Commissioners at a special electronic meeting of the 42nd General Council set the stage for a new church structure.
Commissioners at a special electronic meeting of the 42nd General Council (GC42) on September 30 gave strong endorsement to four motions that will prepare the church for the transition to a more streamlined structure (if changes approved at GC42 in 2015 and endorsed by Conferences and presbyteries by remit are approved by the 43rd General Council in 2018).
One of the approved motions (GCE 14) established a Boundaries Commission and named nine people as its members. This body will consult broadly across the church before determining the number and boundaries of the regions that are set to replace Conferences and presbyteries (if the final approval for remit 1, Three Council Model, is given at GC43).
“The remit results from pastoral charges and presbyteries show the church is ready for change," said Beverly Kostichuk, chair of the Governance & Agenda committee, when introducing the proposal.
The Boundaries Commission’s members, profiled in the Report of the Nominations Committee, began their work with a conference call the day after the meeting. Members are to issue an interim report not later than January 10, 2018. After receiving and considering the responses, they will issue a final report by March 15, 2018.
The commissioners also approved a motion (GCE 13) authorizing the Nominating Committee of the 42nd General Council Executive to serve as the Nominating Committee for the 43rd General Council. Its members will recommend 15 members to serve along with the Moderator, the past Moderator, and the General Secretary as the Executive of the General Council from January 1, 2019, until the next Executive is installed by the 44th General Council. Except for the current Moderator (who will become past Moderator), the term of the current Executive will be extended to December 31, 2018, to enable appropriate transitional arrangements to be put in place.
Commissioners revised the original motion to add the past Moderator to the Executive. They also clarified the criteria for new Executive members by noting they must “reflect the diversity of an intercultural church, lay/ministry personnel, geography, as well as the need to ensure that competencies in theology, governance, finance, and vision are present within the group of those recommended.”
Another motion (GCE 12) established January 1, 2019, as the effective date of Comprehensive Renewal implementation with respect to the changes contemplated by the approved remits, subject to enactment by the 43rd General Council and recognizing that some transitional steps may take place before or after that date.
The meeting closed with General Secretary Nora Sanders giving an update on Remit Implementation. Supported by former Toronto Conference Executive Secretary David Allen, a Remit Implementation Task Group has been meeting monthly to plan for the changes needed to implement the changes if/when the final stage of approval is given at GC43 next July. Anyone in the church who has questions or comments about the implementation process is invited to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A parallel process is underway within the Indigenous membership of the United Church. Under the leadership of the Caretakers, a report has been developed that will offer principles to guide the work of the Indigenous church and its relationship with the broader church.