Canadian Christianity: The United Church of Canada

In this weekend’s Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente wrote a scathing indictment of the liberal church in Canada, taking aim specifically at the United Church of Canada:

But today, the church is literally dying. The average age of its members is 65. They believe in many things, but they do not necessarily believe in God. Some congregations proudly describe themselves as “post-theistic,” which is a good thing because, as one church elder said, it shows the church is not “stuck in the past.” Besides, who needs God when you’ve got Israel to kick around?…
As the United Church found common cause with auto workers, it became widely known as the NDP at prayer. Social justice was its gospel. Spiritual fulfilment would be achieved through boycotts and recycling. Instead of Youth for Christ, it has a group called Youth for Eco-Justice. Mardi Tindal, the current moderator, recently undertook a spiritual outreach tour across Canada to urge “the healing of soul, community and creation” by reducing our carbon footprint. Which raises the obvious question: If you really, really care about the environment, why not just join Greenpeace?

The current moderator of the UCC, Mardi Tindal, has responded to Wente’s article:

Third, when we engage with complex issues, such as conflict in the Middle East or the moral imperative to address climate change, we need to take a long view. Historically, great social changes that came from the leadership of people of faith—William Wilberforce on abolishing slavery, Nellie McClung on getting women the vote in Canada, Martin Luther King Jr. on civil rights—took time. These people were not merely social reformers. They were motivated by faith, and it was their faith that inspired them in the first place and sustained them in the face of overwhelming opposition.

The UCC is gearing up to elect their new moderator. The official profiles of the candidates can be found here. As well, Cruxifusion has posed 4 questions to each of the candidates:

1) “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
2) Describe the God you worship.
3) Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
4) What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?

Their answers can be found here and I encourage you to read them. There are very diverse answers. Even just looking at question 3 yields answers as diverse as Bishop Spong, John Dominic Crossan, N.T. Wright, Karl Barth, and Walter Bruggemann.

Nick Phillips, a UCC pastor in Nova Scotia has provided his own answers to the Cruxifusion questions:

I have a passion for lifting up Jesus Christ to the church. Without Jesus we are nothing. Without Jesus we cannot expect to reach new generations, no matter how innovative or creative we get in our outreach. Evangelism begins with Jesus Christ, from there we can get creative in helping people experience their own relationship with him. I’m also not afraid of new ideas and I think it’s time for us to explore new approaches to ministry and church. It’s time to bring Christ back into our communities through new models of outreach.

See also:
Last year, The National Post had an article on the future of the United Church and Mardi Tindal’s response to that article can be found here.