Vol 7 No. 52 Happy New Year!

Dear Folks,

Harold Camping, the American Christian radio broadcaster (and someone who brings disrepute to many things Christian) has finally retired.  The media has reasserted itself as the prophetic predictor of all things. The particular outlet that was especially galling was the BBC, galling because they mention the death of Amy Winehouse and the Royal Wedding, but not the G20, its riots, nor even as a left coaster, the Stanley Cup riots. In all seriousness, they do mention the Arab spring and most significantly, the Egyptian revolution. Earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, brutal economic evaluations and devaluations, the death of Bin Laden, Gadhafi, and Kim Jong-il, Canadians troops left Afghanistan, American troops left Iraq. The Afghanis and the Iraqis are, many of them, already home and can’t leave. There is few times when we look back on a year that we are doubtful about its outcome: not because many important events didn’t happen, but rather because we don’t know the results of those particular events. (By the way, I’ve already mentioned Christopher Hitchens in a blog (http://www.cbwc.ca/content/blogcategory/148/330/) and a tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/_JeremyBell). He didn’t really deserve mention but it is there for your interest if you wish.)

Let me take you back to the beginning of January 2011. NATO Defence Chiefs were meeting in Brussels two weeks prior to the implosion of much of the Mediterranean base line. If you looked out onto the world in January 2011 as they did, you would find a fairly calm Middle East and Mediterranean basin. Not two weeks after they met, Tunisia was in an uproar, to be followed by Egypt, and a host of other countries, culminating in the turmoil that still exists in Syria. There were major upheavals in the occupy movements in the U.S., riots in Britain, and in this last week, a huge public disenchantment expressed with Vladimir Putin, someone whom everyone believed was completely beyond reproach. It is an old, tired and worn out notion that the Christian faith is known for when it talks of all the wild things that have happened, the pain of the world pathos, a wild and disturbing picture of the world (which is usually accurate) while forgetting to mention the hope in the Christ child at Christmas. Confession and criticisms without absolution and reconciliation.

I am trusting, hoping and praying there will be less war, mayhem, and economic upheaval and for some, even starvation this year. I am hopeful, given some of the events this past year, that there is a possibility and reasonableness in that optimism. In the end, my hope rests on this epiphany Sunday where, when the Wiseman show up, we are to be like them; that we can be like them. What we need to remember about them is not that they were wise or that they gifted the Christ child but before they were wise and before they gave gifts, they offered themselves in worship. So what comes first – worship or action? Rabbi Bulka from Ottawa commented last month that the rabbis often debated which was more important, study or action? He claimed that they came to the conclusion that study was more important if it was followed by action.  Not just clever but insightful. Making our way back to the Wiseman, what is more important – worship, giving, or being wise? Maybe in this new year we could sum up the Wiseman at Epiphany by saying that they were wise to worship Christ first, and out of that worship to find themselves in an act of giving, not only material gifts but themselves.  I end this newsletter by sharing with you a poem that I have shared in the past taken from the British Baptist Manual, Gather to Worship:

 

Among the poor,

among the proud,

among the persecuted,

among the privileged,

Christ is coming to make all things new.

In the private house,

in the public house,

in the wedding feast,

in the judgement hall,

Christ is coming to make all things new.

With a gentle touch,

with an angry word,

with a clear conscience,

with burning love,

Christ is coming to make all things new.

That the kingdom might come,

that the world might believe,

that the powerful might stumble,

that the hidden might be seen,

Christ is coming to make all things new.

 

Within us,

without us,

behind us,

before us,

in this place,

in every place,

for this time,

for all time,

Christ is coming to make all things new.

 

A very Happy New Year to you all,

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

 

Vol 7 No. 51 To Us A Child Is Born

Dear Folks,

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.


Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne

and over his kingdom,

establishing and upholding it

with justice and righteousness

from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the LORD Almighty

will accomplish this.

