The Judicial Committee Executive has refused to hear my December '97 appeal, arguing that it did not meet the necessary grounds and therefore is rejected.
I had challenged the Executive of General Council response to the issues raised by the interview of the United Church moderator with the Ottawa Citizen which both affirmed the United Church faith statements and supported the moderator's right to express his personal faith views publicly.
My appeal made the following challenges: the Executive failed to recognize the requirements of Order of Ministry as distinct from those of members of congregations, when they stated "... we do not believe that faithfulness consists in assenting to particular statements. Rarely, if ever, do we use doctrinal standards to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging"... and with respect to the polity of The Manual in which the Order of Ministry are required to be in "essential agreement" with particular statements and doctrinal standards; the Executive wrongly included as statements of doctrine official statements and other "doctrinal standards" which The Manual does not reference as Doctrine in applying the provisions of The Manual, and in doing so has distorted both the doctrine and the decision making process of the United Church; the Executive did not use the procedures which involve all parties set forth in The Manual for conflict resolution, but rather created an administrative process which did not involve all parties and which does not exist in The Manual.
The General Council has full power to legislate on matters respecting doctrine, worship, membership and government provided that before any legislation can be treated as a permanent law it must receive the approval of a majority of the presbyteries and if advisable pastoral charges also. The theological understandings and official statements used in the Executive's response had not received this approval but were included with permanent law in deciding critical questions within the church.
The appeal was not presented to attack the moderator, but because the Executive had ignored the legal requirements of The Manual.
The United Church of Canada appears to be making decisions by increment. By making decisions along the way we confuse the decision making process, the process being prejudiced because in the minds of many people the decision has already been made and acted upon.
The United Church of Canada Act includes a process to change doctrine or polity which is open and honest. Decisions which effect change by other means are a perversion of justice within our church.
Rev. Don Anderson
White Lake, Ontario