Heartland Regional Newsletter September 2021

Summer is a great time to catch up on some reading, and during this season I try to read material that I might not normally get to in the course of a year. As I write, I’m in the middle of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is a bit pessimistic to say the least. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed a book by Gordon Goldsborough, entitled Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators, 

mainly because of its historical pieces on various places in Manitoba. The province of Manitoba isn’t that old, but lots has happened here since its formal inception in 1870. As a bonus, the book has a lot of pictures to keep one interested. It’s a picture book for adults, if you will.

I’ve also got an odd habit of reading commentaries, and though I am currently reading one on Jeremiah, I worked through 1, 2, and 3 John earlier this summer. John has a lot of interesting things to say, and it’s interesting to me that even though he had lived experience with Jesus, he too would have trouble in his church. The development of the early church, especially in its infancy, was precarious, and John had to write letters to combat certain beliefs and heretics. He was pastoral in his writings—clearly caring for his flock—but also wrote firmly against those who sought to harm the church and to draw people away from its teachings. He certainly had some interesting things to say about hospitality, like when to rescind it, and continued to write harshly against his opponents.

In this midst of these themes, there are two more pieces from his letters that I find especially appropriate for our time. John talks specifically about God as love. This imagery should be first and foremost in our minds when we think about God. If you’re like me, you may well have suspicions that God isn’t always pleased with your behavior, that God might be hard to relate to because of some of the stories we see in the Old Testament. John reminds us that God is love, that we can know what God is like by looking to Jesus—the most profound and vulnerable expression of love imaginable. And knowing Jesus, we know that we are loved presently and in the age to come. It’s a very encouraging read.

But another theme is clear and repeated at the end of 2 and 3 John. In 2 John, he writes, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be made complete.” Similarly, in 3 John, he writes, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.” John was clear that he preferred face-to-face meetings, and I imagine that many of us can relate to those feelings as restrictions from COVID are lifted.

I know my calendar is starting to fill with some celebration events for churches. Commissioning services and ordination services will be held again, and I look forward to being a part of those. But I also look forward to the conversations over coffee—those times of connecting with folks to catch up on how things are going in ministry, how life is treating them, and how their souls are faring as more change is on the way. I also look forward to seeing my colleagues again, to catch up on our work together, but also be able to stay after a meeting for a bit to share a laugh with someone or to make sure they’ve been heard. The pandemic has been difficult, and it has

also given opportunities to cherish. Yet now, as hope builds that more and more we will be able to be with each other in person, I look forward to seeing folks I haven’t seen in quite a while. To paraphrase John, “I have more to say to you, but I don’t want to type it and I don’t want to do it via Zoom. I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.”

Peace,

-Mark.

Retired but not Tired!

Wendy Thom has been a part of Shoal Lake Baptist Church since 1988. In 2006, she became the pastor of the church, was ordained in 2011, and retired in 2020. Here are some reflections from her time in ministry.

Well, here I am, retired but not tired of serving my Lord and Saviour! I didn’t realize how hard it would be to retire; my emotions have been all over the map. At first, I was excited. I could see God’s answers to my prayers, but then I started to hyperventilate…lol! I kept saying, “How did I get this old, this fast?” No one seemed to be able to give me an answer!

I know it was time and I know it was God’s time—this is not the end. Rather than being dead and buried, God has planted me for a new beginning, a new season, stirring me up so I don’t get root bound, drawing me closer to His heart of love.

God is so amazing, and as I have often preached at the PCH’s, as long as you have breath. God has something for you to do! Don’t give up, look up and bloom/serve the Lord wherever He plants you.

The words in the book of Esther—“for such a time as this”— have always been very meaningful to me, and especially so as I served the Lord as pastor. I am still amazed at how the Lord led me into the ministry and I have always prayed that He would also show me clearly when it was time to step down.

Over the last two years, I have prayed specifically about when God would want me to retire as I zoomed past 65. I asked the Lord for clear direction; that I would KNOW when it was His time and that He would provide for the church as well as for me. As most of you know, it is very hard to find part time pastors for small country churches!

My personal concern was having to find a new church. Generally, when a pastor retires, they leave the church because it is easier for the incoming pastor. I have been a member of Shoal Lake Baptist since 1988. I used to joke that I had held every position except the pastor 🙂

God has answered all my concerns in amazing ways! I wanted to share part of that journey with you. In the last couple of years, God kept giving me a couple of verses. They showed up randomly in my devotional times. They even caused me to go gray! 🙂 The first one was Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

God will sustain me, carry me and rescue me…and you too. Always, even to your old age and gray hairs!

