Ballot for Moderator of 2018 General Assembly

2018 General Assembly Moderator nominees

Ballots will be sent to presbyteries this month for members of presbytery to vote. The Committee to Advise the Moderator will count the ballots on April 3, 2018. The 2018 General Assembly will convene Sunday evening, June 3, 2018, in Waterloo, Ontario.

Stephen Kendall, Principal Clerk
General Assembly Office

Ballot box

The Rev. Daniel Cho, B.A., M.Div.

Minister, Rexdale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario

The Rev. Daniel Cho

The Rev. Daniel Cho, B.A., M.Div.
Daniel Cho grew up in Toronto after his family emigrated from South Korea in 1968. They attended the first Korean Presbyterian congregation in Canada that gathered at Knox Church, Spadina. Being a second-generation Korean-Canadian provides him a unique lens through which to experience the connection between faith-culture-generation. Having grown up in the church he was nonetheless dumbfounded when he sensed a call to the ministry.

After studying in the United States (Tulsa, Oklahoma and Chicago, Illinois) Daniel returned to attend Knox College and served as youth pastor. For the past 30 years he has been advocating for fostering the rich diversity of our church. Daniel is currently the minister of Rexdale Church, a multi-ethnic congregation, and moderator of the Presbytery of West Toronto. He is also a certified pastoral counsellor and certified mediator.

Daniel has served at all levels of the church as convener of the Life and Mission Agency Committee, presbytery moderator, committee chair, and convener of a synod special commission adjudicating the first case of alleged racial discrimination. He has represented the church on trips to Japan and China. Currently he is on the Board of Governors of Knox College and Justice Ministries Advisory Committee. He appears in the DVD church resource, Gifts of God: The Sacraments, jointly developed by The Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Daniel will be a main preacher at Canada Youth 2018.

Daniel is blessed to have known the spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, as a personal mentor. He has been profoundly shaped and impacted by Henri’s teachings which he shares with others. Daniel has written on spirituality in a book chapter and for the Henri Nouwen Society. He also wrote on the intercultural church in the Presbyterian Record and has led seminars on this subject.

Additional study includes psychology and family therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University and Princeton Theological Seminary, and postgraduate work at the intersection of constitutional law, religion and democracy at University of Toronto Faculty of Law, University of London and Harvard. Daniel has served on a community safety panel with the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit, and since 2002 he has an advisory role working closely with senior government officials with the Correctional Service of Canada.

Daniel enjoys running and martial arts training. His wife, Esther, works in the healthcare field and they have three adult children – twin daughters and a son. He is an avid Star Trek fan and lover of sweets.

Please provide some background on your involvement in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

For the past 14 years I’ve had the pleasure of ministering among the wonderful people of Rexdale Presbyterian Church who come from a rich diversity of backgrounds. Beginning in my seminary days I served for the next 10 years as youth and young adult pastor. Currently, I am Moderator of the Presbytery of West Toronto. On the presbytery level I have chaired and/or served on committees in the areas of multicultural & multigenerational ministry, congregational life, mission, and ministry. I have been involved in both two-party and group mediations in dealing with congregational disputes. On the national level I was Convenor of the Life and Mission Agency Committee. In this capacity I was involved with all departments and participated on Assembly Council. Also as Convenor I have represented the Church on overseas trips to China in the English teaching program, and Japan meeting with denominational partners including those in the Korean Christian Church in Japan. For several years I served on the Committee on Education & Reception, the Dr. E. H. Johnson Memorial Fund Committee, Canadian Ministries Advisory Committee, Synod Grants Committee and a national visioning committee. I have been on search committees for executive staff, General Secretaries, PWS&D Executive Director and Knox College Principal. I was Chair of the Design Team for the Body, Soul and Mind resource made up of representatives from the Committee on Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries. I’ve also led a pre-Assembly workshop on the intercultural church and participated as a panelist on mental health and the church at Knox College.

My current involvements include member of the Knox College Board of Governors (vice chair 2016-2017), Justice Ministries Advisory Committee and the Continuing Education Grants Committee. I’m also excited to be joining Canada Youth 2018 in July as one of two main preachers.

What are your earliest memories of church?

