At a Glen Cairn United Church Council meeting on November 25, 1997, there was considerable discussion on the articles reporting The Rt. Reverend Phipps' personal beliefs published in the Ottawa Citizen, a newspaper read by many in this congregation. We restricted our discussion to the effects the press publicity was having.
We are a welcoming, loving church with our doors open to all. With fellowship from our members and teachings from the pulpit, newcomers to our sanctuary learn to love the Lord according to our creed. They are given the choice to follow their convictions, as the Lord gave us all the wisdom of choice. Regardless of their individual beliefs they will always be accepted and loved by our congregation. We affirm this in our church's mission statement:"We are called by God to be a welcoming church where we respect differences and build Christian community, as we learn, grow, celebrate and reach out in faith."
To facilitate further exploration in this area, we adopted a motion to promote "Reconciling and Making New" as a Lenten study series. Council also directed that we make a statement to you on one aspect of the situation that has arisen.
We respect and encourage the right of every individual to have and to express his or her personal beliefs and opinions on matters of faith. Some of us are uncomfortable with such opinions being expressed to the media by national leaders in the United Church unless the leaders' beliefs reflect the creeds, articles and the Basis of Union of the Church that describe elements of faith. We would hope that our national leaders continuously assess the impact that their words in public will have on the membership of the United Church, knowing that we are a church of diverse views. We would also hope that leaders (in any denomination) would be loving and welcoming to those who did not share all or any of their beliefs.
We appreciate that the media will always headline the controversial. For this reason, some of us feel that the moderator should pause and reflect on the impact of his statements to the media, when making controversial statements of personal opinion. Should The Rt. Reverend Bill Phipps find himself asked questions on his personal beliefs during his term as moderator (which will likely be reported in public), we would respectfully ask that he clearly indicate any portions of such faith statements which represent his personal beliefs but do not necessarily represent those which led to the founding of the United Church of Canada.
By recognizing and respecting our diversity, together we will build up the body of Christ.
On behalf of Glen Cairn United Church Council
Chair, G.C.U.C. Council
Clerk, G.C.U.C Council