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Showing posts from 2012

Practicing Spirituality...

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Back in August I signed up for an e-course with Spirituality and Practice: Practicing Spirituality with Parker Palmer.  I signed up because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  I have always been drawn to Palmers work and knew that I needed something to focus myself this fall.

I have been so enriched.  Each morning there is an email that arrives in my inbox with a quote from one of Parker Palmer's books followed by suggested practices and or questions.  As well there is an opportunity to share your reflections with the other 150 participants on an open forum.

This morning text was from The Promise of Paradox:
At the heart of letting go is faith and trust. If we do not trust that God "knows well that you need them," we will grasp at life's necessities and even at luxuries. Lacking faith that God will provide, we can only hoard against an uncertain tomorrow. But what is the warrant for trust when the world is full of examples that would make trust the lifestyle of…

I'm back...

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I've been back from General Council two weeks now - and I don't know where the time goes.  Each day is filled with so many demands and challenges - and - is over before you know it.

I took Thursday off last week.  It was to be a quiet day before a Kairos Marathon program and as it turns out, the place was locked down all day as a result of a stabbing early in the morning.  In the midst of the Marathon I was trying to respond to some of the issues arising out of Thursday and then there was another man in crisis in the Reception Unit... it never stops!  And I love it.

Today I had occasion to connect with a former inmate who I did a fair bit of work with during his time at Springhill.  We talked for quite a while - and after a bit he agreed to take on a piece of volunteer work in his area... and as the conversation drew to a close, he said in a soft voice, a voice that has know the hoarseness of pain, "I loves you Lloyd."  With tears in my eyes I could barely choke ou…

GC 41 (Day 8) A new day...

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Saturday morning.  The end is in sight.  I was up at 5AM and got everything packed away and then I went to get the motorcycle and found it tangled in police "Do Not Cross" tape...  I saw no evidence of a crime scene and in that moment remember hearing something about cars needing to be gone from this space by 7 o'clock.  I thouught it was to be 7AM - must have been 7AM.

I toddled off and filled the bike with gas and then drove up to the residence building and loaded all my stuff.  I was ready to go...

The dining hall opened at 6:30AM and I was there soon after the doors opened.  I enjoyed a quiet breakfast tucked out of sight in a corner... I began to realize that I was in social overload.  I needed time to myself... and I think this is why I have been so tired all week.  Ten and tweleve hour days filled constantly with people is not good for this introvert!!

On about 8AM I headed over to the Raven's Nest and took up my seat at my table preparing for this final day. …

GC 41 (Day 7) All my relations...

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Another full day... and a short reflection to end it as much of it is a blur as a result of some of spirited debate and the energy that this drew from my being.  Worship was again a highlight as was a report from our Global Partners.  You can read a complete account of their offering here... I was so deeply challenged by the words of Miguel Tomas Castro Garcia of Emmanuel Baptist Church in El Salvador:  “The way of life of many in the global North is causing our death. What we need more than anything is for you to help dismantle the system of power and wealth that results in our poverty.”

We wrangled over the proposal to test various models of providing pastoral relations support, oversight and discipline... and eventually a slightly modified version passed.  It will be interesting to see how this proposal is brought to life and how much buy in there is with the various Conferences and Presbyteries.  It was clear from comments from Staff that existing polity within the manual will be…

GC 41 (Day 6) Open space and the Spirit carries us forward...

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What an amazing day!  Upon entering the Raven's Nest, I was drawn into the energy of the circle of faith (not unlike the experience of circles in the Chapel at Springhill Institution each week).   Asiles leading from each of the four directions invited one to enter with their body.  A sax, supported by an electric guitar and voices of many singing songs of  gathering invited the heart to enter - and enter I did - fully into this experience of Open Space.

Following worship and reflections by two of our world partners the facilitators outline the process for the day.  In my experience of leading groups I was familiar with the process and have used it - but never on such a large scale (I missed the exercise at Maritime Conference as a result of commitments at the prison).

There are three principles of open space: whoever comes are the right people, whenever it starts is the right time, whatever happens is the only thing that could happen.  In addition there one law: the law of two fee…

GC 41 (Day 5) On listening deeply and choosing to stand...

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Wednesday.  Is it Wednesday already?

We began the morning looking at a proposals on a Statement on Ministry and for a study on "local ordination" as it may apply to those who are currently Designated Lay Ministers.  After a significant amount of debate and some word smithing both proposals were adopted.  Now it was back to the amended (and now revised by the court) motion from the Working Group on Israel Palestine.

