08/10/2012 07:22 EDT | Updated 10/10/2012 05:12 EDT

United Church urged to speak out against gossip

The topic of gossip will be on the lips of delegates to the United Church of Canada's triennial summit, as members from Manitoba are urging the church to take a stand against it.

Ann Chapman and the Assiniboine Presbytery congregation has put forward a resolution calling on the church to "take a stand against the spreading of gossip in the same manner that it has taken a stand against gambling and other evils of society."

The proposal will be discussed at the church's 41st General Council, which starts Saturday and runs through Aug. 18 in Ottawa.

"I feel the time is right because there is so much talk these days, so much concern about bullying, and I feel the two are closely related," Chapman told CBC News on Thursday.

The resolution urges the church's general secretary and general council to "encourage congregations to seek ways to raise awareness of the harmful aspects of gossip."

It argues that there is a difference between a "caring conversation" and gossip, which it says can hurt people.

"Gossip can cause people to lose their jobs and their good reputations, lead to broken friendships and split families, and can be used as a malicious weapon against an opponent; and can cause people to switch churches or in some instances to stop attending church altogether," the resolution states in part.

'It's everywhere'

Chapman said she was surprised when her church's resolution ended up on the front page of a national newspaper this week, but she is glad people are talking about it.

"I can think of three times when I was really hurt by gossip, and the sad part was that each time it involved good church people," she said.

"Not that gossip only is in the church; it's everywhere."

Many other resolutions will be discussed at the United Church's summit, including a motion to oppose the proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.

There is also a controversial proposal to boycott items produced in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

More than 350 delegates from 13 regional church conferences across Canada are expected to attend the national gathering, as well as another 300 other attendees and volunteers.

The council meets every three years to elect a new moderator and approve new church policies.