Over the last week I have spent a lot of time in the BC Conference office reading proposals and reports and becoming familiar with the current issues, concerns, projects, and celebrations with in the church. But yesterday I was able to see things from a different perspective. Visiting museums, art galleries, and archives has always felt like reading an interactive story book to me, I am able to see and touch what the characters have seen and touched and I get a first hand glimpse into their lives at that time.
Visiting the Conference archives gave me a glimpse into what was important in the church before my time, and I was surprised to find that there is not a lot of difference between now and then. Looking at the ordination certificate of Rev. Lydia Emelie Gurchy who was the first woman to be ordained in the UCC 1936 reminded me of reading an article about the barriers to leading effectively for female clergy due to gender bias. Gender equality was obviously an issue that the church cared about issue in the 1930′s as shown by the numerous petitions sent to General Council by Lydia’s presbytery to allow her to be ordained and it continues be an important topic as we try to universally accept all forms of talented, spiritual leadership that comes to the church regardless of gender.
There was also a lot about our involvement in residential schools which is still a very prominent topic in the church today although our views on it have changed drastically. Looking at those documents it became increasingly obvious why it’s important that we continue living out our apology to the first nations communities that were deeply hurt by the residential school program. Our complete disregard for first nations culture, way of life, and right to human decency is appalling and something we need to be aware of and continually try to fix, even though the damage may never be fully repaired.ccept all forms of talented, spiritual leadership that comes to the church regardless of gender.
The biggest thing that I took away from my visit is that things change a lot with time, it’s only natural, but there are still a lot of things that will stay the same like our commitment to social justice and Air Canada never being on time. I also learned that things almost always come full circle. At BC Conference Karen Medland, our now former president, gave an address in which she told us a story about a woman in her congregation who is 98 years old and remembers when her parents came home from a church meeting in 1925 the day that the United Church was formed. There are still members of my congregation who remember the first time we had to renovate our building back in the 1950′s. There are a lot of people in my presbytery who remember the General Council when openly gay members of the church were allowed to be ordained. These were all big moments for everyone involved and they seemed like huge changes at the time, just as what’s happening in the church now is really big and scary. But whenever I hear those stories there is a common theme; it was good, everything worked out , and I’m happy that I got to be there. This is why I’m so excited to be going on this adventure this summer, there are big, huge, scary, exciting things happening in the church and I get to be there and be apart of it, be apart of our history.
I know that in 90 years, when I’m 108 (and hopefully living in a robot body) and the church is at it’s next big turning point, I will be able to say: “I was there last time and sure it was scary, but it was also really good and everything turned out for the best and it will this time too.”
Until we meet again, Maia
To follow Maia’s (and other’s) pilgrimage and General Council blog go to http://gc42pilgrimage.blog.com/