Canadian Baptist of Western Canada

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 23

Transitions and Stories

Dear friends,
First, I would like to thank so many of you for your prayers, cards, notes, thoughts and recollections of my father Roy Bell who passed away on May 11. My father passed on a Thursday but his condition had begun to worsen on the previous Friday so while he was in somewhat poor health in recent months it was still a sudden process for some of us. Ongoing prayers for our family especially for my mother Elizabeth are always appreciated. Again, thank you so much for your consideration and many kindnesses expressed in so many ways. Any recollections you may wish to share of your experience of Roy or my mother and father and their hospitality and ministry together are always welcomed in the days and months ahead.

As most of you already know my term as Executive Minister of Canadian Baptists of Western Canada ends on June 30. I have served in this capacity since July 1, 2005. The terms of my engagement in this ministry were measured out in 5 year increments. It was at the end of the second term that the CBWC board and I had a discussion where I expressed a desire for a shorter term than the standard 5 years. I had found that the traveling and extensive responsibilities of the position required an extended sabbatical for study and reflection. Subsequently a 5-year term would have been too onerous to commit to. I had not used any of my sabbatical time and was in arrears in terms of my study time so it was a wise decision indeed to commit with the board for this 2-year extension time. It was amusing indeed to me that in my original proposal when I began this job in 2005 I had suggested 2 5-year terms and a 2-year extension as a wise use of someone’s energies and giftedness. The board has graciously and generously offered me a 3-month sabbatical which will begin on July 1. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to take a Sabbath which has not been possible up to now. I will delight with great thanksgiving in the opportunity to transition into good solid sabbatical and rest which is a much-needed gift. There is a need for that rest before we prayerfully consider next steps. We are very much at peace and looking forward to a new season. It was very important to me that I break from this work clearly and emphatically before considering other opportunities. I am very much at peace with that decision and look forward prayerfully to the new seasons of service ahead.

I would like to share another aspect of our time at The Gathering 2017…. One that was very moving to me. It was the dramatic representation of the life of William Carey as told by Deanna Storfie from Acting Up Drama. Deanna is from Lethbridge/Colehurst, Alberta, and has great experience in these kinds of historical biographies. I have rarely if ever experienced a more well researched, thoughtful, and professionally executed work. It was such an illuminating piece both historically and theologically. From the point of mission it engaged well in the culture and people and the time being represented. Deanna is available to make this presentation available to any number of our churches. If you would like a preview or comment on it please request that from my email address or from Jill Schuler jschuler@cbwc.ca. This was truly an exciting experience. I encourage you to avail yourself of it.

As I begin my sabbatical there will be somewhat of a reframing of my communications. I will be taking a break during July but will resume some form of letter/blog when I return. This form of letter will obviously have another platform apart from this item. I will also have a new email account and a personal website. I will be engaging in some teaching in a variety of contexts. I will also be establishing a coaching practice. Information on either of these opportunities will be available towards the end of the month.
I would like to encourage you to contribute stories to themes of the next two newsletters. They are under the general theme of “I have seen the glory of the Lord”. In my journey with you as we have traveled together these last 12 years I committed to finding God’s stories amongst us and telling those stories. I made that commitment because I believe that in framing and declaring the glory of God we indeed speak of his faithfulness and begin to trust anew how he will continue to be faithful. The God who is faithful in our stories and journeys will continue to be faithful and journey with us in the days, months, and years ahead. I would like people to share of how they’ve seen God’s faithfulness at work. You may have a story, a comment, or observation of someone who has come to faith, someone who has renewed their commitment to the Lord, or someone who is excited about coming to church for the first time. You may have a story of your own recommitment or revitalization, or the passing of a family member that showed great goodness and faithfulness and presence of God in their lives ….there are a whole variety of things that you might wish to draw from; from camps to church to Carey to CBM and missions… any number of places we might find the Lord’s hand and be willing and excited to share it.

One last thing today and it is particularly pertinent for those who are hopeful about Christian presence and discourse in the public square. The CBC is well known for its lack of interest and engagement in issues of faith and particularly the Christian faith. On Tapestry (a Sunday afternoon program that touches on faith although not very welcoming of evangelical faith or even a broadly based Orthodox Christian faith) there was a wonderful segment this week that involved two unusual characters. The first individual was someone who goes to Southpoint Church (CBWC church in South Surrey): Leah Kostamo, one of the cofounders of A Rocha Canada and the author of the book “Planted”. Leah was incredibly articulate and winsome. It was very moving to hear scriptures quoted on the public broadcast and an explicit Christian comment of community, worship, and the glory of God’s handiwork in his creation. The second contributor was Margaret Atwood, a well-known author of mostly dystopian kinds of situations. Margaret Atwood showed herself to be very accommodating and engaging of the positive aspects of Christian faith and particularly is committed to a positive dialogue with Leah on these matters. They had a dialogue in a recent lecture and panel forum at the University of Ottawa. That’s a big deal from a variety of perspectives but I encourage you to listen to the broadcast and form your own opinions yourself before I comment further. I was deeply encouraged at this piece and am thankful that these kinds of things do make their way into the public forum from time to time. Maybe it will happen more often. God be with you all.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy Bell