Cruxifusion has adopted the tradition of posing questions to nominees for Moderator of the United Church of Canada so that we may learn a bit more about them. To view answers from all nominees for GC43, click here.
1. Who is Jesus Christ for you?
Jesus was an extraordinary man who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago. He loved God with such intensity, and understood God’s kingdom so deeply that others began to see it too. He told stories and healed the sick and preached the love of God. Inevitably, this offended the powers that be. At the same time, mysteriously, he was God. Here among human beings, the embodiment of God’s desire to be in absolute solidarity with the human condition. He went to the cross because that is where humanity is found. Christ’s risen life tells us that the powers may try and try again to kill God and God’s love, but God will not stay dead.
2. The General Council Executive has identified discipleship and faith formation as a key objective of the work of our denomination for the next three years. Please share something about your personal understanding of Christian discipleship.
For me discipleship is a lifelong commitment to the questions of faith. It means that each individual must undertake the journey of discovery and discernment. Part of that journey is thinking and reflecting, reading and discussing, but maybe even more important, it means practicing the faith – through prayer, and compassionate actions, and the work of social justice. As we go forward in a secular world, the whole church must foster conversation about the many different ways we understand God, and Jesus, and the Spirit. I would hope that we can do this in the spirit of the old hymn,
Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
come and abide, come and abide,
lifting my heart ‘til it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride,
seeking to be, seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of thee.
3. As Moderator, your task, according to the Manual (2016) is to: “give leadership to the United Church, especially in spiritual things, quickening in the hearts of the people a sense of God as revealed in Christ, and heartening and strengthening the whole United Church.” How might you see yourself doing this, and particularly to the small, rural, and more isolated congregations that comprise a large percentage of our denomination?
It is hard to beat a personal encounter. I would hope to travel widely though the church and meet as many church members as possible. From my sponsoring congregation in Ashton, and my settlement charge in Apple Hill, I know that there is a backbone of love and strength in the rural church which has learned that ‘endurance produces character, and character produces hope.’ (Romans 5). In that hope, we cheer each other on.
4. Recognizing our ecumenical connections, how would you help the U.C.C. become more welcoming of those who hold a more orthodox or Christ-centred theology?
We have more in common than we think. Start by singing, continue by praying. Once we have become friends, let us sit down and explain to each other what we think. If we find that we disagree, let us sing again, and then pray again.
5. How can we pray for you and what is your prayer for the Church?
Please pray for me this way:
God of grace, may Martha always be mindful of your abiding love.
My prayer for the church is this:
Loving God, stay with us this day, and through the night.
We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen