Dear Members and Friends of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council,
In the name of Jesus Christ, the one who comes again and again, and on behalf of the whole Council Executive, I send you Advent greetings on what for me is a glorious day in the lower mainland.
The sun is shining brightly as I bring you these highlights from our meeting this past weekend.
It’s a beautiful accompaniment to what I believe is good news for our time – even in the midst of a global pandemic. Following our (zoom) executive meeting this past weekend, I want to take this opportunity to update you on the work that the Regional Executive is undertaking on your behalf.
I want to tell you at the outset, in response to the very real threat many congregations and communities of faith face due to COVID19, we have decided, for the coming fiscal year only, to temporarily suspend (or ‘zero rate’) the regional assessment. Our hope is to recognize, and hopefully alleviate, at least some financial burden for our communities of faith and ministries. We are aware that for some congregations, paying this assessment is not a problem, and we encourage those of you in that situation to give a little extra to M&S this year.
After months of consultation and listening carefully to your words of encouragement and guidance – at the weekly town hall meetings since March and the regional meetings since our formation as a regional council – the executive is landing on three organizational priorities that will inform our work in the next few years.
- Identity: Reconciling, Affirming, Anti-Racist
The Pacific Mountain Regional Council has already made significant steps in re-shaping the identity of the denomination within its bounds. We continue in the work begun with an apology to the first peoples of our region in 1986, to continue the identity shifting work of reconciliation. We have developed policy stating we would be an anti-racist regional council. We have decided to follow a process to discern the decision to become an Affirming Ministry of the denomination.
- Healthy Communities of Faith
The Executive has come to believe that when communities of faith are healthy, the whole church is healthy. Communities of faith and congregations are the place where our identity as a reconciling, affirming, and anti-racist church is lived out. Communities of faith and congregations are where our response to an encounter with the living Christ is practiced regularly – in worship, in prayer, in scripture study, in justice making and mending the world, in whole life stewardship. Because we also recognize that leaders play an important role in Communities of Faith, we will continue to invest in, and support Leadership development work in the Region.
- First Third Ministry
The denomination’s age demographic is weighted heavily in the Baby Boomer and older age groups. In this reality, there is no substantive succession plan in all aspects of church life, threatening the church’s call to proclaim the gospel as we understand it. The denomination’s lack of attention and focus on the first third demographic is systemic, from early childhood development, through discipleship formation, through ministry leadership development. As a result, this priority needs to be addressed at every level of regional council work.
These priorities give strategic direction to the work we are already undertaking, whether it is core work like leadership development and property re-development or mandated work like pastoral relations. In addition, these priorities will be shaped by project work currently underway – new church development and a justice consultation.
The call of the Pacific Mountain Regional Council is highly resourced and we are deeply grateful to and for all the staff, and their dedication and faithful commitment to the gospel. We are especially grateful that all of this is being stewarded and led by our Executive Minister Treena Duncan.
We share this good news with great excitement. We believe we are building the foundation that will see the United Church of Canada flourish and grow in the Pacific Mountain Region. If you have thoughts to share, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. S. Blair Odney