Council Approves Theological Principles
A report approved by the 41st General Council on August 15, 2012, provides theological principles to guide The United Church of Canada throughout this century.
The report’s beginnings date back to 2009, when the church’s Task Group on Intercultural Ministries requested that work be done on the United Church’s “core values.” The Executive of the General Council requested that the Theology and Inter-Church Inter-Faith Committee undertake this work. The committee, in turn, recognized that it was closely related to its ongoing study of ecclesiology.
The resulting theological principles, contained in the report “A Church with Purpose: Towards an Ecclesiology for The United Church of Canada in the 21st Century,” are intended to help determine future directions for the church. The principles state that among other core values, the United Church
- holds scripture as foundational
- is called into being by the Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ and recognizes that those who come to the church do so through the invitation of Christ, and must be welcomed with the radical hospitality of the reign of God
- lives with respect in creation and asks how all of its decisions will affect the flourishing of creation
- is part of God’s mission in the world and asks how each of its decisions will promote or obstruct God’s mission
- seeks equity and justice
- is a church that values partnership and whole world ecumenism, seeking out collaboration with people beyond the church in areas of common concern
“This is expressing what we are already doing," said Barry Pridham from Hamilton Conference. “I am excited by this. This is who we are, and I find it very helpful.”
During discussion time on accepting the committee’s report, several commissioners suggested sending the proposal back to the committee for refinement, but a motion to this effect was defeated.
Richard Hollingsworth from Bay of Quinte Conference was one of several commissioners who said they did not understand the need for adopting the report at this time. “I don’t think we need to do any more; we’re working it out right now,” he said.
Going forward, the Theology and Inter-Church Inter-Faith Committee is encouraged to continue to reflect on ecclesiology as the United Church moves through the 21st century.