 

It seems an odd way to begin a Christmas letter, but I recall hearing earlier this year, that when the English writer, speaker and evangelist, John Stott, passed away, he was, as the news report chronicled “surrounded by friends listening to Handel’s Messiah”.  I sort of grew up that way, especially at Christmas, surrounded by family, friends, and the church community, and under the influence of my mother, listening to Handel’s Messiah. We were never wealthy as a family and because we lived in neighbourhoods wealthier than our means, Christmas, materially speaking, could be a challenge; but it was never for want of the richness of the coming of the Christ child.  And so I grew up amongst those who were as excited about the coming of the Christ child as they were, it seemed, about life itself. After the “Hallelujah Chorus”, Handel’s ‘Messiah’ also gave me the annual gift of “For Unto Us a Child is Born”. I remember most of the scripture used in the libretto of the Messiah, but I still to this day listen, sing, mutter, and pray the words of “for unto us a child is born”.

The newsletter today is an invitation to re-affirm these words but more importantly to re-navigate and re-covenant around these words for their personal meaning. It’s not enough to imagine the quietness and power of John Stott’s passing nor is it helpful for me to remember, even sentimentalize, but to remember longingly the memories of my childhood and early adulthood. (This is way too complicated to explain, but officially, my wife Kerry and I only went on one date – I paid for the tickets to the Messiah, she paid for dinner. I think on the grounds that she was hoping it wasn’t a date, who knew?!).

How do memorable, ‘hard-wired’ words begin to have new meaning for us? I believe that this Christmas, like every day and season of our lives, can be made new when we ask God to make the life of Spirit new and fresh. That renewal also happens when the Spirit makes himself known to us and we do not resist. Two years ago I began to listen to Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Winter Song’ CD. The song “The First Noel/Mary Mary”, which runs almost 5 minutes, is lulling, sweet and memorable until just before two minutes into the song there erupts for me something powerful. There is a power, majesty and almost a tearing open of the heavens as the angels appear and the Christ child is born. The world in which we live, the era we inhabit is filled with war, hunger, economic uncertainty and poverty for many who reside here.  There are many that are well off, some extremely wealthy, and there are those without any sense of reflection and are apparently content. All these things not withstanding the coming of Jesus whether it is at his birth or in my renewal and rebirth in Him this Christmas; it is a tumultuous event. There is no muzak here, no calmness, but a virulent, almost violent and history-changing event.

In trying to write and rewrite this particular piece, I want to ask that each of us seek to re-covenant around the words of scripture quoted in Isaiah 9 at the beginning of this letter. I trust and pray that the sameness, the plainness, and the ordinary would in these words become extraordinary once again. I am particularly drawn to verse 6 and the names of Jesus: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. The aspects to the character of Christ captured in these names invite us to anything but an ordinary celebration of his birth.

God be with you this Christmas,

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

Vol 7 No. 50 Emmanuel, “God With Us”

Dear Folks,

I am always deeply thankful for our church’s names when they are clear biblical or theological allusions or references. Names like Beulah and Trinity come to mind, but especially the name, Emmanuel, meaning ‘God with us’, which is in its naming the clear declaration of the presence of God and a welcome to others.

Clearly, the advent Christmas story of the birth of Jesus is filled with the holy sense of the full meaning of the name Emmanuel: Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.  I have always felt, and the scriptures have many examples, that God gives us individuals in our lives and churches that exemplify His presence and power more clearly than others. In every case when this has happened for me, the individual in question is not aware of the way that God is using them to influence others. That is true in my life and in the lives of many at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church and in the Commercial/Grandview area of Vancouver in the person of Emmanuel Ndabarushimana.  It does not involve either a great stretch of the imagination or a tactless, play on words to speak of Emmanuel as a reminder that God is with us. Emmanuel, for me, has brought with him a full recollection of the faithfulness of God, as that faithfulness has been lived out in Emmanuel’s life and the lives of his children.

Emmanuel fled war-torn Burundi over 10 years ago and in a circuitous way arrived in Canada so that he might study theology. His wife, Marie Rose passed away during his time here, leaving his two children, Peace Esther and Jean David in Burundi. His children eventually joined him, but not before he had been welcomed as a ‘stranger at the gate’ by Kinbrace House. He became a part of the community at Grandview Calvary Church, was ordained by the CBWC, and became the pastor for the Sunday morning congregation at Grandview Calvary. He feels called back to Burundi to train leaders and teach theology. Just as Grandview has commissioned and sent him, we also affirm that call of God in his life as a family of churches. Brian Stelck has been most helpful and supportive of Emmanuel in helping him to understand the challenges and fruitfulness that comes from teaching.  Part of our sending is to support Emmanuel in prayer. After prayer there is also a need to be supportive in other ways.  Emmanuel has asked if I could convey to anyone who feels prompted, to consider supporting him and his family in their modest needs.   Emmanuel has written an informative brochure about his venture and how the ministry is being established. Please find it on the CBWC website  (http://www.cbwc.ca/) this week.  Emmanuel’s contact information is included in the brochure.

