News & Notes Vol 13 No. 17

New BCY Regional Minister

Dear friends,
As I did with Kayely Rich’s announcement regarding Rob Ogilvie’s appointment as the new Executive Minister of the CBWC I leave it for her to offer her new announcement regarding the appointment of the new Regional Minister for the BCY Region.  Many of you in BC will be familiar with Larry Schram’s pastoral skills, gifted speaking, and personal warmth.  I commend both Larry, his wife Erna, and all the hard work that Kayely Rich has accomplished in yet another successful search.  Many thanks for your attention to this matter.
 
New BCY Regional Minister Announced
On behalf of the CBWC Board, it is my great pleasure to announce the hiring of our next BC/Yukon Regional Minister, Rev. Larry Schram. Larry currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Summerland Baptist Church. For over thirty years, Larry has encouraged local churches and pastors to be healthy, effective and faithful. Larry has been part of the BCY Region for the last 10 years and has already been an asset to Rob Ogilvie in encouraging and assisting the Okanagan churches. Larry rounds out the Executive Staff team well and he is eager to ensure we are prepared for upcoming cultural changes. Larry will begin orientation for this new role on Sept 1, 2017
Even before Larry begins, you will have the opportunity to welcome Larry to this new position and get to know him a bit better at our upcoming CBWC Gathering May 25- 27
(see cbwc.ca/assembly for details of this event).
At The Gathering, we also look forward to thanking Rob Ogilvie for his service as BCY Regional Minister over the last decade and will commission him for his new role as Executive Minister effective July 1, 2017.
Please join us in prayer for our BCY churches during this time of transition, for Larry and Erna Schram as they prepare to move to the Lower Mainland, for Rob Ogilvie as he transitions to his new role and for Jeremy Bell as he juggles many details in wrapping up his time as Executive Minister. It has been my privilege to hear each of these people share their heart and passion for advancing God’s Kingdom and I am grateful for their service in our midst.   
Shalom,
Rev. Kayely Rich
Vice President of Personnel & Programme
 
Finally, please remember The Gathering’s theme of Creating Stronger Tomorrows.  Pray for those who are organizing and those speaking.  Also, please pray for the host church, Westview Baptist Church. I encourage people to register for this important event in our life together.
Also, this weekend our first Potential Impact event is happening.  Calling the next generation of Christian leaders in our churches, this weekend of discernment, mentoring, coaching, and fellowship will assist our young people (between grade 11 and age 24) to hear and clarify the call of God in their lives. Please pray for all involved.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 16

Nothing for Granted

Dear friends
Many of us have experienced an absolutely marvelous, moving, and profound Easter time.
I don’t know about you but for some of us it is easy to take the experience of Easter for granted. There is however nothing to take for granted in the Easter story. Christ’s triumph over death is not simply a wrinkle in history but that which changes all of history and changes me. I often think of the story of Jesus and the healing of the lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Many of us are so relieved that Christ in his resurrection has given us freedom from death that we fail to savor it fully. There is an amazing scene in the film version of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles and the first book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It is a scene just before the great battle where the great White Witch announces to her followers the following words, “Take no prisoners. Kill them all.” There is lots of evidence in the natural world where the biological destiny of every living organism is to die. It’s a term which is called entropy: all that which is alive must die. All that resists death can only struggle to the extent that it prolongs life but never defers forever the ultimate destination of all who are living. To produce a play on the words of the White Witch there is a sense in which Christ seeks by his Spirit to take us all captive; Indeed make us prisoners to himself in that wonderful powerful way of what it is to be at home in Christ. There is also that wonderful sense… that powerful sense… that he seeks that all that choose him might live… May we ever be reminded that to allow ourselves to be captured by Jesus is to be made free indeed.
There are some exciting things stirring in Western Canada. Spring is starting to come upon us. As I look out my Calgary office window I see the evidence, to some degree, of more frequently repositioning of potash and green cars moving from western ports to those 100’s of towns and hamlets where good things are grown for ourselves and the world (incidentally Canada is the largest producer of lentils in the world by almost twice its nearest competitor. Mark Doerksen and I were told by a grain terminal broker in Chaplin, SK, that the market for lentils grows by 100 million people per year.) Part of Spring is the preparation for summer camps many of whom are completing their interviews for summer staff. Please pray for them in this process. I’m sure many reading this newsletter would feel uncomfortable complaining that so many of the street ministries we speak of are in larger cities when small town and rural poverty is probably more acute because it is under resourced. Let me draw your attention to 1 of our chaplains, Chuck Harper and the ministry out of First Baptist Vernon but also to pause and note together at the memorial to those homeless who have died.
In conclusion, prayers for us all that we remember the gift of Easter as we celebrate the gift of new life every day.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

