This webpage is for the people of the Toronto Conference for story sharing and networking.


Written by John Lee for the Insight November, 2002 issue.

UCCPEOPLE.COM is the website address that I am preparing, primarily, for the people of  Toronto Conference but eventually, in the future, for all the people of The United Church of Canada. The purpose of creating this website is to provide a space where we can actually talk to one another by sharing our stories and establish a ‘members of Toronto Conference’ network. This is one of many attempts I have made to put a human face on my expression  of faith, “We are not alone.” I believe that we experience God’s being with us by connecting with our neighbours and with nature by being in harmony with each other. As we strive “to be with” others and with all God’s creation, and to feel connected with each other as onebody,

we will more fully experience our confession, “We are not alone; God is with us”


Recently I  attended a Church Pilot Focus Group gathering which focused on the isolation experienced by ministers in their ministry. Hearing these stories of isolation confirmed my suspicion  that the situation of ministers’ experiencing  isolation and separation  is very serious. Isolation is not the problem of ministers only, but  exists within the whole body of our Church. Isolation is a key factor in both the cause and the consequence of many problems and is a major factor in the declination of stewardship. However we have overlooked its seriousness and have become numb to this now chronic syndrome, simply because isolation  has become a popular and common life style in our contemporary society. 


Story-sharing affirms that “We are not alone”, and this experience will form the foundation for a trusting network. Our connectedness to one another as one body is affirmed by knowing each other. Our vitality is increased by recognizing and valuing each other’s gifts. What is the depth of our fellowship with our neighbours and neighbouring churches? Do we have dialogical partners with whom we share our in-depth pain and problems, or we do chat only superficially about the weather and shopping? A trusting relationship begins with sharing stories. In our recent history of our United Church, we have experienced how story-sharing invites the Spirit to work among us as we walk the paths of justice, reconciliation and healing.


My dream, as I prepare the website, is to enable the sharing of our stories of  both good and pain, and come to know each other as the good and faithful  people of God that we are. Imagine that our family members and friends in BC, Saskatchewan, New Foundland share their faith stories. Imagine rural and urban churches getting to know each other to develop a joint event such as a Farm Product Bazaar in the heart of the city. Imagine affirming congregations sharing their pains and joy of the fullness of life and invite others to join together as the one body of Christ. Imagine ethnic congregations sharing their unique gifts and having a ‘show and tell’ service, having a joint event such as an  International Food Fair.


At present, within the Toronto Conference, out of 260  pastoral charges, only 45 have websites. Imagine all 260 pastoral charges in our conference with  websites, sharing their stories and establishing a trusting network. There are volunteers who are now ready to help both technically and financially to make this happen. And imagine further 2000 pastoral charges within The United Church of Canada connecting with each other over time and space. All this will add greatly to our celebration of God’s presence. When we humbly fill these spaces with good news of Christ, the sound of people  praising through the moving of a joyful, creating Spirit will be heard all around the world along with our prayer of “Thanks be to God.”



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