President's Report 2000
Presented at the Annual General Meeting, March 8, 2001.
Recently I reread a document Anne Thomas, a member of the Ottawa Quaker meeting, wrote for the Canadian Council of Churches in 1994. She spoke of ecumenism as ‘a still fragile experiment’ and of the continuing ambivalence toward it fifty years after the founding of the Canadian Council of Churches.
Recognizing the truth of these statements the Council sought for a robust way to celebrate 2000 years of Christian faith which would bring the Christian community together. Thus the idea of the Hymn Festival was born. On May 7th, eight choirs or musical groups participated in a program that followed the development of Christian hymnody from the first centuries of the church to the present.
The honorary co-chairs for the event were Archbishop Marcel Gervais and Captain Fred Waters of the Salvation Army. For many, the highlight of the festival was the congregational singing in L’Eglise Saint-François-d’Assise accompanied by organist Giles Leclerc and the Salvation Army Brass Chorus. Approximately 700 people attended.
The planning committee included Jacques Faucher, Andrew Johnston, Douglas Heard, Barbara Faught and Barton Beglo, who was responsible for publicity.
1) Standing Committees:
Jacques Faucher has just completed his second year as chair of this committee.
While much time and energy was devoted to the Hymn Festival, the first activity of 2000 organized by the Ecumenism Committee was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service held at St. Andrew’s Church in January. Anne Squire spoke on the Jubilee initiative to forgive the debt of poor nations. There was good media coverage of the event.
This year the Orthodox and Western Christian Churches share a common date for Easter and Pentecost. The Council discussed several possibilities for a joint activity and decided it would be best to find a way to join the Orthodox community in worship celebration. In October Jacques Faucher and Andrew Johnston met with Fr. Alex Michalopulos of the Greek Orthodox Church with the result that the whole Christian community is invited to ‘Vespers of Love’ on April 18, 2001 at 7:00 p.m. for a 45 minute service.
The year 2000 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Roman Catholic/Anglican dialogue. A joint service was held in Notre Dame Basilica on November 23rd to celebrate.
Jacques circulated a video from the important bishops conference in Toronto which looked at the twenty-five year history of dialogue.
This committee has been without a chair since Bern Barrett retired from the Council last year. David Yue has agreed to chair this committee.
Jacques Faucher attends monthly meetings of the Christian/Jewish dialogue.
Suzanne Savoie and Yvon Vanasse were the Council’s representatives to the Capital Region Inter-Faith Council.
CRIC sponsored a celebration of Creation and Culture of Peace in June.
c) Justice, Peace, Creation and Social Concerns:
Ruby Elver has been chair of this committee for some time. Garth Bulmer assumes the chair for the coming year.
In March, Garth and Andrew Johnston on behalf of the CCCA prepared and presented a brief to the Trustees of the Ottawa Carleton Public School Board concerning the decrease in funding for English as a Second Language. The Council was concerned about the ‘overall effect of such a move on the fabric of our community.’
In April, the Council sent a letter to the Ottawa Transition Board stating that we appreciate the bilingual character of the Capital.
Some members of Council attended the United Church Moderator’s Consultation on the Economy on Parliament Hill April 10.
Faith Partners sponsored a Symposium on Faith Values, attempting to build bridges between Churches, social agencies and the Business Community. Approximately 65 people attended.
In the late months of the year, the housing crisis which someone called ‘the issue of the day’ has taken our attention. The Christian community is looking for ways to raise awareness and provoke action. Monthly discussions are held at the Catholic Diocesan Centre and have included Rob Campbell, Ruby Elver and Garth Bulmer from the Council.
Our thanks as a Council goes to Suzanne Savoie who has chaired this Committee of One for several years. She has worked diligently to have our supporting denominations represented, to fill the vacancies that occur, and to invite other churches to join the Council. Barton Beglo will be the new chair of the Committee.
This year we welcomed Rob Campbell representing the Baptist Convention and Don Maclean from the United Church. Mrs. Penny Reklitis has come to represent Fr. Alex Michalopulos of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Fred Leyden served as the nominations committee for the election of officers and committee chairs for 2001. He was able to persuade individuals to serve in all the positions so our thanks go to him and to all who have agreed to serve.
2) Advisory Committees and Liaisons:
As a Council we have links to the Women’s Interchurch Council, organizers of the World Day of Prayer, the Lay School of Theology, Algonquin College Chaplaincy, and the Pastoral Care Team Training Program. The Council is a member of the Canadian Health Coalition, Ottawa branch. I attended three meetings on the Council’s behalf in 2000.
3) Other Matters:
Our Annual General Meeting of 1999 was held at Parkdale United Church. Rev. Tom Sherwood of Carleton University’s Ecumenical Chaplaincy spoke of his work there and the changing nature of campus ministry.
At our November meeting of Council, Archbishop Marcel Gervais, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, came to speak with us about the Vatican Declaration ‘Dominus Jesu.’ We were especially concerned with the reference made in the document to other churches. We were engaged in a discussion with him for over an hour. We appreciated his willingness to come.
I wish, once again, to thank all the Board members for their commitment to the work of the Council and their attendance at Board meetings. Many of you are busy pastors and your involvement speaks of a serious commitment to ecumenism and the essential unity we have in Jesus Christ.
Personally, I appreciate the work of Doug Heard as secretary; Don Friesen who as treasurer had a particularly busy year keeping the account balanced as the bills came in from the Hymn Festival; Jacques Faucher, a man who is fortunate to be doing a job that he really loves—ecumenism, full-time. As Vice-Chair of the Council he has been responsible for the largest number of emails to the Faught household and some of the longest.
As mentioned earlier in this report, an emerging concern of the Council during 2000 was the issue of affordable housing in the Ottawa region. There is a feeling that as a Council we should be prepared to work to raise awareness of this issue among our Christian communities. How we do this is not yet clear but we do believe we are our brothers’ keepers and live with the mandate to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ and in so doing we ‘fullfill the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6: 2).