I don’t know about you, but at our house we are preparing to begin binge watching the Olympic coverage starting this weekend. I am generally not a big sports fan, but there is something about seeing young people from so many parts of the world offer their peak performances after years of preparation that really captures me.
There are some United Church families with more personal connections to Canada’s Olympic team. No doubt Sharon Moyse (former Maritime Conference UCW president) and family in Summerside, PEI are very excited to see daughter Heather, a two-time gold medal Bobsleigh competitor, head into her fourth round of Olympic competition. And the Rev. Craig Donnelly and family in Lindsay, Ontario must be bursting with pride as their son Ben goes to Pyeongchang as the youngest member of Canada’s Long Track Speed Skating team.

I wonder if Ben Donnelly’s success is what has inspired Kim Heath, president-elect of Bay of Quinte Conference, to take speed skating lessons. Whatever her motivation, Kim shared in a meeting this week with the Conference Presidents, Presidents-elect, and Leading Elders what she has learned so far from those lessons. She said that in speed skating: 

  • You need strength at the core,
  • You must trust your edges;

 …and you can’t do the second one without the first one.
We got the message. Maybe there is something for the church to remember here too. The comment came during a conversation about the core place that faith must play in the life of our church. Michael Blair had spoken about the need to reach out into the broader community, and had given the example of the growth that the Church of England is experiencing in London after investing significant resources in the creation of new churches in new forms.
In this week’s meetings, there was genuine engagement in the conversations about the changes that have been approved by remit and will be going forward to the 43rd General Council for final approval. There were also frequent reminders that the structures and processes are only there to serve our greater purpose as God’s church.
There were many moments of inspiring insight in the two days with this group of hopeful and thoughtful United Church leaders from across the country. As Wednesday’s snowstorm hit and everyone headed for the airport, train station, or highways, I was left giving thanks that God continues to call the right people into leadership at the right times.
And now, just temporarily, we shift our attention to our sporting representatives, and the example they give of extensive preparation, maximum effort, and hope!


This message was originally sent to subscribers to the General Secretary's Letter, "Note from Nora." Subscribe here.