Rev. Dalton Grant

Our beloved Pastor Emeritus, the Rev. Dalton Grant, left this life and entered into heaven on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 where he will live for eternity with his Lord and all those there with him. We will forever be grateful for Dalton’s loving determination in pastoring and prayer, for his desire for relational well-being, and for his wisdom in looking at life both within the church and outside of it. Dalton has been the Pastor Emeritus at McLaurin Memorial Baptist Church for the past twenty years, and before that, served as the Director of Pastoral Care for many, many years. In so many ways, we will miss Dalton, and already are. Our prayers and support are with Ruby, their daughters Chalaundrai and Cynthia, and their grand-daughter and other relatives who are all in the United States.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 15

Easter Week

Dear friends,
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
I am excited about this Easter Sunday. There are 3 things I want to mention in this newsletter. They are under the titles of “suffering of the son”, “evil for good”, and “the bodily resurrection in its completeness”.
The first is a brief synopsis of a story I told 10 years ago and an experience I had on St Stephen’s Ave in Calgary early one Summer evening. I came across a young man who looked remarkably like my son: tall, lean, nicely turned out. He was hanging out with friends. I thought to myself, “That is just like Andrew.” Not half an hour later I was returning to the place where I had seen this young man but saw him instead through the windows of a dimly lit police prison wagon, handcuffed, sobbing and howling in despair, and banging his head inconsolably against the steel wall of the van.
Someone’s son… Someone else’s son… Looked just like my own son…
And like the Father to Christ on the cross I wanted to save that son… the one who looked like mine and felt like mine… who for all intents and purposes was kith and kin to me.
I was 51 years old when this happened. It had taken most of my life to fully apprehend on an emotional level even a small pale reflection of what the Father must have felt in the suffering of the Son on Good Friday.
I realise now that Christ’s abandonment was so viscerally painful because the Father could not bear to look on the suffering of the Son. Christ was understandably distraught as his Father did just that.
The second theme this Lenten Easter week is an oft-sighted piece of a note attached to a dead child in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbruck. It is almost obscenely in error to try to identify with the suffering that happened in that place; a death camp solely for women and children. However, if the feeling cannot be fully mined then at least the intention, most especially in this Passion prelude to Easter Sunday, must be mined for me to be fully in Christ. It is as follows:

O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us:
Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering—our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. 
When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

Over a dozen years ago Jonathan Wilson introduced me to that famous piece by John Updike entitled “Seven Stanzas at Easter”. In all the syncretistic nonsense of our day and age to revel and celebrate that poetically powerful declaration of the bodily resurrection is something that profoundly thrills me every day of my life. Here is that poem:

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

This Easter has at its powerful, churning centre the bodily resurrection of Jesus where the living Lord is plucked out of the chaos of suffering and death. He has made me new though that is indeed the reason he has also made me glad.
Christ is risen this day and even forevermore. Amen.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 14

Transitions

Dear friends,
I have an experience I would like to share with you today. Last Sunday evening I attended the installation of Callum Jones. Callum was formerly from First Baptist Penticton and is moving to Trinity Baptist Church in Vancouver. This was an event which took place at 7 PM in the evening which I would like to commend to you as an ideal time for people from a variety of local churches to attend such an event as this. Trinity Baptist Church is a multicultural congregation amid a very multicultural city. The event was a celebration of the city and the breadth of the kingdom of God. It was also a celebration of the excitement of 2 churches participating in the affirmation of a new season and calling for Callum and his wife, Catherine. I mention 2 churches because First Baptist Church in Penticton sent a delegation to give (as it were) Callum and Catherine to the congregation at Trinity Baptist in Vancouver. It was a lovely experience to see this occur. The exchange brought greetings and prayers from both churches and a dear friend of Callum’s (and a fellow colleague and minister from Summerland) Larry Schram, gave the message.
I would encourage each of us to think more carefully about timing these kinds of services so that more people can be involved in having a sense of exchange, of collegiality, of back and forth, of giving and receiving, as people move between churches. It was Rob Ogilvie’s last installation or induction (depending on the term you prefer) of a pastor in the BCY region. He did this as the BCY Regional Minister and he does these things so very well. This is the last of those kinds of events for him because he is about to assume the Executive Minister’s position on June 30. Pray for Rob and Bonnie as they prepare for the change in their lives.
One more thing about Callum’s induction…  Larry introduced a very non-transcribable word which nonetheless was rendered as a phrase “steadfast love”. I think it is important to know the steadfast love the Lord has for us even as we are called, as Larry did, to offer steadfast love to all.
This is a week of transition and changes. It will be my last Board meeting with the CBWC and I am very grateful for this season of life. Even if that season doesn’t actually end for another 10 weeks it is significant to be saying goodbye to the last gathering of those I report to and my colleagues. Please pray for Laura Nelson as she leads her last Board meeting for the CBWC, and the nominations committee under Greg Anderson as he suggests to the Board the new slate for the next 2 years.
Many thanks to all for your prayers.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