The second scripture passage was Psalm 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, until I declare Your power to the next generation, Your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

I have always had a passion to tell the next generation about our God and how amazing He is— that His love and plans for each one of us are so awesome! He will never let you down. Everyone and everything else will, but God never will.

As I pondered the meaning of these verses and prayed about my life and ministry, I decided to stop dying my hair. The gray reminds me that God is in control and that He has a plan, even for old age. He will never abandon me. Ministry is not who I am; I am a child of God and deeply loved and protected by Him. And so are you!

Things really began to get crazy in my life around January 2020, and then COVID hit and the way of doing ministry changed drastically! I prayed for wisdom and direction—feeling that the time was coming for me to step aside but needing confirmation from God! Specifically, I prayed for the timing to retire, someone to take over, and a place to worship and serve in retirement.

About that time, God began to speak to a young couple that I know and love, Heidi and Joel Usick. They strongly felt God telling them that they were supposed to come and minister in Shoal Lake when I was ready to retire. Joel and Heidi came to talk to me about all that the Lord had been telling them, and it seemed so God-like. We took some time to pray about it, and God confirmed it. He specifically answered all that I had prayed concerning my retirement for the past couple of years.

Answer one—someone passionate to carry on the ministry. Answer two—I would get to stay in the church as a mentor. I joke that I go off the payroll and onto the pray roll. And answer three— I was able to finish well, exactly 15 years after I began my ministry as pastor!

Life is a journey. Years fly by, and sometimes we forget to savour the moments and enjoy the work God has created and called us to do. God is always with us and He has a plan and a purpose for us in every season. Our faithfulness to His calling on our lives will reap blessings for us for all eternity!

So here I am, retired but not tired! Hands up, palms open, eyes to the Lord, ready to serve Him in this season of life. God is so faithful! When we pray, He answers if we honestly seek His will.

If there is room to end this with another powerful, passage of promise, I would love to close with Psalm 92: 12-15 NIV, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” Amen and keep serving, wherever God has placed you!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections September 2021

Celebrate 100 Years of Camp Ministry at Gull Lake!

It is with great excitement and thankfulness that Gull Lake Centre celebrates its 100th anniversary on September 18th. Gull Lake Centre has been a pillar in the camp community over the years, providing a safe place campers could come and be challenged spiritually and make lasting relationships. The ripples of this ministry are seen throughout generations of people–– from young to old. Gull Lake holds a special place in so many lives. Below is just a small sample of these testimonies:

For Art Cole, 92, Gull Lake centre holds a very special place in his family’s lives––from his own father, who attend camp in 1924, to his grand and great-grandchildren who are currently still involved. For his part, Art remembers attending family camp with his kids when they were young, helping with several building projects throughout the years––including landscaping with his own farming equipment––and supporting the camp in various ways. To him, it was a place the kids could go to learn about the Lord, to bond as a family and be strengthened spiritually. Most significantly, Gull Lake was where his daughter, Faye Webber, met her husband, Bob. Gull Lake Centre had always been an important part of her life. When she passed in 2018, Art and his wife, Myrtle, decided to fund a new cabin in honour of her memory. Gull Lake Centre will always be a part of the Cole’s history and they are proud to leave this legacy.

I’ve been involved with Gull Lake throughout my whole life. My first camp as a child was Inter Boys sometime in the late 1980’s. I was a camper every summer throughout adolescence, including going through the LTD program and working as a cabin leader. I now am involved as a CBWC pastor and chaplain. I’ve attended Family Camps and was privileged to be guest speaker once. I’ve organized winter pastor’s retreats at Gull Lake. And most recently, this summer, I am sending all 6 of my kids as campers. I have been thrilled to see Gull Lake change and grow over the years through strong vision and hard work. It’s a very different camp today than it was a few decades ago, but it has always been a sacred space for me. Gull Lake was key in my spiritually formative years. It was a safe space for me to explore and discover my faith in God. It’s also where I made incredible life-long friendships and gained opportunity to lead and serve in ministry. I have always experienced rich, warm hospitality at Gull Lake and a strong sense that God is present at that camp. -Craig Traynor, CBWC Pastor and Chaplain

My name is Brittany Chorel and I have been a Gull Laker for 8 years. Here is a little bit about my experience at this place I call my second home.

