Response to this Site and e-mail correspondence

March 28, 1998

From: HollisMACK[]
Sent: March 13, 1998 11:10 AM
Subject: Book Display Update

Dear Friends,

Recently, the Saskatchewan Conference Program Planning Committee has submitted a new proposal to the Saskatchewan Conference Executive that could be ratified as early as mid-April.

The intent of the P.P.C.'s proposal is to "clarify" the purpose of display space to include only committees of the Conference and recognized United Church institutions. In effect, the proposal eliminates all renewal groups from any book displays. Moreover, even congregational displays would be impacted by this new proposal. There is talk of allowing some billboard space to various groups, including renewal groups, but NO other display space will be allowed.

In debating with the Conference Executive Secretary, Bill Wall in Qu'Appelle Presbytery, it became obvious that he was interested in redefining all display space nation-wide. He even argued (believe it or not) that the excrement issue at General Council was proof positive of how offensive our material actually was— conveniently avoiding that the the one display where the excrement was found was not the display where the vast majority of the books were stationed.

I have written a letter to the Saskatchewan Conference Executive encouraging them to reject the latest Planning Committee's proposal. Moreover, I have questioned whether Bill Wall (who went public in the Observer with accusations that I supported "hate literature" in wanting to sponsor a renewal display) is actually in a conflict of interest. Not only is he a member of the Program Planning Committee, but he is also a member of the Executive, of course. He acts both as accuser and judge in these two instances. He wrote me a rather terse letter indicating that he would be speaking on this issue anywhere and everywhere he went, and he promptly copied the letter to ALL the present Executive Secretaries, Bill Phipps, Marion Best, Virginia Coleman, Walter Farquharson— and to John Trueman and David Snihur.

My point is that it may be time for renewal groups to flex their muscle and apply for book displays nationwide this spring. If we do not continue to establish precedent, then Bill will (courtesy of his partner's connection to the General Council) try to use his influence to shut us out nationwide. He expressly indicated in open debate with me in Presbytery that he would be using his own and his partner's influence to establish a more stringent General Council book display policy.

I believe that he will try. I also believe that he is now angry enough at me (and us) to begin to more openly express his obvious bias. In some respects, this is preferable to the kind of bigotry that just simmers behind the scene.

Anyway, for what it is worth, there's the update... If you would like to write to Saskatchewan Executive to express your concern yourselves, please do so before the beginning of April.

Yours, in Christ,

David MacKenzie


Sent: April 2, 1998 11:55 PM
Subject: [ An alive UC!]

Hello! In response to an appeal for info for FM Reform & Renewal column, re. UC's doing Alpha, I heard from Rev. Donna Mann, Durham, ON - and visited her church website! Wow! What an inspiration! Especially Christian Development, and Ministries. And Jesus Christ uplifted- as he really IS.
Makes up for a lot of the heartache the UC has given me! (Like the old nursery rhyme about the little girl who had the little curl...
The UC at its best is REALLY GOOD!!! This sort of thing is why many of us have chosen to stay, and work and pray for renewal of our church- and slowly learn to LOVE in the midst of the mess!)

Carole Burton


From: Rev Ed Hird[]
Sent: March 22, 1998 1:21 AM
Subject: Christianity: Boring, Irrelevant, and Untrue??

Dear friends in Christ,

Why have over 500,000 people taken the Alpha course in the last 5 years? If you either doing or thinking of doing an Alpha course in your church, or know an unchurched friend who might benefit from the experience, I invite you to take a look at a new article entitled "Christianity: Boring, Irrelevant, and Untrue?", which you can find by clicking on

We are just finishing our 2nd Alpha course, and are soon to be starting our 3rd one. We have been very heartened by the initial results. We are also encouraged that our new Simon's WEB site has over 1,000 people dial in within the first three months.

God bless, Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon's Anglican Church, North Vancouver, BC
Past Chair, ARM Canada


Sent: March 18, 1998 11:18 PM
To: Copple, Tony
Subject: Re: Bill Phipps paper

I have transcribed the Pamela Wallin interview (it was on CBC Newsworld in January) for my apologetics class - and when I get a chance I will send it to you (if the system here can handle it). If not I can fax it to you. I don't mind if you put anything of mine on site. Your site has been a big help for me, so why should I not contribute my share as well?

