Vol 4 No. 53 Happy New Year

John 1:1-14

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning wasthe Word, andthe Word was with God, andthe Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 There was a mansent from God, whose name wasJohn. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yetthe world did not know him. He came tohis own, andhis own peopledid not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name,he gave the rightto becomechildren of God, who were born, not of bloodnor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The title is misleading, for Christians a Happy New Year begins at the first part of Advent. Let me frame it a different way – my beginning and anticipation in life, the setting of my clock as it were, is not done by the Canadian Revenue Service but by the birth and life of Christ. OK, a little over the top, Happy New Year anyway. I want to close off 2008 and nudge us to 2009 by telling two stories, which I hope will encourage and inspire.

The first story is really simply a quote from Sandy Rosen while speaking at her mother Vi Oshiro’s service this last fall. Manu of us were gathered to give thanks and support Tom and the extended family. Sandy said that her mother was like the light on the porch so you always knew where home was (I’ve probably mangled it but that’s the drift). Oh that others would be called to say that of us when we die. More importantly, this is true of Vi, the light from her life was the light of Christ shining through…may that be true of each of us too… seeing Jesus not us this year.

The second story is set against the gathering clouds of economic uncertainty, international conflict and strife.  We enter a year of worry, concern and uncertainty. The second story came to me from a third party recounting how a successful business man left that life of financial security to become a pastor. His new church and calling were offering a salary for less than his previous vocation and not in an adequate salary for the new pastor’s family. This new pastor was a wise and godly man, he put the financial dilemma to the church this way:

“You know you can pay me what you intend to pay me and I and my family can live on faith. Or you can pay me what is hard for you and adequate for my family and the whole church (my family included) can live on faith.”

The Lord is calling us Christians and as a family of churches to pray, discern, reflect, worship and passionately live into what God has for us this year. Our Lord has been faithful and we can depend on Him to be so again and again. We can give Him of our time, money and energy in its most minimalistic form or we can live faithfully, fully and in great anticipation that we will be used by God in ways we never dreamed of in this next year.

You are not supposed to have favourite passages of scripture but basically I do. We started with it and I end with it.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 There was a mansent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I have one addition this year which governs my hopes and dreams for us…it is in Hebrews 11… that’s for another week.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

 

 

Vol 4 No. 52 Owing No One, No One Cares from Whence I came

The message of Jesus and his birth marked each Christmas is for me and each of us the beginning of a new world; the arrival, suffering, dying and rising of God himself. The central theses (there are many, but here are two of them) of Christmas is lived out in the insignificance of Christ’s beginnings; from the birth of Christ ‘til now no one has the right to ask us where we come from (we are Christ’s) and we are in no one’s debt, except Christ’s! Let me illustrate with a story I have often told but never written. It goes like this. It is a true story.

They knelt down on the shores of Lake Ontario and gave God thanks for their deliverance and promptly looked for a church home. It was not to be. No Protestant church in Toronto of the 1820’s would allow them in unless they fulfilled two conditions; first, they needed to provide a letter of transfer from their former church and secondly (wait for it) they needed to re-pay their former masters for stealing property from them because they had escaped without paying their masters compensation. Knowing there was no welcome, the Afro-American Christians sent to Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem to send a missionary to begin First Baptist Church in Toronto.

The above story reminds me that in the coming of Jesus no one gets to ask me where I’m from (He welcomes me unconditionally) and I owe no other person simply the work and person of Jesus my Lord and the Christ.

May I welcome the Christ anew in this Christmas time and may I welcome others in His name.

A healing, while, powerful and thankful Christmas, New Year and Epiphany (may the Magi teach us as we be Magi) this day and evermore. Amen.

 

Warmly,

In Christ

Jeremy Bell

Christmas 2008

Vol 4 No. 51 Prayer

Some “mentions” this newsletter day that are ways for us all, in some cases, to have cause for celebration, and in others, cause for prayer.

The recent cold snap across the country has caused a severe stream of those unable to get out of their homes, in some cases their caregivers and the social services that care for them. The cold has also affected those who often sleep on the streets in every rural or urban area. Victoria and Vancouver are not used to nor equipped for longer term cold periods.

Please pray for all concerned, especially First Baptist Vancouver and Grandview Calvary, Vancouver, who often house homeless folk overnight. Grandview Calvary in Vancouver has had serious damage resulting from a truck ploughing into their building last Saturday. Please pray for the seriously injured driver and the church as it assesses the damage and the challenge to ministry over Christmas and beyond.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

 

Advent 2: The God who Speaks

God’s revelation in the scripture. Thanksgiving for the Bible and confession for taking it for granted. Prayers for scholars, translators, preachers, and publishers.

Deuteronomy 6.4–7; 30.11–15; Psalms 119.97–98, 103–105; Isaiah 40.6–8;55.6, 9–11; John 1.1–5; 2 Timothy 3.16–17; Hebrews 4.12–13.

