The United Church of Canada's 39th Moderator was the Rev. David Giuliano of Marathon, Ontario.
Speaking to United Church commissioners prior to being elected Moderator by the 39th General Council, David Giuliano began with the words, "What I want to say to you is this: Don't be afraid."
He said, "I am convinced that fear is ultimately what stands between us and hearing and doing God's dream for us at this time."
Giuliano said churches make many decisions and avoid many actions out of fear. "We are afraid about money, about numbers, about appearing foolish or being inefficient, about the chaos that necessarily precedes creativity, and about the losses that change demands."
"Fear diminishes our witness to Christ in a world shaped by fear," said Giuliano. "We need to find the courage and heart to witness to a perfect love that casts out all fear, to proclaim and live a way of abundance, not scarcity, where angels always come shaped like strangers, and where life, not death, has the final word."
He added that whenever the words "be not afraid" are whispered in our midst, they mean "God is getting ready to do something new and is inviting us to be part of that."
Giuliano was born May 16, 1960, and was ordained in 1987 by London Conference. Until he was elected Moderator in August 2006, Giuliano served St. John's Pastoral Charge in Marathon, where he had been settled in 1987.
When asked to describe himself, Giuliano replies, "I am a descendant of deeply faithful Southern Ontario Quakers, born-again Baptists, and Italian-American immigrant Catholics. I am a child of The United Church of Canada. I am a father, husband, friend, and pastor. I am a creative spirit, a sensitive man who has always wept more easily than I would like. Then, I laugh easily too. I am deeply connected to the earth, the sky, and the water in a particular place on the north shore of Lake Superior. I am tainted down to my DNA with a Godly dream for creation that will not let me go. Above all, I am a disciple of the Way of the Christ."
In Marathon, Giuliano was active in community development. He was the founding chairperson of several groups: a regional Restorative Justice Program; the Community Collective, a food bank/thrift store co-operative; the School Community Council; and the Four Colours Anti-Racism Committee. He was co-chair of the municipal Community Development Committee and chair of the Marathon Sick Children's Fund.
Earlier in life, he worked for the University of Guelph as the human rights commissioner, a conference co-ordinator, and as a residence manager. In 1980, he and his wife, Pearl, spent four months volunteering at a vocational school and making friends in Cap Haïtien, Haiti.
Giuliano describes himself as a continuous learner. His degrees include Bachelor of Arts, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Master of Science in Adult and Experiential Learning. He has completed a year of Clinical Pastoral Education, Ministry of Supervision training, and a certificate in Spiritual Direction. In 2006, Giuliano completed a certificate in Expressive Arts from Fleming College in Haliburton, Ontario. Presently, he is a member of a Peer Learning Group through Columbia Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. He was recently honoured with a Doctor of Divinity from Huntington University in Sudbury, Ontario.
He has also taught with the Ontario Jubilee Program for Spiritual Direction and led courses on biblical spirituality and on the gospel for the In-Community Program for Ordination.
Giuliano has given testimony to the hope that is in him as a Conference theme speaker and as a Celebration of Ministries preacher. He has also been a presenter at the Ocean Park Maine Chautauqua, at Epiphany Explorations, and at the Biidaaban Healing Lodge in Pic River First Nation, among others.
He has served the United Church in a variety of roles, including chairing Ministry Personnel and Education at presbytery, working with the Conference Communication, Education and Justice Committee, and helping with presbytery youth. He has offered theological reflection in several courts of the church, and has also been on the General Council Executive, its Sub-Executive, the Executive of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, and the Christian Outreach and Social Action Committee of Cambrian Presbytery.
More than 50 pieces of Giuliano's writing and poetry have appeared in publications including The United Church Observer, PMC: the Practice of Ministry in Canada, Clergy Journal, Exchange, Gathering, and Presence. For five years he wrote a column in the Marathon Mercury. Giuliano enjoys Nordic skiing, kayaking, biking, and running the bush trails along Lake Superior.
Pearl and David have been together since he was 15, when they met at their United Church youth group in Windsor, Ontario. They have two children, Jeremiah (20) and Naomi (18).
Giuliano offers the church his gifts, weaknesses, and limitations. "I ask only that you trust that when I make mistakes, that I do it with the best of my heart," he said after being elected Moderator.
The United Church is at a point in its history, says Giuliano, "that we may be undergoing some fairly significant transformation in response to the recognition that who we have been is not who God is calling us to be now, or at least not all of that."
He adds, "We should really celebrate and enjoy who we are as followers of Christ, and live that out in very big ways. We should not be afraid to really be who we are completely, to live our values and to expect people of other faith groups to do the same."