“Supporting, inspring and connecting Christ-centred leaders and congregations within the United Church of Canada”

Michael Shewburg

Michael Shewburg has been nominated for Moderator of the United Church of Canada. To see Michael’s profile on the General Council 42 website, please click here.

1. What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?

I believe that God placed in me the gifts of leadership, mentorship and passion for community of all ages. This has equipped me over that last 15 years of my ministry to offer unique leadership at this unique time in the church. I bring a passion and willingness to pray, discern and work hard to put my faith into action. My work with the GO Project has grown a national ministry that challenges and supports children, youth, adults and young leaders as they make a difference in the world. The church needs strong, inspired leadership, not only from its Moderator, but in every corner of the church. I bring the gift of recognizing gifts in others, and encouraging and mentoring them to lead where they are. Lastly, I think that I bring the gift of humour and not always taking myself too seriously, and I think the church needs that right now. Let’s take ourselves less seriously, and God more seriously. Let us make room for laughter and joy to shape us.

2. Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?

Sara Myles – Take this bread. In her book, a self-avowed atheist, lesbian, journalist discovers God inadvertently through bread breaking at a communion service. Sara’s ministry has been about coming to the table as you truly are, sharing food and challenging the norm of the church. It has impacted me to rethink the Eucharistic corporate practice of bread breaking, shifting to recognizing the holiness shared in all meals. Her writing has helped me see what it means to invite people into encounters with Christ by being the body of Christ.

3. How would you articulate the good news that Canadian society needs to hear from our church in this time and place?

The UCC has so much good news to share with the world and we must not become voiceless. As the church wrestles with how to leave behind cherished spaces, traditions and assumptions, I would remind everyone that we have done it before. We have communities of compassion and hope to share, places of faith where people can be known and saved. Canadian society needs to hear that we are being BRAVE in our inclusivity and care! The story hasn’t changed, and our commitments to justice and kindness and walking humbly with God have not changed. The Good News I would want to articulate is that we are actively working at LIVING IT as Jesus did!

4. “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?

IMG_3094While kick-starting the GC youth forum Pilgrimage in Vancouver we attended a worship service at Dunbar Heights United Church where I heard Rev. John Pentland speak. He suggested that we are all afraid of the resurrection, of death. It gave me pause to reflect. Our common story is that Jesus died on the cross, and then rose again. Resurrection is all around us – in life and in death – we know that we are not alone. Yet we fight resurrection. We are afraid to let the church die – preventing a resurrection from taking place. If we stand “united by the cross” we place our trust in the resurrecting power of the Spirit and live into the hope that the grace of God will be present in something new. The next Monday I visited the UBC Botanical Garden and there was a burnt out tree in the park, completely hollowed out and scarred from flames – yet somehow in that ash was a new shoot coming from the old tree. Resurrection in front of my eyes!

5. How can we best pray for you?

Being nominated for Moderator is a humbling experience. It is my hope that prayers will be offered for this group of unusual suspects and the church we serve. Each has been called by God to let their names stand and each of us are praying that Spirit be in our discernment. I also ask you to pray for the ministry of the GO project; for strength and endurance for myself, our leaders at programs across Canada, and the GC Youth Pilgrims who are journeying this summer.