On October 16 and 17, 2019, the Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations (CALC) and Institute of Lutheran Theology-Canada Society (ILTCS) held a Pastors’ Study Conference in Calgary, Alberta. ILTCS is a non-for-profit organization in Canada that supports the education of Canadian ILT students and supports Canadian pastors. ILTCS helps by providing funds to cover ILT’s expenses to Canadian students, to pay for the exchange rate between US and Canadian dollars (so that Canadian students can pay for tuition in Canadian dollars), and support pastors through the pastors’ study conference.
Recently, the Medical Assistance in Dying Act (MAiD) was voted into law in Canada. MAiD allows those who have untreatable illness causing unbearable pain to ask doctors to assist them in committing suicide. Presenters for the conference were Shawn Leclerc, Timothy Rynearson, and Rick Bergh. Shawn is an attorney in Canada. He presented on the law itself and explained the history and limits of the law. Timothy is a professor at ILT and a pastor in South Dakota. He presented on the pastoral care issues involved in having congregational members who decided to use assistance in suicide. Rick is a thanatologist (specialist in death, dying, and bereavement) and pastor in British Columbia. His presentation focused on pastoral care to individuals.
Assisted suicide is going to be a growing issue for pastors, congregations, and families in Canada. There are many legal, ethical, and spiritual issues to discern under this law. We pray that God would give wisdom to leaders and pastors as they work with the consequences this law brings into the lives of Canadian citizens.