UCCan Ministers and God/god Survey


Some of you will know that I’m a rather inquisitive kind of person. I like asking questions and finding out about where people are at.

This survey grew out of a comment a ministerial colleague, Gretta Vosper, made on The National. The interview was a catalyst to my engaging in this exploration, inviting the rest of our colleagues to check a box or two, telling me a (little!) bit about what they believe.

The paper has been reviewed by three academic colleagues – two who teach in theological fields, and one a sociologist of religion. I asked them to help me make sure that my analysis and recommendations didn’t go past what the data allowed. Their thoughts, along with those of other readers and proofreaders, helped to make this a much better paper. I am deeply thankful for their help.

This was an exploratory study. The results do suggest that further study would be recommended. I’m thinking about how that could happen!

Please feel free to download and then to comment on what you’ve read. (Posts are moderated. Feel free to be passionate… but please be respectful to one another.) If you’d like a one-on-one conversation using my contact form will send an email directly to my phone! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

I hope you find the reading as interesting as I have found the writing.

Preliminary Report (.PDF)
Executive Summary (Powerpoint slideshow)
Executive Summary (.PDF of slideshow)

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Just took a walk around the church…



  • there’s a playschool gathering;
  • and a yoga group that meets four mornings a week;
  • Greg is in his office, rehearsing music with a soloist for Sunday’s worship;
  • on the main level, “Stitch and Chatter,” are working on quilts to give to people who are without homes and sleeping outside – warm and beautiful;
  • there’s a community Tai Chi group moving (ever so wonderfully slowly) in the church hall;
  • in the worship space, there’s a group of professional musicians practicing for an upcoming concert (and for working with our congregation’s choirs in an upcoming worship event);
  • Sheila, our office administrator, is working on keeping everything organized;
    and I’m in my office, prepping for Sunday;
  • downstairs, another group of children are with their parents, singing and laughing.

And that’s just this morning.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe how much wonderful life happens in this place.


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Dunbar Heights United Voices

sang the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, this weekend.

The first concert was Friday night, in the worship space at Dunbar Heights United Church. Today, the choir and orchestra performed in the sanctuary of Ryerson United Church.

It was wonderful to hear them in both spaces – to hear how the change of venue changed the sound. The choir did a beautiful job both days, and our Soprano and Baritone soloists were superb.

I am in awe of what Dr. Greg Caisley, our Minister of Music, has been able to grow over his time at DHUC. Even in my two-and-a-half years of being his colleague, I have watched DHUV,  Pneuma Voices, and the Chancel Choir grow in leaps and bounds – not just as musicians, but as people of faith.

Wonderful afternoon, in a wonderful day!

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The Open House

Every Wednesday evening, since last September, there has been a worship celebration at Dunbar Heights United Church. We call it “The Open House”.

At 4:30, anyone who wants to gathers in the church hall, up on the stage, when Cathy (our Children, Youth and Families Minister) has set up a number of spiritual practices. One of our team is there to chat with folks as they wish. Sometimes we’ll find children, other times teens, other times adults.

At 5:00, the children and youth in the Pneuma Voices break off for their rehearsal time. Tonight, there were 18 singers gathered together. They were working on a Taize piece for tonight… and on learning another chorus from Handel’s Messiah. (They’re planning on performing the work next Advent!)

Then… supper! Tonight we had to add another three tables. Let’s see – there must have been 35 people gathered for supper. (It was spanikopita, potatoes and salad, with orange slices for dessert.)

After we’ve eaten, it’s into the worship space for a 35 to 40 minute worship gathering. Every week, Pneuma leads the music, we pray and have reflection on scripture – often a conversation – then communion with rice wafers and grape juice and…

off we go into the night, to meet again next week.

Thirty people gathered tonight. Next fall, we’ll really start inviting the neighbours!

Our Door is Wide Open

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Technology Shift

Infographics links on (relatively) current social media use for small businesses.





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A Statement of Faith

I’ve been asked if I could articulate my faith in a few sentences.

While I think that The United Church of Canada’s A New Creed is good for me, in lots of ways, here are some of my own words:

I believe in God “who has created and is creating.” I believe God is the Divine Other who is greater than the sum of the parts of this universe (or multiverse, if that’s what we live in.) I believe God is in deep, intimate connection with all things – so intertwined with all that is, that we human beings can only begin to understand that relationship. I believe that this relationship is a never-ending (and ever-beginning) dance, in which all things – including God – are changed.

I believe in Jesus of Nazareth – a human being whose will was so completely entwined with the will of the Divine Other that the only way people could describe him was “God and Son of God” (a political and a theological statement.) (And, yes, I do believe that he lived to save me – mostly from myself.)

I believe in the Holy Spirit – Great Mystery of God that moves with and between and in all things – that which is the process of being and becoming and not, all rolled into one.

I believe in the brokenness I see around me, and I believe that God calls me to be part of that which brings healing and wholeness. I believe that I do that by living love: of God, of neighbour, of self (and that my life – along with “everything written in the law and the prophets” – hangs on it.)

I believe all these things, and more.

I don’t demand that anyone else believe in what I believe, though I love to be in conversation about them.

I am Richard Bott, and I am (one of the many) ministers of The United Church of Canada.

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Can I get your contact info?

Part of the task of being able to reconnect with folks is, first of all, being able to contact them at all?

This is the “Communications sheet” we have on clipboards, on every pew. Folks are invited to fill it out, and a letter of welcome is sent to them within two days of the service. The letter is tailored to them, andincludes any information that they may have requested.


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How do we keep connected with guests and newcomers?

Yesterday, DHUC started with the second step on our “develop deeper connections with guests and newcomers” plan. (Step 1: Comfortably making conversation, they’ve been doing well for some time.)

We’re using a communication sheet, slightly adaped from one used in previous churches. Our guests gave us contact information, let us know how they came to arrive at the church, and things they’d like to know more about or take part in.

Of the five guests/newcomers yesterday, four filled in communications sheets. Tomorrow’s first task will be getting notes out to them, with the information they requested, and asking their permission to put the people who are facilitating their interests in contact with them.

To those of you in the business world, this is basic “customer support and retention.” To many in the church world (well, The United Church world) there is a huge fear of being too intrusive.

It should be interesting to see what happens.

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