My first experience at Gull Lake Centre was attending as a Sr. Teens camper in 2014. I continued coming back to Gull Lake as a camper, with my last year being 2017. Since 2018, I have been on summer staff and tried to be involved in as many retreats and winter camps as I possibly could. Over these last 8 years, I have made many fond memories at Gull Lake Centre, but these are a couple of my favourite ones.
One week while I was cabin leading during a Jr. Teens week, I was blessed with a cabin that got along very well. Throughout the week, we had made great memories together and had many deep conversations about God where the girls had asked difficult questions and been quite vulnerable with all of us. On the last night, while we were at campfire worship and as we were singing the last few songs, the girls in our cabin began to put their arms around each other and very soon become a tight circle. Neither myself or my LTD initiated this, but the girls on their own accord began to pray together. It was one of those moments where I could feel God’s presence and see His love reflected in each of them, as they tearfully lifted each of us up in prayer—with the sound of many voices singing praises to God in the background. It was such a beautiful moment to see the faith that these girls had and the love they shared for each other.

Another fond memory was at the end of an Inter[mediate]-aged week. There had been some division between the campers in my cabin throughout this week and it required some intentional effort to work through a couple disagreements. Because of this, my LTD and I wanted to do a unique activity on our last night of camp that would be memorable and bring all the girls together. The plan was to get bean bags full of chalk dust and have a colour fight. We put on clothes that could get dirty and headed out to the field to start our games. It did not take long before all the girls were laughing with each other, and very quickly it was as though none of the disagreements had happened as colour filled the air. Our cabin had so much fun covering each other in coloured dust and enjoying each other’s company. This experience allowed us to end the week on a positive note with a sense of greater unity amongst our campers.

To me, Gull Lake Centre is a home away from home. There is something about driving down McLaurin Lane, with the tall trees on either side, that never fails to bring a smile to my face and give me a warm feeling of comfort. I believe that it feels that way for me because of the culture the people here have created. After my first week as a camper, my mom asked if I wanted to come back next summer and my response was, “I don’t want to, I need to!” Looking back, I see this as a testament to how the people in this place made me feel like I really belonged and exemplified the love of Jesus for me.

The following summer, during a seemingly inconsequential conversation with my cabin leader about our favourite Bible verses, I felt a nudge from God, and I made the decision that I wanted to take my faith on as my own. Once I left that week, I began to take steps to continue to deepen my faith for I knew that was what I wanted after seeing the examples each of my leaders had set for me. Since then, Gull Lake Centre has continued to be a place where I have seen myself grow as a person and strengthened my relationship with God. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and encouraged to ask deeper questions about who God is and what it means to follow Him. I have gained a lot more confidence in myself and began to learn how I personally, best connect with God. As I came on staff, I was able to contribute to creating this same environment for the campers and other staff. I was able to pour into them as I continued to grow myself. This is why I have continued to come back to Gull Lake Centre and why this place has been and continues to make such an impact on me. I firmly believe that God has used Gull Lake Centre to point me back to Him so that He can work through me to further His kingdom.  -Brittany Chorel, Summer Staff.

Don’t miss out on the fun! Click here for more info on the 100th celebration!

Partner Spotlight: Giving Back – An Invitation from Beulah

Beulah Garden Homes has been caring for senior adults in Vancouver for over 70 years. Today, close to 400 residents call Beulah home, and for 70 others, it is their place of work. We are at a place in our organization’s journey where we feel truly and abundantly blessed.

In this context and over these many years, we have learned that good care for seniors—which at Beulah begins with providing affordable housing—blossoms vigorously with a model of health and well-being that springs from a holistic vision of spiritual care. 

Good spiritual care has to do with being alongside people in ways that recognize and respect their spirituality. It strives to facilitate that person’s ongoing search for meaning, purpose, hope and value. We have found that care which takes the mind, body and spirit of an individual seriously, has the capacity to transform and bless the whole community.

This kind of care also provides a strong alternative in purpose and identity—compared to the loss of connection and lack of meaning which has come to signal the ‘fearful on-set of ageing’ in our present times. Good care has the look of a gospel light in our society today.

Have you ever wondered what good ageing looks like?  Or how churches, caregivers, and families can foster a spiritual well-being that transforms not only the person but the community? How does good ageing contribute to the person and legacy?

