Page 13 - Presbyterian Connection
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FALL 2021
of Decisions
By the Rev. Ian Ross-McDonald, General Secretary, Life and Mission Agency
The Session of each congregation receives a letter from the Clerks of Assembly each year after General Assembly that outlines the decisions that affect congregations and Ses- sion. Sessions then discern how best to enact the Assembly’s decisions in their congregation and neighbour- hoods. Below are only some of the decisions that may be of interest to people in the church.
Healing and Reconciliation and Unmarked Graves
In response to the devastating con- firmation of unmarked graves on the grounds of former Residential Schools, the current moderator, the Rev. Dr. Dan Scott, and the former moderator of the General Assembly, the Rev. Amanda Currie, wrote a statement on behalf of the church. See page 5 for the full statement.
healing initiatives. All work will com- plement efforts to address systemic racism against Indigenous people, both in the church and in society, and the ongoing healing and reconcilia- tion work being done in the ministries of the National Indigenous Ministry Council.
To begin, the PCC has committed $1 million from national funds, and invites congregations and individuals to make additional contributions to this important work. Donations can be made at ing-children-fund.
Gun Violence
The Assembly received a report and adopted recommendations draw- ing attention to the intersection of misogyny, poverty, racism and gun violence and to the wider commu- nity-trauma inflicted on all members when there is gun violence.
The moderator will write the Minis- ter of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice, asking that they examine the contributing factors to gun violence. The church will also
tribution rate will be reduced to 11% of pensionable income, and the member pension contribution rate will be re- duced to 8% of pensionable income.
Microfilming/Digitizing Congregational Records Congregations were urged to have their Session minutes and church registers (marriages, baptisms, deaths/burials) microfilmed and/or digitized through the Archives office to ensure a preservation copy is cre- ated for these vital records.
Additional information about pre- serving congregational records can be found at archives-and-records-management or by phoning the PCC Archives at 1-800-619-7301.
Workplace Harassment
The General Assembly approved a workplace harassment policy for use throughout the church. The pol- icy states that it is the policy of The Presbyterian Church in Canada that harassment of any kind shall not be tolerated and will be addressed. The policy defines harassment and out- lines how the complaint, investiga- tion, resolution and storage of docu- ments, etc., are to be addressed. This policy applies to members, adherents, staff and volunteers in the PCC. It will be added to the Leading with Care policy when next published and can be read at leading-with-care.
Training and support will be adver- tised in the autumn for Sessions and presbyteries as they begin to use the policy.
Requests for a Pathway for Congregations Potentially Requesting to Leave the PCC Now that the church has decided on Remits B and C about same-sex marriage, the Assembly Council will provide responses to over tures asking about the terms by which congregations might leave the de- nomination and asking for alterna- tives in the PCC’s governance to accommodate those concerned about the outcome of the decisions about same-sex marriage. The As- sembly Council is very aware of the theological divergence, conflict and anxiety within the church re- lated to decisions about sexuality and is preparing to prayer fully ad- dress the over tures that have been referred to them. Some preliminary meetings about these matters have
taken place and it is expected that responses to these questions will be considered at the next Assembly.
Statement on the Christian Use of Cannabis
The Committee on Church Doctrine provided a response to questions about the legalization of marijuana in Canada. The statement adopted by the General Assembly is similar to the reasoning provided for the use of alcohol, and reads as follows:
“There are different reasons for using cannabis. If cannabis has been prescribed by a physician, a non- inhaled form should be sought since smoking is a proven health risk. When taken as a therapeutically dis- pensed drug, cannabis is the same as any other prescribed medicine and should be taken as prescribed, with the necessary precautions to minimize risks associated with its consumption. The Bible does not speak about cannabis directly. None- theless, other scriptural and theologi- cal references can be used to guide Christian discernment.”
In 1976, the Committee on Church Doctrine reaffirmed a statement on alcohol that rested on the formula of Liberty, Licence and Love:
Liberty: the Christian is free to re- ceive alcoholic beverages as a good gift of God to be used temperately and with thanksgiving.
Licence: the Christian is not free to be immoderate or drunken in the use of alcoholic beverages.
Love: Christians must recognize
that they are required to love them- selves and their neighbours as them- selves and therefore their freedom to use alcohol is restricted by the necessity of exercising responsibil- ity to enhance as much as possible their own lives and the lives of their neighbours.
Gender Pay Equity
in the Church
The church has spoken decisively and has rejected discrimination on such grounds as gender. Repeatedly, the church has stated that women are to be treated no differently than men regarding ministry. Yet an over- ture submitted and accepted by the General Assembly stated that many women ordained as Ministers of Word and Sacraments within the PCC have experienced treatment that has fallen short of full equality and the church’s principles and beliefs, and have encountered discrimina- tion, unfair hiring practices, sexist comments and sexualized remarks within the denomination.
The Assembly decided that pres- byteries will collect and analyze data on gender pay equity, including, but not limited to, gender, stipend, edu- cational background, years of ser- vice and terms of call, and seek to identify and address any situations where gender discrimination exists. Additionally, presbyteries are to re- port annually the data on equity to the Assembly Council to assist in the feasibility and achievability needed to conduct stipendiary comparisons.
   Read the moderators’ statement on Residential Schools at
Watch a video on the history of Residential Schools at
Read the text of the 1994 Confession of The Presbyterian Church in Canada at
Learn about the Doctrine of Discovery and our repudiation of it at
Since the Assembly rose, the PCC has established the Honouring the Children: Reconciliation and Resi- dential Schools Fund. This fund will support initiatives associated with searches for unmarked burial sites in communities where schools were operated by The Presbyterian Church in Canada. This work begins with listening. We continue to live out the covenants made in the 1994 Confes- sion, be led by the principles articu- lated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and seek the guidance of Indigenous people and affected communities. Responses may include searching for graves, responding to trauma and supporting
ask that the government prioritize funding for social programs aimed at ending racism, misogyny, social and economic injustice and poverty to improve community safety, health and wellness.
All the moderators’ letters can be read at and may be used by congregations and individuals to write to the elected of- ficials in their federal and provincial ridings.
Reduction in Pension
and Benefits Rates
As of January 2022, the pension plan congregational assessment rate will be reduced to 4.5% of the congrega- tion’s dollar base. The employer con-
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