News and Info - General News and Announcements | The United Church of Canada

You Still Have Time - Banff Men's Conference

Banff Men's Conference - October 15-17, 2010

To Seek Justice and Resist Evil: Making a Straight Path for the Lord

As men of faith in a complicated and troubling world, we are faced with issues and concerns that can leave us in conflict and confusion. From our first exposure to the church in Sunday School to the messages we receive today in our worship, we know that Christ has called us to love others as we love ourselves. The scriptures tell us that Jesus said we should turn the other cheek when faced with violence and oppression. At the same time when we recite our Creed we promise to Seek Justice and Resist Evil. Every night we watch the news and see graphic evidence, live and in colour, of the level of injustice and evil at work in our world. How do we respond?

Historically, one of the ways we have responded as a nation has been to send our young men and women in uniform to countries all over the world to try to make a difference. How can we, as followers of Christ, reconcile our desire to support these people we have sent into harm's way with the non-violent teachings of our faith? Brigadier General Peter Holt (retired) has strived for 39 years in the Canadian Armed Forces to be a soldier of Christ as well as a soldier of the military. As our theme speaker, he will lead us on a journey to explore our feelings on these matters and empower us to discuss our views in an open and respectful manner.

Registration Form: Banff Men’s Conference October 15-17, 2010
 
Banff Men’s Conference 2010 Chair
Doug Currie – dcurrie.lcca at telus.net

Registrar:
Richard Roy, Registrar
203, 9505 Resources Road
Grande Prairie, AB
T8V 8C2
Phone: 780-830-7800
Email: beanroy at telus.net

AOTS (As One That Serves) Who Are We?

AOTS (As One That Serves) is a men’s service club that is affiliated with the United Church of Canada, but is open to all men on a broad ecumenical basis. AOTS aims to promote fellowship, deepen the spiritual life of men, and develop an effective program of Christian service.


Over the years the AOTS has been; Visiting shut-ins, Supporting the local food bank or transitional housing organization, Providing leadership for youth activities in the church, Helping with the upkeep of local camps and sponsoring underprivileged campers and helping supply northern communities and outposts with medical supplies and training.

The AOTS has been around for over 85 years and they have been working hard at staying “relevant” in this modern day.

The AOTS has been working hard at building their network and creating new clubs but despite their enthusiastic efforts the number of national clubs is dropping.

Being involved with this group for over 15 years I have seen the good they have done in their churches, community, provincially and even nationally. They are the workhorses behind many projects and their support usually means that your project will reach its goal. They are not out there preaching the gospel (although some of them would love to if they were asked) they are out there giving to the community in hopes that people will join them, not because of what they believe but because what they do and how much they care.

The AOTS have been instrumental at started The Men’s Ministry Network to unify all men in the United Church of Canada. This organization gives support to for men's groups in local congregations and helps men and men’s groups connect with one another and celebrate, support, and strengthen the many forms of men’s ministry. They are also breaking the barriers between the churches and working ecumenically to find common ground and unity in all of the great religions and churches

One of the national focus for the Men’s Ministry Network is the Dondi Project. The Dondi Project is an effort toward raising $1 million over the next year to rebuilding the Lutamo School at Dondi Angola, which was destroyed during years of conflict and civil war.

Initiated by The United Church of Canada Men’s Ministries Network, the project will reach out to men of all ages across Canada, creating a network that will engage, unite, and inspire.

Our National audience is not only Christian men that are active in the church but for all of those that want to be a part of a great community. I have found that there are a lot of busy people out there with families, work and hobbies that do not have the time to go to church but they still want to be a part of something bigger, give a little back to the community and possibly even grow a little spiritually.

Being a part of the AOTS will help fulfill that need and also make this national movement a lot stronger.

President’s Report - September, 2010

Wally Shoults

I was saddened to receive Wally Shoults’ resignation as a member of the National Council last month. Wally, along with past president Bill Love has been an AOTS stalwart – flying the AOTS flag in Alberta and other parts west. He has held many positions in AOTS and has decided it is time to let some things go in his life. He’ll be maintaining his focus in Masters Singers (mastersingers.org) and you can catch them at the upcoming Banff Men’s Retreat in October. Wally will also be working on his memoirs and, as many will readily attest, he should have some stories to tell.

We shall miss your voice on our conference calls. Best of luck with all your endeavours, Wally!

Wally’s departure raises the question of leadership in AOTS. What is it? How do we provide it? Where do we go from here? What is our legacy? What does God call us to do?

Leadership and AOTS

Currently, many of us are engaged in Dondi Project work. And we are looking forward to raising as much money as possible for this worthwhile project along with other groups throughout the men’s ministry network. Bravo for that.

And bravo for all the community and church work the AOTS clubs are doing.

We are also finalizing a new constitution and by-laws and looking forward to a combined Central Region Round-up and National Biennial next April. I pleased to announce that Michael Blair, UCC Executive Secretary for Communities in Mission will be our keynote speaker. I will report more about Michael’s participation next month.

Change Management

The change AOTS is going through now is not incremental change but discontinuous change. We are no longer expanding, rather contracting. What has kept us alive in the past is no longer able to sustain us. We are not regenerating. Radical change is at hand. Yet we feel compelled to resist. Our dilemma is that it is impossible to grasp what is new without letting go, of what was.

For many years in AOTS we grew exponentially from west to east year by year and those changes were predictable because we could base our planning on what was.

In the science of change, discontinuous change is the time when greater opportunity presents itself. We look forward to those times ahead.

Precepts of Leadership

Over the course of AOTS’ history many of the precepts of a spiritually-based men’s club have changed dramatically over time. We no longer are what we were. The composition of leadership in the church has changed over time from an overwhelming dominance of men to a predominance of women.

It is interesting to note that AOTS was founded in 1923, six years before Lord Sankey, Lord Chancellor of the Privy Council, announced the British Privy Council decision that "yes, women are persons ... and eligible to be summoned and may become Members of the Senate of Canada."

Women and Gender

We have come a long way, baby!

One of the things we know from our history is how much the women in the church have helped to keep AOTS alive. To be sure, there are a lot of good women ‘AOTSers’ out there.

Currently we have the media coverage and controversy regarding Caster Semenya’s struggle, as a person involved in competitive sports. Caster’s case if you will causes us to examine our understandings of sex and gender

Regardless of one’s thoughts on the issue, Caster, herself, may have it right. “I see it all as a joke," Semenya said. “It doesn't upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself.”

Articles of Faith

One only has to read the church’s Basis of Union to see that there are theological decisions based on the articles of faith which lead to further elaborations of the character and presence of God in our lives. The church responds to and is part of the community of spiritual and scientific understanding.

Currently the church is voting on a remit about whether to include these elaborations, like the Song of Faith, along with the Basis of Union.

These further elaborations are based on advanced scientific and human understanding. For example we know much, much more now about the life and times of Jesus than anyone did up until 200 years ago when great advances began to be made about our ability to understand scripture and study history.

And there are other theological questions, implicit in how we read and study scripture. There is the question of ‘sin’ and the divinity of birth which is ongoing one in the church.

We have evolved as church and as a men’s organization, away from what we once were. Yes. But in embracing the change God has in store for us, we enliven our spirit of gratitude and generosity, as one that serves.