Ephesians 3:17 – NRSV
Ten years ago, when I was ordained into the Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care (Montreal-Ottawa Conference), I never imagined the changes that the world, the church, and I, would encounter on the road ahead.
Our inaugural gathering was in Smiths Falls in June 2019. That seems so long ago, but it feels like it was just yesterday. At that time, our Regional Council was only six months young. Like an infant that age, we were not even able to walk, yet we were given the opportunity to run the race. By God’s Grace, we have been running the race like pros, thanks to the wonderful staff, great executive, and the many E.O.O.R.C. members who participate in the wider church and make a difference. As your president, I have the privilege to get to work with these amazing people, including the General Council.
The last fifteen months have been one of the hardest times that we have lived through in our lifetime. COVID-19 is pushing us, and the world, to change the way we see and live our lives. We have learned, and still are learning, the essentials of life – respectful and caring relationships. Moreover, many Communities of Faith who never have thought about technology, virtual church beyond walls, have become front-runners for this important way of ministry. On the other hand, we have experienced and grieved the closures of a few church buildings, however, as Easter People we believe that the life of these churches has not been in vain. Even when they have closed the buildings and disbanded, they have left behind seeds of Love in a new form of ministry that continue their legacy, work, and most of all the Mission of God.
Beloved, being your president has been a humbling experience and an honour. During this time, I have been reminded that God is not only with us, but God is the Path we journey upon. Even when we are uncertain what is ahead, uncertain of our capabilities, God shows up and reminds us who we are and where our roots come from.
As a descendant of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, I always thought that I can never have a Family Tree, as there is no paper trail to go back to, except maybe to Beirut, Lebanon ONLY and not to Western Armenia, Modern Day Turkey. However, in February 2013, I had an AHA moment. The Spirit reminded me that no matter where my ancestors have lived and died, my roots, are in God. What a great assurance to live with.
Whenever your executive meets, we greet each meeting with sincere honesty, asking the questions on how to make things better for all, seeking God’s Wisdom to guide us, and at the end of the day we are called to remain Rooted in Love, united in the Body of Christ where there are no longer rural or urban churches but One Body working together to make this world a better place. Beloved, in our individual and communal lives, Rooted in Love will see us through the bad, the good and the ugliness of life.
Words of gratitude are not enough to express to the staff, the executive and YOU of this Regional Council. Remembering that we are still infants at this chapter of life, in this United Church of ours, even if the union’s 96th Anniversary is coming up in a month (June 10, 2021).
Lastly, I urge you not to forget the Mission of God carried through this Regional Council, your Council. As much as the work of each Community of Faith is important, your participation in the work of the Regional Council makes a huge impact in the wider church and the wider world – allowing your gifts to feed those around you, near and far.
Therefore, Beloved, continue to be Rooted in Love, United in the Body of Christ, and Encouraged to run the race, doing the work at hand. We may think sometimes that things are IMPOSSIBLE, but in that silent, darkest moment, God says, “I’M Possible through you!” Amen.
Because of Grace,
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro
Ordained Minister – Grace United Church, Gananoque, ON
President of E.O.O.R.C.