Intercession

God of revelation,

we thank you that you are not a silent God,

isolated from humanity,

leaving us to guess and speculate

about the things that matter.

We pray for those who serve you

by studying manuscripts and clarifying texts;

for scholars and preachers

who wrestle with the words of life

for the building up of your Church;

for linguists, translators, and publishers

who continue to serve the cause of your gospel

by making the Bible available to more

and more people.

Lord, create in us a hunger for your word,

a thankfulness for your gospel,

and a faithfulness to your commands;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

A Prayer for Help

God of eternity,

when the voice of the prophet was silent

and the faith of your people low;

when darkness had obscured light

and indifference displaced zeal:

you saw that the time was right,

and prepared to send your Son.

Set us free from fear and faithlessness

that we may be ready to welcome him

who comes as Saviour and Lord.

Vol 4 No. 50 Preparing for Christ’s Birth

Many of you have had some experience with Gathering for Worship: Prayers for the Community by the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Like ourselves, this denomination exists in the midst of a largely secular culture which when it does frame the Christian tradition or narrative of any kind has a majority of churches following a liturgical way of doing things. This particular book allows Free Church Baptists to be themselves while acknowledging the Christian language that many around them use.

I want to introduce 2 things from that book this week; the first is a general description of what it is to follow worship through the “church year” and the second is the words used in the first Sunday of advent. I want to point out that advent and the preparation for Christ’s birth is the beginning of the Christian story. Which means, by the way, that last week was New Year’s… so Happy New Year.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

 

Worship through the Year

God’s word should shape our worship and, whether or not a lectionary of readings is followed, there are certain times in the year when it is important to lead a congregation in worship relevant to the season. In this way we can journey through the story of salvation and God’s redeeming way with humanity: from the advent hope, through God’s coming to us in Jesus, with his birth and ministry, cross and resurrection, to the coming of the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ. Here we can be exposed to the full counsels of God, as God’s story shapes our story.

What follows attempts to show both the variety of subject matter and the way in which themes may be explored. If the cycle of the year is not followed, then themes may still be used on appropriate occasions.

Each section includes brief suggestions on how the main theme might be developed through various kinds of prayers. The scripture references are offered as calls to worship of varying length, but they may be expanded to provide suitable readings, and in some cases are expanded here. Further readings may be found in a lectionary such as The Revised Common Lectionary which offers a three-year table of readings and has gained wide acceptance across Christian denominations.

The prayers themselves are not comprehensive but, as well as providing material for use in worship, they offer examples and starting points for exploration by those leading worship. The sections follow the classic pattern of the Christian year, but have been given thematic titles.

Advent 1: The God who Comes

God comes to us in redemption and judgement. Themes of hope, yearning, preparation and confession.

Psalms 24.7–8; 96.11–13; Isaiah 40.3–5; 52 1–10; Luke 12.35–37a, 40; Romans 13.11–12, 14a.

Praise and Greeting

Advent God, we worship you: the God who comes.

You are not remote from the world you have made,

but each day you come to us,

blessing us with your presence.

 

You came in creation itself,

as your Spirit moved over the waters of chaos.

You came in Jesus Christ,

made flesh in our world of weakness and need.

You came in power to raise him from death,

a mighty promise for all creation.

Each day you come, by your Spirit,

gently and powerfully working

in the lives of men and women.

At the end of time you will come,

in power and righteousness,

in mercy and redeeming love.

 

Grant us the grace to welcome your coming.

Inflame our love to yearn for your presence.

Enlarge our vision to recognize your coming day by day.

We greet you, Advent God.

 

Adoration

Lord God,

we adore you

because you have come to us in the past:

you have spoken to us in the law of Israel

you have challenged us in the words of the prophets,

you have shown us in Jesus what you are really like.

 

Lord God,

we adore you

because you still come to us now:

you come to us through other people

in their love and concern for us,

you come to us through those who need our help,

you come to us now, even as we worship you.

 

Lord God,

we adore you

because you will come to us at the end:

you will be with us at the hour of death,

you will reign supreme when all institutions fall,

you will still be our God when our history has run its course.

 

We welcome you, the God who comes.

Come to us now in the power of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Prayer of Longing

Lord Jesus Christ

your world awaits you.

In the longing of the persecuted for justice;

in the longing of the poor for prosperity;

in the longing of the privileged

for riches greater than wealth;

in the longing of our hearts for a better life;

and in the song of your Church,

expectation is ever present.

 

O come, Lord, desire behind our greatest needs.

O come, Lord, Liberator of humanity.

O come, Lord, O come, Immanuel.

 

Collect (Prayer)

O Lord our God,

make us watchful and keep us faithful

as we await the coming of your Son our Lord;

that, when he shall appear,

he may not find us sleeping in sin

but active in his service

and joyful in his praise;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Vol 4 No. 49 Opportunity Fund

The Opportunity Fund was established in the Spring of 2000 by funds freed up by the Bentall Family in the sale of Trinity Lodge in Calgary.

