Robin Blount: ecumenical notes, cruise ship chaplaincy and lots more

A New Creed

When I retired in 2003 I spent my Easters and Christmases on board the various cruise ships of Fred Olsen, "working" (!) as chaplain for the passengers and crew. I went on eighteen cruises with Olsen and a couple with P&O, including one round-the-world and one round South America. I was able to see much of the world, even if only in day trips, and I shall ever be grateful for the opportunity.

I could be slightly cynical and say that the real reason for having a chaplain on board was to relieve the captain or some other officer from taking what they always described as church services. Better to have a professional look after such matters. But I took this as an opportunity to be truly ecumenical - inter-denominational, as the company described it. On a Sunday morning I would have a congregation of around two hundred and fifty for communion, and during the week about fifteen or twenty for a very brief morning service.

I therefore took the opportunity to dispense with the traditional creeds and offer instead a variety of expressions of faith that I'd come across. One such is that of the United Church of Canada. I've visited Canada many times and found the UCC a warm and friendly community, and at the moment the largest denomination in Canada. I'm setting out here their New Creed - 1968 so hardly new! - but I'm also suggesting that you browse for United Church of Canada Song of Faith - described as a verbal picture of what the United Church of Canada understands its faith to be in the historical, political, social and theological context of the early 21st century. It is also a means of ongoing reflection and an invitation to live out its convictions in relation to the world in which we live. It's long, and you should also read the preamble and the appendices. But it moves me every time I read it.

Here's the creed, used frequently on Sundays:
We are not alone,
we live in God's world.

We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.

We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

This New Creed was developed over many years, with the line to live with respect in Creation being added in 1995 at the behest of (I believe) the First Nation Conference responding to growing environmental concerns.

You'll find some of the worship liturgies I used on board here.

Robin Blount
6 August 2021

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