News & Notes Vol 13 No. 10

Baptist World Alliance Statement on Refugees

Dear friends,

I am at the meetings of the Executive of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) held in Falls Church in Washington, DC.  What a tumultuous time to be meeting as the international Baptist family!  It is also so very much worth remembering that today is International Women’s Day (one day there should be an International Men’s Day although many believe that we have enough of those anyway…lol).  Coincidentally, the story of a young woman from Nigeria was shared this morning by Elijah Brown, the new General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship.  Nigeria is home to 2 of the 5 most lethal terrorist groups in the world.  It is 2nd only to Syria in the number of internally displaced people.  The story of the young woman this morning was of her and her family being displaced by Boko Haram.  Her whole family was in a displaced persons camp.  Her parents decided to try and go back to the farm they had abandoned but they left this young woman of 16 in charge of her 3 younger brothers.  Elijah Brown asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up and what her name was.  She said she wanted to be a doctor.  She said she went to church because she knew only Jesus could save her.  She had the most difficult time caring for her 3 younger siblings with so few resources.  Her name, by the way, her name, she said, was Mighty.  “Would you spell your name for me?” said Elijah upon hearing it.  And she repeated, “Mighty”, to which Elijah said, and maybe all of us should say, “You have lived you name. Yes, mighty indeed.”

Please find below the BWA Declaration on Refugees released in February this year:

A Baptist World Alliance statement on refugees

Created: Friday, 03 February, 2017

“The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) reaffirms its biblical stance concerning refugees, vulnerable people who are oftentimes victimized for their faith.

In a resolution approved by its General Council in Vancouver, Canada, in July 2016, the BWA calls upon its “member bodies, affiliated churches, and individual believers to actively embrace opportunities for Christian ministry and witness that exemplify the biblical teaching to love the stranger (Lev. 19:18b) and Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40), being salt and light in ways that bring the values of our Lord into our culture.”

The resolution further encourages Christian believers “to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God’s love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ.”

In light of this resolution passed a little more than six months ago and previous resolutions in 2011 and 2013, the BWA decries recent actions by the United States Government to issue a blanket travel ban on seven countries that specifically targets refugees and that seems to especially affect Muslims.

These actions are already having a negative impact on the lives of families. It has adversely affected service providers who work directly with refugees and has created unexpected difficulties for Baptist institutions in the United States, such as universities and seminaries, with students enrolled from the seven named countries.

While the BWA recognizes that a government has a right to create and maintain conditions that provide for the safety of its citizens, there is a temptation to give in to fear and to hastily pursue misguided policies that will have deleterious long-term effects and that undermine freedom of religion.

We accept this is not a situation that has emerged quickly and is in part a response to longstanding problems in these seven countries. We decry unjust actions that are too often left unaddressed and conditions that are allowed to deteriorate.

We note that in Iraq, Christians, Yazidis and others face genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. Over the last decade, the Christian population in Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million to less than 200,000.

In Yemen, a Global Alert from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates that Yemen is at risk of the highest level of food insecurity.

Syria is one of the most complex conflicts and humanitarian situations in our world that has devastated the country, which faces a future of trauma and rebuilding.

Baptists, fellow Christians and all people of goodwill should work to reverse conditions that lead to displacement in these and other countries and for peace, harmony and justice to prevail.

The BWA commends Baptists in countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, who have embodied the biblical mandate to stand with the vulnerable and to extend Christian hospitality. We support Baptists in the United States who offer welcome and provide assistance.”

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  The European Baptist Federation represents about 825,000 people. Turkish Baptist churches are applying to be received into the BWA family and 1 of them is in a small town (for various reasons nameless for now) for which there is no other Christian church of any description within 2-3 hours drive, not 1 church.

News from the Family: Some of our camps are preparing for weeks that are already fully booked.  Pray to the Lord not just to bring campers but that the Holy Spirit might prepare them to meet Christ anew.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 9

A time of prayer and transitions

Dear friends,

There is a well-known Chinese expression (or general expression from Asia) that says we live in interesting times. It is indeed true in the family of churches called the CBWC. It is often been said that change is seen as loss and that loss needs to be grieved. I would beg to differ for I feel that the changes we are engaged in in the CBWC are exciting, encouraging, and dynamically led by the Holy Spirit. I recall an annual meeting I once attended that began with a quote from Charles Dickens. The quote was the opening line of a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”…. I think that the current opportunities and challenges that are available to us as a family have given us the chance of a generation to see God’s activity amongst us and through us in the service of the Gospel in Western Canada.