 

I commend Emmanuel and his ministry to you, and as importantly, maybe even more importantly, I commend Emmanuel’s declaration of God’s faithfulness in his struggles to flee war, in his widowhood, of travelling to a strange land of no resources (as Joseph and Mary journeyed to the unknown), of not knowing where money or support or ministry opportunities would come from, and of being able to celebrate at the end of the day, “that God continues to provide for me and my family so I declare his goodness to me and his faithfulness to all”.

So Emmanuel in his person and character remind me of the promise that God created in his name: Emmanuel…God with us. You may not know Emmanuel, but please remember in this advent season, his name and the name of his Lord, and may each of us experience the richness of the experience of God’s presence in our lives so that we too can celebrate God with us.

Peace be with you,

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

 

 

Vol 7 No. 49 Year End and the Topic of Money

Dear Folks,

We will get to the meaning of the title in a moment, but first, I want to say that Christmas is a time to speak of gifts; indeed, to dwell on the meaning of Advent is to explore the inexpressible gift of Christ and Christmas.  And while it is understandable and appropriate to talk about the gift of Christ, it is also appropriate to talk about over-consuming, which we addressed in an earlier newsletter.  Yet another aspect of gifts, gift giving and gift receiving is the topic of dealing with money at year-end and at Christmas in the local church. It is an awkward topic and a difficult conversation, particularly since by December many churches, indeed many charities that we all support, are facing a short fall at this time of year.  Kerry and I have experienced two churches in the CBWC family over the years that are particularly gifted at talking about this area. They are Grandview Calvary Baptist Church and Kitsilano Christian Community Church. May we talk about this topic for a moment.

I’m provoked to talk about how we ask for money at Christmas because of an announcement on this topic by Doug Bingham at Kitsilano Christian Community Church last Sunday. Doug, as a deacon at Kits, is an appropriate voice to be speaking about this issue because money has much to do with our walk of faith and our spiritual formation. Doug’s grandfather and uncles were involved in ministry and in wonderful projects like the starting of Keats Camps.  Doug’s wife, Jan, is the daughter of Dave and Ruby Hayward. Both sides of this family have been faithful in their service and care of others and it is out of this heart of service and engagement that I find myself trusting Doug’s good humor and words.

First of all, it is important to deal with money as a spiritual issue and a practical one. Doug clearly explained what the church’s expenses were, what its revenue was and what the difference between the two was at the end of November. The church was at 92% of budget (what some of us wouldn’t do for that number) and awareness of that fact was being brought to the attention of the congregation for action. So much for the fact: it is also the way we speak of these things that is important as well.

Doug is well known within Kits church and is therefore appropriate for this task. He is also very funny, sometimes in the most outrageous ways.  (In an excusable diversion, I want to tell you that he once did a fundraising announcement for a teen group that was going to Mexico. Doug told the congregation full of anxious parents and committed supporters that the teens had enough money to get down to Mexico but in order to get back they would need to sell one of their kidney’s — Don’t in your wildest dreams write me about this story – it is a waste of ink and I thought it was funny.) This past Sunday, Doug got up and in grand good humor suggested that the bad news was that they had a $6000 deficit. But the good news was that the American economy was in worst shape. He also pointed out that the exact figure of the deficit was just a little over $6000 and that he had a cheque for that amount, (I think it was $7), which the deacons had collected but the congregation was responsible for the rest.

 

So let me sum up this congregational Christmas ‘ask’.

  • Spiritual leaders should speak about a spiritual matter like money
  • It should be a normal part of conversation and not a surprise and not an exception
  • It should come from someone that is trusted in faith, relationship and good humor
  • It should be challenging.

 

I bring you to Doug’s last point. Having reminded people of their responsibilities and that they were in this together and that they could have fun talking about such an awkward topic, he then prayed that “that those who could give, would give and that those who needed to receive, would receive.”  I can’t think of a better way of summing up the experienced gift and expectation of the advent season as we prepare for the birth of Jesus.

