President's Report 2002
Presented at the Annual General Meeting, March 6, 2003
‘Creator of us all, you put into our hearts the longing for community with you. Fulfill those desires, we pray. Reunite us into one family through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns in communion with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.’ (From the Liturgy of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2002.)
As current President, I report with great thanksgiving to God for the witness and work of the Christian Council of the Capital Area in this year past, its thirty-third in the name of Jesus Christ and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Representation and Stated Meetings:
The CCCA gathered for its regular monthly meetings the first Thursday morning of each month from January through December, excluding July and August.
We are grateful for the hospitality offered by the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
Our meetings included duly appointed representatives of the Baptist, Coptic Orthodox, Lutheran, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gatineau-Hull, Salvation Army, Society of Friends, and United communities, as well as representatives from Faith Partners and the Women’s Inter-Church Council. This is a wonderfully diverse and strong Council.
It was a particular pleasure to welcome new representatives, Daphne Craig (Bethany Hawthorne Pastoral Charge—United), Mike Welsh (Capitol City Church—Pentecostal), and Cliff Hollman (Salvation Army).
Our meetings in 2002 included presentations by several guests:
- Sister Lena of the Franciscan Order of Sisters spoke in January about home-based spiritual care.
- The Rev. Robert Assaly of St. Thomas Anglican Church brought the Council news on the situation of Palestinian Christians and news from the Friends of Sabeel.
- The Rev. Jim Christie of Southminster United Church and a member of the Governing Board of the Canadian Council of Churches informed us in May on developments in relationship between the CCC and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, as well as the activity of the CCC before the Supreme Court in a case concerning the patenting of living organisms.
- In June Ryan Ellis screened a brief video regarding a Christian youth gathering organised for August on Parliament Hill, sponsored by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
Once again, a major focus of the Council was the planning and offering of a Service of Worship to mark the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the heart of our nation’s capital. This service was held on Sunday January 20, 2002, hosted by St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church on Elgin Street, at which Janet Sommerville, the General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches spoke.
A fountain of water surrounded by living plants in the centre of the chancel wonderfully focused the congregation upon the theme ‘with you, Lord, is the fountain of life’.
No sooner was this Service completed than the Council began planning for the service of the present year, held on Sunday, January 19, 2003, organised by the Lutheran community and hosted by St. Peter’s Church.
Dr. Pierre Allard, long at work in the field of restorative justice, graciously accepted an invitation to preach, but due to serious illness was forced to decline just days before the Service. We express our appreciation to the Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church for stepping into the breach (and pulpit), and delivering a moving sermon around the theme of ‘we have this treasure in clay jars’.
These Services remain an important Christian witness to the larger community, and the Council is pleased to provide this planning and co-ordination on behalf of its members.
Another major emphasis of the Council this year was our involvement in inter-faith matters, and in particular our relationship with the Capital Region Interfaith Council. The CCCA was involved in initiating the formation of CRIC and has continued to have an official participation since its establishment.
During the year 2002, CRIC worked on creating by-laws to formalise its current understandings of membership, governance and work. Following these discussions through our representatives on CRIC, the members of the CCCA have been considering the basis of an appropriate relationship for the years to come.
CRIC began as a forum for mutual understanding and has grown into a body active in the public arena. This raises questions of how best the Christian community should be represented on CRIC, questions with which the CCCA continues to struggle.
Finally, as is appropriate for a body in its third decade, the Council also dedicated a considerable amount of time and energy to considering our own mandate and calling in a society very different from the context in which it was first formed. We returned to our Constitution and Terms of Reference for study.
We have reaffirmed our understanding of the great need for a common Christian voice in the capital area in this time and place, perhaps more profound than ever before. We are committed to a re-mandating process with the bodies who are represented on the Council—the Council is the servant of the Churches, and seeks their guidance and direction. This work will continue in the year 2003.
Other Matters Considered:
Regular meetings included reports from the Council’s Standing Committees (Ecumenism, Interfaith, Justice/Peace/Creation and Social, Membership and Publicity) as well as from the Advisory Committees and Liaisons with whom the Council is in relationship (Women’s Inter Church Council, Lay School of Theology, Algonquin College Chaplaincy and the Pastoral Care Team Training Programme).
Over the course of the year 2002, the Council monitored several events and issues. These included:
- Christian perspectives surrounding the meeting in Canada of the G8 countries (greatly aided by the work of the new ecumenical coalition known as Kairos);
- The Governor General’s Habitat for Humanity build in Ottawa the summer of 2002;
- The change at the Ottawa Hospital from ‘pastoral care’ to ‘spiritual care’;
- The autumn educational focus of Development and Peace on patenting living organisms;
- Initial results of the Mission Ottawa survey that included a large number of local churches.
Perhaps most time was invested upon the desperate need for affordable housing in the capital region and the Council celebrated the transition of the Faith Community Housing Foundation to the Multi-Faith Housing Initiative and its appointment of patrons.
A great part of the work of the Council involved receiving information about events and resources and arranging for communication to the Christian communities of the region through our representatives. Occasionally, however, action was taken by the Council as a whole.
- When Temple Israel was defaced by graffiti early in the year, the Council agreed to send a letter of support to the congregation.
- When it was learned that an inter-faith service was being planned for Thanksgiving Sunday morning on Parliament Hill in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee visit of our Queen, the Council petitioned the Government of Canada to move the service to a time when no members of any faith community would be excluded—the Government budged, but not much, for the service was set for 12 noon, effectively excluding many Christians from participating in Christian worship and this inter-faith gathering.
I conclude with words of gratitude. New members of the Council have already been noted and welcomed. We have missed the company and contributions of David Yue and Douglas Heard, both due to retirement from full-time ministry. The dedication of the continuing members of the Council has been much appreciated, helping bring the wisdom of experience to bear upon the new context for Christian unity and service.
We must also note our gratitude for the new Executive called to serve in the year 2002, including Don Friesen (Secretary), Peter Harkness (Treasurer), Barbara Faught (Past President), and Garth Bulmer (Vice President).
Most of all, we are grateful to God, who has brought us together in the name of Jesus Christ, and given us a wonderful opportunity to grow in Christian understanding and witness through the Christian Council of the Capital Area.
‘Your steadfast love, O God, reaches to the heavens. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. We come before you, longing to form a human community of reconciliation between young and old, men and women, crossing our various cultures. We seek to overcome the disunity of the Christian Church. We place ourselves and our world in the shadow of your wings. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.’ (From the Liturgy of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2002.)
The Rev. Andrew Johnston