I got into a fisticuffs with another boy when I was 6-years-old! I don’t remember how it started (it was probably because of me) but I do remember how it ended. Another parent broke us up and ordered us to stop fighting. To that, I proudly retorted, “But I’m 6 years old!” as if to make the case that my “ripe” age qualified me to fight. My adversary quickly countered, “Well I’m 6-and-a-half!” For a moment we looked at each other, and to our juvenile minds his answer somehow signaled that he had prevailed in argument! So I turned the other cheek and acquiesced defeat. Today my opponent is a lawyer, and I…well, you know the rest. He was best man at my wedding and we’ve been friends now for nearly half a century!

Another less violent memory I have is walking up to the church with my family one Sunday morning. This sticks out in my mind because I remembered feeling strangely calm and happy in that moment because I knew that being with fellow Koreans back then gave my parents some peace amidst the stress and hardship in those early days as new immigrants who felt like outsiders. Even as a young child it warmed me to know that at least for one day my parents could feel happy and a sense of belonging. (I sure hope these two incidents didn’t happen on the same day!)

What three verses of scripture do you return to over and over and find especially formative?

Isaiah 30:15 (Tanakh version) – For thus said my Lord God, The Holy One of Israel, “You shall triumph by stillness and quiet; Your victory shall come about Through calm and confidence.”

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes

What are your favourite hymns?

Be Thou My Vision, God of Grace and God of Glory, My Jesus I Love Thee (I particularly like the contemporary rendition by the sibling trio, 2nd Chapter of Acts). Also I have to give a plug for my one of my all-time favourite songs which was considered the “anthem of the 80s” in the Christian contemporary music world: We Will Stand, by Russ Taff. It’s a clarion call for Christians to unite as one body and leave divisiveness behind.

What book(s) do you wish everyone in the PCC had or were reading?

I recommend anything from Henri Nouwen but especially three in particular: The Return of the Prodigal Son, Life of the Beloved, and Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. They all speak to living the Christian life in its most authentically vulnerable and spiritually courageous form; also, The Idea of the Holy, by Rudolf Otto; and The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm.

What are you reading for pleasure these days?

Hopeful Imagination: Prophetic Voices in Exile, by Walter Brueggemann, Encountering God, by Diana Eck, Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons From Jazz, by Frank J. Barrett.

What is your image of the church at its best?

When I was a student in Tulsa I attended a church service where the minister held up a large picture of the face of Jesus. But as he explained, the closer you approached the picture the better you could see that his face was made up of hundreds of smaller faces of ordinary people from every background. I was mesmerized by the collage of the different shapes, sizes and colours of faces weaved together to express Christ. The theological takeaway was that we are all ingrained in the person and life of Jesus and that everyone is affirmed and acknowledged. Each person’s faith is reflected in the life of the church, and the church bears the face of us all. This is the unity of the Gospel message. It also illustrates the deeply personal relationship with God because of the focus on being visible—Jesus truly sees us in the same way he saw the Samaritan woman at the well, the leper and the rich man, that is, beyond status, labels and prejudices. The wounded traveller saw in the face of the Good Samaritan not a cultural enemy but a compassionate friend. Ananias saw the face of Paul not as a destroyer of the church but a Christian brother. When we heed the call to embrace one another truly as sisters and brothers despite those things that (should) separate us then we will begin to understand gospel love.

Who are some of your models in ministry? Why and how did one of these people form your understanding of life and faith?

I had the rare privilege of meeting the late spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, and being mentored by him before his passing. I was already very familiar with him through his many books. I reached out to him 23 years ago after a particularly difficult period; he warmly welcomed me and graciously gave of his time and counsel. My ministry and faith understanding have been profoundly impacted by his insights on vulnerability, our sense of brokenness, and being inspired to live our belovedness authentically as Jesus himself did. Henri himself never shied away from accepting his own weaknesses and vulnerabilities as he chronicles in his books, and in this way he was a true model of genuine and courageous faithfulness in our calling to love.

I should add that another important role model is my martial arts teacher, Master In Shik Hwang. He is the quintessential wise man and a deeply committed Christian whose unique insights on life and spirituality have helped shape me over the years.

What would you say are the most important features of faithful discipleship?