Let’s begin our time together this week by recapping our 2 previous newsletters. We have been encouraging each other to ask two simple questions. First of all, Lord make yourself known to me and secondly, if it be your will make yourself known to others through me. We have also asked one another whether there are particular people to whom we could speak of this new life in Christ as the season of Lent begins and we all turn our hearts and minds towards Easter and the resurrection story. We pray and trust that this resurrection story might be personal and real for the many whom we are privileged and have the opportunity to pray for. I have reflected on whom I will pray for and have in my heart and mind 3 or 4 names, I trust you will find this experience meaningful to you as well.

  • Please pray for our new Executive Minister Mr. Rob Ogilvie as he prepares to transition well from the BCY regional position. He will probably end his work in BCY in May and pick up the orientation part of his new work in June. He will be overlapping with me for that month.
  • Please also pray for Dawn Johannesson, the BCY regional office administrator, and the BCY regional advisory group as they experience the transition of Rob and also anticipate a new BCY regional minister.
  • Please pray for Kayely Rich and the search committee looking for the new BC regional minister.
  • Please pray for Laura Nelson, our president, as she finishes her term and leads us, along with Kayely Rich and the organizing committee, for The Gathering at the end of May.
  • Pray for Louanne Haugan as she creates her own development team.
  • I would ask your prayers in my own transition and so that I might discern well how to use the break for reflection and Sabbath with my wife Kerry.

 Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 8

An Introduction to an Introduction to Easter – Part 2

Dear friends,

We have been looking at what it is like to prepare for Lent. We have explained the advantages of doing that both for our own sakes, our own way of remembering, and in preparing for Easter but, also very much so that we might share in this season with other Canadians who are familiar with the passages of Scripture, the Lenten readings, and the preparation for Easter in their own traditions. I think it most important and always possible to use what God has given us as entry points for discussion and prayer for ourselves and others.

In this vein, Jill Schuler and I recommend these resources: a short article and a video that lay out the Christian calendar and the place of Lent within it.

http://www.thirdrva.org/blog/telling-time-differently-as-christ-followers

https://vimeo.com/79923336

On another track, 1 of the passages and narratives that was most significant to me as a late teen was a simple correspondence between John Wesley, the great evangelist, and William Law, a theologian and Christian thinker of his day. John Wesley became a Christian in later life and was dismayed that many Christians that he knew had not, as he put it, “pressed upon him the Lordship of Christ.” He picked up this angst and concern with former mentor William Law. He asked Law why he had not introduced John Wesley to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and in a rather condemnatory and accusatory way suggested to William Law that maybe he had not pressed the Lordship of Christ because he did not know this relationship, this Christ, himself. I’m not suggesting that we should write or receive any such brutal admonishment ourselves but I am suggesting that there are many around us who either do not know Christ, or are interested in learning more about him, that would benefit from a conversation with us.

I would suggest 3 very simple things. The 1st is that we might say to the Lord, “Lord make yourself known to me so that in being filled up with your presence and in the moving of the Holy Spirit I may be open to others.” I’m also suggesting that we might have a 2nd prayer: “Lord if it be your will might you use me to share you with others.” I would suggest and request a 3rd thing; something that I am in the process of framing and practicing myself. The 3rd suggestion is after these 2 initial prayers that we would be prompted by the Spirit to write down 3 or 4 names of people that we believe we might be led to (or open to being led) to having conversations about Jesus. I would suggest that we begin praying for those people on a daily basis with an expectation that through this Lenten season and in preparation for Easter there might be an opportunity for us… there might be a hunger in them… there might be a passion for us that friends and family and those we know might be open to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, that this Lenten and Easter season might be a time when they come to know him. That we might pray these things in Christ’s powerful name. Amen.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  William Churchill regarding Sir Stafford Cripps, “There but for the grace of God goes God.”  Since we are on this topic I suspect that he also said to Sir Stafford “there is a self-made man who worships his creator.”  I know that many of you who are Churchill experts will find flaws in my quotes but there you go.

News from the Family: The Carey Board Meeting is coming up on March 11.  Please pray for the school.  In addition, please pray for Rod Olson as he prepares to teach classes at Ambrose this late Spring and develops relationships around the student body.