The fund has distributed just over 4 million dollars to more than 40 churches since then.

The Grants Committee meets two times a year and is led so very ably by John Wilton, formerly the Minister of Emmanuel Baptist in Victoria and Executive Minister of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. This committee has, since its inception, been under the aegis of the Baptist Union Development Foundation. This gifted and representative committee now relates directly to the CBWC and in these next weeks we will continue to integrate our communications and ministry together. Today’s newsletter presents the fruit of the committee’s deliberations as I report on the churches and ministries that have received funds this past year. I would like to thank Kristan Shierman who is the administrative support for the committee, and the committee itself for their fine work.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

 

Vol 4 No. 48 Season of Christmas

Today’s newsletter is an introduction to the Christmas season of Advent. We do this not to imitate or join any other Christian tradition. We do it for three simple reasons:

  1. There is much to learn from each other and so we have asked several people to share.
  2. We want to take back from the commercial concerns and frenzy of Christmas and recentre it back to Christ
  3. We recognize that despite what personal or historical Christian affinity you may have, the language of the church year and the season of advent is the spiritual language and framing that over 22 million Canadians understand.

One doesn’t have to embrace advent or other spiritual languages to learn them for their own sake and frankly for sound misiological reasons. Let me spell it out a little more forcefully than that – if we do not learn the other Christian languages in our country from traditions that are in steep decline, then we will not be able to invite those leaving those traditions to our own. It is as simple as that – unless we start robbing our sense and welcome and worship to others, then what we are saying is that you  can come to our house for dinner, but you can’t eat that dinner you have been invited to until you learn how to speak our language. I find the examples here to be wonderful, welcoming, historical and faithful examples. Hope we all learn from this.

If you wish any of the resources mentioned in these examples, please contact my associate Shelby Gregg at sgregg@cbwc.ca or 604 225 5916.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

 

Mark McKim – First Baptist Church Regina, SK

What I’d like to do is describe a wee bit of what we are doing for the Advent season this year:….

One of the problems, I fear, with many churches is that we buy into the attitudes of our culture often without thinking much about it.  The idea of observing Advent, the four Sundays preceding Christmas, as a time of deep, reflective preparation, doesn’t jibe with our culture, which isn’t much into waiting.  Everything is to be instant – immediate – if not sooner.  But the reality is, very few things of worth are accomplished without practice and patience.  You do not become a great pianist without years of lessons and rehearsals, or a great football player without thousands of hours of drills.  Michaelangelo took four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Bach kept revising his “St. John’s Passion” for over a quarter century!  Why should we expect it to be any different with matters spiritual?  For me, seriously observing Advent is a profoundly counter-cultural action.  It’s a way of saying “I will wait on God’s timing, NOT mine.”

Each year during Advent I have followed the practice of choosing a particular theme or subject which might be elaborated through the four Sundays.  This year our focus is “The Christmas Story According to……”   Scripture gives us four accounts – gospels – of the life of Jesus.  Whilst agreeing on the core of the story, each author, addressing a different audience, chose to emphasize different aspects of the life of Christ.  It’s much like looking at the different facets of a diamond.  Each Sunday of Advent then, we will consider the Christmas story as told by one of the evangelists.  We start with Mark (not because of my name!) as it was almost certainly the first of the gospels to be penned.  Mark doesn’t have the “traditional” Christmas story with angels and a manager and no room in the inn.  Instead, this gospel begins urgently, suddenly – with a roar – as John the Baptizer cries “Prepare the Way of the Lord.”  Now then, what does it mean, in our culture, to prepare the Lord’s way?  In like fashion, we will consider in turn, the Christmas story according to Matthew, Luke, and finally John, who gives us the “cosmic” or “big picture” perspective on who Jesus really was – and is.  On the Sundays of Advent, we observe the custom of using the advent wreath – BUT – we rename the candles depending on the theme for the season.  This year, each candle will be named after one of the four evangelists.  As good teaching practice, we make every effort to insure that the sermon’s theme is supported by the hymns and anthems, as well as any artwork used on the bulletin cover.  For instance, on the first Sunday of Advent one of our hymns will be “On Jordan’s Bank, the Baptist’s Cry” and the bulletin cover will undoubtedly feature the winged lion – the symbol of Mark in Christian art for many centuries.  The second Sunday of Advent, being the first Sunday of the month of December, means we will celebrate Holy Communion.  That means our two congregations – Karen and anglo – will be worshiping together.  (We’ll also be together on December 21st and 24th).  On that Sunday, in addition to involvement in serving the elements and prayers, Karen folk will participate with us in the Advent wreath customs…….

