President's Report 1999
Presented to the Annual General Meeting, February 29, 2000.
The purpose of the Christian Council of the Capital Area, according to our constitution, is, firstly, ‘...to give visible expression to the unity of all Christian believers and congregations, of whatever tradition and denomination, who confess that Jesus Christ is the Saviour and Lord of humanity according to the Scriptures.'
In the following report, I seek to show how we on the Christian Council of the Capital Area worked together in 1999 to give visible expression of our Christian unity.
1) The Council’s Standing Committees:
Jacques Faucher chairs this committee.
In January 1999, Jacques and Suzanne Savoie, with the pastor of St. Joseph’s in Hull, organized the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service. The Honourable David Kilgour was the speaker.
The January 2000 service held in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was the work of Jacques and Andrew Johnston. The speaker was Anne Squire and her theme, the Jubilee initiative to forgive the debt of poor nations.
The theme of debt-forgiveness forms a kind of inclusio to the year because it was at the 1999 service in Hull where we first circulated the Jubilee petition for signatures.
Several members of Council attended a Jubilee 2000 event on Parliament Hill in May and a second event in June that coincided with the G-8 meeting in Germany.
The Council rejoiced with Barton Beglo and Jacques as they reported on the Lutheran / Roman Catholic accord.
In June, several of us attended the consecration of Peter Coffin as the Anglican Archbishop of Ottawa.
Bern Barrett has given leadership to this committee for several years. He serves also as the first chair of CRIC, the Capital Region Inter-Faith Council which was formed in a large part due to his persistent effort.
Suzanne Savoie, Jim Lee, Yvon Vanasse and recently Jacques Faucher attended meetings of this group representing the Council.
Both Bern and Jacques are members of the Jewish-Christian and Moslem-Christian dialogues.
On April 25th, the Council organized an interfaith prayer service for the conflict in the Balkans. Prayers were offered and testimonies given by members of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities.
c) Justice, Peace, Creation & Social Concerns:
Ruby Elver chairs this committee which monitors current social issues of concern in our area.
The Council supports Faith Partners in its weekly vigil at the Human Rights monument in support of the poor.
They also sponsored a discussion ‘God and the Ontario election’ and prepared 5 pamphlets on poverty.
The Council is a member of the Ottawa Health Coalition and the Community Care Access Centre. I attend meetings of these two groups on the Council’s behalf.
We were also participants in the ‘Success by Six’ consultation in April.
Suzanne Savoie is the diligent and sole member of this committee. It is she who works to fill the denominational vacancies.
This year, the Society of Friends appointed Peter Harkness and the Presbyterian Church appointed Andrew Johnston as their Council representatives.
A Baptist member has been promised to us and Suzanne has had several conversations with clergy of the various Orthodox communities and she remains hopeful.
Currently publicity is managed on an ad hoc basis. Don Friesen manages the web site and is working on a new directory.
A nominations committee was struck recently to prepare for the election of the Council’s executive and committee heads. Thanks to Don Friesen and Ruby Elver for their work in this regard and the willingness of other board members to serve in these roles.
2) Advisory Committees and Liaisons:
There are several ecumenical activities to which we as a council are related through our individual members.
Suzanne Savoie reports on the Algonquin College Chaplaincy and the Lay School of Theology.
Ruby Elver and I report on the activities of the Women’s Inter-Church Council.
Our board meetings were visited by Lloyd Mackey of Christian News Ottawa; Dr. Bill Prentice, Director of Programming for the Anglican diocese; Evelyn Kelly, Co-chair of Ottawa’s Jubilee Coalition; and Sylvia Zalts, a Lutheran pastor visiting from Argentina who spoke of ecumenism in her country.
Early in the year, the Council discussed various ways in which we could bring the Christian community together to celebrate 2000 years of Christian faith. ‘Music!’, everyone said and fairly quickly the idea of a hymn festival emerged from our discussion. The date is May 7th, 2000 at 3:00 p.m. at l'Eglise St-François-d’Assise. The honorary co-chairs for this event are Archbishop Gervais and Capt. Fred Waters of the Salvation Army. Seven choirs and a contemporary praise and worship team will be participating.
The committee of Jacques Faucher, Doug Heard, Andrew Johntson and I have been working on this endeavour for eight months or so. The major details are in place and a commemorative booklet will be ready shortly for translation into French.
Our annual General Meeting of 1998 was held at Woodroffe United Church. Sr. Donna Geernaert of the Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Canadian Council of Churches addressed the meeting on current initiatives in ecumenism.
I wish to thank all the Board members for their commitment to the work of the Council and their attendance at monthly Board meetings. Many are very busy pastors who would not be there if they did not believe deeply in the unity of the church in Jesus Christ beneath and beyond its denominational divisions.
I especially appreciate the work of Doug Heard and Don Friesen as secretary and treasurer respectively.
Our gratitude as a board goes out especially to Bern Barrett who is retiring after this meeting. Bern has served the Council for a long time as Anglican representative, President, Past President, as well as the role already mentioned as Inter-Faith Committee chair. His presence will be greatly missed.
We are also losing Jim Lee, one of our United Church members of Council and a faithful contributor. Jim is leaving to devote more of his time to the Parliamentary Prayer Group.
As we continue the work of the Council, let us ‘spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace the unity which the Spirit gives. There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope held out in God’s call to you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’ (Ephesians 4: 3-6)