United Church of Canada youth pilgrims inspired to be changemakers

by Aidan Legault last modified 03 September 2015 09:23 AM
United Church of Canada youth pilgrims inspired to be changemakers

UCC youth pilgrims at the General Council. Photo: Lauren King

28 August 2015

This summer has undoubtedly been one of the most inspiring and eye-opening experiences of my entire life. On the 4th of July, 2015, a small group of youth from across the United Church of Canada gathered in Vancouver, on the Pacific coast of our nation.

There were 13 of us that joined together in Vancouver, each representing our home Conference (administrative and geographic zone) of the United Church. Along with our two adult coordinators, we formed a team that had been given the honour and privilege of embarking on a pilgrimage across Canada to reach Corner Brook, Newfoundland, on the Atlantic Coast, where we were to participate in the triennial general meeting of commissioners and delegates from across our Church: General Council.

The trip was breath-taking. We travelled over 8000 kilometres, from coast and coast, and all along the way we were treated to incredible experiences.

On this Pilgrimage, I learned the depth and breadth of the social justice work undertaken by the United Church of Canada. This trip has revealed to me the truly awesome power that we as people of Faith have to make change in our communities, in our country, and on our planet.

In Vancouver, British Colombia, we visited First United Church, where beds, meals and basic legal and medical services have taken the place of Sunday worship for marginalized people in the community.

In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we got to join a minister on one of her frequent trips to a Soccer Centre to play and bring laughter to young children from families displaced by wildfires raging in the north of the province.

In Hamilton, Ontario, we visited a church that provides help to migrant workers in the area, through community and spiritual support and through financial support to local projects that employ workers from overseas.

Much of the work for justice and peace in the United Church takes place on a denominational level. We work as a denomination towards right relations with our indigenous brothers and sisters, participating in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and working to provide ministry support and pastoral care to isolated First Nations communities across the country.

The United Church of Canada has also been on the forefront of LGBTTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit and queer) rights in our country, officially stating that sexual orientation is not a barrier to ordination to ministry in 1988, and passing a proposal to create a Living Apology, an installation in which LGBTTQ people victimized by the church can share their stories on the path to reconciliation.

Some of the most essential work of the United Church of Canada in recent years has, in my opinion, been our movement towards ecumenism. At General Council in Corner Brook,  we pilgrims had the chance to meet and speak with representatives from the Anglican Church in Canada, from missionary organizations in Brazil and Kenya, and from Churches from Zambia, the Philippines, El Salvador, the Republic of Korea, and a multitude of other countries.

The General Council voted to move into full partnership and recognition of ministry with the Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea, and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and we entered into full communion with the United Church of Christ in the United States. This ecumenical outreach, our joining together as disciples in Christ with people from across the globe, is incredibly important to the future of Christianity in Canada, and in the world.

Our unity shows that we share a common mission, a vision for the future. It shows that we will work together to share our work for justice, peace and love with those who need it across the planet.

After witnessing firsthand the amazing work of the United Church in Canada, and witnessing our joining together with churches from all over the world doing equally phenomenal and awe-inspiring things, I am filled with happiness.

I know that, even in an increasingly cynical time, when so many see faith as obsolete, all of my brothers and sisters in Christ will continue to work together to bring peace and justice to all of the people of the Earth.

Disclaimer

The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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