One other element of observing Advent at FBC, Regina is that I use my Christmas pastoral letter both to explain the meaning of the season AND to suggest some concrete actions folk may take to observe the season.

 

Callum Jones – First Baptist Church, Penticton, BC

Being sticklers for tradition we hold our Christmas Eve service on December 24th! 😉

Christmas Eve services at First Baptist Penticton, held at 7.00 pm in the evening, are “traditional” Carols by Candlelight services. Our services are usually a sequence of darkness and light as we make the most of our theatre quality sanctuary lighting. Scripture readings telling the story are alternated with appropriate carols. We begin the service, once everyone is seated, in complete darkness. Even the Christmas tree lights and other decorative lighting are on a controlled dimmer giving us complete control of lighting atmosphere. As we progress through the story the lights are blacked out with a sole spot light on each person who reads the next biblical passage of the Gospel story. We may also introduce a brief drama skit, or a movie excerpt, or a special music presentation that helps provide variety and a different way “into” the story. Finally I will bring a Gospel message that pulls all the components of the service together and inviting all present to consider Jesus, his birth, death, and resurrection. And being good Baptists, appropriate Christmas refreshments are served afterwards.

Some resources we’ve used include a PowerPoint, entitled “Maybe?”, which invites us to consider what Christmas is about (appropriate CD music accompaniment at your own choice). Movies we’ve used include: Pirates of the Caribbean II – the scene with the two pirates in a small boat on the open sea discussing the value of the Bible; The World’s Fastest Indian – the scene with an initial speed trial where the aged New Zealand motorcycle enthusiast shocks others at the Salt Flats by virtually leaving them standing in his old Indian motorcycle (the idea being that perceptions are deceiving and when we look at the baby in the manger don’t think that’s the whole story!). Graham Kendrick’s “Make Way for Christmas” material (it’s dated, British, and probably out of print) can provide some different music selections for Christmas songs – “From heaven You came” is probably the best known song from this selection.

A recent prayer book (pub. 2007) from the Institute of Mennonite Studies entitled “Take our moments and our days – morning and evening prayers for Advent through Pentecost” provides some fresh liturgical thoughts from a cousin to our own Baptist tradition.

 

Tim Colborne – Kitsilano Christian Community, Vancouver, BC

Kitsilano Christian Community’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service is in the traditional format of Lessons and Carols. The readings or “lessons” are taken directly from scripture as we follow the story of the nativity. The service begins in total darkness and each person lights their candle during the prelude until the entire place is bathed in light. The service ends, as it began, with each person lighting her or his candle during the singing of Silent Night. Many of our “regulars” are out of town, but the sanctuary is packed with visitors and the “once or twice a year” attendees. This is an important rite of passage for many in our culture and we provide a meaningful and beautiful expression of the mystery of “Emmanuel, God with us”.

Longest Night Service: We advertise this as a service of prayer and meditation for those for whom the Christmas season is a time of sorrow and a reminder of loss. This service is ideally done on the Winter Solstice (the shortest day or, Longest night) but we do it on the Wednesday closest to that day. We offer this service because many people find Christmas difficult because of painful memories or recent the recent loss of a loved one. This service attempts to create a safe place to acknowledge and express the loss and sorrow they feel at this time of year. This contemplative service culminates in the invitation to light votive candles that represent a loss or sorrow and then float the candles in a bowel of water. Many find this the most meaningful service they will attend during the Advent and Christmas season. We have a liturgy available for those who wish it.

Vol 4 No. 47 Okanagan

Recently I was at the 50th Anniversary celebrations for the Carey Ministry as it met in the Okanagan. I attended these sessions with Brian Stelck and as Brian preached at First Kelowna in the morning, I was kindly offered the opportunity to preach at First Baptist Church Penticton. Callum Jones was away that Sunday and Gail Alcock led the service on her second to last Sunday. It is important for me to mention, and certainly not in passing, that Gail has served faithfully and with great giftedness both in First Baptist Penticton and in many other ways and through many other relationships. Gail will be missed at and we pray for opportunities that the Lord will provide in the weeks and months ahead.

Brian and I caught up with each other as Connie Cristall, our BCY Regional moderator, provided hospitality for the 50th Anniversary celebration which was held at the First Baptist Kelowna’s KLO Campus.  We really appreciated Connie’s hospitality, which was shared by several people, including Jack Borchert who did the sound.

The real purpose of this newsletter is to share with you some creative examples of ministry that I encountered at First Baptist Penticton, Kelowna and at the KLO Campus. Here are the stories of God’s work in the very creative lives of those that seek to serve Him in these settings.

Warmly,

In Christ

Jeremy

 

First Baptist Church Kelowna (Connie Cristall)

Mars Hill Music and Arts Cafe

We have Mars Hill Music and Arts Cafe every second Tuesday. We average about 50 non-churched college students. We try to spot light one “social justice” cause each month. We have done “Beads for Life”, “World Vision”, “Free the Children” and International Justice Missions. We also try to offer a venue for artists. We have been getting a lot of quality musicians.

