Archive for the ‘United Church of Canada’ Category

Lenten quote #5, 2019

” I think that ministry has a deep need to name anxiety for what it is: an addictive substitute for faith.

“Idolatry” is the word for it in the ancient writings.”

Rt. Rev. Peter Short

United Church Observer, Sept. 2004, p.39





Choose Faith Over Fear

This story was posted on the United Church of Canada website (July 18, 2018) and is a statement that brings positive energy to my soul. As we remember the birth of Jesus, we also remember the narrative in Matthew’s Gospel that tells of Jesus and his family being refugees.

Sign being held aloft: No Muslim Ban

Sign from a Muslim ban protest, Washington, DC.

Credit: Liz Lemon, Flickr [CC0 1.0]

Racism and Islamophobia practised by individuals and nations continue to destroy God’s beloved community.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. —Matthew 25:35–36

Affirming that God is at work in the religious life of all humanity, the United Church is committed to working with all people of goodwill for compassion, peace, and justice in the world. Together with our full communion partner the United Church of Christ (USA), we respond with outrage and sorrow to the recent US Supreme Court decision upholding President Trump’s executive order barring people from several Muslim-majority countries from travel to the United States.

When Jesus named welcoming the stranger as one of the characteristics of those who are faithful followers of his way, he spoke of a gathering of nations. This recent decision demonstrates once again that racism and Islamophobiapractised by individuals and nations continue to destroy God’s beloved community.

United Church of Christ leaders say that this “travel ban is a signal that we are closing the door to our neighbors who are fleeing violence and persecution, and that our faith calls us to do otherwise.” As part of our commitment to racial justice, The United Church of Canada is called to speak against discrimination rooted in racial and religious bigotry. Indeed, the recent travel ban decision has been criticized as the US Supreme Court once again legitimizing and legalizing racism.

International interfaith organization Religions for Peace expressed its sorrow and moral opposition to the Supreme Court ruling, calling all people of faith to “welcome the other.” “Each of our diverse faith traditions calls for profound active solidarity with, and empathy for, the ‘other’ rooted in a spirit of unity, as a deeply held and widely shared value among our religious communities,” states the organization.

Religions for Peace has joined with a global coalition of faith leaders (including the World Council of Churches, of which the United Church is a member) in the Faith over Fear campaign, an initiative which invites people of faith to “welcome the other” by opening their hearts and communities to refugees.

Although Canada’s refugee sponsorship programs have supported people of many faiths, Canadians are not immune to these global currents of fear and distrust of “the other,” or to underlying racism and Islamophobia. Recent responses to asylum-seekers entering Canada from the United States; hate crimes attacking individuals and their places of worship; increasing numbers of visa refusals for those coming to Canada from the global South—all point to a Canada less welcoming than our faith envisions. Recently the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Council of Churches (of which the United Church is a member) filed a court challenge of the safe third country agreement between Canada and the United States, through which refugee claimants cannot legally enter one of these countries from the other.

Choosing faith over fear requires us to denounce all actions that violate on the basis of race or religion. As people of faith, we must denounce that which violates the human rights, dignity, and very life of those around the globe who seek refuge from war, poverty, or climate devastation, and of those who simply seek to travel or work in a different part of the world.

We are called to work with Canadians of all faiths for immigration systems that “welcome the other” and contribute to communities that are just and inclusive,‎ honouring diversity as a gift for all. Consider exploring the stories of hope and welcome on the Faith over Fear website. Or share this statement on your social media networks with the hashtag #NoMuslimBanEver.

For more information, contact:

Gail AllanProgram Coordinator Ecumenical and Interfaith

416-231-7680 ext. 4162
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4162

Racism and The United Church of Canada

At the most recent gathering of the General Council of the United Church of Canada the topic of racism within the church surfaced as a result of a “powerful” speech given by Rev. Paul Walfall of Edmonton.

Is “the church” listening?

Rev. Paul Douglas Walfall speaks at General Council in Oshawa, Ont. on Friday, July 27, 2018. (Credit: United Church/Flickr/Creative Commons)

The text of his adder to the General Council can be found at:

A subsequent interview with The Observer can be found at:

The Hope Within Us

Roman Catholic‒United Church Dialogue Releases Report on Climate Change

Published on July 19, 2018

The report explores the spiritual resources of our common tradition for addressing climate change and working for ecological justice. It includes practical, faith-filled suggestions for action to address the ecological crisis of the anthropocene.


The Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue has released a report on climate change entitled The Hope within Us. Since October 2012, the Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue has met eight times to explore our churches’ responses to the ecological crisis, with particular attention to climate change. The report explores the spiritual resources of our common tradition for addressing climate change and working for ecological justice. While not turning away from the real dangers of the ecological crises, the dialogue provides a vision of hope, based on our common Christian faith, that a new relationship between humanity and creation is possible. The report writes:

“So we hold to two poles of a single paradoxical truth. First, Christians have a responsibility to act faithfully even when we see our actions as small and insignificant. Second, our ground for hope is not in ourselves, but in that which comes when we lose hope in our own powers and put our hope in the One through whom all things were made and in whom all things will find their fulfillment. It is a hope that knows resurrection lies beyond death and the tomb. We experience hope not as a secure possession or achievement but as a mysterious gift that we receive more fully as we act upon it.”

In addition, the report addresses fundamental questions such as: What is our theology of creation, of Earth and our place in it, and of the environment and its future? What, in light of our present situation, are the key issues for the churches, today and tomorrow? What, in particular, should our two churches do together and with others? The dialogue marked the areas of consensus found on these important questions, but also noted areas where different emphasis lay, or where further dialogue and understanding are needed. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home and The United Church of Canada’s faith statement A Song of Faith provided a rich resource for the dialogue and are reflected throughout the report.

