1. What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
Ecumenism – we’ve got to work with other Christians and figure out together how to embody the kingdom of God on earth… Jesus didn’t have a lot of patience for those who thought they had a corner on the discipleship market. Hope – not optimism… frankly there’s not lots to be optimistic about – but there is great cause for hope because the Spirit is alive and at work among us. And I really don’t mind change – I find it kind of exciting. The challenge is to hold onto the essentials as we let go of what needs to change. The gift is in the conversations we have together to identify the essentials.
2. Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
Oh gosh… there’s half a dozen leap to mind right away. I guess I have to say Desmond Tutu. I haven’t read as many books of his as I have some other authors, but it is his whole life – the integration of his theological, political and social convictions – that has so strongly influenced me. Whenever I am tempted to seek an easier, more comfortable path than the one God is setting before me, I remember the courage and humility of this great leader who does what needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. His book, Made for Goodness, is a profound testament to the power of the Spirit working in each one of us.
3.How would you articulate the good news that Canadian society needs to hear from our church in this time and place?
There is an alternative to the endless discontent that our individualistic, consumerist society offers. Jesus spoke about, modeled, and formed a new community that practiced a more meaningful and life-giving option. And although his followers have stumbled off of the way that Jesus showed us more times than any of us likes to admit, we have not lost the vision and the hope that another way is possible. As disciples of Christ, we seek to live that alternative – however imperfectly – as a witness to others that they can too.
4. “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
God will go to any lengths to save us.
Even in the midst of the worst betrayal and abandonment that we can suffer we are not alone – God is with us.
The very worst that human beings do to one another, the greatest evils we perpetrate against each other can not overcome the power of love.
The path to new life is through the pain and misery of the world – we can’t get there by side-stepping the ugly stuff.
Those who resist the powerful and the structures that prop them up will suffer… but that is not the end of the story.
God is on the side of justice.
5. How can we best pray for you?
Please pray that all the nominees will find within themselves the courage and the grace to accept the leadership role to which God is calling each of us… wherever and whatever that ends up being. Pray for wisdom for the church – that the Spirit will guide us in our discussions and decision-making, that we will have the courage to be bold and hope-filled. And pray that in the midst of all the business, elections, excitement, and anxieties that are part of General Council we will not lose sight of what we are all about and why we are doing this.