2014 5 February

A LIttle Promotion is not a bad thing – Moderator Gary Paterson

Posted in Steinbach United

I don’t often do this… take the opportunity to plug a program, urge you to check it out, get involved, sign up, participate…choose your word.

But on this occasion, I’ve got three things I want to share my excitement about.


The first is UnitedFuture.ca. You’ve probably heard about this, in fact, I sure hope so. It’s the web platform our church is developing to facilitate all kinds of conversation about, well, the future of the United Church. There’s a great short video entitled“Called to Change” (love David Ewart’s phrase in it, “…the room has left the building.”); a couple of recorded live forums, one onevangelism, another about on-line communities. On this Thursday, February 6, there’s athird live forum happening that will highlight some of the insights that have emerged from the facilitated conversations that the Comprehensive Review Task Group (CRTG) initiated last year – more than 600 congregations and faith communities participated. Sign up at UnitedFuture.ca, listen in, and raise your questions. (I’m going to be part of the discussion panel.)

Over the next several months, the ongoing work of the task group will be posted on The United Church of Canada’s website and discussed through various forums on UnitedFuture.ca, so that everyone in the church can know what suggestions are being presented, what proposals are starting to come forward, and anyone will be able to offer comment, feedback, critique, and suggestion. Although the CRTG is responsible for writing a final report, we need and require the combined wisdom of the whole church, so that what gets presented at General Council 42 represents the church’s collective best effort! So join in – sign up at www.unitedfuture.ca today!


moderator lenten-recording[Photo: Peter Vinet]

Secondly, I just finished taping a series of Lenten devotionals for “Turn Around Take Off,” which will run from Ash Wednesday, March 5 to Easter Sunday, April 20. EachSunday evening a 3-5 minute video of me commenting on the upcoming lectionary reading from the gospel for that week will be posted – starting with Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness; then moving into John’s gospel, and Jesus’ encounters with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the healed blind man and Lazarus; finishing with PalmSunday and the journey into Holy Week.

Following up on these videos, each Monday and Tuesday there will be online, facilitated discussion via Facebook – among the leaders for these is Debbie McMillan, the author of this year’s United Church Lenten book; on Wednesdays, a chance for deeper Bible study; Fridays, an arts and pop culture conversation will be offered; on Saturdays, a prayer or short devotional will be posted. Trish Elliott, who put together last June’s online study “Rock the Bible” with 1700 participants, is organizing the Facebook discussions.

It’s also possible to use the video resource “off-line” –  for instance, to kick-start a congregational lectionary Bible study group. I’ll also be sharing a print version of the video text on my blog during Lent. So watch for more “Turn Around Take Off” details on the United Church Facebook page as we move closer to Ash Wednesday.


Thirdly, I wanted to let you know that my spouse, Tim Stevenson, is now in Sochi, where he is doing his best to speak up for the human rights of LGBTQ people (see my blog posting of January 23). I am very grateful for the support that so many of you have offered. If you are interested, he is writing a blog about his time at Sochi; take a look!