I love this quote by Richard Rohr: We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of “belonging and believing” instead of a religion of transformation.

Discipleship is walking the path that Christ walked and not simply believing things. Seeing Jesus as “the way” isn’t merely about the end result. It’s also our journey itself which testifies to the truth of our faith—the manner of our travel, our habits, practice, and values all reflect our faith commitment. This speaks to our distinctively Christian witness of love, mercy and kindness. So as disciples we should strive to cultivate the very heart of Jesus and by doing so we will see one another as God sees us and minister in that spirit. This is the transformative message of the Beatitudes.

What would you say is the core calling of the Church today?

The core calling of the Church is to live as community the two-part commandment of Jesus: to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbour as yourself. The Church is the place where we learn how to become disciples to love, serve, care, give hope, show mercy, act justly in the name of Christ. These commandments remind us that as important as it is that we do Christian deeds, it is equally as important to be and become the people of God so that what we do is an extension and expression of who we are. Otherwise our practices and discipleship efforts are merely ritualistic. We are called to constantly embrace that first love of God and let that love remind us of our beloved identity as we act as change-agents in the world.

What area of public life do you believe the PCC should be more involved in than it currently is?

I can say that our Church engages very well with a broad spectrum of public issues like reconciliation with First Nations peoples, assisted dying, climate change, and so on. And I hope that we will continue to be so engaged in the public sphere. In recent years there has been growing concern regarding the relationship between Church and State and the way matters of faith relate generally with the legal and political system especially in today’s and multicultural and multi-faith society. This is an area we would be wise to give more attention to; not only in terms of what our particular position might be on a variety of issues but more importantly how we should arrive at those conclusions in a discerning manner. It is seldom helpful to react in a knee-jerk fashion as is often the case. The Church can provide a forum for discussion on these important concerns.

Understanding that congregations is a key place where the continuing ministry of Christ is dynamically and dramatically lived out, could you say a bit about what are, in your understanding, the most important features of faithful congregational ministry?

The first thing I would say is that the potential for the local congregation is to be a glimpse of the Kingdom of God where the Beatitudes can be a lived reality. It is a place where the Triune God can be experienced and reflected in the community of believers who practice love, generosity and service. When people “come to church” they are entering an experience where people are seen by their heart and not their outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7).

Second, in congregational ministry attention should be drawn to the need for less of “me” and more of “us.” Sometimes church can be an avenue for individual pride and self-assertion whether it’s in how devoted one is in worship, how well one may pray, how strong a leader one is or how much service one gives. Faithful ministry reminds us that it acts as a glue to unite and support all of us together. That is where our collective spiritual strength comes from.

Third, the local church can sow a culture that spurs people on to love because of the knowledge of what God has first done for us in Jesus. The more people exercise faith, the better we enable the church to bless others whether it’s through local or global service, spiritual worship, hospitality, Christian education or stewardship. All of these programs engage people in the ministry of Christ and are an extension of people’s desire to act on God’s behalf.

One of the objectives of the PCC’s Strategic Plan is “Visionary Leadership.” What is visionary leadership to you?

This quote by Peter Drucker is a core principle for me: “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths so strong that it makes the system’s weaknesses irrelevant.” It highlights the collective approach to leadership and always envisions the whole rather than a single person.

Combine this with a Christian outlook then, visionary leadership is a humble focus on Christ and his vision for us as the Church to fulfill our mission in the world. By affirming strengths it fosters a spiritual culture of being/relating/serving/giving/building that inspires people to join in that vision. And it calls on people to bring the best of themselves to the service of leadership so that the best future can be discerned for the whole body to the glory of God. Visionary leadership leads to trust in one another on the journey and fervent hope in God.

One of the goals of the Strategic Plan is to pursue spiritual renewal and faith formation as the basis for transformation within congregations. What does pursuing spiritual renewal look like for you personally and what could it look like for the denomination corporately?

I have always regarded spiritual renewal as a constant cultivating of one’s capacity for love and faith commitment. The ministry of Jesus is all about the challenge to enlarge this capacity to the point where it doesn’t seem to make sense, for instance loving one’s enemy, unlimited forgiveness, “judging” oneself before judging others, so on. But this is the path that we are called to walk nonetheless. This kind of faith is transformative faith and its implications for our relationship with others and how we are to live in this world are exciting and profound.