We have another group that meets every second Wednesday called “Barrier Busters” and these are folks with various physical and mental disabilities. We meet and discuss relevant topics, play games and drink Lattes

Once a month we run a Vespers service (this is on a Sunday evening) we have contemplative music, prayer, scripture and a short homily. It attracts a number of people from the surrounding area.

Once a month we have a senior’s lunch. We average about 50 seniors, some from the senior’s home next to KLO, and a number of shut-ins. We have food and either hymns or a guest speaker

There is an international Students group that meets every Friday night (it’s about 40 Korean students). The focus is ESL and fellowship (they usually have a pot luck dinner)

Wednesday morning’s Pam Borchert runs a “Mats and Chats” time which is gym time for young children and their moms. This just started up but is going really well with a number of folks from the community coming

First Baptist Church Penticton (Clark Taylor)

The Ark Youth Centre

A youth centre was a dream when I came to First Baptist just over three years ago.  Walking through the basement of the church there was a huge room primarily used for storage of old stage props and other discarded items which needed recycling or discarding.  The room connected to this large storage room was the old youth room with worn couches and multi-coloured walls!  Together, these two rooms and two attached washrooms would become a self sustainable area operating apart from the rest of the church building to provide a unique place for youth to meet and begin the journey towards Jesus.

The dream of opening this drop-in centre became a reality with the help of the Baptist Union Development Foundation (BUDF) in the fall of 2006.  A grant of $22,000 was given by the BUDF with the church raising the additional costs and doing all the work voluntarily.  By early 2007 we had received the grant and begun raising money to renovate this 3000 sq. ft. area.  By fall we had installed drywall, a drop ceiling, flooring, painted the rooms, and put up new lighting. We officially opened “The Ark Youth Centre” in January 2008.

Every Friday night middle and high school students come and hang out, play games, watch movies, and chat. Adult volunteers from the church take the time to build friendships with these young people and everyone has a great time.  Our hope and prayer is to see youth come off the street, have a safe place to spend time together, and encounter Christ in those volunteers who serve.  The larger of the two rooms is equipped with all the necessities: a Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, two pool tables, ping pong tables, and foosball. There’s a projector system for movies and a sound system for bands to come and perform.  The other room has been transformed into a full service coffee shop with leather chairs, wireless internet, and a full service kitchen serving espresso drinks, Italian sodas and a variety of snacks.

In addition to youth ministry in these facilities, an after school club for elementary students was started in March this year and runs every Tuesday afternoon for a couple of hours.  As well as these ministries the rooms are used for small group gatherings, Bible studies, movie nights, and adult gatherings during the day. They are also available to the general public for use.  The possibilities are endless, and the project would not have been possible without the grant from the BUDF.  Thank you for the opportunity to dream big and see that dream come to pass.

See our three videos about the transformation and use of the ARK Youth Centre at the CBWC website (www.cbwc.ca) or by clicking the links below.

 

Vol 4 No. 46 Baptist World Alliance

Every 5 years the Baptist World Alliance meets in general assembly. In 2005, that gathering was in Birmingham England, which marked the 100th anniversary of the first Baptist World Alliance meeting London, England. Both meetings, incidentally, repeated in unison as a commitment to one another and their common Lord the entire Apostle’s Creed. So much for being a non-creedal tradition. The present Baptist World Alliance represents over a hundred million worshipers in well over 150 countries. The General Secretary of CBM, Gary Nelson, is a Vice-President of the BWA and liaises with the World Baptist Community on behalf of Canadian Baptists. A subset of the larger BWA fellowship is the North American Baptist Fellowship. One of the vice-presidents of that gathering is Ken Bellous, the Executive Minister of the BCOQ. One of the recent presidents (in 2005) was Harry Gardiner, former Executive Minister of CBAP.

The Baptist World Alliance Executive committee meets annually in some part of the world. Last year it was Ghana, and this year it was Prague. Next year it’s Amsterdam, marking the 400th anniversary of the first Baptist congregational meeting. I attended Ghana on our behalf and created one of the motions that is similar to the ones we are reading in these newsletters. These gatherings create a dynamic and stimulating environment for reflecting on a variety of issues; theological, biblical, practical and concerns of justice. What follows today is the remaining resolutions that were passed in Prague the ones that concern themselves with refugees Darfur and the environment are particularly encouraging ot me. One final note, some would see as a digression, if you wish to explore more about the environment, please borrow from our resource library the Arosha DVD which sets a context for the biblical and theological foundations of stewardship.

Thank you for your engagement of these topics.

Warmly,

In Christ

Jeremy

 

BWA Resolutions 2008 

October 2008 Approved by the General Council on July 25th, 2008.

