Page 6 - PC_Winter2020
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6 WINTER 2020
Presbyterians Sharing Through a Time of Adaptation
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     Participants of Cyclical PCC, 2019.
By Karen Plater, Associate Secretary, Stewardship & Planned Giving
Recently, as I was washing dishes, I found myself catching up on videos of the online Cyclical PCC confer- ence that took place earlier this year. A year ago, it wasn’t something I might have been doing on a Saturday night. A year ago, participating in a Cyclical conference would have in- volved travelling, attending sessions in person and sharing experiences over a meal and conversation. But we are adapting.
Cyclical is a network implemented by The Presbyterian Church in Cana- da—with support from Presbyterians Sharing—to engage and equip lead- ers in starting new worshipping com- munities. These communities can take many forms: dinner churches, sports ministries, house churches, café ministries—any kind of gather- ing centred on Word and Sacrament that calls people to walk closely with Jesus, most often outside a formal church building.
Like a traditional congregation, people in the worshipping commu- nity are accountable to one another and to the structures of our denomi- nation as they strive toward sustain- ability in leadership and finances. The network includes participation from church starters in the United States, so that people in different situations can learn from one another.
As I washed the cutlery, I listened to plenary speakers talk about ways to be church in a post-COVID world. They reflected on building commu- nity when you can’t physically be together, suppor ting and equipping emerging leaders, adapting to new streams of income and the need for flexibility while still valuing the com- munal discernment of the Holy Spirit. These are all issues that congrega- tions and local, national and interna-
tional ministries have been grappling with, as well, since March. The Cycli- cal network has realized this and, in addition to posting recordings of their conference online, they have opened up par ticipation in their one-day online conferences beyond the members of their network to anyone interested.
This is Presbyterians Sharing: peo- ple across Canada—and around the world—learning from one another and building on each other’s experi- ences as we discern where God is at work and how we can work together to be God’s hands in this world.
Just as congregations are redefin- ing what worship means when we can’t gather in physical spaces, the PCC is exploring how collaboration and discernment can happen when we can only meet remotely.
We don’t yet know how General Assembly might gather next year, but people are exploring options, tapping into the experience of part- ner denominations who met virtually this year, and gathering input from people across Canada. The plan- ners of Canada Youth are trying to determine how to build connections between youth and young adults who are starting to grow weary of meet- ing and learning online. Committees and staff are looking at the best ways to equip congregations—from digital resources to online events.
International mission staff are learning new ways to support mis- sion partners from afar—something the Rev. Dr. Paul MacLean and the Rev. Joel Sherbino have been doing successfully for a few years now. The Rev. Dr. Blair Bertrand will work from Ottawa as he continues to help partners in Malawi develop their theological education programs. He reflects in his blog: “The question becomes whether or not I can be ef- fective if I’m not there. I think so...” Blair will support Zomba Theologi-
cal College’s research mandate, find ways that international partners can support scholars and library resourc- es, and help the college launch an e- learning and broader digital strategy. In addition, he will edit a series of 26 workbooks and help create an intro- ductory Bible curriculum focused on Acts and the epistles for the Theolog- ical Education by Extension Malawi program. “All of these are easier to do here in Canada where I have reli- able Internet and electricity, but will have a direct impact on both of these institutions.”
Congregations, ministries and na- tional committees alike are discov- ering the strengths and weaknesses and possibilities and limitations of various adaptation strategies. Learn- ing so many new things and living in uncertainty can be exhausting. There are still more questions than answers. We don’t know what lies ahead or exactly what God is doing or going to do—but we know God continues to move. We know the need for mission and ministry con- tinues.
What hasn’t changed is our com- mitment to one another, discerning together, moving forward together, being community together, sharing God’s message together, confront- ing injustice together and caring for the vulnerable together. That’s what Presbyterians Sharing is all about. As we put our gifts into God’s hands, God is doing remarkable things.
Check out Cyclical learnings and reflections at
Read more about Blair Bertrand’s experiences in Malawi at
Learn more about Presbyterians Sharing at

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