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Rev. Darryl Auten of Salmon Arm, B.C., works clay during opening worship at the 40th General Council in Kelowna, B.C. This year, the Council's theme is "Down to the potter's house." Photo by David Wilson

General Council hits a bump as business gets under way in Kelowna, B.C. (Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009)

By David Wilson

Commissioners to the 40th General Council of the United Church of Canada served notice during the first full day of the meeting that this will be a roll-up-its-sleeves Council determined to complete the work it has been assigned.

Opening formalities at the University of British Columbia campus in Kelowna, B.C., bogged down as commissioners complained that a revised agenda left too little time for debate and decision-making. Cutting the agenda time for three commissions dealing with more than 100 proposals was “a very serious change at the last minute,” said commissioner Rev. Susan Eagle of London, Ont. Organizers said limiting commission time would mean more efficient and clear-headed decision-making, but Eagle and other speakers expressed concern that commissioners had no hope of finishing their work in the time they had been allotted.

Council eventually decided to restore the time given to the commissions in a draft agenda drawn up before Council began.

Accountability reports from senior church leaders also bogged down when some commissioners complained the reports glossed over contentious 2007 program cuts that affected some of the church’s longstanding justice work. Council eventually decided that commissioners would be given an opportunity to submit written comments on the process that led to the cuts, and on the response of senior church leaders to the controversy that followed.

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