43rd General Council Annual Meeting Adopts a Mission and Vision

Commissioners of the 43rd General Council met online on Saturday, October 23rd and approved a mission and vision statement for the denomination. Gathering in a required annual meeting, Commissioners embraced the words “Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship, and Daring Justice” as a statement of purpose for the church in such a time as this, and also supported a related vision statement:

Called by God, as disciples of Jesus, The United Church of Canada seeks to be a bold, connected, evolving church of diverse, courageous, hope-filled communities united in deep spirituality, inspiring worship, and daring justice.

This work on mission and vision originated from the 43rd General Council in Oshawa, and is connected to a strategic planning process that will give direction to the work of the General Council Office. Commissioners expressed their commitment to join with staff colleagues in animating this mission and vision statement across the diversity of the whole church, enabling a deepening of spirituality and emboldening strong action in the church and world.

In other important work, Commissioners formally received the audited financial statements for 2020, and approved refinements to the assessment formula. The main change, applying .25% to investment balances rather than investment returns, will reduce volatility in assessments as a result of market fluctuations. Commissioners also approved a motion “from the floor” that the General Secretary explore an equitable assessment of assets and report back to the General Council.

Commissioners received and discussed an annual report of the church with updates on the work of the Executive, the United Property Resource Corporation, and the General Council Office, including the new anti-racism action plan. The General Secretary took the occasion of the meeting to launch Leadership Counts, a new project that will help the church measure progress on her commitments to anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion. Leadership Counts unrolls a new confidential voluntary survey for ministry personnel, national and regional council staff, and members of national committees which will aid the church as it focuses to break barriers, open doors, and strengthen equitable pathways.

John Thompson provided an update on behalf of the National Indigenous Council, celebrating a recent ordination and commissioning, and other important steps forward in the journey of self-determination and self-governance. The Indigenous Church also spoke poignantly of the continued grief and trauma in the wake of the uncovering of unmarked graves, the need for support to communities of faith, and the importance of the non-Indigenous church continuing to live boldly into the apologies and acts of reparation.

In sharing from the floor, the church heard about the continued stresses experienced by clergy in this pandemic period, and the pain experienced by the recent decisions on benefits. The meeting was graced by an opening communion service, inspiring contributions from Elder Donna Kennedy and KAIROS Executive Director Aisha Francis, and strong support from a facilitation and an equity support team. Equity support team member Kenji Marui reminded the court that the work of equity is liturgy, the work of the people. In this last gathering of General Council 43, gratitude was expressed for the Commissioners and the Moderator who have served a lengthened term faithfully in unprecedented times.