Richard Bott and Susan Beaver, nominees for Moderator of The United Church of Canada
Richard Bott and Susan Beaver, nominees for Moderator of The United Church of Canada. Photo: The United Church of Canada

Moderator Vote: Commissioners Discuss Making a Big Decision

The 43rd General Council has elected the Rev. Dr. Richard Bott as the new Moderator of The United Church of Canada. After several rounds of voting, the two final nominees were Bott and the Rev. Susan Beaver, shown here. In total, 10 individuals were nominated from across Canada.

In the hour leading up to the vote, we spoke with a number of commissioners about how they prepared to vote, and what they were looking from in the next Moderator of the United Church.

Isabella Barbeiro, Youth Forum Commissioner and Pilgrim, Manitou Conference “I read all the bios and listened to all the speeches and went up to the nominees with an open mind and talked to them. Then I discussed everything with my peers. As a young person, I am looking for someone who has involvement with youth, a passion for right relations and someone who can lead the church in the right direction, focusing on right relations.”

Russel Burns, Commissioner, All Native Circle, Treaty 6 Territory, Central Alberta “I am not making this vote by myself. I am in communication with my community whom I represent—that is my tradition and culture. I have been telling my community what I have been hearing. We are looking for [someone who connects with] youth [as well as] mentorship and role modelling skills; someone who can be a real person. It is not about us [my community or Indigenous people], this decision is about all our relations.”

Ian MacGregor, Youth Forum Commissioner, London Conference “I remember meeting Jordan Cantwell for the first time at a youth camp I have worked at for the last year summers. She was so engaged with youth. As youth, I think it’s really important that we have a say and really look at who we want to be Moderator for the next three years. I want someone who builds community.”

Cynthia O’Connell, Commissioner, Toronto Conference “I am talking to people who aren’t just commissioners—colleagues and students—as it is not just my own personal decision. I am being asked to represent the church. I am looking for someone who can speak a vision of hope. This world and this church need hope—someone who can speak to who we are as a church and where we want to be.”

Rev. Ha Na Park, First-time Commissioner, Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario "As Adrian Jacobs [Keeper of the Circle at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre] said, ‘Now is a Kairos time for us as one United Church to walk humbly toward reconciliation and to take two paths, the Indigenous and settler churches, [into] one journey.’” 

Sarah Jane Wetelainen, Youth Commissioner, Toronto Conference “I was at the last General Council as an observer. I didn’t have voting privileges. This time I do, and it’s very different. There is a lot of responsibility. I came without any preconceptions. It’s important to have read everything. You can’t skip anything. I wanted to listen. I think there is a specific kind of energy needed for the next three years.”