 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 7

An introduction to an introduction to Easter

Dear friends,

As many of you are aware from common conversation and recent studies a large number of people in this country claim they are Christian and affiliated with a particular church.  You may also be aware that very few attend or are part of a Christian community on a regular basis.  When the over 22 million Canadians do attend church, in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, United, Lutheran, and a variety of other denominations, they follow a regular set of Bible readings and what is referred to as “liturgical church year”.  This begins 4 Sundays before Christmas in Advent preparing for the birth of Jesus.  While it includes many other highlights the 1 celebration or season of the church year that is critically important is the preparation for Easter known as Lent.

Why is this important?

It is important for evangelicals who don’t celebrate Lent to get around to preparing for Easter. Because many of us are not conscious of either the lectionary or the church year our hymnody, worship, and teaching tend to alight on the Resurrection without fully embracing the whole Easter narrative found in the gospels and especially in the gospel of John.  To phrase it another way, from a conversation Jill Schuler and I had, we find ourselves rushing after Good Friday to put up the Easter decorations without ever truly embracing the fuller experience of Christ, his Passion, or indeed the historic and present Christian church.

The other advantage is that it is essentially the message of Easter that is the most appropriate and wonderful expression of the faith and opportunity to talk to others.  This is especially true for that very large group of people who profess a nominal or disengaged faith but may be open at Easter.  Christmas has become too sentimental for many; never mind too materialistic.  Easter has some of the common narratives of the culture: new birth, renewal, resurrection; all of which are the most powerful gift the Christian faith can offer.  So for many in our family of churches this is an outstanding opportunity to share and talk with others.  Those opportunities present themselves as gifts from the Holy Spirit when we ask the Lord 2 questions:

1. Lord, would you make yourself known to me?

2. If it be your will would you make yourself known to others through me?

Next week we will reflect together on who those people might be so that this Lent and this Easter might truly bring new birth and new faith not only to those we know but maybe to the perfect stranger that is known only to God but not yet to us.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week: To paraphrase Chesterton: When people start believing everything there comes a point when they no longer believe in anything.

News from the Family: I know of a pastor with young children who for 10 minutes immediately after the service the whole family gathers in this pastor’s office to celebrate the joys of the day together as a family before the pastor goes out to those who have attended the service.  I’m deeply moved by this pastor.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 6

Do not go gently into this night because night never overcomes the light of Jesus (John 1:5)

Dear friends,

The picture that you see is from Trinity Baptist Church at 49thAve and Granville in Vancouver.  They have been placing a phrase, an inspirational thought, on their sign for what seems like decades now.  

I have rarely been more proud of the visible presence of one of our churches than I was 2 days ago when I came across this one.  The intersection where Trinity is located is one of the most travelled routes on the way to the airport.  Hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, see this sign every year.  That is true not only of visible signs from our churches but it is also true of many of you who are reading this letter.  You see the signs of Christ in lives prayerfully lived out to God’s glory.  To be blunt there is something more important in this message.  It isn’t just a popular, culturally-relevant platitude.  That second phrase “our Muslim friends” bears truth in the life of Layne Daggett who is on staff at Trinity who is a former Vancouver Airport chaplain.  He welcomes people of all backgrounds in Christ’s name and actually has Muslim friends.  Would that that be true of more of us.

In the mayhem and chaos of world politics… yes, everywhere… in the lack of public truth telling and in the tragedy of misplaced words and facts (I do mean at home and abroad)… in the place where the levelling of Aleppo was a political football and not the tragedy of dying children… and where looming famine in particular parts of the world are found in places too familiar (as we so well know, familiarity breeds contempt).  In that kind of world I get buoyed up and sing for joy when I drive past signs at Trinity Baptist Church knowing that they believe what they say and speak in the strength of Christ.  I shout out names of good and righteous folk, many of whom are my friends and yours… those who don’t need a microphone placed in front of them to speak God’s truth:

The folks at the Emerson Church who are navigating how to stand up for those who are fleeing their country of origin and the United States at the border in their town.

Catherine Morris from Emmanuel in Victoria who sees the necessity to address human rights in far away places but has the profound integrity to see the need to press those issues in Canada.  Note also she has helped to facilitate discussions on the Doctrine of Discovery.

To the church who will remain nameless for the confidentiality of the child involved, who remade a Sunday School context for an autistic child even to the point of bringing in the child’s community caregiver so that it was done well so the one child who Christ loves could be treated with respect and dignity and be part of a community that received them.

