The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, 43rd Moderator of The United Church of Canada
The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott, 43rd Moderator of The United Church of Canada. Credit: The United Church of Canada

Inviting your input into the developing Strategic Plan

“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Grace and peace to you, in the name of Jesus Christ.

The word “unprecedented” comes to our lips frequently these days as we experience change in every part of life as we have known it. The pandemic has required a huge leap of inventiveness in family, community, church, and movements as we strive to continue to witness God’s love to one another with acts of compassion and justice. Acting as a magnifying glass on inequities, but also on what we truly value, the pandemic pushes us to imagine a better world. In the middle of all of this flux and change, grief and possibility, we still strive to be Christ’s church together in a way that imagines that future possibility.

It is in this context—"a time such as this”—that we pick up a mantle given to the whole church by General Council 43 to identify strategic directions for our collective future. I want to tell you about how we are moving that critical planning work along, and to invite your participation.

Guided by the insights of the General Council Executive and the National Indigenous Council, we have gathered a project team from across the church to work with General Secretary Michael Blair, with assistance from Project Manager Jennifer Henry, on the development of a three-year Strategic Plan. While this Plan will be more fully developed for the work of the General Council Office, we hope that it will offer a clear understanding of mission, vision, and strategic objectives that the whole church might engage in, offering opportunities for other parts of the church to develop complementary plans along similar themes. Strategic objectives could also provide a lens through which we discern the agenda for proposals coming to General Council 44.

We are working quickly to complete a final draft of the Strategic Plan heading to General Council Executive in September, and to recalled General Council 43 in October, 2021. We feel we can do this because of all of the good work done by the denomination that already exists, in many forms, to contribute to the context, values, mission, and vision expected in this Strategic Plan.

Please keep a look out for opportunities to give input, in particular to mission, vision, and strategic objectives. One key moment will be Moderator Town Halls planned for April and May 2021.

Prior to the pandemic there were many key reasons for our church to come together in bold action. We don’t need to repeat the statistics that point to a very different demographic reality for our future. Those of us in congregational life feel that change, sharply, in numbers, resources, and community challenges. The pandemic has reinforced the call to live boldly, not just by deepening difficulties, but also by showing us that when we come together in creativity and conviction we can change. Those shifts can, however challenging, open possibilities for new life.

So, who are we, the church, called to be in time such as this, and not just in this time, but 10 years in the future? I welcome the opportunity to listen to your answers to this and other questions in the coming months, as we strive to create a road map for how we might journey into the future together.

Richard Bott