I was also visiting Victor Shepherd's church on Sunday, and was able to connect with Bob Blackburn of NACC. He was very helpful with my UCC Renewal Groups paper that I did in the Fall, and had a few pointers for this one on Phipps. He mentioned that there is a video that Conference handed down to the Presbyteries (and by extension to the congregations) of a type of theological damage control - a video of Bill Phipps and Peter Wyatt.

Do you know if there is a transcript available for that? (I won't have time to transcribe another video). I also hope to email Mr Phipps myself about some OTHER questions. Since I will have to saying something 'nice' about him (meaning not ALL of what I am to say will be a critique) I have to find out just how liberal he is on other issues. For example, I don't think he goes as far as the Jesus Seminar people. He also mentions that what he believes has been talked about for 100 years - so I hope to ask him what scholars influenced HIM.

Now I have a hunch that some of them are Bultmann (naturalism, non-literalism), Strauss (story-telling) and Tillich (have you ever noticed that everything is a 'mystery' to him? It reminds me of Tillich). But there may be other surprises.

One other thing I noticed - in an Edmonton article back in the Fall, he called God a 'she' (is this Sophia????) and when talking about the Resurrection with Pamela Wallin it looked like he referred to the Holy Spirit as 'it'? Whether these were small slip ups that come in vague descriptions, I know not.

I also included a response to Phipps in my UCC renewal groups paper. Mind you, with that paper, I was also researching the response OF the renewal groups as well as my own under Victor Shepherd's class. This time I have to look at the responses of those who support Phipps' theology. Still, I could send you the portion that I have in that paper (and this paper when done).

In the meantime, please keep this project in prayer - that it will be clear and concise.

Oh, one other thing - I am glad that Alpha blessed you so much. Verna Blackburn was telling me about an Alpha group in the UCC. I had the pleasure of visiting HTB in 1995 - and it was wonderful. The worship was amazing, and the sermon seemed like it was specifically written for me (you know when the specific words hit your heart right on the mark?)

Will keep you updated on what I find.

In Christ,

From: "Tony Copple" 03/12/98 05:31AM

Dear Laurie-Ann
I wish you "God's Help" with your paper. You are studying a church at a crossroads. Keep in touch, particularly if you feel you would like to contribute to the debate.
- Tony


From: Ted Wigglesworth[]
Sent: March 13, 1998 12:39 PM
Subject: Re: Book Display Update

Dear Friends,
Thanks David for your update. It is interesting how we use "inclusiveness" to deny the freedom of speech within the UCC. Bill Phipps has said we are open to all sides but here is an example of how openness is only for those who think in "the right way". I think we need to challenge the church to be "inclusive" of all parts and people of the church. Further how is "recognized" to be interpreted. Does this exclude groups like affirm as well as ourselves. Could you supply us with the names and addresses of the people to whom we should write. Your servant in Jesus The Christ. Ted W.


From: Jack Waller[]
Sent: March 21, 1998 8:00 PM
Subject: Re: Some thoughts

This has been an unusual week for me, as I shared lunch in an open forum at the Atlantic School of Theology with its president, and a group of folk, all clergy except my friend and I.

The conversation was divers, and open. My sense of disease is that hearing that some clergy are "threatened" by the empowerment of the laity, and that those of us who have taken Training viz Diploma in Theology, are seeking paid employment.
I took exception to the latter comment, by stating that my giftedness predicated my involvement.
At the Certificate in Theology program course this weekend, we were told that AST has a policy of inclusive language.
I grew up in an environment where individual values and principles are the cornerstone of our faith. Many times I have spoken here, and in other venues, that I will not compromise my authenticity, and integrity by following the herd.
The excrement event, the attitude of those mounting book displays, and the intransigence of Bill Phipps is, as I observe it, part of the post modern approach to the basic tenets of our faith, contained in the Basis of Union and Articles of Faith. (no they are not redundant!) As Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral, I stand before that door, and answer the knock of the one who calls me to higher things.
It is our response to the call, "..feed my sheep>>", go ye into all the world and preach the gospel..", and that "...God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son...that we may not perish but have everlasting life."
I serve a risen Saviour who is in the world today, He walks with me and talks with me and leads me in the way.
The lectionary reading of the Prodigal Son reinforces this, and as I too walk steadfastly toward Jerusalem, ..."Father let this cup pass from me...yet not my will but thine..."

