An Affection for Diversity

A summary of the November 2018 Governing Board meeting of the Canadian Council of Churches

“Canada’s churches have a major role to play in fostering dialogue and understanding among people of faith across the country.” That was one of the key messages that emerged as delegates from Canada’s major Christian faith communities gathered in Crieff, Ontario from November 21st to 23rd for a meeting of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) Governing Board.

“We covered an awful lot of ground in a very short time,” says Peter Noteboom, the CCC’s General Secretary. “The delegates were very focused on addressing the key issues facing Canada’s churches and how the Council can step up to assist them in meeting these needs.”

Over the three days of sessions, delegates debated and approved the 2019 budgets for both the Council and its operating division; Project Ploughshares. They also approved the Council’s new logo to mark it’s 75th anniversary and a new tagline (Christ / Community / Compassion) which will be used as part of its updated visual identity. After discussion and debate, delegates also approved a new mission statement for the CCC – The Canadian Council of Churches responds to Christ’s call for unity and peace, seeks Christ’s truth with affection for diversity, and acts in love through prayer, dialogue and witness to the gospel.

From a theological perspective, delegates also discussed best practices in continued dialogue between Canada’s Christian and Jewish communities, as well as reviewing the potential promises and threats of new technologies, including synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.  They also heard reports from each of the Council’s committees, updating them on the progress of the CCC’s work to promote faith and witness, justice and peace, faith and life sciences, and nuclear disarmament.

Above all, the delegates took part in prayer, both for each other and for the work of our churches across Canada. Inspiring presentations were heard from the World Council of Churches, which marks its 70th anniversary in 2019 and the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, now celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Chaplain-General of Canada’s Armed Forces, Major-General Guy Chapdelaine, offered a glimpse into the challenging world of Royal Canadian Chaplain Service and urged delegates to spread the word about the need for chaplains to serve the spiritual needs of Canada’s military.

“We spent a lot of time lifting each other up in prayer as we sought guidance for the issues we were confronting at the meeting,” says Rev. Stephen Kendall, the Council’s president. “Governing Board meetings are always time for spiritual reflection and I am always encouraged by the devotion of our delegates to the Christian principles of respect, accepting one another, and diversity as we seek to speak with one voice on important issues.”

This semi-annual Governing Board meeting was held at the Crieff Hills Retreat and Conference Centre, where delegates enjoyed the hospitality of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, which has owned the property for almost 70 years. Board members will gather together again in May 2019 in Ottawa for further dialogue and shared action through the Council.

*on the photo above: members of the Governing Board of the Canadian Council of Churches gathered in Crieff, Ontario for their semi-annual meeting.