We have asked all the nominees for moderator four questions so that we, as a church, could get to know them a little better. Here are the responses for Rev. Arlen Bonnar. If you would like to know more about Arlen, please read his profile from the General Council 41 website.
1) “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
My annual mantra throughout Lent and Holy Week to my congregation is there is no getting to Easter without first living the events of Good Friday. Easter can only make sense and have its full power after the atonement: the suffering and death of Jesus, the Christ. Through Jesus’ willingness to become the ultimate self-sacrifice the need for on-going blood sacrifice has come to an end and the human estrangement from God come has been overcome once and for all.
The empty tomb of Easter assures us that we share, through Jesus, in life beyond death. Easter, for me, is about the abundant grace of God and reminds me that all things are possible through Christ. Ours is a God of new beginnings and endless possibilities!
2) Describe the God you worship.
My God is that creating breathe that blew over creation’s waters and gave life to the human creature made of earth. My God is the One who was, and is heard, in the still small voice and who roared through the voice of prophets, old and new. My God is the One who through great love came to us in human form, Jesus, and through him stood in, and understands, the human condition. My God is always reaching out the hand of reconciliation and forgiveness. My God is the One who again breathed that ancient, yet new breathe, into a new community at Pentecost. My God is the One who embraces us all regardless of our differences My God is the One who creates, redeems and sanctifies. My God is the One who is with us in life, in death and life beyond death. Ours is an amazing God!
3) Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
I am fortunate to be of an age and experience where I can claim some of our theologians and biblical scholars as teacher, colleague and friend. I have been blessed by the New Testament teachings of the Rev. Dr. George Johnston, the deep and meaningful theological reflections of the Rev. Dr. Douglas Hall and Dr. Gregory Baum. I have been touched and empowered by some of the liberation theologians in the 70s and 80s. We are blessed with so many wonderful writers and thinkers: Borg, Bruggeman, Tutu, Nouwen, Mandella, Soelle, Moon…
4) What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
I have been blessed with a wide variety of ministries within the UCC. Regardless of the title I held, I always felt, first and foremost, to be a pastor. It is my belief that what the UCC needs now in its Moderator, is a pastor. Someone who will pull us together, someone who is not afraid to lift up our Christian faith, someone who can preach hope and not despair, someone who will reach out, and be present to, the many diverse groups within our church.
I have been gifted and equipped by the Spirit throughout my ministry. I am confident that this same Spirit will lead and equip me as necessary if I am to become the Moderator of our United Church.