The Hope within Us report also includes Earth Hour Vigil, an ecumenical prayer service prepared by the dialogue and offered to our churches, ecumenical partners, and wider networks to promote Earth Hour as a celebration and commitment to compassionate action for creation’s well-being.

The Roman Catholic‒United Church of Canada Dialogue is sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The United Church of Canada.

A Message for Doug Ford

Over 250 clergy and United Church of Canada staff personnel have endorsed a letter to the new Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford. In the letter, the premier is requested to reconsider his stances on refugees, supervised drug injection sites, and the province’s sex-ed curriculum.

Ontario United Church ministers behind a letter to Premier Doug Ford are inviting people to share these graphics. (Credit:

The full text of the letter can be found at:

Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum reversal denies LGBTQ children their rights and safety

In Ontario there’s plenty of controversy over the unilateral decision of the Doug Ford government to revert to the 1998 educational curriculum.

A well-respected minister in the United Church of Canada, Rev. Dr. Cheri DeNovo has written a column in The Observer on this action. The column speaks of the rights of those who are marginalized, and of Christian love and respect for our neighbours.  Part of what Rev. DiNovo writes is as follows:

Soon, I will be hand-delivering a letter to Premier Doug Ford or Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, a woman I admire and consider a friend, signed by dozens of United Church clergy, asking the premier to exercise compassion and justice on a number of issues, one of them being to protect our children by informing and educating them so that they can protect themselves.

The whole column can be accessed at:


A Tale of Two Narratives

Challenges await Venezuela’s Maduro as he wins a second term

Closing of a voting table at about 7 pm Sunday in the teacher’ college in Ali Primera park, Caracas. Photo: Jim Hodgson

To no one’s surprise, Nicolas Maduro has won a second term as president of Venezuela. And again (not a surprise) we see two narratives developing about what happened here on Sunday.

Our Canadian labour observer delegation saw an election that was expertly run, had good participation, and which had no fraud that was evident to us. Granted, we were mostly in the poorer neighbourhoods where support for Maduro is highest — the neighbourhoods where the majority of Venezuelans live.

Meanwhile, even by mid-afternoon, the international media were reporting a low turnout and complaints of fraud.

“Polls close as opposition cries foul,” said the BBC. Such reports cited opposition candidate Henri Falcon who by mid-day had registered 350 complaints about the process. By the time the polls closed, he registered more than 900.

Around mid-day, the United States declared it would not recognize the result. Other countries, including Canada, are expected to follow suit.

In the end, the vote was not close. Maduro won with 5.8 million votes. His principal opponent, Henri Falcon, had about 1.8 million. Voter turnout was 48 per cent.

“We are the force of history turned into popular victory,” Maduro told supporters gathered outside the Miraflores presidential palace after results were announced. Promising to be a president for all Venezuelans, he renewed his call for dialogue. “Permanent dialogue is what Venezuela needs,” he said.

For Maduro, the negative international reaction, while predictable, will be a problem. Existing sanctions already hurt the country’s ability to make purchases abroad. Companies and banks are now reluctant to engage with any Venezuelan purchaser, making access to food and medicine imports ever more difficult — and provoking shortages that have a direct impact the lives of ordinary people. To make matters worse, U.S. administration officials have warned of new sanctions that could reduce Venezuela’s oil exports.

Some problems are home-made. Despite concerted efforts, corruption is still an issue. I spoke with a young doctor who supports the government and deplores the diversion of medicine from Venezuela to Colombia. “People who do that are traitors,” he said.

Venezuela also suffers from hyperinflation and some of the world’s highest crime rates.

Maduro has promised a new national dialogue to achieve some way of living with the opposition. The problem is that at least since their failed coup attempt in 2002, most opposition forces have shown little or no interest in any solution other than complete capitulation or regime change through force: another coup or foreign military intervention.

The most concerted effort to bring opponents into the present electoral process collapsed in early February after months of international mediation led by the Dominican Republic. A previous Vatican-led effort also failed.

The challenges are immense, and there will be no honeymoon for this president as he begins a second term.

Yet Venezuelans merit attention and solidarity as they try to find a way forward. Democracy is supposed to be about the people ruling. Venezuela is one of a handful of countries remaining where the poorest people have wrested control away from the rich who used political structures to maintain economic privileges.

This column originally appeared on



Religion AND Science

“You’re a scientist AND a you want to be a minister in a church????”

That is a question that a friend was asked prior to his ordination.

In the UC Observer there are testimonies from four scientists / ministers who have also been asked that question of how they square the circle of being a scientist and a Christian leader.

A grouping of young stars, called the Trapezium Cluster (centre), shines from the heart of the Orion Nebula in this photo by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA


Living Spiritually?


In 2017 Anne Bokma attempted to “live spiritually” for twelve months. The UC Observer says that; “Having long explored the “spiritual but not religious” demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.”

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Bokma summarizes her journey in this column, published in The UC Observer: 

At the bottom of her column there is an opportunity to access each of the 12 monthly columns that she wrote on this topic.

It is an interesting journey to observe, especially if one believes that all of life is infused with Spirit.



Chas McCarthy to Pope Francis — Theology in the Vineyard

This is the mere opening of that incredible apostle of the nonviolent Jesus, Emmanuel Charles McCarthy Dear Pope Francis, Christ is in our midst. He is now and ever shall be. I am aware that several hundred Catholics and Americans of goodwill have appealed to you by letter, petitioning you regarding your upcoming visit […]

via Chas McCarthy to Pope Francis — Theology in the Vineyard