The Church—both local and national—is the body in and through which we can cultivate the spiritual life. That is what all our activities set out to do—everything from worship and prayer to acts of stewardship and mission. When these are done faithfully and consistently it moulds our minds and spirits into that of Christ, allows us to touch people’s lives in the name of Christ and empowers us to fulfill his great commandments.

What do you see as the role of the Moderator during the time we are discerning the mind of Christ regarding sexuality and the church?

The role of the Moderator essentially is to guide order, encourage an open and safe space for all members of the Church, and ensure sober, reflective dialogue. There is passion around this issue of sexuality and so it is the Moderator’s responsibility to maintain a climate that is respectful and a process that is orderly. We are one body of spiritual discernment grappling with a difficult issue. We would do well to keep this in mind so that the debate is not framed in categories of “us” and “them” as is often tempting to do. It will be important for the Moderator to constantly represent the value of Christian unity and resolution for our Church throughout this period of discernment.

Who are some of your most treasured Christian thinkers and writers?

Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Martin Luther King, Jr.

What should the Church make more time for?

We need to involve the younger generation more. Their faith is passionate and their commitment is serious. They have much to offer as fellow church members who participate in the life of the congregation. Their opinions about the Church and for the Church should matter and we can benefit from the kind of keen insight and particular wisdom they’re able to bring. More time and opportunity should be given for their voices. We can be creative in how we can provide this forum at all levels of the Church.

Where do you see signs of hope for the world and the Church?

I see three signs:

  1. I am encouraged when people “bridge the divide” and connect on a genuine human level and “love one another” despite our faults, wounds and prejudices. This isn’t always easy but it’s what Christians are called to do to foster Kingdom values. There’s a saying along the lines of: “It’s easy to love the whole world; it’s my next-door neighbour I can’t stand!” Somehow I think Jesus knew how tough dealing with people can be. And yet our challenge is to always look into the face of our neighbours both near and far and behold them with the heart of God. This is the motive for all our mission.
  2. I am encouraged when people are faithful to the call of God in their personal lives not for any reward or benefit. They are just compelled to follow Jesus’ commandment of love and service. It’s as simple as that, and it can change the world.
  3. I am encouraged by the youth. In an increasingly complex world that demands their time and attention in so many directions young women and men have chosen the path of Christ. They are our future and the Church would be wise to harness their passion, ideas and vision as we all seek to learn from each other in these challenging times.

With these signs we as the people of God can have hope for tomorrow.

The Rev. Peter S. Han, B.A. (Hons), M.Div.

Minister, Vaughan Community Church, Thornhill, Ontario

The Rev. Peter S. Han
The Rev. Peter S. Han, B.A. (Hons), M.Div.
Peter Han has served for 30 years as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada at North Park Presbyterian Church, Toronto (1987-89) and Vaughan Community Church, Thornhill (1989-Present). He is deeply passionate to equip congregations to envision an influential and practical faith in their mission to share the Gospel in creative ways.

At Vaughan Community Church, Peter implemented a church-wide cell group system that meets weekly to study scripture, pray together and care for one another. With 650 adult participants, this has become the foundation of the church and has transformed its culture. It has also equipped the church to be a missional congregation who cares for the homeless community in the GTA, the education of youth in Marbial, Haiti, and community development in Lomas, Bolivia.

Peter served the broader church as moderator of the Presbytery of Eastern Han-Ca, as a member of the Church Doctrine Committee, the Committee on Education and Reception, the Committee to Advise with the Moderator, the Knox Board of Governors and a founding member of the Asian Centre at Knox College. He has been a writer of ‘The Present Word’, an adult group Bible study curriculum published by the PCUSA (Korean Edition, 1998-2014) and wrote ‘Gospel of John’, ‘Nehemiah: Biblical Leadership’, ‘Revelation’, and ‘Romans’.

Peter is committed to raising up Christian leaders, mentoring and supporting pastors through personal relationships, internships and conferences. He chaired the board of the Near East Asian Education Foundation in Canada for nine years, which helped establish the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Both Christian-mission universities play a significant role in fostering Christian leaders in their respective countries.

