Interesting trends on committee members already emerging
Who are we and who are our church leaders? What identities do our leaders hold?
Leadership Counts―the voluntary identity survey of United Church of Canada national committee members and ministry personnel―asks these questions. Launched in November 2021, this survey invites voluntary responses based on several commitments to equity and self-determination the United Church has made. It also provides opportunities for people to share more about how they name their cultures, languages, races, genders, orientations, and disabilities.
Based on the data emerging from the survey, staff will explore what barriers exist for full participation in church leadership for people who are Indigenous, racialized, francophone or active in French ministries, Two Spirit or LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and youth and young adults―and whether those barriers differ based on gender and ministry status, or any other factors. General Council and regional council staff will also be surveyed at a later date.
Some interesting trends have already begun to emerge from the data received! There is much diversity within those who name equity identities, as well as those who do not. We see a variety of ways in which people name their cultural backgrounds, their languages, their language abilities, and how they name their genders and orientations.
Trends among national committee members
Of the 305 people serving on national committees at the end of this last General Council term, 220 have completed the survey, representing 72 percent of the serving members and almost 75 percent of all national committee appointments. From these responses we can see that 8 percent of appointments are filled by people who, to date, have shared that they identify as Indigenous, 24 percent by those who identify as racialized, 7 percent as francophone, and 17 percent as Two Spirit or LGBTQIA+. Nine percent of appointments are filled by people who identify as having a disability. Only 2 percent of committee members are youth or young adults. Overall, 48 percent of respondents, so far, have self-identified with one or more of the noted equity identities. As more leaders participate, we may see an increase in the percentage of people who name these various identities.
So far, 19 percent of committee members have answered “yes”’ or “‘mostly”’ on their ability to participate in meetings in French. A number of people who don’t identify as francophone still participate in French-language ministries in the church. Many committee members are multilingual; for at least 17 percent their primary language is neither English nor French. Among the languages noted, people speak Cree, Creole, Dutch, Kiswahili, Korean, German, Gitxsan, IsXhosa, Mohawk, Polynesian, Shona, Spanish, Tagalog, and Urdu.
For committee members who identify as racialized, the majority are male ministry personnel. For those who identify as White, the majority are female ministry personnel. For those who identify as Indigenous, the majority are female laypeople. The smallest of these groups is racialized lay men.
What will happen with the data?
The data received helps us to ask questions. For example, are some identities missing or underrepresented? If so, why? Are there barriers preventing some people from participating fully in these leadership roles in the church?
Asking questions about who is on a committee, or who are ministry personnel, is just part of the picture. For committee members, separate but related processes are exploring how people of diverse identities are participating. For ministry personnel, the Pastoral Relationships Thriving with Equity Research Project has concluded. It examined not just the identities of ministry personnel but also how they are engaging in their pastoral relationships. A report and related recommendations is currently under consideration for implementation.
How can I participate in the survey or update my data?
If you’re ministry personnel in the United Church or a member of a General Council committee, you can log in to ChurchHub.ca and select the new “My Identity Data” tile. From there you can either complete the survey, or update your data any time after you have completed the survey. Laypeople who do not yet have access to ChurchHub and would like to complete the survey can e-mail .
To get an even more accurate count, we want to hear from everyone! Everybody counts. An interim report will be generated in the upcoming months.