Stewards at GC43
Stewards at GC43. Photo: The United Church of Canada

Braving a New, Tech-Focused General Council

Technology is changing the world. It’s also changing the way we do General Council. No one knows that more than the 17 stewards working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth-running, tech-focused GC43. “This has been an interesting year,” says Judy Ormshaw, Bay of Quinte Chief Steward. “There is no more distributing paper, no more counting ballots.” Instead, commissioners are voting with their clickers.

A paperless council doesn’t take away stewards' focus on hospitality and welcome. But their job is now twofold. Says Bev Oag, program staff in the General Council Office, “We were looking for people with not only a comfort with technology, but also a comfort working with people.” In other words, stewards are helping commissioners get where they are going not only with their feet, but also with their fingers.

With over 300 people spread out over a large campus, stewards are instrumental in getting people to places in an efficient manner. They’re also helping to get people’s Wi-Fi working and their phones and laptops charged. This is the first General Council with an Information Technology (IT) table. “There might be more of us than needed,” says Ormshaw, “but if the technology breaks down, we’ll all be running!”

For stewards, it’s an opportunity to participate in the General Council experience. David Burgen, who has travelled with his wife from Winnipeg to be here, acknowledges that it’s been a powerful experience. “We’ve enjoyed being part of the worship and listening to the discussion,” he says. “It’s been interesting to have conversations with people in different parts of the country and with international visitors.”