Resolution #4 – Evangelism and Contextualization of the Gospel

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Gives thanks to God for the rich spiritual legacy of Reformers like Jan Hus and Petr Chelcicky whose witness still inspires Czech Baptist life which began one hundred and fifty years ago;

Calls on Baptists throughout the world to be intentional in contextualizing the Gospel in today’s world, recognizing linguistic and cultural issues, and remaining faithful to the Great Commission to share God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Resolution #5 – Ministry of Reconciliation

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Expresses deep sadness and regret over religious and ethnic conflicts that claim many lives and create deep scars in different parts of the world;

Rejoices in significant efforts in bringing together divided communities to seek forgiveness, genuine reconciliation and mutual respect;

Encourages dialogue between different faith and ethnic groups to promote peace and harmony in society;

Calls on all Baptists to exemplify the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ and, as reconciled people, to fulfill a ministry of reconciliation in the world.

Resolution #6 – Zimbabwe

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Rejoices in the work God is doing among his people in Zimbabwe and in particular though the Baptist churches in Zimbabwe;

Affirms its continuing commitment to defend and promote the human rights of all people as set forth in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and associated instruments;

Acknowledges the God-given responsibility of national governments and of the international community to uphold human rights through appropriate nonviolent means;

Laments the recent events in Zimbabwe which have led to economic crisis, social unrest, political uncertainty, and a deterioration in human rights;

Stands in solidarity with all Zimbabweans who are experiencing suffering or despairing at this time;

Calls upon all political and military leaders and law enforcement officers in Zimbabwe to respect the democratic process, the rule of law, and the wise counsel of fellow African leaders and of the wider international community;

Applauds the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to engage in talks by the leadership of the major political parties in Zimbabwe;

Urges all those involved in these talks to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe;

Encourages leaders within the Baptist World Alliance to seek greater understanding of the present situation in Zimbabwe and to work toward peaceful resolution of the political and economic crises;

Invites the worldwide Baptist community to pray for the peace of Zimbabwe; for the safety and security of all people there; and for effective witness to the transforming power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Resolution #7 – Refugees and Immigration

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Recognizes the global growth of refugee migration and international relocation with more than 67 million current refugees and internally displaced people and more than 191 million international migrants;

Understands that this generates political situations of great sensitivity, fear and misunderstanding in host and home countries alike;

Realizes that immigrants often face an array of cultural, linguistic and economic burdens and often retain important responsibilities for family members in home countries;

Believes that we are all fellow sojourners in this world and that our treatment of immigrants in our midst is central to authentic scriptural faith;

Calls on:

Nations to:

  • Give shelter to all refugees.
  • Develop transparent and equitable systems of migration that treat applicants with dignity.
  • Administer laws and regulations with justice and fairness to citizens and immigrants alike.
  • Renounce xenophobia and the misuse of immigration for political repression and division.

Member bodies to:

  • Instil an ethic of love that supersedes ethnic, gender and political boundaries.
  • Act as advocates for refugees and migrants in solidarity with them. 
  • Develop ministries of welcoming reconciliation and integration.

Churches and individuals to:

  • Renew their scriptural study, academic understanding and prophetic proclamation of the scriptural mandate to live in love and justice with refugees and immigrants.
  • Grow in grace and hospitality through intentional friendships and relationships.
  • Freely share resources with those in need.

Encourages the development of additional study material for the Baptist World Alliance Human rights Sunday and its utilization by churches and member bodies.

Resolution #8 – Involuntary fingerprinting of Roma People in Italy

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Laments that the Italian government, without objection of the European Union, is practicing the involuntary fingerprinting of all Roma people within its borders, including children, which we regard as ethnic profiling;

Acknowledges that there can be legitimate reasons for registering people, but recognizes that history has taught us that selecting, isolating and targeting a minority group or a people on the basis of culture, ethnicity, or race are discriminatory practices that justify acts of violence;

Recalls that the Roma people were targeted and persecuted many times in history leading to the genocide perpetrated against them by the Nazi regime;

Affirms that Baptists worldwide stand against all forms of discrimination and for the safeguarding of the dignity and human rights of all human beings, and in this context notes that the Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy has strongly opposed the compulsory fingerprinting of Roma people;

Calls on all leaders within the Baptist World Alliance to urge representatives of the United nations, European Union and national governments to issue a strong protest to the Italian government against such discriminatory practice and firmly request its immediate cessation.