May each of us be challenged by the Spirit to give what we have regardless of the means that we feel we have. For those who are wealthier it will be more, for those of modest means it will appear as an even greater stretch. May we not leave ‘receiving’ to those who are simply economically more challenged than ourselves but may we understand that receiving is something that we all need as we seek to wait and receive the Christ child.

 

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

Vol 7 No. 48 Mary’s Song

Dear Folks,

 

I realize this may be a little late for the Advent cycle but it is part of a meditation I wrote in preparation for Christmas.  I suppose if one was going to be technical about the last part, it is nine months late, because this story occurred that long before Christmas. For the sake of argument, let’s all agree that the December 25date is a dodgy historical concoction; but regardless of that, it is one I hold dear. This is an un-edited and a bit rough around the edges reflection on Mary’s Song or Psalm (Luke 1:46-55).

 

 

MARY’S SONG

 

Mary’s Song is one of the most magnificent passages in the Bible. The song is wonderful even though Mary herself elicits a variety of responses. She is shunned and forgotten by some, many do not know what to make of her and are wary, still others seem almost obsessed by her. It is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ warning about the devil in his preface to the Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors in which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” (In Lewis’ defense he is not referring to an illusionist here but metaphysical manipulators.) The appropriateness to the Lewis quote in regards to Mary is that non-liturgical Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, have ignored what God has honored while some liturgical Protestants and some Roman Catholics have had an unhealthy obsession with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Be that as it may, all these different perspectives could do with a re-discovering of Mary’s words to God and therefore to us today.

 

This hymn or song of Mary is known as the Magnificat. It is known as the first hymn of the Gospels and therefore of the faith and Christ’s Church. What is a hymn or song but poetry put to music. Songs and hymns seek to express things we might not have words for. It is a song of openness on Mary’s part; it is a song for us to re-enact, repeat and re-live in the way she approaches God. It is a song of love, of faith, and of trust. The faithfulness and fealty that Mary would express in this song, would be a faith that would come back to challenge her, to hurt and to harm her in ways that we cannot begin to imagine.

 

Much is rightly made of Mary’s love and glorifying of God. Much is also made of her youth, innocence, and vulnerability. This view of Mary can be utterly disrespectful. She shows herself to be much stronger than history gives her credit for; or many Christians for that matter. The sentimental and soppy version of Mary does a disservice to God, Gabriel and Mary herself. God knew the strength and vibrancy of the one he chose; there is no doubting or mistake here. Gabriel was not a fool. Gabriel was also not a fool on an errand to a fool. Gabriel was meeting for the first time the most significant woman in the Christian faith. Mary was not a surrogate, a pious petri dish for some cosmic incarnational experiment. The very essence of God is united with the very essence of humanity in Mary. Creating, as H.D. MacDonald would recount, the very best in “Jesus (both) fully human and fully divine.”

 

May we echo with Mary, her words in Luke 1:46-47: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”. May we seek to do the same and experience the promise and presence of the living Christ as we anticipate his birth this Advent.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

 

Vol 7 No. 47 Partnerships and Possibilities

Dear Folks,

Here are the letters that Jan and I wrote as an introduction to the Partnerships and Possibilities brochure. Some of you may have already received it in the mail. Bob Webber, Jennifer Lau, Sam Chaise and myself collaborated to put Mosaic (the magazine published by Canadian Baptist Ministries) and the Partnerships and Possibilities brochure together. You may have seen the two pieces with the cover letter. The brochure enables us to begin to visualize some of the wonderful breadth of work that we are doing with the Lord and with each other in our local churches. Thanks to Bob Webber, Ceal McLean and Naomi Wakeman for their hard work.