Peter is an advocate for justice. He led a coalition representing Chinese, Filipino, Dutch and Korean-Canadian communities. They successfully petitioned the Canadian House of Commons which unanimously passed Motion 291 to urge the Japanese government to officially acknowledge and apologize for the systematic sexual abuse and slavery against 200,000 women during the Second World War. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his contributions to the wider Canadian society.

Peter is married to Rev. Theresa Han, who served as the Director of Spiritual Care and Counselling at Toronto East General Hospital and as the CPE Supervisor (1991-2007). They have three children, James, Joshua and Rachel.

Please provide some background on your involvement in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

I came to Canada from South Korea in 1974 at the age of 18 and joined Saehan Presbyterian Church (PCC). I studied at Knox College for my M.Div. As an ordained minister, I served at North Park Presbyterian Church, Toronto (1987 -89) and at Vaughan Community Church, Thornhill (1989-present). I served the broader church as moderator of the Presbytery of Eastern Han-Ca, and as a member of the Church Doctrine Committee, the Committee on Education and Reception, the Committee to Advise with the Moderator, the Knox Board of Governors and the Asian Centre at Knox College.

What are your earliest memories of church?

My earliest memories of church are from age 5, where I would either be singing in the Children’s Choir of Choonghyun Presbyterian Church (Seoul, Korea) or sitting on the hardwood floor of the church beside my mother, waiting desperately for service to end so I could play with my friends. One of the most formative experiences of my childhood was when I became an executive member of the church’s Children’s Mission Society where I led the outreach ministry.

What three verses of scripture do you return to over and over and find especially formative?

  • “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
  • “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5)
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

What are your favourite hymns?

  • “Just As I Am Without One Plea”
  • “Be Thou My Vision”

What book(s) do you wish everyone in the PCC had or were reading?

  • The Message of Ephesians, by John Stott – Stott’s commentary helps us to understand Apostle Paul’s message of God’s vision of a new society in his church.
  • New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton – This book helps us to understand the meaning of contemplation in action as we abide in Jesus Christ.
  • Call to Commitment: The story of the Church of the Saviour, by Elizabeth O’Connor – This book offers a compelling vision of the contemporary missional church.

What are you reading for pleasure these days?

  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari
  • The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Nudge, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

What is your image of the church at its best?

My image of the church at its best is as a musician playing the flute in a busy marketplace (Luke 7:32). The church plays the melody of justice, peace and love so that the world may all dance for the Coming of the Age. Though not of the world, the church in world is in tune with Christ’s song to invite others to freedom from delusion and inauthenticity.

Who are some of your models in ministry? Why and how did one of these people form your understanding of life and faith?

The people who have been most influential as models of ministry for me are my parents. Through my mother, I learned that genuine faith is to place God first, neighbours second and myself third, and that the power to live out in obedience to the Lord comes from intimacy with Jesus Christ through meditation and prayer. One of my early lessons from her were to spend the first waking hours of each day reading the Bible and praying. From my father, I learn what unconditional love is all about. Though the words “I love you” were seldom said, through him I experienced sacrificial love and learned to seek the welfare of others, especially the poor and the outcast.

What would you say are the most important features of faithful discipleship?

The most important features of faithful discipleship are to acknowledge God as Lord in all aspects of life, to continually seek to conform to the image of Jesus Christ, to serve others with the heart of Jesus, especially the poor, the powerless, the lonely and the outcast and to endeavor to transform the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What would you say is the core calling of the Church today?

The core calling of the Church, as I understand it, should be as always to help the world to come under God’s reign in worship. As John Piper explained in the Let the Nations Be Glad, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not [humankind].” The church’s mission of justice, peace and love will be accomplished when people from every tribe and tongue come before the throne of God to worship. To this end, the church is called.

What area of public life do you believe the PCC should be more involved in than it currently is?

I believe the PCC should become more deeply involved in promoting refugee sponsorship. At the present time, there are over 20 million refugees worldwide and 10 million stateless people who have little access to basic human rights including healthcare, education, and freedom of movement (The UN Refugee Agency). In remembrance of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus being forced to leave their home and find refuge in Egypt, we should be hospitable to those in need of relocation.

