President's Report 2001
Presented at the Annual General Meeting, March 7, 2002.
Perhaps it has been a while since any of us has read a copy of our Christian Council Constitution. It is sometimes a good thing to remind ourselves of the basics. I recommend a reading of all 8 clauses under Article II - Purpose.
As we begin our thirty-second year as a Council, I was encouraged to see that we have attempted ‘to provide a channel or agency for cooperation in fellowship, study, worship, service and witness activities related to the Capital area; to serve as a channel for Christian concerns, locally relevant..., and to assume responsibilities arising from the geographic proximity of the Capital area churches to the seat of federal government.’ (clauses 2, 5, 6.)
When one has served on the Council for several years, it is easy to become discouraged by the lack of progress made on some issues of concern. For that reason alone, the writing and reading of Annual Reports are good, even necessary exercises which serve to remind us we have done and indeed are doing some very good things to give visible expression of our unity in Christ.
1) The Council’s Standing Committees:
Jacques Faucher is chair of this committee and as the Council’s only member appointed to the full time task of ecumenism by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ottawa, he is an ideal person for the position. He keeps us informed monthly of a host of local, national, and international ecumenical news items which he knows through his involvement here in Ottawa and his increasing familiarity with the internet.
- In January 2001, Jacques worked with Tom Sherwood of the Carleton University Ecumenical Chaplaincy to plan the service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The service was held at Carleton.
- The Eastern and Western Churches shared a common date for Easter in 2001. We celebrated by attending the Vespers of Love on April 18 hosted by Father Alex Michalopulos at the Ascension of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church. Archbishop Marcel Gervais was a guest of honour and other Orthodox clergy participated in the liturgy. The congregation hosted a reception following the service.
- His Holiness Karekin II Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians visited Ottawa, May 17th. Jacques brought greetings from the Council congratulating the Armenian Church on 1700 years of continuing faith and witness.
- Planning began in June to invite Dr. Janet Sommerville to the 2002 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
David Yue chairs the Inter-Faith Committee. He and Yvon Vanasse and Suzanne Savoie (until June) are the Council’s representatives on the Capital Region Inter-Faith Council.
- In June CRIC sponsored ‘Common Ground for the Common Good.’ This meeting examined how we can influence governments on issues that we hold in common despite differences in faith and practice.
- Yvon is involved in drafting new bi-laws for CRIC.
c) Justice, Peace, Creation and Social Concerns:
Garth Bulmer chairs this committee which brings to the Council’s agenda current social issues of concern to our churches.
The crisis in social and affordable housing has been the focus of much of our discussion this year. The interfaith Dialogue on Affordable Housing meets the first Monday of the month. Its goal is to raise the consciousness of this issue for people of faith.
Ruby Elver, Rob Campbell and Garth are members of the Dialogue but the Council as a whole is committed to supporting the initiatives underway at present in any way we can.
A second issue with repercussions farther away concerned the Council this year—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peter Harkness reported on the Canadian Tour by a Palestinian and an Israeli to alert Canadians to the issue of Home Demolition in the Palestinian territories.
Robert Assaly, Chair, Canadian Friends of Sabeel visited the Council in April just after returning from a visit with other Christian leaders to the West Bank. Robert had served there previously as a representative of the Canadian Council of Churches. He urged us to stand in prayer and solidarity with Christians in the area who are attempting to seek peace with justice.
The role of this committee primarily is to fill denominational vacancies and to attempt to enlist unaligned churches to send representatives to the Council. Even without a permanent chair, this year has brought some excellent new members to our Council.
We welcomed Pauline Leduc, appointed to represent the Gatineau-Hull Diocese on the retirement of Suzanne Savoie; Joel Crouse, Lutheran representative, who has replaced Bart Beglo who ably served the Council until he assumed increased denominational responsibilities, the reappointment of Andrew Johnston by the Presbyterian Presbytery and most recently Nabih Abdelmalek to represent the Orthodox Church on the Council. Nabih comes as a result of Jacques Faucher’s tireless effort to pursue links with the Eastern Church.
Peter Harkness has ably acted as a committee of one to look after publicity. Don Friesen manages the web site.
A nominations committee was struck in November under the chairmanship of Fred Leydon. Rob Campbell and Barbara Faught also served. All offices and committee chair positions have been filled for 2002.
2) Advisory Committees and Liaisons:
Don Friesen reports on Habitat for Humanity which this year plans a blitz of building in the Alta Vista area.
Ruby Elver and Suzanne Savoie reported on the Algonquin College Chaplaincy which received $1,500 from the Dominion Chalmers Millennium Fund to assist in a search for a chaplain.
Ruby and Barbara Faught report on the activities of the Women’s Inter Church Council.
We celebrate the 27th year since the founding of the Pastoral Care Team Programme under the sponsorship of the CCCA. The spring 2002 programme had to turn away would-be-registrants testifying to its popularity in training people for service in the churches.
Michel Gauthier of the Tulip Festival visited the Council with a proposal to have the churches participate in the festival. The proposal proved too expensive to pursue.
With the support of the Council, Peter Williams presented a request to the Dominion Chalmers Millennium Fund to set up a ‘Community Ministries Website.’ Funds were not granted but CHRI Radio may assist in developing the project.
I wish to thank all the Board members for their commitment to the work of the Council and their attendance at Board meetings. During the year we have had some very frank discussions and differences of opinion have been expressed from the heart. The result has been to strengthen our relationships as a Council and, I believe, to move them to a new depth.
Doug Heard will be retiring from the Council and his position as minister of Woodroffe United Church in May. He has been secretary of the Council throughout my years as President and made my job so much easier.
Jacques Faucher has been a great dialogue partner and supportive vice-chair.
Don Friesen had an easier year as treasurer in 2001 but he will once again be changing hats—our most versatile member?
In addition to the concerns that have been mentioned in this report and which will remain on our agenda, there are other issues for our future. For example, we need to address more satisfactorily what qualifies a faith group to participate legitimately in inter-faith dialogue.
We continue to hope for links with the evangelical churches in our National Capital Area.
I am so pleased after five years to pass the presidency on to Andrew Johnston who comes with a sense of God’s call to the work of this council. He will be aided by a strong executive and committed members both new and veteran. We have every reason to be hopeful as we endeavour together to honour the presence of Christ in our lives and in our Council.