Finding our whole story in Easter

Finding our whole story in Easter

by: Anne Smith, pastor at Southpoint

When I grew up, I went to a little Baptist church that had only two liturgical days on the calendar: Christmas and Easter. Even as a child, this seemed strange to me. Suddenly, it would be Easter! We’d dress up, hunt for our Easter baskets, have a bunch of lilies around the cross, sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”, be told that Jesus died to save us from our sins so that we could have eternal life, and then, next week, everything would be back to normal.

He Qi’s painting of resurrected Christ shows fleeing demons and the not-yet awoken women. This is the sudden turn. Eucatastrophe.

Increasingly, I find a wider, deeper meaning by living Easter from within the unfolding story of the liturgical calendar, which mirrors the life of Christ. We prepare for resurrection during Lent, we celebrate resurrection on Easter Sunday, and we practice resurrection during the season of Easter, which extends to Pentecost. Holy Week holds this all together. During Holy Week, we witness and watch the movements of Jesus as he makes his final journey to the cross. His passion reveals the full measure of God’s love, and his resurrection reveals the full measure of God’s power. 

Eucatastrophe

Love proves stronger than hate, mercy stronger than judgement, forgiveness stronger than vengeance. The worst agency of the Evil One, death, becomes the agent of redemption. In this eucatastrophe, this sudden turning from sorrow to joy, there is room for the full breadth of my story.

Growing up, my sister was chronically ill. As I watched her suffer, I was comforted by this image of who God suffers with us on the cross. But, thankfully, the story does not end there. 

In Tolkein’s essay, On Fairy Stories, he uses the word “eucatastrophe”. It’s a term he coined to describe a sudden turning from what looks like imminent failure to joy breaking in from nowhere, changing everything. When I first heard of eucatastrophe, I thought, “That’s Easter!” This turning began with the incarnation as Jesus entered fully into our humanity and became well acquainted with the grief that wounds and breaks us. The full manifestation of this solidarity happens on the cross.  Yet into that suffering broke the resurrection.  Joy pierced suffering, seemingly out of nowhere. Eucatastrophe. 

As my sorrow is drawn into Jesus’ sorrow, I find comfort and belonging. As Jesus draws my life into his resurrected life, I find healing and life.  Christ shares in my suffering, and I share in his resurrected life.  Living the Easter story means embracing this tension between the suffering Christ and the victorious Christ. A year ago, just after Easter, two members of our church family died. So this year as we remember, I’m grateful for this story which holds both joy and sorrow, death and resurrection, yet is, at its heart, a story of eucatastrophe. 

After Resurrection, by He Qi

The sudden turn

The Gospels contain a series of resurrection accounts where Jesus appears to a variety of folk. People are surprised, of course, but more importantly Jesus’ appearance shifts their story. They don’t know yet that he’s alive. They’re in despair, grief, confusion, and crippling doubt. They’re puzzling about how it ended up so wrong when it had seemed so right. Then Jesus appears to them – eucatastrophe, the sudden turning! Thomas turns from skepticism to faith, Mary’s grief is instantly changed to joy, and on the road to Emmaus the disciple’s confusion becomes clarity. I love this. I find great hope in this unique dynamic of Easter morning.

These “turnings” are very powerful for me, both as a person, and as a pastor. Jesus draws near when we are in the worst straights, when our storyline has been blown to pieces. He joins us in our pain, picks up our shattered story, and begins to walk us in a new direction. 

As a pastor, I’ve seen many people go through turns like these. Things are going well, we feel God’s presence, we are full of faith. And then dramatically, it changes. Some circumstance changes that shakes all of life. We feel how I imagine the disciples were feeling: confusion and despair, thinking, did we get duped by this guy who we thought was the Messiah? Where is God? Is God real? Into this darkness, Jesus somehow appears, pulling us into a new storyline.  It might not be the same direction, but it’s a redeemed story that continues on.