In our quest for a training resource that values spiritual care the way we do, Beulah Garden Homes has come across an amazing 8-week Spiritual Care Training series through CHATCanada, which is the benchmark for scalable, internationally informed training for health professionals and volunteers alike. It is specifically designed to equip participants with the skills they need to offer thoughtful, relevant spiritual support to those involved in the ageing journey.

This course was created with the expert collaboration and participation of Professor John Swinton, a world-renowned expert in dementia and meaningful ageing and the founder of the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability in Scotland. Professor John Swinton is also a registered nurse for people with learning disabilities and is a registered mental health nurse.

We are happy to announce that Beulah Garden Homes and CHATCanada have teamed up to host and produce this series in an exciting hybrid seminar/webinar format. We invite you to join us in person or online through Zoom at Beulah Gardens every Wednesday morning from 9:30am to 11:30am starting September 29th.

You can also take this course as a localized group by gathering a cohort within your church, family, or institution to meet in one place and join us online. The shared experience of learning together, with online facilitation in the local context, will give you and your group a head start in creating a ministry of care for seniors that fits your circumstances and resources.

Jamey McDonald, CEO of Beulah Garden Homes, challenged staff this year to “figure out how to give back. If God gives us more than we need, it must be so that we can share it.”

We want to give back by sharing the blessing of this course, along with our warm welcome, for you to come and join us.

To register please visit us online at scs.chatcanada.org or contact us at  connect@chatcanada.org

Watch the trailer at https://chatcanada.org/events/spiritual-care-series/

 Heartland Regional Newsletter

Note from Mark Doerksen | Retired but Not Tired! by Wendy Thom

Donna Forster – Gateway Baptist, Victoria, BC

Written by Jenna Hanger

I trust that over the last many months you have been inspired by the “Humans of CBWC” stories shared in this publication. This month, you are being introduced to Donna Forster, a person who has literally put herself in harm’s way many times to care for and protect women who struggle with addictions and life on the street. Donna has been called to a ministry that few could do. She is fearlessly the hands and feet of Jesus to these women and their children. May her story push us just a little further out of our comfort zone as we all seek to answer God’s calling on our lives.     

-CBWC Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie

Donna Forster, 85, has lived the majority of her life in Victoria, BC. While her official career was as an assistant manager at a bank, Donna had another passion she pursued for twenty years—helping sex trade workers off the streets.

From an early age, Donna had a heart to help streetworkers. She watched her mother run a bawdy house, and seeing that and how the women were treated inspired her to help those that she could. From 1998 to 2018, Donna took part in a street ministry that her church ran. She got to know many women who worked the streets. Some came to know the Lord and were able to get out and start a new life; others weren’t as fortunate and their stories still weigh heavily on her heart.

One such story inspired Donna to write a book about the experience. Her book, titled Anne: Where Did the Sunshine Go?, is heavily inspired by a young mom whom Donna connected with about ten years ago—a woman who struggled with addiction, left an abusive relationship, and worked on the streets to feed her children.

“It was one of those cases where she was just such a wonderful, caring, young mom when I first met her, and her whole focus was her children. She came down to the streets because she didn’t have enough money to feed them,” Donna said. “She had no family or friends here, which is often the case with many of the women. They were out there to feed their children, basically.”

Donna has always had an interest in writing. She has written lots of poetry over the years and even wrote a book about her husband. This book was a completely different experience though. It took Donna a year and a half to write. She described the process as very painful, as it opened up a lot of old wounds. Having to revisit the story of “Annie” was difficult, but Donna believes it’s an important story to tell.

“I hope as people pick it up, they pass it on, and that they change their attitude [towards sex trade workers]. I think that would be best thing,” Donna said. “There’s more to everybody, isn’t there? When we look at a person, we look at one dimension. We don’t really—until we get to know them very well—we don’t really know anybody. It’s all just a façade. Everybody has a story, it may not be tragic, but it’s a story.”

Another thing Donna hopes the book will accomplish is to challenge the way drugs are handled. In her view, providing drugs and clean needles to addicts isn’t a healthy solution.

“I see that as telling our young people that they don’t matter. It’s like, ‘Let us help you do this,’ and drugs are so destructive. You watch a young person who is like you and I, and they get into the drugs. The change in them is so drastic. And people write them off,” Donna said. “I’d really like to see rehab for young people. Don’t make it easy for them [to take drugs] because they are worth something. Our way of helping is skewed.”

