Archdiocese Participates in Latest Canadian Council of Churches Governing Board Meeting in Ottawa

May 24, 2017 to May 26, 2017

The Governing Board of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) which meets twice annually, recently concluded its spring meeting (May 24-26) in Ottawa.

Representing the OCA Archdiocese of Canada was Archpriest Cyprian Hutcheon of Saskatoon. Also in attendance, ex-officio, was Richard Schneider, an OCA layman from Toronto, who currently chairs the CCC's Faith and Witness Commission.

Representatives from three of the five other Eastern and Oriental CCC member churches (Ukrainian, Coptic and Armenian Orthodox) were present, while the Greek and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches sent their formal regrets. Fr Daniel, an invited special guest from the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church of Canada (whose roots lie in South India and which will likely join the CCC in November) was present for most of the three-day meeting, and led one of the evening worship services according to his Malankara tradition.

While the fall meeting (November) of the Governing Board typically addresses 'Faith and Witness' issues, the spring meeting (May) in recent years has been held in Ottawa so that board members in small delegations might visit political leaders of all parties to discuss public issues of common concern to Canadian Christians. Unfortunately, due to the fact that meeting venues must be booked two or more years in advance, this year's meeting inadvertently coincided with the parliamentary 'constituency week' when MPs are in their home ridings, thus, the usual visits to Parliament Hill did not take place.

Despite this unforeseen setback, the members assembled in Ottawa, representing approximately 3/4 of the 25 CCC member churches, were able to spend one full day and two half-days in an informative and productive manner. At this semi-annual meeting, the Governing Board's activities included:

  • Marking and celebrating the able leadership of the retiring CCC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, a United Church minister. Desirable qualities to be sought in the next General Secretary were discussed in focus groups organized along denominational lines.
  • Adopting the audited financial statements for 2016 (a modest deficit was covered from reserve funds), and appointing the auditors for the 2017 fiscal year. A recent audit by the Canada Revenue Agency, which generated unforeseen expenses and consumed much valuable staff and executive time, has concluded without significant repercussions.
  • Experiencing the traditions and history of both actual and prospective member churches through: daily worship (Malankara Orthodox, Baptist, and Coptic Orthodox traditions); formal presentations on their "operative ecclesiologies" from the OCA (Fr Cyprian) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; and "getting to know you" self-introductions by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and the Christian & Missionary Alliance who have recently begun attending Governing Board meetings in order to learn more about the CCC.
  • Receiving periodic reports with updates from the CCC's two constituent Commissions (Faith and Witness, Justice and Peace); two Reference Groups (Faith and Life Sciences (formerly Biotechnology) Reference Group, Christian Interfaith Reference Group); and the Operating Division (Project Ploughshares), as well as the affiliate group (Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries).
  • Reaching out to engage with various matters of humanitarian and social concern, both through attentive listening (for example, to an informative presentation on the "UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"), and through focussed action. The board endorsed a joint appeal from several Canadian faith communities for a more concerted Canadian response to the critical famine conditions prevailing in several African countries and Yemen. It also recommended that the CCC respond affirmatively to an invitation from Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees to join them in mounting a legal challenge to the "Safe Third Country Agreement" which (it is argued) is responsible for the recent rash of desperate attempts by refugees from countries of conflict to cross the US-Canada border illegally.
  • Preparing to "Move Forward":
    1) by creating a new CCC Reference Group, the "Forum for Intercultural Leadership and Learning" from the affiliate group (formerly known as the Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries);
    2) by examining desirable leadership characteristics for the 2018-2021 Executive Committee and a new General Secretary;
    3) by appointing a volunteer team (which includes Fr Cyprian) to begin exploring a possible 75th Anniversary CCC General Assembly in 2019; and
    4) by confirming the dates and venue of the autumn Governing Board meeting (November 15-17 in Mississauga, Ontario).

Anyone interested in viewing more highlights and photographs from the Ottawa GB meeting can do so by visiting: www.facebook.com/CCC.CCE.