Gathering Meeting—October 28, 2003
Approximately 30 pastors and laypersons gathered at Dundas Baptist Church to discuss how to respond to the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (BCOQ) directive that pastors not officiate at nor participate in a same-sex marriage and the implications of the BCOQ "New System for a New Century".
We met from 11:00 am until 3:30 pm, shared lunch, laughter, faith and clarity. Although we mourned what is happening to our Baptist Convention family, this was a mordant, not morbid meeting.
A number of those present brought thoughtfully-prepared documents to share with each other, and the first half hour or so of our time was spent reading what was brought. Then we introduced ourselves to each other, spent time in a devotional reflection and then prayed together.
Joe Abbey-Colborne was a member of the Advisory Committee formed in order to respond to and give recommendations regarding the Assembly 2003 Same-Sex marriage motion.
He shared his perspective of the committee process. (The committee met September 10.)
Its draft recommendations included:
The Committee agreed on the wording of a draft report and to meet in October after the September BCOQ Council meeting.
- a request that BCOQ pastors not perform same-sex marriages at least until the issue was resolved
- that the BCOQ provide resources for churches to have safe and respectful discussions.
Two or three members of that Advisory Committee took the draft report to the meeting of the Division of Pastoral Resources (DPR) of the Council. The division discussed the report at length, but concluded by recommending that a significantly different document be sent out to churches, including the directive for Pastors. Council voted to endorse DPR’s document September 19.
Others, throughout the day, offered interpretations and insights.
Adjectives such as homelessness and betrayal were used to describe our circumstance.
We have no desire to deliberately withdraw from the BCOQ. We do, however, feel that the BCOQ has abandoned what it is to be Baptist. We want to continue to live and move in the freedom of the Gospel.
The goals we articulated for the day included
More discussion followed, then we determined to take action in four ways.
- addressing our underlying fears and misunderstandings
- addressing our grief
- separating the issue (same-sex marriage) from our polity
- confrontation and un-masking of the BCOQ action
- an action plan for the future
Have a working group help us to confront the Convention, with the understanding that we were seeking to "ruin the reputation of our enemies by forgiving them."
- this group will focus on public forgiveness, protest and prophecy
- it will address what is right, what is Gospel in our Baptist Polity and our humanity
- it will name the BCOQ idol (Mammon)
- it will communicate with Gatherers to help us with our individual and congregational confrontation of the BCOQ.
- Members: Joe Abbey Colborne, Ray Hobbs, Elaine Poproski
Have a working group help us to establish an organisational safety-net to ensure that we may, as individuals and congregations, continue to minister.
Have a working group assemble resources to help individuals and churches address issues such as polity and humanity.
- this group will look at how to become a licensing agency
- it will look at how the Gathering and it’s constituents can be a welcoming place
- it will look at implications for ministerial credentials, use of buildings, etc.
- Members: Gary Caldwell, Michael Steeves, Cam Watts
The Welcoming and Affirming Table Fellowship
- Members: Barbara Bishop, Blake Eady, Lee McKenna-DuCharme
- note these resources (already!)
All of us (individuals and churches) will seek to write regarding our dismay at the BCOQ actions to Ken Bellous, our respective Area Ministers and the BCOQ President, Roger Harris and send copies to the Gathering Website and the Newsletter Editor
The four actions will take place simultaneously and over a period of time. Information will be distributed as it becomes available.
We agreed to meet again at 11:00 am on Tuesday January 20, 2003, at MacNeill Baptist Church in Hamilton.
Cameron Watts, Moderator
Gathering of Baptists News Page