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Gathering for General Assembly
   By Barb Summers, Communications Office
The 2022 General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Can- ada took place online, beginning Sunday, June 5 until Wednesday, June 8. Opening worship was led by the Rev. Dr. Daniel D. Scott, Moderator of the 2021 General As- sembly and minister at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont. Daily ser- mons were preached by the Rev. Paulette Brown, minister of St. An- drew’s Humber Heights Presbyte- rian Church in Toronto, Ont.
The committees of the General Assembly bring forward matters related to the ministry of the de- nomination for consideration. Commissioners, who are respon- sible for the business of Assem- bly, then consider these matters and make decisions. With 270 people attending, this year’s Assembly included over 200 commissioners, 11 young adult representatives, three student representatives, over 40 resource people and two guests. As well, Presbyterians from across the country watched the proceedings via the live stream and caught up on what took place through the daily summaries provided on the website.
Greeting the
New Moderator
During the first session, the Rev. Dr. Bob Faris, associate minis- ter at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto, was elected as the Moderator of the 2022 General Assembly.
During his opening reflections, Bob thanked his partner, Redha, and other family members for their support. Bob made a point of giving a word of encourage- ment to all those who identify as LGBT. “I recognize my nomination and now installation marks an historic moment in The Presbyte- rian Church in Canada,” he said. “I pray this will be one more step
in the journey of recognizing that God’s love includes all of us, and that whoever we are, we are part of the body of Christ, each with gifts to share. I pray God will give me the grace to fulfill the duties of this office.”
Bob called for kindness and respect in the discussions and openness to the grace of Christ.
Recognizing and Responding to Racism
The Assembly spent consider- able time reflecting on and talking about colonialism, ethnicity and race in various ways during the discussion of many reports be- fore the Assembly.
Special Committee
Regarding Petitions
The 2021 General Assembly re- ceived two petitions from the Presbytery of Eastern Han-Ca and the Presbytery of Western Han- Ca stating that members of ethnic minority groups within the PCC experienced ridicule, racism and mistreatment. The petitions made two requests: one of the petitions asked that that the Assembly ex- ercise its obligation of care for the Han-Ca Presbyteries given the two definitions of marriage within the PCC, and both petitions asked that that an apology be given to the “multi-ethnic contingent” of the denomination.
Last year’s Assembly appointed a special committee to respond to these petitions. The Special Committee began by connecting with the Presbyteries of Eastern Han-Ca and Western Han-Ca, and engaged in listening, reflecting and speaking to the PCC about mat- ters of race, ethnicity, colonialism and whiteness. The committee met with or heard from 112 peo- ple and gratitude was expressed to all those who shared their sto- ries. After considering the report and adopting various recommen- dations, the Assembly asked the Special Committee to continue to listen and strive to design an apol- ogy for an upcoming year. Funds were established to provide coun- selling for those harmed by the church’s racism and marginaliza- tion. 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
The Rev. Dr. Bob Faris, Moderator of the 2022 General Assembly.
representative of the ethnic and cultural mix of the denomination. The Assembly requested the for- mation of a committee that would explore whether having intentional associations, distinct from pres- bytery, is a way forward to ad- dress the support needs of clergy and congregations.
An Anti-Racist Church
The Presbyterian Church in Can- ada teaches that the church is called to reject and oppose rac- ism. As the denomination seeks to stand with people striving for dignity and respect, the Justice Ministries section of the Life and Mission Agency report shared a review of what the PCC has said and done and when it has been silent concerning racism in Can- ada. (Read more about systemic racism on page 22.)
The repor t pointed out that rac- ism in Canada has been impor tant to the PCC for at least the past 60 years. This is evident in the atten- tion, time, effor t and resources that have been expended on this issue through a wide variety of kinds of work. The denomination has a his- tory of working to oppose racism at all levels. And yet, even while so doing, the church has not always lived up to what we have said we believe and how we have called on others, such as the government, to act. We have been blind at times to how racism operates.
Racism is a formidable op- ponent. The forces that perpetu- ate racism are woven into the very fabric of society, shaping its ideas, values, images, institutions and practices. Strategies to elimi- nate racism must be as complex, multi-faceted and far-reaching as the injustice they oppose.
Given the importance of the
work, the report emphasized the need for the PCC to develop an anti-racism covenant and map out anti-racism strategies, as several denominations in Canada and the United States have done. Anti-racism goes far beyond hold- ing the belief that all people, being created in God’s image, deserve respect. Anti-racism describes an active and consistent process of change directed towards the elimination of racism; it seeks to identify, challenge and change at- titudes, behaviours, systems and structures that perpetuate racism. Racism is anything but simple and no single or short-term rem- edy can possibly eradicate it.
The Assembly passed a motion that the PCC, through the Life and Mission Agency, begin preparing an anti-racism covenant and ac- companying strategies and repor t to the General Assembly. This covenant would involve develop- ing a robust theological frame- work for understanding racism and the denomination’s response to it, including how our response is grounded in our faith commit- ments. It would provide educa- tional resources for Presbyterians to improve their knowledge and understanding of racism, and to inspire their commitment to anti- racism endeavours. It would also provide a basis for decisions about resource allocation among possible anti-racism projects, and strive to guide the denomination in achieving coherence, consistency and accountability with regards to its anti-racism effor ts.
The urgency and impor tance of anti-racism work in Canada are a call for The Presbyterian Church in Canada to move for- ward with deeper understanding and a strengthened commitment.
Indigenous Ministry
The first report of the National Indigenous Ministry Council (NIMC) was presented to the As- sembly. The NIMC was created as a standing committee by the Gen- eral Assembly in 2021. The report noted that the PCC currently has three ordained Indigenous Pres- byterian ministers, and five of its nine Indigenous ministries are led by Indigenous leaders.
The report summarized the experience and history of Indige- nous people in Canada and in the church, including colonial assimi- lation through Residential School systems. It also summarized
what is needed to move forward to healing and reconciliation, in- cluding the need for more Indig- enous people to be represented in the PCC, the need to reconcile In- digenous wisdom and spirituality with the Christian faith, the need to speak against Indigenous-spe- cific racism, hate and violence, the need for sustained funding to enable healing for Indigenous people and the need to reconcile the church’s broken relationship with God and Indigenous people.
The Assembly adopted a rec- ommendation that the National Indigenous Ministry Council work on a statement of faith relevant to today, in consultation with the Church Doctrine Committee.
In response to the Moderators’ statement regarding the graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Brit- ish Columbia, an Honouring the Children Fund was established and $1,000,000 transferred into it. The Assembly agreed that re- sources produced by the Life and Mission Agency in Healing & Rec- onciliation be commended to the wider church for education.
Discussing Injustice
The International Affairs Com- mittee draws attention to global events and situations of injustice and suggests how the church can respond in ways that speak out against and disrupt systems that oppress and hurt people and cre- ation. Through the International Affairs report, a variety of recom- mendations were passed by the General Assembly that encourage Presbyterians to: learn about the Love My Neighbour campaign in suppor t of global vaccine equity; study the complexities of food systems and advocate for govern- mental policies that protect the hu- man right to food; promote climate resilient food systems to suppor t small-scale growers, improve food security, address the climate crisis, protect biodiversity and in- crease gender equality; and learn about how we can access and use more ecologically sustainable and ethically produced food.
Congregations are also en- couraged to use template letters available on the Social Action Hub ( action) as models to write per- sonal letters to members of the Government of Canada about the State of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and to suppor t Pal-

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