Here are lists of topics covered in the brochure:

  • Church Support
  • Supporting Pastors
  • Residential Camping
  • Children & Families
  • Urban Camping
  • Youth
  • Short Term Ministries in Western Canada
  • Women in Focus
  • Refugees & Uprooted People
  • Education
  • Church Planting

 

Here is access to the copy on the web: http://www.cbwc.ca/images/files/ministry_guide/cbwcgivingguide_2012.pdf

Trust that you’ll be seeing this work in your own church soon.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

Message From Executive Minister
In the 1980’s, I was asked to do a funeral for a Saskatchewan farmer who had moved to the coast in his retirement. His wife had passed away and his children urged him to travel. He said he had no need to travel. Instead, he set up a newspaper stand on Robson St. in Vancouver, and for over a dozen years John Sanderson sold papers to the world. Or, as he said to his kids “I don’t have to go travelling, for the world has come to me.” John is in fact describing Western Canada of 2011. You will see from the Partnerships and Possibilities Ministry Guide that our God has invited us to a whole array of immigrants and resident Canadians of all stripes, rich and poor, literate and barely so. It is a most exciting time to be alive in a family of churches together, encouraging one another, listening to God and seeing new things in Him bear fruit. You will hear of new churches, ministries of renewal, encouragement around youth, education, camps and children & families, and so much more.
Thanks be to God for His strength, faithfulness and encouragement in these days.

In Christ,
Jeremy Bell

 

Message From President

Open My Eyes

This summer, our church hosted a Stampede breakfast as an opportunity to reach into our community with a desire to become more closely connected. Approximately 550 people arrived in our parking lot for pancakes and Christian music with a country rhythm. As I looked around me, I realized that I knew very few. It was a very mixed group, with people of many different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds gathered to enjoy the fellowship. This is a drastic change in our neighborhood where only a few years ago the population was largely white and fairly affluent. In the recent tragedy in Norway, the perpetrator was labeled in the media as a fundamental Christian whose beliefs made him hate ‘foreigners’ and that they were deserving of annihilation. We are challenged in these times to demonstrate that as Christians we are not weird radicals hanging out on the fringes of life nurturing our hate but rather we are a people ruled by God’s law of love who desire to bring our neighbors God’s message of hope.
As I travelled extensively in northern British Columbia and the Yukon this summer, one of my projects was to photograph and identify as many of the beautiful and different flowers as I could find. The task was easy because the fields, forests and ditches are filled with a magnificent assortment of exquisite flowers. Each one becomes a wonderful study to appreciate the diversity of color and marvelous design God used to make our world beautiful. And so it is with His people. Each person is uniquely designed and precious to Him, worthy of our time, our love and our care. As our churches seek to engage their communities in new ways,
I pray that God will indeed open our eyes to the wonderful opportunities to get to know our neighbors as special gifts from God and where new relationships allow us to share God’s message of hope and love.
Jan Paasuke

 

Vol 7 No. 46 An Early Christmas Reminder

Dear Folks,

Christmas never sneaks up on me. Every year just after Christmas I reflect a little, make note of a few lessons learned and determine that next year I will endeavour to approach Christmas in a different way. I usually have 360 days, plus or minus, to begin my new approach for the next Christmas. My behaviour, however, seldom changes. I blame it “for sneaking up on me”.  But Christmas is not an “it”. It does not “sneak”.  When I talk like that I am in serious need of a mental shakeup, but nevertheless, our attitude towards Christmas and it spiritual opportunities is often a metaphor of how we spiritually engage much of the rest of our life and faith.

So today I am giving myself, and you, a reminder that it is two weeks before advent.  I do this because I want the advent of the Christmas season to be different for you and me this year. If you can benefit from observing my own attempt at this new behaviour, then so much the better.  We can all learn from attempting new spiritual disciplines.

I have three brief sections to this newsletter. First of all on a personal note, things that I have learned from the past and hope to put into practice this year. Secondly, what Christmas is meant to be for a Christian and thirdly, some links and aids to doing Christmas in a healthy way.

Part I: Things I Hope I Have Learned

  • While Christmas may be more about giving than receiving, it is certainly not about consuming as much as we do.
  • I hope to spend less on myself and less on those who do not need it (my wife Kerry is far more balanced in this than I am).
  • I will try to sign up for a local charity’s Christmas Dinner on December 10th (by the way, I never understand why Christmas dinners aren’t on Christmas Day).
  • I intend to plan some of those conspicuous Christmas acts of charity in the first quarter of next year, instead of joining the rush to be charitable just in December.
  • There is a little slogan from the BC lottery association that says, “Know your limit, Play within it”. It is a meaningless attempt on their part to attempt to be socially responsible. I think I’ve attempted to be funny in previous years on Christmas day by saying, “know your limit, EAT within it” I think I’m being funny. I am not. So many in the Christian church are proud of what they don’t do while forgetting the carnage of consumerism and gluttony that are incredibly destructive. The misuse of food is destructive in my life, not just on Christmas day, but also for the whole season. I’m going to eat considerably less this year, and the Lord being my helper, be able to tell you the effort paid off.
  • I am praying that I will be open to being spontaneous in my generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness whether it is by card or in any other form. I will make an effort this year to take far more time in connecting with those I care about rather than doing it in the rushed, careless, and cursory fashion I have done in the past.