I would also like to encourage increased involvement in hospice ministry. Through the church, we can create safe places of peace and dignity in the comfort of Jesus Christ for those who are in their final moments of life.

The crisis of Canadian youth suicide is another area of concern that the PCC can make and impact. According to a 2017 Statistics Canada report, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians 15-24 years old. We are all too familiar with the tragic story of Attawapiskat, Manitoba where Chief Bruce Shisheesh was forced to call a state of emergency due to the unprecedented number of suicide attempts, many of which were children and youth. Through Christ’s love and power, we must find a way to reach the hurting youth of Canada.

Understanding that congregations is a key place where the continuing ministry of Christ is dynamically and dramatically lived out, could you say a bit about what are, in your understanding, the most important features of faithful congregational ministry?

The most important feature of faithful congregational ministry is the preaching and teaching of the Word of God to raise up faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Equipped with the Word of God, they integrate their faith to share the truth in every aspect of their lives.

One of the objectives of the PCC’s Strategic Plan is “Visionary Leadership.” What is visionary leadership to you?

I find Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ definition of visionary leadership most helpful: “Visionary leadership is to take responsibility for creating the condition through which God’s purpose can be fulfilled.” It is servanthood to help people to catch God’s vision and to live it out through the formation of concrete goals and a picture of the future. It is the willingness to take risks and, even in the face of failure, to continue persisting towards God’s vision for a better future.

I experienced this truth first-hand early in my ministry experience. Twenty-four years ago, I was called to ministry at East Toronto Korean Presbyterian Church (ETKPC). At that time, ETKPC had been going through a difficult period of conflict that had started almost two decades earlier. During this period, the church had divided numerous times, causing pain and strife amongst many congregation members. Nobody was proud of this church’s past. Though the mood was low and tensions high, the congregation was certain of one thing: they wanted the church to heal and move forward from its conflicted past.

After meeting with the church’s leaders, we prayerfully came up with a goal to become a congregation that would bring honour to God’s name. We decided to study the bible in small groups to get some idea as to what a good and healthy church would look like. After one year of study, we gathered as a church on a Saturday afternoon to share our findings for mutual benefit and growth. Through that meeting, we produced a concrete vision statement – ETKPC Vision 2020. From start to finish, it took two full years to collaborate and develop a vision for ETKPC, but once the vision had been established, we were then able to reorganize, restructure and align ourselves as a community to build the church towards that common goal. Enthusiasm was restored in our existing ministries, and many new ministries were created, including Out of the Cold, the Haiti school project, the Special Encounters program (for evangelizing to non-believers) and the Seniors College program. ETKPC experienced such growth and revival through its newfound vision that it could no longer be contained in the downtown Toronto location and thus, we moved to the city of Vaughan where we became Vaughan Community Church.

One of the goals of the Strategic Plan is to pursue spiritual renewal and faith formation as the basis for transformation within congregations. What does pursuing spiritual renewal look like for you personally and what could it look like for the denomination corporately?

Spiritual renewal comes from above: “For those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). For my own spiritual renewal, I set aside a few days at least twice each year to sit before God at a silent retreat center. Through earnest and quiet listening, I find great healing and revitalization in the unburdening of my heart that allows me to continue serving and ministering.

The same applies on a denominational level. The Presbyterian Church is known for its excellence in running the church courts in an orderly manner. I pray that we will also be known for our diligence in prayer and sharing. In particular, I would like to encourage our ministers to gather together so that we may share the joys and hardships of our lives and our ministries, to encourage and to pray with one another.

What do you see as the role of the Moderator during the time we are discerning the mind of Christ regarding sexuality and the church?

I see the role of Moderator to pray in humility for guidance and help to then guide others as they listen with an open heart to Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church through the Word. This includes helping the Assembly discern the will of Christ in an orderly manner, listening to each other with respect and compassion and seeking unity and peace in the process.

Who are some of your most treasured Christian thinkers and writers?

  • John Stott
  • Thomas Merton
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Philip Yancey
  • Scott Peck

What should the Church make more time for?

Externally, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with non-believers both locally and globally. Internally, to continue to seek for unity within the Church through inter-denominational dialogue and cooperation.

Where do you see signs of hope for the world and the Church?

