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Transcript of the pastoral message delivered by The Right Reverend Bill Phipps, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, on Monday November 24, 1997, on The United Church of Canada's national weekly television programme, Spirit Connection, which is broadcast on Vision TV.

I want to speak to you about the remarks that have been reported in the Ottawa Citizen. My remarks have generated a great deal of conversations and interest throughout Canada over the past number of weeks.

Some people have been extremely exhilarated by the comments as reported and caused them to have many conversations with friends and neighbours and many other people. Other people have felt deeply hurt, that somehow I was taking issue with some of the fundamentals of their faith and I want to apologize to anyone who was hurt by what I was reported to have said.

I honour people whose faith is deeply rooted and grounded in the traditional understanding of our creeds and our Christian faith. Indeed, the strength of our United Church is that we do respect people and where they stand along the long continuum of our Christian belief.

Just to clarify, I believe with all my heart and soul that God was in Jesus, reconciling the world to God's self; that as much of God as was possible was revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. And therefore we can say with confidence that Jesus was the Son of God; that Jesus is the Word made Flesh; that Jesus is God Incarnate, and I feel that with all of my soul.

I also believe in the mystery and the power of the Resurrection; that something happened to those early followers of Jesus that transformed them from people who were sad, afraid, bewildered as to what had happened, transformed them with a whole lot of new energy because Jesus, to them, was alive and with them and beckoning them into spreading the Gospel throughout their part of the world.

I believe that the human spirit continues after death; that, for example, my parents are in the everlasting arms of God. They are safe in God's care.

I was raised in a strong United Church family, rooted in the core of our faith with both my parents and other members of the family playing all the different kinds of roles one plays in our marvelous church. And I rejoice in the freedom that our church allows for people to explore their faith, to try to understand it in many different ways. I rejoice in that, as we continue along our journey of discovery. I want us to encourage each other to explore who Jesus is for us, who Jesus is for the world, and encourage people to make use of Reconciling and Make New, a study document we have on Jesus of Nazareth.

I want to thank people for the many messages that you have sent me, sharing your faith whether you agree with me or not, for we have a marvelous opportunity right now, to engage our neighbours and our friends and people we know at work with the message of Jesus Christ for ourselves and for the world. We all know the world needs to hear the unconditional love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Copyright © 1997 The United Church of Canada
Updated: Wednesday, November 26, 1997.