WestHill United Church Vision – Part II – Love

Our response to life is love (Taken from Westhill United site)

We choose love as our supreme value.  We understand love to mean the choice to act with justice, compassion, integrity, courage, forgiveness, kindness, peace, generosity, responsibility, an appreciation of beauty, and other life-enhancing values.

We acknowledge that, as a part of the web of life, we have a significant impact on the environment and all other life with which we share the planet.  We therefore strive to live consciously and caringly, increasing our awareness of the consequences of our actions, advocating for rights, and making ethically responsible decisions.

We embrace a vision of peace through social justice for all people, of all races, ethnicities, abilities, socioeconomic situations, and sexual identities and orientations. We identify and resist injustice, including oppressive and de-humanizing conditions, social structures, activities, messages, ideas, and attitudes. We help create, support, and celebrate those conditions that promote rights, respect, equity, dignity, and community.

Seeking a healthy balance between self-care and care for others, we share time, energy, talents, wisdom, knowledge, skills, material goods, and our presence with one another in order that we may inspire, encourage, delight, comfort, and help one another.

We consider relationships to be both serious responsibility and joyful privilege, calling for commitment, humility, and light-heartedness. We strive to relate with one another authentically and supportively. We value assertiveness, attentive listening, and empathetic response, and encourage the sharing of diverse views, requiring only that communication be respectful. We work toward creative problem solving and conflict resolution.  In times of broken trust, we seek mutual understanding, forgiveness, and healing.

In areas of ethical complexity, cultural diversity, and conflicting worldviews, we uphold the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and expression, and support freely-made choice.  When making moral decisions as a community, we study issues comprehensively, acknowledge uncertainty, and apply life-enhancing values as appropriately and sensitively as possible.

Part 2 of this vision focuses on love, is the statement all encompassing? Does it reflect your views on love? Is there anything missing?

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13 thoughts on “WestHill United Church Vision – Part II – Love

  1. Love encompasses:

    (a) Choice
    (b) The Environment and animals
    (c) Peace and Social Justice
    (d) Self and neighbor
    (e) Responsibility in Relationships
    (f) Freedom of thought and expression

    I really like this statment. It involved pretty much every aspect of human relationship on this planet and our responsibilities as part of those relationships (and I am all for accountability).

    One thing is missed, God. The teaching handed down from the Torah that Jesus speaks on involved a 3 fold aspect to it – Love God, Love neighbor, and Love yourself. Ideally, as a Christian church, you might expect to see God at the top of the list (as Jesus had listed it), followed by neighbor (which is closely connected to one’s morals), and then of course the last connection of loving ourself se we can freely love others.

    Now I think the vision statement nails 2 of those down awesomely, neighor and self. But this is a faith movement as well, is God not to be considered?

  2. haha… well, God was there before any us were here to write a-f now right? here’s the thing with progressive churches, God is always the operating assumption and doesn’t need to be mentioned every 5 seconds. the bible is the foundation of it as well, although no “proof-texts” are provided outright, it’s all in there. didn’t Jesus speak in stories? he didn’t proof-text or provide a systematic reason for loving your neighbor as yourself either. sounds like this group is very existentialist. i’m a fan!

  3. Okay here’s the problem ZG1:

    Me and you are seasoned vets of theology and can assume things like ‘God is always the operating assumption and doesn’t need to be mentioned every 5 seconds. the bible is the foundation of it as well, although no “proof-texts” are provided outright’ (ZG1). I think we both now what this church is aiming for, and likely both support such progression…but we also know the background.

    What about someone brand new to this church – if they read this are they to assume God is involved? I see no mention of God. I have to point that out.

    Now Jesus didn’t proof-text (which is somewhat debateable) – agreed. However, he also wasn’t too lean on the use of his admission of following God and how that factored into much of his theology. Can we say this statement is true to even the most basic of Jesus-ian traditions – the mention of God?

  4. “but we also know the background.”

    i would assume they do too.

    “What about someone brand new to this church – if they read this are they to assume God is involved?”

    yeah, because it’s a church.

    “Now Jesus didn’t proof-text (which is somewhat debateable)”

    not like we presently know it. he did quote scripture, and radically reinterpret it. I see biblical themes all over the place in their writing, they just don’t come right out and say it. this is right in line with their congregational heritage. Zwingli wrote in very similar ways which drove Calvin nuts. Calvin wanted Zwingli to come out and say God and quote exact passages and such instead of alluding to them. Zwingli refused stating (paraphrased) “if you read the Bible, you know exactly where i’m coming from and what my foundation is.”

    so no, i don’t think the mention of God is all that important, especially in a community with diverse opinions about God, who God is, and what God represents both as a word, concept, and as a relationship.