As we moved into parliamentary procedure I was deeply conscious of the energy in the room.  Folk were keenly aware of the significant this decision would carry.  Speaking for myself, I knew that to vote in favour of the proposal was, in a very small way, stand with the men women and children of Palestine who have watched as more and more of their land has been taken over by settlers.  It was to say, enough is enough to the Israeli government, who in the past year alone has welcomed 4000 settlers to the Sate of Israel.  By holding up my ballot card in favour of the …

GC 41 (Day 4) Tweeting twittering twit that I am...

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It is the day after. My head hurts.  I am writing as if I wrote this reflection on Day 4 before Day 5...  are you confused yet?  If so then you might begin to be able to appreciate the space my head is in!
Day 4 began with the Council beginning to consider the previously amended Report of the Working Group On Isreal/Palestine Policy.  The Council carefully worked through the proposal seeking clarity and then listened as two invited guest spoke to the Council.  Both guests were very gracious in their comments.  Unfortunately Dr. Victor Goldboom went overtime.  Even more unfortunately a member of the court rose on a point of order and attempted to limit his time. This is not how we practice radical hospitality.

Perhaps it was by plan or design or just coincidental - however - it was fortuitous that we reached an order of the day and did not move to the motion phase in our process today.  We were allowed to go away and ponder where we are on this journey.

Following lunch we moved into C…

GC 41 (Day 3) Review Everything...

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Its been another long day and as a result this reflection will be short.  Major items of business accomplished included accepting with minor modification "GCE 2 – REF GS56 2012 – Simplification of Church Processes" and "GCE15 – REF GCE 59 2012 – Comprehensive Review of How The United Church of Canada Lives Faithfully in God’s World".  You can find these items here in the workbook.  Please note, there were some minor changes which will come with the minutes.  You can also hear of the business in the News Reports.

I have connected with so many who have reminded me how long I have been part of this Church: Moderators who I inspired me at Youth Forum, fellow clergy with whom I have studied and served, lay folk who were part of Presbyteries where I have served, clergy who were interns with me, Ministry Personnel who have followed me in Pastoral Charges I have left... including Larry Burton, present minister at John Wesley United Church... these kinds of encounters lead…

GC 41 (Day 2) Working hard...

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Today's post will be a short one as I am so tired - and - it will center around a photograph that I took this morning of Commissioner knitting for one of projects identified by the Council.  She caught my eye because of her deep concentration and the fact that she poked her tongue between her teeth as she worked so hard.  This caught my eye and brought a smile to my face for a number of reasons.

First, I smiled because members of my family have this same trait.  Deep concentration leads them to such focus, such intensity that... well... they stick there tongue out.  Its a testament to their focus and to their commitment to the task at hand.  The trait marks them at the same time as unique - and coming from the same gene pool.  And to me it is endearing.

Second, I smiled because it is to young faithful persons such as this young woman that we can entrust the church to - knowing it will be in good hands.  For the nurturing of the community of faith into the future will take such ded…

GC41 (Day 1) Making Connections...

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My day began with breakfast and breaking camp.  As a result of my last minute arrival the day before I had to switch rooms.  This meant packing everything up, putting it in storage, and then returning 5 hours later and moving into the new room.  All went seamlessly and I got some errands done and enjoyed a visit with family - thus began the theme of connections!

The first day at any large meeting is all about making connections and this is even more true for a gathering such as General Council.  Connections with the strangers who welcomed us in red shirts.  Connections with folk from across the Church that had not been seen in years.  Connections in a long line of folk waiting in line to enter a residence hall.  Connections with  a mob of people huddled in a tunnel waiting out a thunder shower.  Connections with friends of friends and sometimes friends of friends of friends... and connections with folk who will soon be friends... as this event brings people into a shared experience w…

En route to GC41 - Montreal to Ottawa

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The morning began very early... I got up - did what I usually do when I wake up... it looked light out... I glanced at my watch... Oh, 5:30AM... coffee would be good.  I boil water and then I looked at the clock on the stove: 4:45AM.  Well, I am up now!!

Clancy came and looked at me as if I was nuts... trying hard to snuggle and get me to go back to sleep... it was a funny sight!  My that dog has personality!!

By 6AM Andrew was up and Helen was not far behind.  With three cups of coffee in me, Helen set a beautiful cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomato and onion bagel in front of me... was it ever good!!  With another cup of coffee and some conversation about the pending election and other Montreal side shows... I all too soon, had to pack up.


Andrew had offered last night to take me over to his shop and then to a job where they are installing some exotic hardwood.  I was keen to see it!  With hugs from Helen and a slobber from Clancy I was off chasing Andrew across the island.

What a s…