In a world filled with those suffering from pain, loneliness and broken trust, I find hope in the work of the committed disciples of Jesus Christ who struggle to embrace them.

The Rev. Mark R. McLennan, B.A., B.Th., M. Div.

Minister, Knox Presbyterian Church, Woodstock, Ontario

The Rev. Mark R. McLennan
The Rev. Mark R. McLennan, B.A., B.Th., M. Div.
Mark McLennan has served in The Presbyterian Church in Canada for almost 40 years, in five provinces, beginning with a mission field appointment in Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador, and a student placement in Ile Perrot, Quebec. followed by pastoral charges in Red Deer, Alberta; Scotsburn, Nova Scotia; Thunder Bay and Woodstock, in Ontario

As a preacher, pastor, storyteller, Mark has served congregations of many types and sizes.

Ministry and mission are at the heart of his church work, including his interest in Biblical stewardship, social justice, worship and music.

He has attended two Stewards by Design programs, and a national stewardship conference, participated in a capital campaign for Camp Geddie in Nova Scotia, and convened the national campaign on behalf of St. Paul’s, Glace Bay, Cape Breton.

For Mark, the church is a community of love and respect, made up of people with a wide spectrum of belief, worshipping and working together, within a Biblical, theological framework, from a Reformed perspective.

Mark has served several presbyteries and one synod as clerk; as well as moderator of three presbyteries and two synods.

He is currently serving on the Assembly Council and its Executive.

Mark has written resources for The Presbyterian Church in Canada including a stewardship Bible study, bulletin covers and Lenten litanies.

He has served on several community boards including a museum, the Y, and an ecumenical street ministry.

Susan, his wife and faithful partner in ministry, has been a great source of strength, inspiration and support throughout the years.

They are both Life Members of the Atlantic Mission Society, and members of the Women’s Missionary Society. Susan recently completed her term as the president of the Women’s Missionary Society.

When Mark is not engaged in church work, he enjoys harness racing, live theatre, choral singing, wine tasting and cooking.

Please provide some background on your involvement in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Joined the PCC in 1968, in St. Andrew’s, Arnprior, ON
Involved in PYPS in the Synod – met Susan, my wife, there.
Ordained in 1978 – served for almost 40 years at every level, in many different ways.
Served on Presbytery and Synod committees, national committees, special teams.

What are your earliest memories of church?

Sunday School at Grace-St. Andrew’s United Church in Arnprior, Ontario.
My Dad was Superintendent, my mom was a teacher
My first teacher – Mrs. Craig – was a really nice lady
Sunday School came before worship

What three verses of scripture do you return to over and over and find especially formative?

Luke 18: 9-14 – The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – “God be merciful to me, a sinner”

Micah 6: 6-8 – “What does the Lord require of you?…”

James 2: 14-18 – “Faith without works, is dead…”

What are your favourite hymns?

For all the saints
In the bulb there is a flower
Your hand, O God, has guided
One more step along the world I go
Be Thou My Vision
Come let us sing to the Lord our song
The First Place
A Place at the Table

What book(s) do you wish everyone in the PCC had or were reading?

Duncan McCue – The Shoe Boy
Kennon Callahan – Twelve Keys to an Effective Church
Tony Campolo – The Kingdom of God is a Party!
Allan Doyle – Where I Belong
Douglas John Hall – Lighten Our Darkness

What are you reading for pleasure these days?

Feeding My Mother – Jann Arden
Presbyterian Connection
The Toronto Star
The Standardbred Canada website
Why Dogs are Better than Cats

What is your image of the church at its best?

A seven year old girl who says, after her first day in our Sunday School – “I love this church!”
A single mother who says, “ I don’t know what I would have done for the last 6 months, without the Church “
A two year old who says, in the nursery, “I will come and play in your house again tomorrow”
A rural church that raises over $50,000 for the Live the Vision campaign and, later, through the PCC, enough money for 27 cows for Nicaragua.
A community carol concert that raises $3500 for an ecumenical ministry with the impoverished people in the community
Smiles and laughter during or after worship, or Bible Study, or a meeting, or choir practice.
A youth group that raises over $1000 to help the family of one of their members who was badly injured in a car accident.

