An Interview with Peter Noteboom, General Secretary

The Canadian Council of Churches is pleased to announce that Mr. Peter Noteboom has been appointed by the Governing Board to a 5-year term as General Secretary beginning on 1 June 2018.

Past President The Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan interviewed the General Secretary, Peter NoteboomOn Thursday, May 24, 2018, Past President The Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan interviewed the General Secretary on his new role.

Alyson Barnett-Cowan: Congratulations on your new position. What do you find most exciting about it?

Peter Noteboom: Working with the CCC staff. The people I work with day-to-day in the office are professionals who offer a variety of gifts and share a passion for ecumenism. I feel a wonderful team spirit among our staff.

A B-C: What are you looking forward to the most in terms of relationships with the member churches?

PN: I’ve always been interested in the different theological, historical, and spiritual traditions that shape and nourish people. I look forward to learning more, and from a slightly different perspective, about the various approaches, languages, and processes of our member churches, and how they complement one another and enrich the diversity of the Council.

A B-C: What would you say are the top emerging issues and directions for the Council?

PN: Internally, we need to strengthen connections across the various tables of dialogue and common action, increase synergy, and cultivate a shared identity. Several bodies of the Council have expressed a desire to deepen theological reflection at their tables, in conversation among their members and with other bodies of the CCC. I look forward to facilitating this.

Externally, I hope to reconnect the ecumenical movement in Canada more intentionally with international ecumenical bodies and initiatives. Our focus will remain on Canada, but I believe that a more robust connection with the worldwide ecumenical movement, and especially with the new churches joining it, would enrich the life of the Council.

A B-C: What is on the table for the Commissions of the Council at the moment?

PN: The Commission on Justice and Peace is focusing on poverty, peace and living into the Council’s expression of reconciliation with Indigenous People for the coming three years. These are long-standing areas of interest and priorities for CJP, but the Commission is engaging them in new ways. The Commission on Faith and Witness has a very interesting focus for their work over the next three years. They will reflect theologically on what it means to be a human person and will pay particular attention to questions of mental health and mental illness.

During interview with General SecretaryA B-C: In your view, what is the profile of the CCC in Canada?

PN: I would say the profile of the CCC is limited. The challenge we’re experiencing is that we have a very small staff, and many dedicated people participating in the various bodies of the Council, but we don’t have very good channels for communicating our shared work and identity, and for connecting it with the day-to-day life of member churches and Canadian society.

A B-C: And what will you do about this?

PN: I believe that building personal relationships and connections, listening to and learning from one another, is a crucial step. I don’t think that we will raise our profile simply by amplifying our voice, by speaking “louder” or adopting a new communications platform. Rather, we need to deepen and nurture the relationships we already have with representatives from our member churches and then with the Canadian public cultivate new relationships and go from there.

A B-C: What are you dreading the most about this position?

PN: You know, when folks congratulate me on the new position, I feel daunted by a humbling sense of responsibility because of the confidence that our members have placed in me. I feel very comfortable with the operations of the CCC, with our day-to-day work. But I am always aware of possible outside events and challenges – for example, global or Canadian tragic events, or natural disasters – that might call on the leadership of the Council in new, unexpected ways. I am learning to trust that we will be prepared to respond when those occur together.

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