Easter in community

At Southpoint, our celebration of Easter really begins on Palm Sunday. I get up early and cut cedar branches from the trees on Kingfisher Farm. Later, as folk gather outside, we pass out cedar branches, wooden blocks for banging, and long ribbons on sticks. We process into the sanctuary together, singing songs, beating blocks, waving our branches—we make a ruckus to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem!

Then on Good Friday, we lay out a path of sorrow at Kingfisher Farm. The stations of the cross are tucked away in the forest and farmland, so folk walk the stations of the cross surrounded by cedar trees. There is a meditative space to sit and reflect on images of the crucifixion. In the room is a large cross, and all who gather are invited to place a hand print in red on the cross before leaving, symbolizing our own betrayal of Christ, as well as our fellowship with him in his suffering.

On Easter morning, we gather again for worship. The service begins as we cry out together, “Christ is Risen!! He is Risen Indeed!!!’ We begin to sing, and as we sing, children and adults bring the flowers and greens they have picked from gardens to the wire bound cross at the front of the church.  We fill the cross to overflowing with flowers and greens. It is a messy, gorgeous display of abundance springing forth from the scarcity of the cross. We sing songs, proclaim the story, sing more songs, share communion – the broken body of Christ which has become the feast of resurrection life.

Observing Easter is inherently communal. It’s hard for me to conceive of it any other way. I feel like something intrinsic to the Gospel gets left out when we are too individualistic. Especially Easter. It was a social thing. It was instantly spread and shared and wrestled with, together. Mary immediately ran to tell the disciples, and they ran back and told people—it just feels that there needs to be a spilling over into one another’s lives to contain it, because it’s too big to be kept individual. 

Together we are remembering the story, we are reliving the story. It is the story that unites us as Christians. So to tell it, live it, remember it, celebrate it together, with Christians of different stripes all over the world… That is powerful.

We proclaim this not just as a story from the past, but as the story of our present reality, and the story of our future hope. The story of redemption that holds all creation. Living it out as an individual is all good and well, but Easter was and always shall be a communal reality, not an individual affair. To celebrate as a people deepens the practice of resurrection.

Triumphant Entry, by He Qi

Mission in the Arrivals Wing at YVR

Mission in the Arrivals Wing at YVR

 

“Last month, a middle-aged Mexican woman came to the door. I knew immediately there was something different about her; she was definitely in need of TLC, you know… just some loving care.” Dennis Kirkley says. He’s the lead chaplain at Vancouver Airport Chaplaincy; he’s also a CBWC church member. “I felt the Lord whisper to me, ‘care for this person’. So that’s what we did.”

He quickly learned why. Polly* was transgender, and had been recently disowned by her family after years and years of being unaccepted. Her mother died a few years ago, and her father finally told her to leave his house.

“She’d been living with her father for years because no one in her city would hire her. She had a degree—she showed me the paper. She could teach, but had never been able to get a job,” Dennis says. With no options left, a friend offered to buy a flight to Vancouver where they hoped Polly would have better luck. She arrived with no contacts, no plan, no job, and was noticed by Customs who directed her to the Chapel. Dennis and his team connected her with agencies who helped her prepare for the Refugee Claimant hearing, find accommodation, and complete paperwork to settle in Canada.

“When she returned the next day, refreshed for her final Customs interview, she told us, ‘You’re the first place that has cared for me.’” Dennis recalls. “That gave me opportunity to tell Polly how much God cared for her and has blessed our land, where all God’s people are treated with dignity and respect. When she left for her interview, she had a smile on her face and, I believe, hope in her heart!”

This is just one example of the work Dennis and his team do at the Chapel. Talk with him for any amount of time, you’ll hear story after story spill out, as he sketches a picture of the incredible range of human need they encounter. As an inter-faith ministry, the YVR Chaplaincy has met this need with spiritual and emotional support for 30+ years in International Arrivals.

“One thing about this job is, you have to be ready for anything. You have to be spiritually and emotionally ready. We get everything under the sun walking in the door, from people just popping by to say hello, to heavy, heavy situations,” Dennis says.

“We get women who are leaving an abusive relationship, people being deported, people who are grieving, carrying ashes of a loved one. There are people struggling with mental health,” Dennis says. “Just last week we had a guy who was trying to go home, but he was so disruptive that he got kicked off a flight. They were already taxiing to the runway, but he was so belligerent they had to turn around and kick him off. Then, of course they brought him to us!”

YVR is supportive of their work and recently decided to expand the current Chapel facility in 2018 and provide a second chapel past the security gates in 2020. That’s where most people in the airport are, so it’s a great answer to prayer. The current Chapel gets over 1,000 visitors monthly, and operates with a team of 35 volunteers, 10 chaplains, and 5 board members. Currently all the volunteers are Christians, though all faith groups are welcome to participate in this ministry.

