CBWC churches and leadership reached the end of eleven weeks of prayer and discernment, initiated back in September.
Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie felt strongly about beginning his new role in a posture of listening. Based on the responses he’s heard so far, the decision resonated with many of our churches.
“It was quite striking that so many people were involved and engaged. It was very affirming to me, what so many people have said about wanting to engage in this, and being glad that this is what we’re doing. It’s a good way to start,” he said.
“We don’t often have activities that bring us all together, and even still it’s not like everyone participated, but it’s enough that it becomes common talk among the people. Originally the idea was that the board and staff would pray together, so with this many churches involved, that was a great bonus.”
First Baptist Church in Edmonton incorporated the denominational prayer focus into their regular listening prayer sessions. The theme that continues to come up in their sessions is seeking meaningful connections with their aboriginal neighbours. Pastor Ryan Sato says the denomination’s decision to adopt UNDRIP as a guide for reconciliation resonates in their neighbourhood.
“We’re a downtown church and we recognize our shortfall in loving and serving and understanding our aboriginal neighbours. We are committed to finding meaningful, hopeful ways of listening to and cultivating authentic friendships with our aboriginal neighbours,” Ryan said. “We’re praying for a miracle of connection, mutual kindness, peace and well-being (Jeremiah 29:7).“
Taking action on this is a slow process, Ryan says. “We’re trying to do anything quickly, because we think that’s part of the problem, the quick fix-ish initiatives.” One small first step they took in December was to host a blanket ceremony for the community. It’s an activity lots of people are already familiar with, and is a meaningful way to educate people on Canada’s Indigenous history.
Trinity Baptist in Winnipeg also participated, folding the scriptures and prayer focus into their regular weekly prayer meetings. Pastor Brad Warkentin says the experience increased his church’s sense of belonging within the denomination.
“We’re on the fringes this far east. We don’t have the critical mass of Alberta’s CBWC churches. Being part of a wide-scale prayer initiative increased our feeling of affinity with the denomination,” Brad said.
The listening prayer resonated with their posture of response over initiative. “It’s something we’re really convinced about, this focus on response to God’s actions over initiating our own programs. When we heard the denomination wanted to do this, we were thrilled.”
The CBWC Board and leadership are meeting in January to review the common themes from their own prayer and responses received from the denomination. Stay tuned for what our response will look like!
This article was published in the January 2018 issue of Making Connections. Subscribe to the Making Connections monthly newsletter here