Jack Waller

"Travel, not to go anywhere, but to go. . . . the important thing is to move."
-Robert Louis Stevenson
from Kidnapped


From: Gail Reid[]
Sent: March 14, 1998 2:57 PM
Subject: response to Book Display

Jim Breen wrote: >
> Dear Folks,
> We finally have an example of how "inclusivism equals oppression".
> As our church has become more "inclusive" the more certain issues have
> become taboo and oppression of traditional speech has moved beyond "social"
> pressure into the "legislative arena".
> 1. Promotion of Traditional Christian values is somehow hate literature.
> This can only mean that disagreement = hate.
> 2. Thus anyone who disagrees = must hate the people with whom they disagree.
> 3. In a loving church thus there can be no disagreement.
> 4. So all disagreement must be squashed. Including table displays
> that disagree with official positions must be squashed.
> This is very strange for traditionally liberalism is founded on the
> allowance of graceful disagreement. Which some of us still believe in.
> Does this make sense to people?
> Rev. Jim Breen
> ---------------------------------------------------------
Dear David and Jim and all those who are part of this discussion:
We have every reason to feel angry and to shout out this is unfair--because it is. Jim you have articulated the problem perfectly. This is our dilemma as "traditional" believers.
Do we have an opportunity here to try out this approach of "Filling the holes?" Does it work in reality? I know God does not want us to take this situation lightly. That is impossible. And David I know how hard you have worked and what you went through over the rejection of the renewal group material at the SK conference. I also talked to the woman in charge so I know the reality of what you are up against. And we all read the comment in the Observer regarding our "hate" literature.

Is there a way here to deal with this under "mercy" rather than "judgment"? Can we find a strong piece of ground to stand on that is positive? Can we use the present public statements of our moderator etc regarding the acceptance of diversity and claim this regarding all displays? This was very effective in dealing with Emmanuel College. Is it possible to ignore commenting on the gapping holes and hold up a vision of diversity that would indeed accept our sacred beliefs as well as everyone else's? Can we create in our letters the tone and acceptance that we want to be treated with? Can we come up with some ideas together? Can we join our voices powerfully in prayer on this issue?

These verses I read this morning are helping me to get my thoughts under control. We all know how to war with worldly weapons--I'm ready to start sending letters and to complain--but are we ready to war with God's weapons? We have a fair size army here. What do you think? Blessings


By Tony Copple
April 8,98

I recently completed the "Reconciling and Making New" course. At the end, participants are encouraged to formulated their thoughts on the course and send them in. Here are mine.


From: Rev Ed Hird[]
Sent: March 13, 1998 5:21 AM
Subject: What about Abstinence??

This gem was on the CETA chat email (passed on to me by Gerry Hunter).
It truly puts the matter into perspective.

"What About Abstinence?
Condensed From Ensign

I WAS HOLDING A NOTICE FROM my 13-year-old son's school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.

When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease. I found abstinence mentioned only in passing. When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material.

What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I should go back to burying my head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach "facts," and the home was responsible for moral training.

I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials.

"Donuts, at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd like you to put on the name tags we have prepared-they're right by the donuts-and mingle with the other parents. Everyone moved to the back of the room. As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials. I uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on my shoulder. "Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at me. "The donuts are good." "Thank you, no," I replied. "Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you." "Somehow I doubt that," I replied. "Won't you please join them?" she coaxed. Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!" "I'll just wait here," I said.

When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me. Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags." I watched in silence as the tags came off. "Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?" The gentleman across from me held it up. "Here it is!" "All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?" He pointed to a couple of people. "Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease." There was laughter and joking among the parents. The teacher continued, "And whom did the two of You shake hands with?" The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread. "Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease."

It was then that I heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now, it said, "but be humble." I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose from my chair. I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make.

"Not all of us were infected," I said. "One of us ... abstained."

Dr. James R. Aist, Professor