Ecumenical Statement to GC43: Together with You We Risk Faith and Dare Hope

The ecumenical, interfaith, and global delegation to the 43rd General Council delivered an impassioned joint statement on justice and partnership the morning of Day 7, Friday, July 27. The message is offered here in its entirety:

We are your partners—ecumenical, interfaith, global—and we begin in gratitude, for your welcome, for your solidarity, for your love. We begin with the words of one of the members of the United Church Partner Council—Bishop Reuel Marigza of the Philippines. Bishop Marigza reminds you—The United Church of Canada—that you live in partnerships not because it is something that you have to do, but because these partnerships are in your DNA, in your birthright, so to speak.

You live them out concretely because without them, there is no United Church of Canada; when we witness this living out of your faith, and you come alongside us, accompanying us in the living out of our faith in our own particular contexts, walking beside us in our struggles, WE are strengthened. WE are emboldened. WE are inspired.

And to this, at this General Council 43, we might dare to add, when you walk beside us: YOU are strengthened, YOU are emboldened, YOU are inspired. That is because we need one another, to learn, to grow, to be the bold expression of the Living Christ that our common faith demands.

General Council 43, we want to say: Truly God is present in this place. And we have noticed it. We see God’s restless, inclusive, justice-seeking spirit: In your decisions to move forward the self-determining Indigenous church, in respect and towards right relations. In your welcome extended to us, and your culture of appreciation for one another. In your determination not only to speak about equity in your church but to strive to embody equity in meaningful ways, ways that begin to shift power and resources towards radical inclusivity. In your embrace of full communion with more and more communities of faith. And in so many other ways …

Truly God is present in this place.

And God is also present—so fully and meaningfully present—in the “in-betweens.” In the places between you and other churches, you and other faiths, and between you, as Canadian church, and your global partners. God is present right in the midst of these relationships, where we seek unity and justice for the whole inhabited earth. And we invite you to continue to notice.

At this General Council we were moved by the poignant stories related to the 1988 decision and are learning that even 30 years later you remain on a journey towards deeper and broader inclusion. Some of our communities are at a very different place in that journey, and yet we want to risk, to keep talking, believing we have something to learn, but also something to offer. We are acutely aware of the gravity of these questions—life or death—for LGBTQTS+ people around the world, for the way they are intertwined with colonization and mission, and for the ways in which they intersect with other systems of power, privilege, and oppression.

We know that you share our deep and sustained lament for the pain of our world where brutal racism wounds and harms, where war and militarization endangers and destroys, where violence against women and children threatens dignity and life, where organized crime chokes possibility, where youth face life-threatening despair, where ecological harm violates integrity and where those who speak out—peace-builders, human rights defenders, racial justice activists, Indigenous leaders, women, and so many others all around the world—risk their lives when they strive to change the world.

Yes, these are global issues, about our own communities and about your communities, your congregations, your families … these grim realities and many more exist. There is victimization and complicity, but also courage and resistance. How might we challenge each other to keep human rights and the integrity of creation right in the very centre of who we are as a church? How will this be centred in the communities of faith, the strategies of The United Church of Canada, and the priorities set by the General Council?

Friends, we dream of a future of mutuality where we fully understand how we need each other. We need you, as much as we believe that you need us. We dream of a future where we grow together people to people, church to church, and church to people's movements. Friends, our voice is so desperately needed—yours and ours together—coming alongside struggling peoples and communities. 

Our voice is needed to embolden the leadership of peoples most affected. Our voice is needed to resist, to propose, to lament, to insist—on the peace, justice, and integrity of creation that is God’s dream for us all.

Together, we learn and grow. Together, we are stronger. May God, who is our Hope, draw us more closely together in love and justice for the sake of the world.

We are so grateful for you. Together with you we risk faith and dare hope. Amen. 

The message was offered by the Venerable John Gichimu of the Organization of African Instituted Churches, based in Nairobi; the Rev. Philip Peacock of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; the Rev. William Mpere-Gyekye of the Methodist Church in Ghana; the Rev. Terri Hord Owens and the Rev. Paul Tché of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA and Canada; the Rev. Lynne McNaughton of the Anglican Church of Canada; Peter Noteboom of the Canadian Council of Churches; the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson of the United Church of Christ USA; Horacio Mesones of CREAS Argentina (Regional Ecumenical Advisory and Service Centre); the Rev. Stephen Kendall of the Presbyterian Church in Canada; Pastor André Lavergne of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Necta Montes of the World Student Christian Federation; and Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS Canada.