From May 26th-29th, 2016, Saskatoon welcomed over 140 delegates for our 2016 National Conference. Our time together was a joyful opportunity to join in fellowship, learn from our speakers and one another, and to engage with the very timely issue of welcoming the stranger. Even before the Syrian refugee crisis was splashed across news media, our Saskatoon Local Planning Committee, inspired by the Holy Spirit, invited Dr. David Shenk to come and speak to us from his vast experience of interacting with people of other faith traditions, particularly Muslims. His witness was a powerful one, as he shared with us how he had managed to maintain the important balance between respect for other faiths and witness of our Christian faith. His plenary presentations carried us through the importance of hospitality, welcome, mutual understanding and witness. To read more about his ideas, you can read his article in the previous issue of FOCUS, titled “Welcoming the Stranger” (pg. 10) or purchase one of his many excellent books.Our Local Planning Committee, led by Distinguished Christian Service Award recipient Dr. Jim Fenton, prepared an excellent and insightful selection of workshops. Several of the workshops were presented by teams, such as a workshop led by three couples all in different stages of life (newlywed, married with young children, and retired) that touched on ideas for how to best maintain the balance between work and home life and another workshop led by a grad doctor, a student and newly graduated doctor that discussed how to deal with the constant critique students, residents and grad doctors face. There were many other brilliantly planned and presented workshops. Besides the inspiration from our speakers, our days were blessed by the talents of our members who led our worship team. Thanks to Margaret and Robin Cottle for their leadership in this important ministry. Attendees also heard an update from Executive Director Larry Worthen regarding the latest news on Conscience Protection. This was followed by a lively discussion from those present. Our membership is full of passionate, faithful Christians who want to do the best for their patients. One theme that kept arising over the course of the Conference was that we were called for this moment. As our incoming
President Dr. Donato Gugliotta reminded us in the devotion before
our AGM, we have been put in this place at this time for a reason. He shared with us the words of Mordecai to the young Queen Esther, when she learned the Hebrews were to be annihilated in the Kingdom: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) As King Xerxes’ Queen, Esther had the unique opportunity to speak out on behalf of her people. So we too have been called to this time and place not to watch as our brothers and sisters in Christ are pushed out of practice or disciplined and vulnerable patients are put at risk, but to speak up on their behalf and our own. So like Esther, let us fast and prepare ourselves, then speak up and be a voice to witness to the dignity of the human person, regardless of age or ability.Our thanks to Dr. Shenk and all our workshop speakers for their insightful presentations. Your talents are truly noted and appreciated. Special thanks to the Saskatoon Local Planning Committee for their diligent and tireless service. You demonstrated what it looks like to welcome the stranger and to be open to the still small voice of theHolySpirit.