This is not to mention the countless acts of hospitality and welcome practiced by individuals and churches in our midst.  Thank you Lord.  I call out the wonderful multi-cultural ethnicity of our family of churches.  I see Christ’s “choir” as it were singing and sharing, celebrating and coming to faith in the Lord Jesus rather like in Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “Christ shines in ten thousand Places”.  And He does shine.  For if we claim the darkness to be our reality we deny the truth and eternal light of our Lord.  In the words of the Keats Camp house band referring to Jesus, “He told the night it was not the day.”  May we believe that.  May we trust that.  May we celebrate that and look for Jesus shining in ten thousand places.

Here is the full line of the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem from “Kingfishers Catch Fire”:

for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

 Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Mother Theresa claimed that she could see the face of Christ in those she served.  Might we not see her clarity as the whimsy of an Albanian/Indian nun or as an exception but indeed between Hopkins and Theresa find evidence of that in our own lives and all around us.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week: Under the topic of “alternative facts” and to paraphrase Bill Bryson:

Scientist #1 says, I need to tell God these facts.

Scientist #2 says, Don’t you think he already knows them?

Scientist #1 responds, He knows the facts he just doesn’t know this set of the facts.

News from the Family: Some of our camps have already filled up some sections for their summer program.  Please pray that we don’t just fill up the numbers but we also are praying for the preparation of those who are working towards facilitating the summer camping season and in their selection of counsellors.

 

Vol 13 No. 5 Announcement of our New Executive Minister

Dear friends,

It is with great pleasure that our VP of Personnel and Programme, Kayely Rich, “guest writes” the newsletter today with her announcement of the appointment of our new Executive Minster, Rob Ogilvie, a dear friend and colleague.  More than enough said on my part.  I will let Kayely’s announcement speak for itself.  Next week we will catch up on the Board happenings.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

 

NEW EXECUTIVE MINISTER

On behalf of the CBWC Board, it is my great pleasure to announce the hiring of our next Executive Minister, Rev. Rob Ogilvie. Rob currently serves as the BC/Yukon Regional Minister for the CBWC. Rob brings a strong, consistent faith and a passion for seeing the CBWC and its partners working together to see greater things happen for the Kingdom. Rob is described by many as being a collaborative leader who really cares deeply for others. Rob knows the CBWC well, having pastored in BC and SK prior to joining the CBWC staff. You will have the opportunity to welcome Rob 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 Rev. Jeremy Bell for his for his commitment and countless hours of good work on our behalf. I will refrain from saying more at this time as Jeremy continues to thoughtfully wrap up his term as Executive Minister and we wish to support him in maintaining this focus. Jeremy will be completing his term on  June 30, 2017.
 
Rob will begin a period of orientation following The Gathering and will assume the full duties of the Executive Minister role on July 1, 2017. In the meantime, Rob will be working on finishing well in his current role and will be assisting the search committee in hiring our next BC/Yukon Regional Minister. Please be praying with us as we seek our next BC/Y Regional Minister and watch our website (cbwc.ca) for a job posting to be released soon. 

Please join us in prayer as we thank God for both Jeremy and Rob and their faithful service to God in our midst.  
 
Shalom,
Rev. Kayely Rich
CBWC Vice President, Personnel & Programme

Vol 13 No. 4 Pre-Board Staff News

Dear friends,

There are so many encouraging and exciting things unfolding in our family of churches that there is no room in 1 letter to touch them all. Next week there will be an awful lot of stories… Stories from Haupi Tombing as a chaplain with the Navy on a frigate over Christmas and from Jodi Spargur (Grandview Calvary Baptist) and Catherine Morris in their work with indigenous concerns to name a few.  There are also some very heartening initiatives so that we might broaden our nominations for the myriad of Boards that we appoint to as the CBWC… These things and much more.

For today we will look at some realignment of staff time. A very gifted and encouraging staff they are.

Bob Webber will assume a greater involvement with the Communications and Stewardship group, along with the new and developing ministry of Legacy, Wills, and Bequests.  (It will be of interest to several of you that Jack and Catherine Farr’s estate passed on a very generous gift in these last few months).

Louanne Haugan, who at present is our Office Manager, and supervises Pensions and Benefits, will be delegating some of those responsibilities and over the next few months, redirecting 40% of her time to development.  Development simply means the encouragement and support of donors who seek to engage particular ministries in our family of churches.  Many of our partner organizations have people in these positions: our sister denominations, CBM, many of our camps, and Carey Centre.

Faye Reynolds will be broadening her portfolio to include some of the tasks Bob Webber has been engaged in and will become Director of Ministries.  The Director of Ministries has 2 primary roles.  The first is to ensure, along with the Executive Minister, all the resourcing needed in our churches and our programs to collaborate in meeting the needs of local congregations.  The second major role is to nurture effective communication between ministries, partners, local areas and regions so as to ensure that the best work is done at an appropriate cost. There are over 3 dozen ministries and areas of service to keep track of and Faye, like Bob before her, has considerable experience and trust in the constituency.  It was a position mandated by the 2010 Board review of Executive Staff.

