The streets, hotels and restaurants of Penticton were full of church-goers over the weekend as the United Church of Canada held its provincial conference at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
The event drew hundreds of UCC members from around the province in order to eat, pray, love and thoroughly examine issues pertaining to the future of the denomination.
“We discussed a number of things pertaining to the life of the church,” explained Dan Chambers, a minister at Saint David’s Church in North Vancouver and the outgoing president of the UCC’s B.C. Conference.
“One of the things we looked at was ways of being mindful of the food we eat when we have a gathering like this. That as much as possible, we ask ourselves: is it local? Is it organic? And, is it fairly traded? And with poultry or meat, has the animal been raised in an ethical manner.”
Chambers said the issue pertains to the way in which the UCC models itself.
“It is something we certainly care about,” he said. “Part of our purpose and part of our calling is to be in the right relationship with creation, with the environment and with the ecology.
“But it is just like any household. It is not always easy to find and when you do find it, it is not always easy to determine what product is ethically sourced. It will say it is a natural product but you wonder, ‘Is it really?’ And then there is also the challenge of the expense because it is a bit more costly. So, how do we creatively eat in such a way that is ethical but also delicious and affordable.”
Serving at the helm of the provincial UCC for the past two years, Chambers said his time as president had been a busy and rewarding one.
“It was so great being able to experience the church in a breadth and a depth that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to,” said Chambers. “I got to travel around the province and meet people in all different regions, whether in Haida Gwaii or in Port Hardy, up in the Kootenays or White Rock or Victoria and see the entire sweep of the province. And I had the opportunity to talk with people within their context; hear their celebrations and their challenges and work with children and youth, having a lot of fun.
“It has just been a wonderful experience for me and hopefully an opportunity for the church to remember our connections to each other because when you are in an isolated place or even in the intensity of an urban setting it can be easy to forget that we have this deep connection and relationship. So, that is one of the roles of the president, to carry that sense of relationship and connection and to listen to people in all different places.”