff members and guests. They were there to show solidarity, following the mass shooting at the Centre Culture Islamique de Québec in late January.
Moderator Jordan Cantwell is halfway through her three-year term in office. She has a very ambitious plan for what she hopes to accomplish in her remaining 18 months in office, as she explains in this interview with Paul Russell.
Paul: 2016 was a busy period in the church’s life. How did you feel at the end of it?
Jordan: I was utterly exhausted at the end of last year. When the General Council Executive meeting at the end of November was done, I was done.
Somewhere in The United Church of Canada’s General Council Office (GCO) in Toronto lies a piece of the Berlin Wall.
That important piece of mortar is mentioned in two undated documents, both stating it was once shown in a display case near the reception desk. The Wall remnant was presented as a covenanting gift from the German-based Evangelical Church of the Union in 1992. While the chalice, paten, and pyx (goblet, plate, and container for consecrated bread) that were also presented as covenanting gifts are still on display, the Berlin Wall fragment is nowhere to be seen.
On the wet, West Coast of Canada, where I live and work, we have grown accustomed to the decline of the mainline church, particularly The United Church of Canada. We now whine very little about the unfair playing field of a consumer society, soccer on Sundays or undisciplined Christians.
The sod has settled over the grave of Christendom. The church and its leaders no longer carry the clout that existed when many current leaders were in their youth.
Congregations undoubtedly do amazing work. We have health services, food banks, children’s programming, leadership development, summer camps, long term care facilities, and programming to support every subsector of society with almost any challenge (not to mention supporting our communities with spiritual grounding, emotional support, and connection).