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Link forged with U.S. church

By Jim Cairney

General Council Report

The 42nd General Council has voted unanimously and joyfully to enter into full communion with the United Church of Christ, USA.

The American denomination had voted unanimously in June to enter into full communion with The United Church of Canada.

“It’s a commitment to being intentional around what are the things that we can do together in mission and ministry, and how that can strengthen the lives of our two churches,” said the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations with the United Church of Christ, USA, in an interview with General Council News.

gc42worshipCommissioners had plenty to celebrate at General Council 42 in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, including approval of full communion with the United Church of Christ USA.

The Council viewed a video of the American vote, which featured a rendition of “O Canada,” and then commissioners sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

There are things that our churches have historically done together around poverty, ecology, and environmental justice in a North American context, said Thompson.

“The differences are noted, but not in any ways that would affect our life together—the ways that are different are places where we can learn from one another,” said Thompson.

She said she anticipates that there will be invitations to share in each other’s events, such as inviting United Church of Canada youth to a national youth event in Orlando, FL, in July 2016.

“This is a beginning. The Full Communion Agreement is a start. It’s an open doorway to opportunities and possibilities for both churches,” said Thompson.

The Rev. Geoffrey Black, the former General Minister and President of the American denomination, said, “It’s something that‘s been in the making for a long time.”

“From our vantage point, this makes sense. We’re two United Churches on the North American continent,” said Black in an interview with GC News.

He said he believes that his church can learn from The United Church of Canada’s relationship with First Nations people.

He noted that in 1993, the United Church of Christ, USA, apologized to Native Hawaiians for the role of missionaries in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. In 1986, the United Church of Canada became the first Canadian church to apologize to First Nations people for its involvement in residential schools during an historic meeting with native leaders in Sudbury.

Official documents were signed in August and a further worship celebration will be held in October.

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