Part 2:  What Christmas Is

  • Advent, which begins on November 27, is the first Sunday of preparation for the season marking the coming of the Christ child.
  • Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year, (not January 1) so it is time to prepare to make resolutions and to seek God’s strength in keeping them.
  • Advent opens up a time of reflection and preparation that truly allows us to be counter to the culture we live in.

Part 3:  Links or Aids

  • Carey Hall has an excellent online advent devotional
  • Regent Bookstore carries an Advent Reader for $8.95, or save 20% if you pick it up in store.
  • Kitsilano Community Church will have a series of reflections online at the beginning of Advent, http://www.kitschurch.com/

 

Peace of the Lord be with you this day, this season, and always.

 

Amen

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

Vol 7 No. 45 Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference

Dear Folks,

As you know from previous newsletters, the Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference included input from 4 speakers. Darrell Johnson led us in a study of John 17 each morning. This was followed by communion: lead the first morning by Dennis Stone, Devin Seghers, and Rob Ogilvie, the subsequent morning by Caryn and Brian Stelck and the final morning by Darrell.

Myrna Sears lead us in a session on “Learning as a Lifelong Journey” with illustrations and contributing segments from Brian Stelck and Axel Schoeber.

Bruce Clemenger spoke to us in a breath-taking and sometimes breathless way about the state of the church in Canada. He has a warm and good heart, and has an incredible grasp of the faith world in which we live. Bruce’s data will be available in the middle of December via Shelby Gregg.

Nadia VanderKuip spoke on ‘Building Community by Serving One Another’ especially through short-term ministries.

Sam Chaise led us in worship along with Brandon Swab, Jason Johnson, Rob Priestley, Carrie Erickson, Del Riemer, Wayne Morgan, Laurie Priestley, Faye Webber, Stan Haugan, Esther Kitchener, and Tora Klassen.  Faye Reynolds began our time on Monday evening by leading us in a biblical reflection or lectio.

Thank you to Liz Swab who with Colleen Schneider’s assistance organized the conference. Thank you for the assistance of Sharon Onciul, Dawn Johannesson and Gayle Meyer (we’d like to thank Gayle’s husband as well) and Shelby Gregg for helping with the resource library. Tim Kerber was and continues to be a most remarkable conference leader.

We trust that much of the reflections from the speakers will be available in December. We will publish a list of workshops and contact people for those workshops along with finishing off some of our thank- yous in the next couple of weeks.

Warmly,

In Christ,

 

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

 

Vol 7 No. 44 Apple Cider Day

Dear Folks,

Anne Smith is the new minister at The Church at Southpoint in White Rock, BC. She has written a wonderful piece that is attached to this newsletter. It is all about the fall, and harvest and I dare not go further because I will spoil what is quite eloquent and perfect just by itself. I’d like to welcome Anne as one of our ministers in our family of churches. She has extensive experience as a pastor in the United States. She is married to Craig, who is the Professor of Biblical Studies at Carey, and with their two children are affiliated with our friends at the A Rocha community. Many thanks Anne for the generosity of spirit in you as you write of the grace of God, and for being willing to share it with us.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

Apple Cider Day

When Adam and Johanna were small, we lived for four years in a little flat above some friend’s garage out in the countryside around Bristol, England.   At that time, we were also a part of a church plant in Bristol that intentionally reached out to folk on the margins. Through this church, I developed deep friendships with folk who would not be considered successful or accomplished by the culture around us.  Yet in this church, God was gathering us up, and God was making something beautiful out of our lives.