The Chapel is also there to serve YVR staff. “We’re not trying to be a church or a mosque or anything,” Dennis says, “but it just so happens that there are a number of Roman Catholic Filipinos working at the airport on Sundays who want to attend mass. So for 7 years there’s a priest who comes down on Sunday afternoon at 4pm to hold a mass. And there are a lot of Muslim employees who come on Fridays to pray.”

To all CBWC churches, Dennis wants you to know they’re here to serve you. The Chapel is available for groups to gather and pray before a trip, or for goodbyes. They offer tours of their own space and the terminal—a few parking passes can be procured if you carpool.

“We hope churches will be more aware of us being here, so they can know what God is doing at YVR and they can pray for us.  We will be in need of new volunteers as our facilities expand in the future, and we also need the support of area churches because we must raise all our own operating expenses.”  Dennis is available as a guest speaker, with either a message or a mission report. “Ultimately we’d like to have churches aware of this marketplace ministry right in their midst.”

 

*Polly’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

William Carey like you’ve never seen him before.

William Carey like you’ve never seen him before.

Deanna Storfie stars in a one-woman play about the legendary missionary, William Carey.

“His story is tragedy. It’s hardship. But it’s also a story of how the gospel can change lives and transform cultures,” Deanna says of William Carey’s mission in India. The play has grown out of her extensive research, and was commissioned by The Gathering’s organizing committee for this year’s meeting.

“It wasn’t an easy road to hold. There were entrenched superstitions and teachings that oppressed the people of India, especially women. So to come in with the Gospel with an understanding that God loves creation and people, no matter what our skin colour or gender, because we’re made in the image of God… was revolutionary.”

Bringing this gospel message of freedom didn’t come free for Carey’s family. The first number of years, Carey worked in isolation from other Christians. Even the British community in India isolated them, fearing the economic implications of his work against the caste system.

“That was detrimental to his wife,” Deanna says. “No support, being in a foreign country, having child after child. She really suffered from depression, and mental illness completely. Imagine how hard it would be, going on a mission like that, when it’s your husband that feels called, and you’re going to support, but don’t feel called.”

Carey saw very little fruit in the early years. He worked hard, preached to hundreds, but had no converts. “He often wondered, did he really hear God’s call? Should he be there?” Deanna says.

“His wife is going slowly insane, and his boys are running around with no parental supervision because he’s busy doing missionary work.” It wasn’t until another group of missionaries came to join him that things started to take off. 

Ironically, given the personal cost his wife faced, women’s rights was a seminal accomplishment for Carey and his team, in partnership with Indian allies. At that time, the custom was for widows to burn alive on their husband’s funeral pyres, a practice known as Sati. Carey et al campaigned hard to make this practice illegal, and to convince women to reach out for help if their husband’s died.

“Husband is god. If your husband is sad you are sad, if your husband is happy you are happy. If your husband is dead, you must die,” Deanna says of the belief at the time. In her research for the play, she that learned it probably had more to do with economic burden than anything. In-laws had already paid the dowry, and didn’t want to pay more. This noble sacrifice for a husband’s honour was just a guise.

“To tell of Jesus who sacrificed himself for them, was so poignant,” she says.

Whose perspective will Deanna use to tell the story in her one-woman play? You’ll have to come to The Gathering to find out!

BC Yukon Regional Minister search

June will be a month of many changes: the strawberries will start to ripen, the days will begin to shorten again, Jeremy Bell shall retire as Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie will become our new Executive Minister and some lucky duck will become the new BC & Yukon Regional Minister. 

A search committee is in the process now of reviewing a good number of strong applicants, and will begin the first round of interviews in early April. 

“We really appreciated the amount and quality of applications,” says Kayely Rich chair of the search committee. The committee has received nearly a dozen serious applications. “They’re quality people who have great ministry and life experience. They’re names we know because we’ve seen them in other contexts.”

It’s encouraging for the committee to see such a strong number of applications from within the denomination. “It really shows that we have a group of people who care about our denomination and want to be part of the future. It’s a great sign of health, to have people who have been part of our tribe want to be part of leadership,” Kayely says.

The regional minister position is a first responder for churches. They’re the first contact for everything from serious crises to the more mundane resourcing needs, so it’s important to have someone with the interpersonal skills to respond to whatever comes up. 

“It’s a lot about trying to find a right fit, rounding out the rest of the leadership team.”

First interviews take place over a video conference, and second interviews will be conducted in person. The committee is aiming to have a decision made by mid-April.