Donna isn’t near done telling these stories. On top of the other writing projects she is working on (a potential first book in a fantasy series for preteens, and a children’s book), Donna might put together another book which has mini-bios of multiple sex trade workers whom she has met and connected with.

“I’m 85. I don’t anticipate a major career in writing, but it’s fun. I enjoy it,” says Donna. She also continues to have friendships with some of the women whom she has helped on the streets during her ministry, having many over to her house for food and keeping in touch over phone calls.

Anne: Where Did The Sunshine Go? is available online at all major bookstores. Donna’s website https://www.dforster.ca has links to various sites to purchase.

If you or someone you know has a story they want to share with us, please contact jhanger@cbwc.ca. We would love to hear from you!

#weareallCBWC #humansofCBWC

Banff Pastors & Spouses Conference

It has been a privilege to provide a space of sabbath for CBWC pastors and spouses for the past 44 years in one of the most picturesque locales in the world!  November 2021 will be our 45th year to gather together in Banff for restoration of mind, body, soul and spirit. Transformative worship, inspirational speakers, open afternoons, good food, great conversation, and deep rest. We hope you can join us!

Registration deadline is September 30, 2021. Click HERE to register.

Federal Election Resources

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has put together various resources to help churches with the upcoming election. Their website states:

Voting is one way Christians contribute to society and the public good. When we vote we recognize the profound influence politics has on the lives of all Canadians.

 Public policy impacts our lives, influences the way we interact with one another, and helps shape the care and protection offered to our neighbours.

Go to www.TheEFC.ca/Election to view their resources which include:
-Election Engagement Kit 2021
-What churches can and cannot do during elections
-Election slides for social media
-Federal Elections: Faith, Voting and Political Engagement
-Related Civic Engagement resources

Transforming Polarized Conversations

Christian leaders across Canada are struggling with how to navigate increasingly polarized conversations with their congregations, families and friends. During seasons of change, it is common for perspectives to polarize and for people to struggle with talking well with one another. How do we, as Jesus followers, converse with divergent viewpoints and engage in active listening with a Christlike posture? What skills do we, as leaders, need to acquire to tackle tough conversations? Are there parts of our inner lives that need to be re-examined and addressed?

You are invited to a 3-session Zoom-based webinar series with Dr. Betty Pries who will offer a practical and engaging learning experience, offering tools and practices for transforming polarized conversations. Join other pastors and lay-leaders from across Western Canada in this online Zoom space to learn together about this timely and important topic. Dr. Pries will facilitate a Q & A following her presentation by using the Zoom chat function to offer engagement to those who are on the call. If you would like to submit your question in advance of the event, please email your question to ekitchener@cbwc.ca .

To register, click here.

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter August 2021

The Desire to Win

By Mountain Standard Regional Minister, Dennis Stone

Originally posted on February 5th, 2021

Okay, I just tweeted, “The desire to win gets in the way of healthy dialogue.” That is a paraphrase from the book: “Crucial Conversation Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High”. Out of all the thoughts I’ve seen, heard or read this month, this one has struck a cord with me.

In my work I deal with policy writing, conflicted individuals, politicized debate, stereotypes, and conversations with various levels of potential conflict. The tensions or potential tensions continue into relationships with family, neighbours and friends. Fear is behind all of this.

We will never see an end to tension. I think some believe that somewhere in the past or somewhere in the future, even before Jesus returns, that there will be a time of no stress, no conflict, and no infighting. That kind of self-talk will drive us bonkers. At some point we need to realize and accept that conflict will always be with us …‘until death do us part’.

If we are only observers of others in a squabble, it may be easier to see through to the individuals’ motivations. That is not always the case. We become experts at hiding our real motivations …the outcome we really want. It is this desire to come out on top and win that complicates us in a battle. When we ourselves are in an argument, we usually convey only aspects that help our side. Our own desired ends may even be hidden to ourselves. Perhaps we just want validation, affirmation, or an action that will help us get to another goal we have for ourselves.

Scripture says that ‘the heart is deceitful’. Perhaps we should acknowledge this more readily. We are often blind to what is stirring the pot, what is making us agitated, or what gets us riled up. Looking back each one of us can see the plots where we were on the wrong side of a discussion. That would be several times over for me personally.