Resolution #9 – Climate Change

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Affirms the biblical teaching that God created all things and that God’s creation is good (Genesis 1:1 – 2:2), and that God has entrusted the care of creation to humans (Genesis 1:28, 29; 2:15);

Confesses that humans have often denied or ignored our interdependence with creation and abrogated our stewardship of creation, resulting in misuse of the earth’s resources, environmental degredation, and damage to ecosystems;

Recognizes our failure as Baptists to engage with these issues in an adequate and timely manner;

Calls upon the leaders of the Baptist World Alliance to strongly support and encourage government, corporate and community initiatives to address the causes of human-induced climate change, including but not limited to:

  1. Greater use of renewable energy techniques;
  2. Caps on “greenhouse gas” emissions;
  3. Carbon trading;
  4. Greater use of “green” architecture, town planning and transport;
  5. Encouragement to conserve, reuse and recycle goods;

Urges members and member bodies of the Baptist World Alliance to practice environmental stewardship, and promote education with the purpose of honouring god and enhancing the common good;

Calls upon appropriate Commissions and Workgroups of the Baptist World Alliance to study these issues with the view to making further recommendations to advance global Baptist action on climate change.

 

 

 

Vol 4 No. 45 Two Things

There are two things to this newsletter that are important for us to note. The first is Remembrance Day. The second, in a sense, is the product of the first, for out of the freedom that has been wrought in conflict comes those things we stand for as Christians, who are free to express themselves. Let me explain. As you read this we will be preparing for Remembrance Day next Tuesday. We pray for our Baptist Chaplains in Canada that seek to meet the spiritual needs of those who are in uniform. We quite understandably have mixed views about the necessity to prepare for war. No one, most especially those in the military, have any doubts about their abhorrence of war and their longing for peace. We must, however, constantly reflect on how we are to respond to potential conflicts in the world, how we must pray for peace, and how we must give thanks for those who in their suffering and sacrifice, made the relative peace we enjoy now possible. We as a country are at war in Afghanistan; please pray for all aspects of that conflict and those who are affected by it.

The next topic that I wish to draw your attention to I will frame and explain in greater length next week.

The basic gist of the resolutions passed by the Baptist World Alliance are that these intentions, commitments and longings expressed in these motions are to make us more aware of concerns around the world, encourage us to reflect on how God is calling us to these particular concerns and finally provoke us to act into these issues as they present themselves to us. I truly believe that the motion on evangelism intends to reanimate evangelism, not to mute it, to enable it and ennoble it, not to eviscerate it. I think it is with great excitement that we celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the first Baptist church and I honour our European friends for their courage at that very difficult time in history. Next week, we will see comments on the environment and refugees.

Thank you for your attentiveness to these matters.

 

Warmly,

In Christ

Jeremy

 

BWA Resolutions 2008 

October 2008 Approved by the General Council on July 25th, 2008.

Resolution #1 – Appreciation

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Offers sincere thanks to the Baptist Union of Czech Republic for the invitation to hold this Annual Gathering in Prague;

Expresses thanks to Jan Titera, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of the Czech Republic; Keith Jones, Rector of the International Baptist Theological Seminary, and Tony Peck, General Secretary of European Baptist Federation, for their leadership and diligent efforts in making arrangements for this meeting;

Appreciates all the Baptists of the Czech Republic and members of the International Baptist Theological Seminary community for their gracious hospitality to Baptist representatives from around the world;

Notes that this Annual Gathering is the first such meeting directed by Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam and congratulates him and the BWA staff for their contributions in making this a successful meeting;

Thanks all who led in worship and the many other Baptists who provided leadership in various ways during the week;

Prays God’s continued blessings on the Baptist World Alliance as we strive to serve our Lord by serving His people around the world known as Baptists.

Resolution #2 – Baptist Youth Conference

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Commends the Youth Department and other entities of the Baptist World Alliance for their roles in envisioning, organizing, and promoting the “Dive Deeper” Baptist Youth World conference in Leipzig, Germany, July 30-August 3;

Commits to pray for the more than 7,000 young people expected to gather in Leipzig, and for those who have leadership responsibilities during the meeting;

Celebrates the commitment of Baptist young people and the vibrancy they bring to the life and witness of Baptists in the world:

Affirms the promise of Baptist youth as leaders both now and in the future, and calls upon established members of the BWA to nurture and make room for those who will come after them.

Resolution #3 – 400th Anniversary of the Formation of the First Baptist Congregation

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Resolves to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the first Baptist congregation, formed in Amsterdam in 1609, by meeting for its next Annual Gathering in the Netherlands in 2009;

Encourages Baptists in Europe to participate in the “Amsterdam 400” celebration organized by the European Baptist Federation;

Expresses gratitude for the goodness and guidance of God through which Baptists have grown to be a world-wide communion of faith;

Recognizes both the prophetic dissent of Baptists from established forms of the Church, and the place of Baptists within the one, holy, apostolic and universal Church of Jesus Christ;

Calls for a new exploration of a Baptist understanding of discipleship and the nature of the church in our age.