Who are some of your models in ministry? Why and how did one of these people form your understanding of life and faith?

Dr. Leo Hughes – instrumental in my early faith development
Dr. Douglas Hall – taught theology at McGill, taught me much about the theological underpinnings of our faith
Dr. Kennon Callahan – wonderful speaker and teacher of practical discipleship
Every congregation I have ever served – taught me about discipleship and daily Christian living and allowed me to grow as a pastor, preacher, and storyteller

What would you say are the most important features of faithful discipleship?

Compassion for others, Passion for the Gospel, Dirty hands, Open arms, Smiles, Honesty, Integrity.
To be the eyes, ears, hands and voice of God in this world

What would you say is the core calling of the Church today?

To seek justice – to work for, even fight for, the rights and needs of others.
To give voice to the voiceless
To love kindness – to treat all people with the love and respect they deserve as children of God.
To walk humbly with God – discerning the leading and calling of the Holy Spirit, for our denomination, for the Church, in this time.

What area of public life do you believe the PCC should be more involved in than it currently is?

The environment –
Earth – loss of arable land to development, factory farming
Air – airborne pollutants , greenhouse gas emissions,
Fire – all issues related to energy resources – pipelines, wind and solar power
Water – boil water advisories should not exist in this country
These issues impact every aspect of human life – physical, mental, spiritual as well as First Nations, social justice, and our understanding of Biblical stewardship

Understanding that congregations is a key place where the continuing ministry of Christ is dynamically and dramatically lived out, could you say a bit about what are, in your understanding, the most important features of faithful congregational ministry?

Engagement with the neighbourhood around the building, and the community at large.
Inviting people in for many reasons, inviting members/adherents out for mission and ministry.
Hands-on work with people in need, after they teach you what they need.
Make every worship/group/individual experience as good and meaningful as it can be.

One of the objectives of the PCC’s Strategic Plan is “Visionary Leadership.” What is visionary leadership to you?

Too often, what is called visionary leadership involves someone with a personal agenda, or a vision that is disconnected from history and reality.
I think visionary leadership in the Church today continues the prophetic tradition of the Scriptures – an acknowledgement of where we have been, where we are, and a dream of what the people of God can be, even should be, in the days to come, with God’s guidance.

One of the goals of the Strategic Plan is to pursue spiritual renewal and faith formation as the basis for transformation within congregations. What does pursuing spiritual renewal look like for you personally and what could it look like for the denomination corporately?

There is so much I still need to explore and learn!
So many books, mentors, guides, directors – so little time.
Faith formation happens in many ways – the influence of parents, Christian education in church school and other groups, in worship.
Strengthening any/all of these areas will be beneficial.
Finding/creating helpful, meaningful resources is important to that goal, of course.

What do you see as the role of the Moderator during the time we are discerning the mind of Christ regarding sexuality and the church?

This is not a “core issue” for me.
The old advice:
– in essentials, unity;        in non-essentials, liberty;             in all things, charity –
is still helpful, and will allow us to do what God needs us to do, going forward.
We have spent far too much time, talent, and resources on this.
I am not interested in “gracious dismissal” – I pray and hope that no congregations will leave the PCC – there is a place at God’s Table for all.
I am very interested in “gracious inclusion” – for everyone – and expanding our common ground, to better engage in mission and ministry – together.
The Moderator has no particular role in this – perhaps helping people find a helpful middle ground that will allow us to move forward in mission and ministry.

Who are some of your most treasured Christian thinkers and writers?

Dr. Douglas John Hall, Tony Campolo, Henri Nouwen, Dr. Dale Woods, Dr. Kennon Callahan

What should the Church make more time for?

Each other – creating loving, caring communities where others will find welcome and meaning – a great Biblical model.

Where do you see signs of hope for the world and the Church?

We have people in our congregations who are blessed with tremendous gifts for mission and ministry.
God has called these people to serve – we seek to identify, develop, and use these gifts.
The world is changing in profound ways – we as Christians can no longer speak from a position of authority and privilege.
We are recovering our roles as servants and stewards. This is a good thing

2018-01-10T18:27:08+00:00December 1st, 2017|Categories: News|Tags: , |Comments Off on Ballot for Moderator of 2018 General Assembly