Zoe Ducklow, who is finishing her Masters in Journalism, will be our new Senior Writer, replacing Ceal McLean, who having served us ably, is retiring.  The role of writing in our denomination has been shared for some time now with Cailey Morgan, who will continue to contribute in this area and will also continue her work in social media.  Ceal has chaired our Communications & Stewardship group, been our Senior Writer, and conducted our communications audit.  She is a remarkable writer, prompter of excellence, and a person who is equally comfortable with the overview as she is with details.  She came to us from the private sector and has been a profound encouragement to this work and this family of churches.  She was a member of Kits Community Church.  She has returned to Victoria with her husband Ged where they used to live.  She is a good friend and a cherished colleague.  She will be deeply missed. Many thanks, Ceal.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy

Quote of the Week: T. S. Eliot’s Father Confessor once commented about Eliot: “He was a thoroughly converted man.”  Am I a thoroughly converted Christian?

News from the Family: Please pray for those churches in transition and in need of settlement. Please pray for Dennis Stone as he works with the Regional Ministers in this very important area.

 

Vol 12 No. 3 The World After an Election

Dear friends,

A lot of emotional energy and relational capital has been expended in the Canadian and American elections and in the perpetual political machinations of Europe.  We often find ourselves too tired, fed up, or simply apathetic to invest ourselves in the political process post election.  Just to talk about the Canadian election alone… (Just to stir the pot up a bit.  Don’t worry I’m quoting others here in the main)  but what do you do with a political process that continues to promise one thing and practice another?  1 federal party campaigns from the left and governs from the centre.  Another political party campaigns from the right and governs from the centre.  Yet a 3rd party campaigns from the left and will probably never govern at all.  Then there is the perpetual Anglican seminary student, Elizabeth May, that lonely Green voice… enough said.  As Christians we have some important things to be and to do in the following of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These things to do, as it were, are a series of voices.

A respectful voice: We are called to honour those in authority (Romans 13:1-7).  It is profoundly irrelevant whether you like someone or not.  I will never forget when I was in seminary at Fuller in Pasadena when my Afro-American neighbour was being harassed by 4 white police officers.  She started screaming out my name and when I ran down the stairs of our duplex to see what was wrong, the police officers disappeared.  I followed them to write down their license plate and had Romans 13 quoted at me.  I need to say to you I have police officers in my family and I respect the calling.  My Afro-American neighbour’s partner was a dangerous fellow even if they should have left her out of it.  Authority while it should be respected should also be open to challenge.

A supportive voice: Supportive is not he same as agreement.  Most reasonable observers know that.  However, it does mean at the very least that we personally, and in our corporate worship, pray for those who are willing to engage in public service.  I was somewhat amused but, more than a little grumpy when, at a Prayer Breakfast in Western Canada the politicians in the room were introduced by name, riding, and party with the exception of the 1 MLA that was not of a Conservative persuasion.  Amusing, sort of, but also sad.  When Christ’s people get together to pray it needs not be a partisan event.  

An accountable voice: It stands to reason that while we “give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s”, we need to accountably remind the Caesar’s of this world what is God’s and they will not tread thereon.  We need to be careful when we make those observations that they are not simply a projection of our cultural biases but are indeed a commitment to holding elected officials accountable.

A prophetic voice: The prophets are full of holding us accountable for the treatment of widows and orphans (for example Isaiah 1:17).  Jesus is particularly clear in Matthew 25.  Furthermore, I will never forget Christ’s comment as he entered Jerusalem that the very stones would cry out if we did not.  May we be the first to cry out for the vulnerable and the suffering, in light of injustice and the caricature of our faith.  Might we not have to wait for the stones to be articulate when we are not. 

We may not like those in power or those in opposition.  We may well also be distressed at what unfolds around us in an uncertain, precarious, volatile, and predatory world.  We might long for leaders that don’t seem to be obsessed with selfies and Twitter.  However, for now, we need to take up our responsibility as people of faith.  It is not how we feel about these things (and believe me I feel passionately about them); it is how we are wiling to act in the months and years ahead.

 

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

 

Vol 13 No. 2 Prayers and a Late Epiphany (a Lot of Them)

Dear friends,

This last week was Epiphany.  That is important for a lot of reasons.  Let me name some.

  • Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th and marks the visit of the Wise Men (Magi) to the Christ child.
  • Epiphany was generally understood to be the end of Christmas for Western Christianity.  Because it is so widely celebrated it is a good opportunity to talk with friends, neighbours, co-workers and family about the Christ of Christmas.  Conversations that can set the table for future conversations, prayer, and hospitality… You get the drift.
  • Epiphany can popularly mean an inspiration, a sudden awareness, or a revelation of some kind.  Historically, it actually means the presentation of Jesus to the “Gentiles” (meaning the Magi) or the manifestation of God… Mouthfuls of words but a very simple meaning actually… How did Christ manifest himself to you this past year, at Christmas, and into the New Year?… How indeed does Jesus make himself known to me each and every day?

Epiphany then identifies with a celebration that many “committed” and “marginal” Christians are aware of.  Epiphany prompts us to look for the “manifestation”, presence, engagement and prompting of Christ by his Spirit each day.

In addition, thank you for those of you who responded to reading the Neil Postman quote last week.  The source of that quote was my son-in-law Stephen Morris who I am grateful to. 

Finally, I am also puzzled that more folk have not taken me up on the invitation to share your own personal devotional patterns.  Mine seem quite narrow, almost impoverished, and I would gain enormously from sharing different ways of entering into personal devotional life.  Could you please share with the larger constituency those things?

In conclusion, there are many things to pray for.  In the interests of brevity 2 in particular come to mind.  Please pray for Dennis Stone and the whole area of settlement.  Please also pray for the Search Committee for the new Executive Minister’s position and the candidates that have applied, giving thanks for Kayely Rich and her leadership of the group.

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

Quote of the Week: Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV): For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Notes from the Family: There is a temptation for some churches to not partner with the denomination in the dialogues around LGBTQ issues.  This would be important to do.  On 2 occasions we have asked to participate in a church board dialogue and have been declined.  The sad piece was that 1 of the boards was simply misinformed about process and resources available.

Vol 13 No. 1 Happy New Year

Dear friends,

A miscellany today.

First, a personal note on my own devotional cycle in a day…  Not because it is necessarily exemplary nor necessarily yours but I would love to hear any patterns that are present in this particular newsletter loop.  Please indicate in your response if I am able to share your experience.  I have made a commitment to repeating the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles Creed, and Galatians 5:1-6 but most especially 16-26, and the living contrast between the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit.  I continue with a personal study of the gospel of John just a few verses at a time.  It is often augmented by prayers from the book “2000 Years of Prayer” by Michael Consell.  I am reading the prayers of Evangelicals from the 19thcentury at present such as Wilberforce, Shaftsbury, Spurgeon, and David Livingstone.  Over the years I have found the “Celtic Book of Prayer” also very helpful, written as it is by Baptists and Roman Catholics (but that is for another day).  In addition, my wife Kerry and I have a time of prayer which includes prayer for a variety of people and communities that we are part of.  My own prayer life includes much of the work we do in the CBWC family.  There is more but that is it for now.

Many, many things to pray for this month which I will pick up next week but I am particularly excited about the search for the new Executive Minister.

Finally, let me bundle up for us if you will some of the anxieties, longings, and indeed in some places the encouragements, of the last year by quoting a section of Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.  Postman was the Laing Lecturer at Regent College about 10 years ago and had a dramatic presence on the University of British Columbia campus as he spoke.  It might be helpful to Google both Orwell (1984) and Huxley (Brave New World).  You might also be interested in the humour and timing of God when you recall that Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and John Kennedy all died within hours of each other on November 22, 1963.

Peace of the Lord be with.  Happy New Year!

“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell‘s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley ‘s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley‘s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions. ” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

Warmly,

In Christ,

Jeremy Bell

Quote of the Week: Someone showed me a quote from the author of Red Letter Christians, Tony Campolo.  Tony is complicated, so are we all but, God is full of grace.  Tony had a great line about whether you’re an injured child in Aleppo, someone sleeping on the street in Winnipeg in the winter, or a child who visited to 2 different homes to be with parents at Christmas… I was going to start a list but you don’t need me to. Tony Campolo tweeted on Dec 30: “2016 has been a rough year… which makes it ripe for beauty. And resurrection. Happy New Year from RLC.”

Notes from the Family: No names.  No bragging rights.  1 church in the Lower Mainland had 650 people on Christmas morning.  Another church had 300.  An exciting way to start a year.  I get the impression there were many more examples.