Emmanuel Alumni/ae Days and Convocation
Lorne Calvert addressed Religion and Public Life: The Power of Politics, Religion and Faith
at the Emmanuel College's Alumni/ae Days, May 12-13, 2010. He confirmed that the skill-set of "cleric" is suited to public life and it is appropriate for ministers to exercise their vocation beyond the walls of their congregation. He reminded those gathered that John Locke's concept of the separation of church and state shouldn't be confused with the separation of faith and society. The power of the church to engage in political activity begins with the benediction at the end of Sunday worship and depends on the witness of church members. The role of Sunday worship is to equip and call church members to go into God's world filled with the Spirit and ready to engage in the diverse public organizations and political parties of which our members are part.
Lorne Calvert also pleaded for the United Church to speak publicly, ecumenically where possible, about critical issues in our country and world. Reminding us that politics and nature abhor a vacuum he insisted we must speak our understanding of God's will and intention so that our voice is included with others of differing views in the political debate and public discernment. Sacred solidarity should be our goal, with others who share our concerns and perspective and with God, the one who makes us church and with the world in which God calls us.
An outstanding panel of other United Church members and ministers, currently serving in government, Cheri Di Novo, Rob Oliphant and Jean Augustine picked up issues raised by Lorne Calvert and shared some of their experience of engaging politics, religion and faith. With common and differing views they reflected on their years in politics, the surprises and the opportunities. The importance of prayer for those serving in public life was emphasized repeatedly as well as the regret that often politicians rooted in the United Church do not feel the engagement of the church in the realm where they are working or the pastoral support of the church as they exercise their vocation in public life.
The worship service which drew Alumni/ae Days to a close was inspiring and encouraging including Lorne Calvert's Sermon, Timothy Eaton's Geese.