Resolution # – Evangelism and Contextualization of the Gospel

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, July 20-25, 2008;

Gives thanks to God for the rich spiritual legacy of Reformers like Jan Hus and Petr Chelcicky whose witness still inspires Czech Baptist life which began one hundred and fifty years ago;

Calls on Baptists throughout the world to be intentional in contextualizing the Gospel in today’s world, recognizing linguistic and cultural issues, and remaining faithful to the Great Commission to share God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Vol 4 No. 44 Carey Hall’s 50th Anniversary

Carey Hall celebrated its 50th Anniversary on September 28th this year. In an excellent celebration created by William Carey Centre Director Sam Chaise (with the excellent help from administration Esther Kitchener, VP David Carlson and Christopher Orr), the event was a wonderful celebration of God’s faithfulness over these many years. The Vancouver celebration included several thematic room displays, a general open house, greetings from the CBWC from myself, a series of observations from Carey President Brian Stelck which were much appreciated. A DVD presentation filmed and photographed by Shelby Gregg and Beatrice Marovich, and created by Sam Chaise and Shelby Gregg, is an excellent overview of our past and present. Follow up events happened in Kelowna (19 October), Regina (19 October), Souris (25 October), Victoria (26 October) and will happen this weekend in Edmonton (2 November).

The Carey Board Chair Fay Puddicombe presented “In Appreciation Citations” to four worthy and appropriate leader-servants amongst us. Each holds significance in their contribution to Carey and our community of churches. The citations are quoted below.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

 

Don Anderson

In Carey’s formative years, Don was one of the three students granted the Diploma in Pastoral Studies by the Carey senate in 1978. He would later participate in early discussions and negotiations with Regent College as the Carey-Regent partnership began to emerge. The wisdom gained through those years would serve Carey well as Don would provide substance and vision to his later work as an active member of the Carey Hall Board Administration, particularly as Board Chair from 1996 – 2001. His attention to detail and process has been a gift to Carey during its unprecedented growth from 1994 to the present. Notable items include Don’s work on bylaw revisions for the College, attention to academic standards, and Carey Theological College’s receiving accreditation through the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

Through the years, Don’s participation on the Carey Board provided strong and steady leadership that allowed the innovation to flourish during a period of rapid growth, setting the stage for significant development as a theological institution. For this reason, on our 50th Anniversary, we honour the Rev. Dr. Donald Anderson and express to him our deepest gratitude. To God be the Glory!

Roy Bell

The Rev. Dr. Roy Bell has had a long and distinguished pastoral and educational ministry in the Canadian Baptist community in Western Canada.

In 1983, under Roy’s leadership, Carey Hall established a set of goals that would propel it into its next stage of development, including the move towards affiliation with the University of British Columbia, raising constituency awareness about the purpose and programs at Carey, and enhancing continuing education and distance education activities. These were all goals that would continue to be addressed and developed over the next 25 years.

Roy’s background in education, psychology and theology served him – and Carey – well. It must be acknowledged that Carey would not be what it is today were it not for the pioneering decisions and directions set in its early years, thanks to people such as Dr. Roy Bell. For this reason, on our 50th Anniversary, we honour the Rev. Dr. Roy Bell and express to him our deepest gratitude. To God be the Glory!

Phil Collins

Phil’s leadership was noted for its incisive judgement and discerning decision-making. Not limiting his vision to graduate degree requirements, Dr. Collin’s innovation and creativity also produced the first Certificate in Ministry programs, designed to respond to the training needs of people already in ministry which, notably, included leaders in the Mustard Seed ministry.

Dr. Collin’s work on retention rates for new clergy was instrumental in the design of the Graduate Internship Program, a denominational ministry for which Phil was appointed in the first director.

Phil provided strong and visionary leadership through Carey’s early years; years often characterized by turbulence and struggle. Dr. Collins was called upon to provide leadership at a key time in Carey’s history; a time during which Carey Hall established its place in both denominational and educational worlds. For this reason, on our 50th Anniversary, we honour the Rev. Dr. Phillip Collins and express to him our deepest gratitude. To God be the Glory!

Brian Stelck

In his role as Carey Principal, eventually becoming President, Brian is known to be entrepreneurial and innovative. He quickly grasps new ideas and is able to evaluate them and process them expeditiously through the Carey system. He is sensitive and insightful in matters of process and development; his leadership style is collegial, collaborative and creative. He is bold enough to promote new directions even if they challenge existing systems, but, at the same time, maintains a deep understanding of relational and political realities. His openness to the vision of others enables Brian to walk alongside faculty and staff as they test directions and ideas, offering encouragement and support.

The work continues, characterized by Brian’s visionary capacity, his attention to detail, a spirit of flexibility, and his determination to think “outside the box” in response to the needs of Carey’s constituency. Brian remains unwavering in his commitment to the inclusion of the whole people of God in all our educational pursuits; a commitment that is both ignited by and responsive to the Spirit’s call toward new horizons. On this, our 50th Anniversary, we hour the Rev. Dr. Brian Stelck and express to him our deepest gratitude. To God be the Glory!