“Our lives are enriched by the faces we met and the stories we heard.”

Partner Council 2023 with senior leaders
Partner Council with United Church of Canada leadership (left to right): Rev. Jennifer Henry, Samer Laham, Annie Namala, Rev. Michael Blair, Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Rev. Dr. Japhet Ndlovu, and Horacio Mesones
Credit: The United Church of Canada
Published On: November 1, 2023

From October 20 to 26, 2023, The United Church of Canada 2023 Partner Council had the opportunity to experience first-hand how faith communities in the First Dawn Eastern Edge Regional Council and Conseil régional Nakonha:ka Regional Council are living into the church’s Call to Deep Spirituality, Bold Discipleship, and Daring Justice.

In First Dawn Eastern Edge Region, Horacio Mesones of CREAS had the opportunity to visit St. John’s, Victoria, Mount Pearl, and Gander and be with communities of faith, clergy, community ministries, and multi-faith organizers.

Horacio Mesones in front of a church altar
Horacio at First United Church in Mount Pearl, NL
Credit: The United Church of Canada


In Conseil régional Nakonha:ka Region, Annie Namala and Samer Laham visited emerging and established faith communities and outreach  ministries and met with lay leaders and regional council members, in Montréal, Ayer’s Cliff, Sherbrooke, and Beaconsfield.

Samer Laham, Annie Namala, and Eric Hebert-Daly pose in front of a church
Samer Laham, Annie Namala, and the Rev Éric Hébert Daly, Regional Executive Minister, outside Beulah United Church, Ayer’s Cliff
Credit: The United Church of Canada


Upon their return to Toronto and the General Council, the Partner Council met with senior leaders of the church.

Partner Council members expressed gratitude for all, and especially for their hosts in the regions for creating such a rich opportunity for exchange: “Our lives are enriched by the faces we met and the stories we heard. We really felt that we were not guests but part of the community. We will remember all of you and the experience of these days, and remembering that together we can be stronger.”

A message from the Partner Council to the United Church will go to the November 2023 General Council Executive meeting, sharing reflections and observations on “what is and what could be” as the church moves forward in living out its Call and Vision. Speaking to the 44th General Council on October 21, 2023, Partner Council members encouraged those efforts, saying:

“Together, we can inspire peace, cultivate justice, and spread love in a world with so many wounds. As you embark on this journey, know that you are not alone. In unity, we can shine a light on the path ahead, a path filled with the steadfast love of God.”

Partner council members (2023–2025 term) include:

  • Samer Laham, Director of Emergency Response Services, Middle East Council of Churches
  • Marcelo Leites,* General Secretary, World Christian Student Fellowship
  • Annie Namala, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation (India)
  • Kangwa Mabuluki,* General Secretary, All Africa Theological Education by Extension Association
  • Horacio Mesones, Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio (Argentina)


*Participated remotely due to visa issues.

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