  5. ‘I would assume they do too.” (ZG1)

    Great, they should be very open to someone having a critique about what they see as a short-coming in such a long vision statement as this.

    I guess, and if they are listening in cyber-space somewhere, they can answer why God was left out altogther? I would like to know the reason.

    “yeah, because it’s a church” (ZG1)

    Are you sure? I have read some 1000 words in my last 2 posts where that word or one similar even shows up. Luke, you realize some people out there are very under-educated in theological ideas and do need this explained to them correct? You cannot assume for them that they will know what this all is about.

    If I had to say what the focus of this United Church was, as far as group interests, I would say to pick up the scraps of people that have left the more Conservative churches…they are assuming we will know what they mean in these vision statements.

    “so no, i don’t think the mention of God is all that important, especially in a community with diverse opinions about God, who God is, and what God represents both as a word, concept, and as a relationship.” (ZG1)

    In some ways I agree, since God is only a word. However, I’d still say it in a vision statement I wrote, since it is just a word, anyone can take the meaning from that word they want.

    Plus, I have to wonder, has this church pushed to much in the other direction that now they are trying to be overly tolerant? No church mention, no bible mention, and no God mention…hell no messiah mention (which is the basis of Christ-ianity). I sense some shame – just my opinion.

  6. there might be some shame there, or a openness to idea, or to show they’re tolerant or to help those heal who have been pushed out from conservative churches and shield them from the very same language by which they were abused. could be all of the above. only one way to find out, visit or email the pastor.

    your objections may be true, but they are really minor and sort of nit-picky. almost a defensive reaction. this is the same language i hear from dyed-in-the-wool right-wingers about the “liberal” churches, that they are vague and don’t mention God or Jesus enough. i hear your background speaking over you and what i am reading (mayhaps too deeply) is you trying to find any excuse not to go and check this place out. is it close enough for a visit? check ’em out this sunday and see how ‘vague’ they are.

    this is also a vision statement, how they see the world. there need not be any direction given.

  7. “i hear your background speaking over you and what i am reading (mayhaps too deeply) is you trying to find any excuse not to go and check this place out. is it close enough for a visit? check ‘em out this sunday and see how ‘vague’ they are” (ZG1)

    I am about as close to this church as I am to your church (some 20+ hours away)…remember Canada is pretty big.

    To be honest, I like the church – it is being nit-picky (I admit that) but for some of the right reasons (newbies to the faith) and for some of the wrong (just to raise questions for questions sake).

    If it were in my city I would likely visit and maybe become a member, I like Gretta Vosper.

  8. I do appreciate that they lay out just what “love” is. It’s tricky enough to define on its own, much like “God” or “church” or other such things, as noted above by commenters.

    I have to wonder, has this church pushed to much in the other direction that now they are trying to be overly tolerant? No church mention, no bible mention, and no God mention…hell no messiah mention (which is the basis of Christ-ianity). I sense some shame – just my opinion.

    I could easily slip into repetition-mode here but I have to say that this absence of God, bible and even Jesus is the point!
    They are putting their commitment to love above any commitment to an inconceivable, omni-awesome being, and even above any commitment to any heritage/baggage they may have. I haven’t been to the church (it’s about 2 hours away though and so I have been considering visiting for about 1/2 a year now). But, apparently, they don’t use the word “God” much at all in services. Because that’s what they are trying to get at.

    They are choosing love over God.

    Heck, Vosper’s book title should be a clue — “With or Without God: Why the way we live is more important than what we believe”

    They are doing this, whether God is along for the ride or not.

    I don’t think it’s shame (although there is a sniff of that going on for sure. Vosper relates a few personal stories in the book along such lines). It’s about responsible believing. Actions, like love, before beliefs. If that’s pushing too much for you then you may not find like-minded ‘souls’ there.

  9. Hi Andrew, I actually like the title of Vosper’s book and agree with her theology on that (what we do is more important than what we believe). I would have that much in common.

    My differences are pretty small – but within a faith place I would prefer to mention God – that’s just my opinion.

  10. Egads!
    Sorry about the formatting. What a mess…

    In terms of ‘in a faith place’ it is definitely weird to put aside that particular word. But then again, differences in such places are usually pretty easy to find, and are usually pretty small. And yet people too often make too much drama out of those little differences. Churches generally just want to add value and spirituality and love to their communities. On their own terms, I guess.

    Faith is weird, yo.

  11. athis mission statement sounds, at a quick glance, like pretty much how I try to live & let live.In respect & faith & commitment & with ethics, triving to understand others & be somewhat understood myself. I strive for a very tricky balance.It is elusive, but, not impossible.And, ultimately, soul-nourishing.We each put our own unique stamp on all that we think & do, & that is as it should be.

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