Vol 1 No. 13 New Governor General

Canada has a new Governor General. Her name is the Honourable Michaëlle Jean. As we mark her appointment to this office may we remember 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.

Let us set aside for a moment how we feel or think about the way we are governed in this country and take the passage we have just read at face value. I will be welcoming Governor General Jean to her new position on behalf of the Baptist Union in a letter which will assure her of our prayers and support for this challenging new role she has assumed in light of the scripture we have just sited.

Our new Governor General’s appointment has not been without some controversy. The one that I particularly refer to is her expressed desire to “affirm” her oath of office rather than to place her hand on the bible, as has been the custom of Governor’s General in the past. I applaud her decision to be true to her own convictions rather than, in bad faith, to affirm something she does not believe in. Her position in this matter should reassure Baptists who believe firmly in the separation of church and state, even if they would like to be encouraged that our leaders depend on Almighty God for strength. The issue raised here is not simply one of authority and where that authority is derived from. It is also a question of personal integrity. The last time I was in court as a witness I chose to “affirm” rather than place my hand on the bible for two very simple reasons. The first was it has seemed to me in recent years that the state does not regard the scripture as the basis for its rule of law and therefore the use of the scripture in such contexts is in appropriate. The second reason is simply our Lord’s encouragement not to swear on anything except on our own word and that that should be enough. Matthew 5:33-37:

But I say to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “yes, yes” or “no, no”, anything more than this comes from the evil one. 

On a lighter note, I have several things that I either admire or have in common with Governor General, Michaëlle Jean. My sister, Jennifer, married Uriel Pierre who is from Haiti. Like the new Governor General, I am an immigrant and have at times been discriminated against because of my background. I think we could all identify and be pleased with her sense of energy and commitment and we wish her well. But when we “wish her well” it will mean that we take seriously the passage in 1 Timothy that we began this letter with. It would be a good thing if we began to pray for our all our leaders in public life and to make that a regular part of personal and congregational worship.

We have 8 camps in the Baptist Union and they have all reported encouraging summers. In British Columbia we have Keats and Sylvan. In Manitoba, Pelican Lake. In Alberta, Gull lake, Wapiti, and Mill Creek. In Saskatewan, Christopher Lake and Katepwa. Below is a simple graph of how many campers attended this year.



Camp 2005

Keats 1880

Mill Creek 347

Gull Lake 588

Wapiti 308

The Quest at Christopher Lake 416

Sylvan 142

Katepwa 203

Pelican 171


I mentioned the attendance at camps this summer because of the central role that camps play in our life in the Baptist Union. I also want us to remember them in this fall season where many are recovering, celebrating, and reflecting with thanksgiving to God for all that happened this summer. As many of you who have been involved in camping know full well, the life cycle of a camping in the non-summer months only take on a different tempo. There is much planning, prayer, recruitment, and thought that happens between the hectic summer seasons. We’ll talk more about what happened this summer at camps in a later letter.


Warmly in Christ

Jeremy Bell