United Church holds inaugural meeting for change

On the weekend of May 24 – 27th, the Unifor Center in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) was the site of a unique first for the United Church of Canada.

Approximately 550 delegates from across Ontario attended the inaugural meeting of a major restructuring of the church.  The southwestern Ontario region has been re-formed into three regions: Antler River Watershed (Region 7) headed up by Joyce Payne, Western Ontario Waterways (Region 8) headed up by Gary Clark and Horseshoe Falls (Region 9) headed up by Kate Young.

While it was a busy weekend for delegates, among the highlights was guest speaker, Reverend Cameron Trimble.  Trimble has lead a life of experience that has ranged from a landscaper to real estate executive, from a software development sales person to now owner of a ‘convergence’ company that is building across denominations.  In addition, she is a pilot who specializes in charter and private flights.

With humour but blunt dialogue, Trimble focused on the ‘shared common vision’ that the United Church should now be considering.

“You need to work together to hold the scale of vision through trust,” she said. “There are tow kinds of trust – earned and granted. The church is now in a challenge of creating in a new unchartered territory.  A congregation is a community as a whole and also individual communities (opinions).”

When it comes to disruptive people within a congregation, Trimble was adamant.  “You have to ask them to leave. It’s nothing personal but you can say … ‘this is not the church for you’.  If you don’t establish a culture and react to maintain it, then you lose credibility.”

                            Lifecycle of the Church

There is no doubt, according to many clergy in attendance, that the United Church is undergoing major changes and ones that congregations may find difficult to accept.