The third day of General Assembly opened with worship led by the Rev. Paulette Brown, minister of St. Andrew’s Humber Heights Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Ont.
Click here to watch a recording of opening worship
Life and Mission Agency Report – Part Two
Part one of the Life and Mission Agency report is available for viewing here
The Assembly adopted recommendations related to justice initiatives: Sessions, presbyteries and committees of the General Assembly are encouraged to learn more about colonialism and the impacts of intergenerational trauma; identify and participate in a climate initiative in their community; and contact shelters and agencies providing support to people experiencing domestic violence to learn more about this issue and how to support people experiencing it.
The Moderator of the General Assembly, Sessions and presbyteries are asked to write the government to advocate for lowered carbon emissions across Canada and increased funding for climate crisis impacts; respond to Call to Action no. 21 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by providing sustainable funding for Indigenous healing centres to address the harms of Residential Schools and colonization; and request an update on progress related to housing issues and encouraging increases in affordable housing with additional and specific supports for victims of domestic violence.
Congregation members are asked to avoid donating to causes with known white supremacist ties, when possible. As well, congregations are encouraged to engage in intentional anti-racism work, and the Life and Mission Agency will begin preparing an anti-racism covenant with accompanying strategies.
Ministry and Church Vocations
The Inter-Mission for Professional Church Workers Guidelines, which allow eligible professional church workers to take a 10-week inter-mission sabbatical were updated to allow for professional church workers to draw on their accumulated study leave allowance for inter-mission in certain circumstances.
The report, “The Nature and Impact of Long-Term Pulpit Vacancies,” is recommended to presbyteries, Sessions and congregations for study and reflection.
The subject of mental health among professional church workers is a matter of continuing study.
Appreciation was expressed to the congregations, individuals and groups who faithfully supported Presbyterians Sharing in 2021 with prayers, financial gifts, volunteering for committees and working groups, participating in programs, and engaging in advocacy initiatives.
Interfaith Guest: Geoffrey Cameron
Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Bahá’í Community of Canada
Geoffrey Cameron brought greetings to the Assembly from the Bahá’í community. He pointed out that his great grandfather, the Rev. William Cameron, served as Moderator of the PCC in 1953. Mr. Cameron spoke about the Bahá’í belief in oneness of humanity, peace, equality, justice and the importance of dialogue. He talked about his work with the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, which is made up of representatives from 41 faith communities and faith-based organizations who believe that people of faith can contribute positively to the benefit of all people in Canadian society.
Mr. Cameron shared his belief that the work of the interfaith movement in Canada must go beyond mere theological comparison, and that “all people of faith need to recognize our responsibility to explain clearly, rationally and transparently how the spiritual insights of religion are relevant.” He went on to explain that the challenges confronting Canadian society are “not simply matters of policy and material advancement, but also spiritual and social challenges that are our responsibility to address.” This responsibility needs to be felt by every religious person and institution and fostered and advanced through interfaith bodies at the national and local levels.
The full presentation here is available for viewing here
Special Committee re. Petitions 1 & 2, 2021
Read a letter written by the Special Committee from July.
The convener introduction is available for viewing here
The Special Committee re. Petition Nos. 1 and 2, 2021, met with representatives of the Presbytery of Eastern Han-Ca and the Presbytery of Western Han-Ca, and others, to hear their concerns as the committee prepared the report. The Assembly expressed gratitude to all those who shared their stories and experiences.
The Assembly asked the Special Committee to continue to listen and strive to design an apology for an upcoming year. Funds were established to provide counselling for those harmed by the church’s racism and marginalization, and to provide mentoring to help non-European Canadian clergy learn about and try out ideas to engage with Euro-Canadian culture. Within the next three years, steps are to be taken so that the Committee to Nominate Standing Committees is representative of the ethnic and cultural mix of the PCC, and the Assembly set an aspirational goal that all General Assembly standing committees be representative of the ethnic and cultural mix of the denomination.
A course in Inter-cultural Studies will be developed and offered at the theological colleges, and workshops in cross-cultural awareness will be delivered to all the presbyteries of the church.
A recommendation passed that General Assembly urge mutual respect between members, elders and ministers who disagree on the definition of marriage and that the boards and committees of the church ensure that people are not excluded from serving based on their theological conviction of either definition of marriage.
The Assembly requested the formation of a committee that would explore whether having intentional associations, distinct from presbytery, is a way forward to address the support needs of clergy and congregations. The associations would have no polity role, they would not be a new level of court, but would have memberships across presbytery and synod geographical boundaries, providing a vital network of support. The type of associations that could be helpful would need to be determined. The committee will report back to the 2023 Assembly.
Assembly Council was directed to consider providing a grant of $50,000 to the Canadian Council of Churches’ Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning to sustain its work and $25,000 to help develop its Korean-language capabilities, with the hopes of adding other languages in future years.
To see the results of the Assembly’s discernment, visit PC-Biz in the “Agendas” tab. Use the drop-down to find the committee’s report, such as the Life and Mission Agency Committee, and you’ll see the Assembly action for each item. All reports to General Assembly are available on PC-Biz in the “Committees” tab. Minutes from Assembly are available on the GA2022 web page.