Category Archives: governance

On My Life, My Unions, My Understanding of Socialist Engagement, and Ministry

A friend in ministry had some thoughts about the current provincial election in BC. So did I. We were sharing them on social media, until my need to be expansive overtook me. So I’ve posted here. For anyone to look at, if they choose.

Hello my friend,

I hope this is useful for you. It has been for me. My ‘editor’ (Laurel) shares my context, and I have little idea of yours (other than that which we share) and, therefore, have no idea if this will translate, or be of service. It’s too long, I know, and I could edit for publication, or sermonizing, but I am trying to communicate something of my understanding, rather than writing to convince or intrigue, and I have a sermon to write too, so I’m leaving it as it is.  A ramble through my life, Canadian political and labour history (as I have experienced it), and some thoughts about where this goes as it informs my ministry. Thank you for instigating.

My life:

I come from a long line of working people, farmers, coal miners, labourers, skilled trades, the odd engineer and teacher and not a few activists. My folk were part of the army of settlers who came here for the land and were part of the army of soldiers who fought and died for empire and against fascism. My ancestors gave their lives in combat for ideals, and in deep dark holes in the ground, mucking coal and other valuables for the folk that our country gave right of ownership to.

I grew up in industry towns, (Kitimat and Flin Flon), and was steeped in the lore of Company versus Union at our dinner table. My dad (a staunch union member and organizer) would talk about Cadomin and the Coal Branch in Alberta, the company towns where his father and his mother’s family earned a living. His dad was a Legion manager, who was gassed at Vimy, and didn’t really have the lungs for other work. I’m told he could sing “Old Rugged Cross” and play a mean Nova Scotia fiddle. Dad’s mom’s dad and her brothers worked underground in places where you can still see the monuments to men killed when methane blew the bottom out of the mine. Those monuments are everywhere, if you have time to look. They’re still making them, less frequent here than in other countries, but you don’t have to go to Central America and Gold Corp to learn about the willingness of mine operators to risk and sometimes sacrifice life for profit. You can find it here too. And not just at Mount Polley. Continue reading On My Life, My Unions, My Understanding of Socialist Engagement, and Ministry

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On Equity

This post was written in response to a number of articles and posts that attacked the ‘discriminatory’ nominations policy of the provincial NDP that requires a constituency to seek a non able bodied white male candidate for the nomination in a seat currently held by theEquality-Equity-Reality NDP. Called the ‘Equity Policy’ of the NDP, it’s meant to ensure the legislature has the benefit of MLAs who come from backgrounds and life experiences that are more representative of the population than the traditionally selected able bodied white males. The attack from local white males, their supporters and some in the media is meant to unseat
the policy and reinstate the status quo…


My how times have changed.

When I was young and learning how we care for one another, my grandmother taught me that those of us who ‘can’ are expected to do for those of us who ‘cannot’. She did that in many ways, but the most telling was on the city bus. If I was in a seat I was expected to offer it to someone who was older, weaker, carrying a load, or less able to stand than I was. There were times when she stood beside me.

These days they reserve seats for folk in those categories, but when they’re all filled, I see folk standing for folk who cannot. I see that in many ways, on the bus, in offerings of help to people who are hungry and homeless, in voices raised for a living wage, in concern for refugees, in those who identify and speak out against racism and homophobia. In those who want freedom of religion, and those who want freedom from it. Voices raised by those who can, service offered to those who cannot. It is good to see my grandmother’s teachings still living in our culture.

We see it even in electoral politics. One party has adopted a policy asking those who can stand for office and easily take the day to stand aside and offer their full support to those who could not otherwise stand and take a place of membership in the councils of governance. Those who are socially privileged standing, making way, and offering their strength to the less privileged so that we might all benefit from the wisdom they have earned and won in hard fought lives. Continue reading On Equity

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Times Colonist Column

Hello folks, I’ve been blogging as President of BC Conference of late, haven’t spent enough time here, I’m afraid. Please follow this link to the Times Colonist On Line, I’ve a few thoughts there about women of faith and how some walk with them, while others use them for their own ends….

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General Council 42 (GC42) the Seventh Day

I wish I could say we rested. That will come tomorrow, when Liam and I hop the

The Comprehensive Review Omnibus proposal has passed!
The Comprehensive Review Omnibus proposal has passed!

Mission and Service Bus to St. John’s.

This day was full to the brim. What did we do?

We rejected changing our status from a church authorized by an Act of Parliament (it means we have to ask Parliament to approve some of the changes we make to our structure) to a church governed by the Not for Profit Corporations Act. The vote carried in favour, but not by the 66% required. I was one of the 41% opposed. I could see no compelling reason to change. Continue reading General Council 42 (GC42) the Seventh Day

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General Council 42 (GC42) Day Six

Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator Elect of the United Church of Canada

What a day. We began hearing a sermon in French and English, based in the story of the rich young man who comes to Jesus asking what he must do to find peace in his heart. Told he should drop his possession off at the nearest sale and give the proceeds to the poor, he walks away. Jesus looks after him with sympathy and understanding. It’s not easy to find peace in your heart.

The sermon riffed along highs and lows in the life of the presenter. In passionate French and accentuated English, he spoke to the church as the love of his life that he had given up job and security and certainty and lifestyle for. He poured his love out for the church and told us Continue reading General Council 42 (GC42) Day Six

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General Council 42 (GC42) – the Fifth Day

Not a lot to report, M’dears (as they say here on the Rock).

Youth and leaders at Camp Westhaven near Corner Brook, NFLD

We opened with worship led in the four directions by folk from the Native Ministries Council, joined hands around the arena in a double circle and, as we heard words of connection, were gifted with tobacco bags, made up during last night’s spiritual practices.

Moving into Comprehensive Review discussions, our moderator opened with a caution to all. Lots of work to do and concerns about time available to do it are reaching the chair. Commissioners were asked to keep their sights high. To aim comments at substantive issues, denomination shaping questions not words that might be changed later anyway, as the intent and desires of the meeting became fully known. Some heard him.

A question from an Alberta commissioner, upset that she’d had the news about our decision on divestment from the top 200 oil companies from a phone call home. Nothing Continue reading General Council 42 (GC42) – the Fifth Day

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