What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
I can chair a business meeting with grace, humour and prayer, while also adhering to the agenda and moving the group forward as it deals with issues and decision-making. I think well on my feet. A very important skill set for a Moderator.
I have a passion for the people of the United Church and it is my desire to help achieve the best for them, and the church itself; even when this means making decisions that are unpopular and/or difficult.
I have the ability and a passion for engaging individuals, groups, and the church as a whole, through a variety of media, in meaningful conversation in order to identify clearly, articulate, and work out of our mission. This includes the ability to actively listen and reflect back what I hear in creative ways which deepen understanding.
Finally, and from which all the others flow and are enhanced, a deep and abiding faith.
Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
In the earlier years of my ministry that would be Eugene Peterson and his books on ministry. Working the Angles, 5 Smooth Stones For Pastoral Work, The Contemplative Pastor, Under The Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration In Vocational Holiness.
More recently Andy Stanley, especially his book Deep and Wide, has helped to focus me on the importance of being mission centred as you follow the Mission-Vision-Model-Program paradigm for implementing ministry.
Rob Bell also comes to mind; both the Nooma videos and his book Love Wins.
How would you articulate the good news that Canadian society needs to hear from our church in this time and place?
More and more I am coming to believe that the days of the United Church addressing Canadian society as a whole are over. With the passing of Christendom, it seems to me that our message must be addressed, more and more, on a local and personal level. It is there, in people’s daily lives that Jesus’ message of transformation and renewal, of acceptance and forgiveness, of an entirely different way of living, not based on the values of greed and power that are so prevalent in our world, have real meaning and application.
“Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
As a Christian my identity lies in Jesus, his life and teachings, his death on the cross, and his resurrection. Having said that, my understanding of those events has evolved over the years from a solely sacrificial atonement understanding toward seeing in them the distance and depth to which God is willing to go to make real for us God’s love and grace.
The resurrection is God’s way of showing us that there is absolutely nothing that we can do to kill God’s love for us. Even in Jesus’ death, God was at work bringing completely unexpected hope and possibility to those in their deepest despair. That transforming process is still at work today, so that whatever our experience of life is, there’s always the opportunity for hope. In all things, God is at work for good.
How can we best pray for you?
Daily and regularly, in whatever manner and posture you find comfortable. 😉
In terms of what you can pray for me, I would ask mainly for encouragement and an ongoing strong connection to God. They go hand in hand. I believe those two things will suit me well should I become Moderator, and help to support the church as it discerns how it will carry out the mission God and the General Council have set before it. Should I not become Moderator, they will also do me well as I return to ministry at Trinity, Elmira and walk with that congregation as they make decisions about their property and their future.