As published in the National Post.
The General Council of The United Church of Canada has been made aware of recent pieces of correspondence from the Rev. Lawrence Pushee related to the current conflict in the Middle East, and to the Toronto Conference action on ethical investment in Palestine and Israel.
The Rev. Pushee does not have the authority to speak on behalf of The United Church of Canada as a national body.
As a co-chair of one of its committees, Mr. Pushee is accountable to Toronto Conference, a regional body of The United Church of Canada. Concerns regarding Mr. Pushee's correspondence are being forwarded to the Executive of that Conference, through its Executive Secretary, the Rev. David Allen.
Within the denomination there are widely varying views on the subject he addresses. At the national level, no policy on divestment exists. A Proposal related to the matter is presently making its way for consideration and decision by the General Council at its meeting 13 August to 19 August 2006 in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
The General Council deeply regrets the tone of Rev. Pushee's remarks and the hurt they have caused. It is working with Toronto Conference to ensure that no further correspondence of this nature takes place.
This has been a regrettable moment in the life of our church. We are an institution that embraces vigorous differences and debate; we see both as part of our commitment to discerning Gospel values and to determining faithful action. Part of that commitment of our church is to respectful engagement rather than disparaging comment. I am very aware the present controversy is having profoundly negative consequences beyond the church as well as inside it. I assure you that we are doing everything we can to move the matter to a better place.
Rev. Dr. Jim Sinclair
General Secretary, General Council
The United Church of Canada