President's Report 2003
Presented at the Annual General Meeting, April 1, 2004
The Christian Council of the Capital Area began this year of Grace 2003 with a devotion based on 2 Corinthians 4: 6 and the treasure we have in ‘the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ As the year unfolded and the Council gathered on the first Thursday of each month, we were continually reminded of the treasure we enjoy in Christ, and in unity as Christians. Thanks be to God!
The main purpose of the CCCA is ‘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 according to the Scriptures.’
It was appropriate that the year 2003 began with the Council sponsoring a regional service to celebrate the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are grateful to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church for hosting this service on Sunday, January 19, and to the Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church for preaching. This gathering, like others across the region and nation, remain an important witness to the community and even to our churches of ‘the unity of all Christian believers and congregations.’
Particular issues considered included:
- War upon Iraq: one of our members noted his fear for the Christians of the nation, we were reminded of the considerable unity amongst Canadian church leaders against this war, we noted appreciation for the Interfaith Service for Peace held at Notre Dame Cathedral, March 23;
- Capital Region Interfaith Council: the Christian Council had been instrumental in the formation of the Interfaith Council but it was agreed that the time had come for the churches to represent themselves on the CRIC and so the CCCA applied for ‘Associate Membership’ under the new by-laws.
We received presentations by:
- David Crawley on the witness of Mission Ottawa/Outaouais, which has arisen out of the 1998 Billy Graham mission: this is a monthly and annual gathering of pastors for prayer from across the region for the healing of relationships between the churches and the transformation of individuals for a transformed community;
- Joe Gunn, Director of the Social Affairs Office at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, who noted the crucial role the Canadian Council of Churches played in the findings of the Romanow Report on Health Care, and challenged the churches to become communities of participation in the issues of society, showing a different way in an era of personal and structural disengagement from society;
- Dennis Wiginton, Chair of the Advisory Committee, the Ottawa Pastoral Care Team Programme (started in 1975 in association with the CCCA): news was received of the continuing ministry of offering courses to 180 individuals this year for pastoral visitation, and the Council agreed to strengthen our support by appointing a representation as liaison to the Advisory Committee;
- Carl Hètu, Regional Animator for Development and Peace Ottawa, who introduced us to some of the spiritual dimensions of maintaining the claims of the common good over commercial privatisation of resources like water.
The Christian Council of the Capital Area gathered for an autumn retreat ably led by the Rev. Dr. Jim Christie. During this day away, we acknowledged that the challenges facing the Council include:
- to stake a claim for ecumenism within the churches;
- to find ways to acknowledge the real diversity amongst the churches but also to articulate the overarching unity amongst them;
- to offer a coherent and united Christian witness to a largely secular community.
Over the months that followed, insights were distilled into a series of initiatives for 2004, to begin with a meeting that would bring the CCCA together with the leaders of the churches who appoint representatives to the Council.
During the year 2003 the Council enjoyed representation from 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.
Our regular meetings received reports from the Council’s Standing Committees. Late in the year, these committees were reorganised around the areas of ‘Worship’, ‘Study’ and ‘Service’.
Updates were also received from other organisations with whom the Council is in relationship (Women’s Inter-Church Council, Lay School of Theology, Algonquin College Chaplaincy, Multi-faith Housing Initiative and the Pastoral Care Team Training Programme).
A great part of the work of the Council continued to involve receiving information about events and resources for communication to the Christian communities of the region through our representatives.
I record my appreciation for the company and encouragement of each member of the Council this year past, and particularly for the work of the Council Executive which included Don Friesen (Secretary), Peter Harkness (Treasurer), Barbara Faught (Past President) and Garth Bulmer (Vice President).
Finally I would be remiss not to record on behalf of the Council our gratitude to the Archdiocese of Ottawa for providing us so generously with a meeting room month after month.
The Reverend Andrew Johnston