One autumn, as I walked with Adam and Johanna down that country road, I noticed a damson tree covered in fruit, with even more fruit lying untouched on the ground.  As I walked past the fruit, trampled and wasted, I sensed God’s compassion for people whose lives appear to be wasted, broken, and trampled. I saw how God longs to gather them up, claim them as his own, and make something beautiful out of their lives.   I saw how the act of gathering up of that which is overlooked, abandoned, and labeled “Without Worth”, is a powerful characteristic of the Kingdom.

This past Sunday, we gathered as a church at Brooksdale to make apple cider for Small Ritual.  We cut and mashed and squeezed a small mountain of apples.  Most of the apples were drop apples, bruised and spotted and wormy, but they made glorious apple cider!  All those apples became 50 gallons of apple cider.  25 gallons went to A Rocha, 20 gallons went to Small Ritual, and five gallons I canned so that we can give it away to folk visiting our church family, or folk within our church family who need a bit of TLC.

Thank you for helping create this living parable of the Kingdom of God.  Thank you, Paul, for searching out the apples. Thank you to Brent and Denise, Paul and Rick, Zoe and Jared, Johanna and Adam, Stacie and many more A Rocha folk, for picking the apples. Thank you to Katie who planned crafts and games to make it fun for our children.  Thank you to Rick who supervised the transformation.  And thank you to each of you who came to chop, mash, squeeze, and clean-up the mess. Finally, thank you to Ryde and Valerie who completed the transformation. (I had a cup of the finished product at Small Ritual yesterday! It was wonderful!)

My prayer, however, is that we would not stop with apples.  My prayer is that we would have the courage to bring our own beautiful, yet bruised and broken lives to the table every week. My prayer is that we might have the compassion to seek out, gather up, and welcome those whose lives are beautiful, yet bruised and broken, around our table as well.  This is what it means to be human, bruised, broken, yet made beautiful by the hidden Christ.

 

Deep peace and blessings,

Anne

Vol 7 No. 43 Personnel Announcement

Dear Folks,

This is the announcement Bill Mains has prepared. I am very thankful to Larry Nelson, Bill Mains and the Board and Executive Staff.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

jbell@cbwc.ca

 

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

PERSONNEL ANNOUNCEMENT 

 

NEW DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND FINANCE APPOINTED

 

Rev. Jeremy Bell, Executive Minister of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Victor Ku as CBWC’s new Director of Administration and Finance and as CBWC’s Chief Administrative and Financial Officer. Mr. Ku’s appointment is a result of a national advertising campaign and search to fill the Director’s position.  Victor will be filling the position that became vacant with the retirement of David Holten, CBWC’s long time Director of Administration and Finance.

Victor Ku is an experienced professional who brings over 25 years of considerable corporate work experience in finance and administrative management to CBWC. He has been extensive involved in the development, preparation and monitoring of significant business budgets and has a strong focus on serving his prescribed client base which in CBWC’s case are the churches, ministries, pastors and lay leaders of our CBWC constituency.  Mr. Ku has been described as a leader who possesses good articulation in administrative skills with a strong analytical mind, good business acumen and who is very decisive in the decision-making processes.  He is also a people centric person with a passion for developing and nurturing relationships internally and externally in the organization.

Mr. Ku holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph and a Master in Christian Studies from Regent College in Vancouver.  He has been very involved in Christian ministry over the years serving on the Missions Committee of Dunbar Heights Baptist Church in Vancouver and as a Church Planter and Community Developer at the University of British Columbia for the West Coast Baptist Association.  He has been extensively involved in overseas missions having ministered with 13 Short-term Mission Teams in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.  Victor is fluent in the English, Mandarin and Cantonese languages and also can speak the Malay and Indonesian languages.  His technology and computer skills are excellent and will be put to good use as CBWC financial systems are reviewed and further developed.

Jeremy Bell comments “We are very pleased to have such a committed Christian and well-prepared professional like Victor Ku to join us in our key Director of Administration and Finance position.  We look forward to the relocation of Victor and his family to Calgary as he begins this important work with our denomination as we seek to continue to advance the Kingdom of God within our CBWC constituency and throughout Western Canada. Mr. Ku is expected to begin his ministry and work as CBWC’s Director of Administration and Finance in mid-November.  We wish him every success and satisfaction as he serves Christ, our churches and CBWC in this important capacity.”