There’s a bit of a debate going on in UCCan circles at the moment. The lease on the space that houses our General Council (think ‘national’) Offices is coming to its end in a couple of years. The debate? Should our General Council offices (“The Ship”, “Church House”, “GCHQ”, “3250”, etc. etc. etc.) stay in the Greater Toronto Area, or should they move.
For the past 17 years they’ve been located in Etobicoke. Before that, they were at was 85 St. Clare Ave. – the heart of downtown Toronto. The question is, what’s going to happen next? Where will General Council Offices be?
The denomination’s magazine, The Observer, wrote an article about the location discussions at the General Council Executive meeting. A group from Winnipeg has designed a beautiful website, to help showcase their community as a possible place for the offices to be.
As I listen to the commentary, I hear things like, “Decentralize!” and “Why do we need General Council anyway?” From my perspective, if we are going to be a national church then we are going to need national organization of some size – large or small. Organization means people and people need space in which to do their work.
I recognize that there are many different variables that people are going to want to consider: our desire to keep/change current staff, many of whom would not choose to move away from the GTA; our rural/urban divide; stewardship of finances and other resources; stewardship of relationship; questions about ‘image’ and ’empire’; geography and distance; relationship with other denominations and communities; wondering about the effect of architecture on mindset – and more that I’ve not thought about, I’m sure.
There are great reasons for moving the General Council offices – to Winnipeg or elsewhere. There are great reasons for keeping the General Council offices in the GTA. I’m not sure that a “balance of pros and cons” is going to help us make the decision. In fact, I think I can be even stronger by saying that I don’t believe that balancing pros and cons will help us make this decision.
Whatever the decision, there are going to be people who believe that the wrong one was made.
Whatever the decision, there are going to be people hurt by it and there are going to be people helped by it.
Whatever the decision, there will be a level of chaos, both for us as individuals and us corporately.
Recognizing that, how do we go about making a right decision – one that is just and loving and lives out Christ’s call? By making sure that the process is just and loving and lives out Christ’s call.
So – for me – that means speaking truthfully about what I’m seeing and hoping for, about the possibilities of being in Winnipeg, or Ottawa or Waterloo or Toronto. It means listening to my words and trying to hear them through the ears of someone who holds a different perspective, before I hit the enter key or open my mouth. It means being ready to accept whatever decision the people we have entrusted to make the decision make – even if it’s not the one I would have gone with.
And it means trusting that God works through all of us.
I wonder how we’ll do with this one?