May God help us to see more clearly where we need to repent, apologize, calm down, grant grace, and start from scratch. God says we are to love our enemies. If we could even get a small slice of that in our hearts in conflicted situations, we could likely come out honouring God more and living with outcomes more easily.

Your co-worker in the conflict,

Dennis

Update on Adventure Day Camps

By Pastor Ashley Winke

For the last 22 years Adventure Day Camps has been ministering to children from Sherwood Park Trinity Baptist church and our surrounding community of Strathcona County. Though it has taken on different forms throughout the years, it has always provided campers with week-long day camp experiences that include a wide variety of fun activities and meaningful ministry time with worship time and interactive Bible lessons. Every year we see children and their families impacted by the relationships they form at camp and by the truth of God’s word that is planted in their hearts.

In 2021, we have smaller numbers of campers due to Covid-19, but we’ve taken the opportunity to re-structure camps to allow for more weeks of camp to run throughout the summer, and we’ve included a week of camp for preschoolers and kindergartners. Also, we’ve looked for ways to maximize every opportunity to pour into our youth leaders who come to serve in Adventure Day Camps to maximize their leadership growth. Later this summer, we plan to do pop-up camp activities at playgrounds around Sherwood Park to minister to kids in our surrounding neighbourhoods. In these ways Adventure Day Camps continues to serve the vision of cultivating leadership, investing in relationships and engaging in mission in our community. We are excited for all that God has in store for the next 20 years and more!

Trinity Preschool has now been serving the families of Strathcona County and Trinity Baptist Church for over 20 years. We have a fully-licensed, thriving program that runs from September to May for 3 and 4-year-olds that engages them in ima play and learning and instills truths of God’s word and love for each child in their hearts.

Welcome to Two New Pastors in MS Region

Garry Koop is the new lead pastor at Westview Baptist Church.  His wife’s name is Kimberley and they have two adult daughters. For the last 20 years, Garry has been actively involved in ministries within the Evangelical Mennonite Conference and with the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. He comes to Calgary from Steinbach, Manitoba. Garry has his Doctorate in Ministry from Northern Baptist Seminary and also studied at Tyndale College, University and Seminary. Garry has been a featured guest speaker at Bible camps, retreats and conferences.

We welcome Garry to his new calling in Calgary and look forward to having this new colleague in our midst.

Hanneke Boersema is the new Children and Families Minister at Westview Baptist Church. She is joined by her husband Ryan and children Keira and Naomi. Hanneke received her Bachelor in Applied Theology in Belgium and a Master of Educational Science while living in the Netherlands. She brings over 20 years of experience as a Child and Education Specialist, Religious Teacher and Pastor of Families and Children. We warmly welcome Hanneke to the CBWC!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections August 2021

SERVE 2021 Recap

SERVE, a traveling youth missions/camp experience, has been a vital ministry of our CBWC family for over 20 summers, demonstrating the love of Jesus through active service. As planning for the 2021 experience began, the challenge became maintaining the heart and core of SERVE, while adjusting how to go about it—and SERVE+ was born.

SERVE+ took place from July 8 – 11 as youth groups from across Western Canada discovered a mission field in their own backyards. For many of the groups, SERVE+ was their first opportunity to gather in-person in over a year. They ran day camps, offered free community car washes, painted lines on parking lots, pulled weeds, served at the food bank, fed farm animals, removed graffiti, and so much more. Each evening, groups gathered for a livestream worship celebration, hosted by White Rock Baptist Church, featuring powerful testimonies, a live band, special guests, crazy games, biblical teaching, and a challenge to join God on mission in our world. Then on Sunday morning, each youth group took part in leading their local church service, sharing about the impact of SERVE+ in their local communities and their lives.  

The “plus” in SERVE+ was meant to convey the hope that this year’s SERVE influence could be even greater than usual, as multiple communities were impacted for Christ. Praise God, this proved to be true. Story after story from our youth and their leaders confirm that God has been actively at work through this 4-day experience. Please continue to pray for the communities and lives impacted through SERVE+ this year. 

Click HERE to watch the highlights of this year’s SERVE+ event!

Making Connections is excited to announce that SERVE 2022 will be held in Nelson, BC from July 3-9.

Spotlight: Carey Theological College

Carey Theological College: Standing with CBWC Churches

As a ministry of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, Carey Theological College has been committed to preparing men and women as pastors, missionaries and Christian leaders in CBWC churches for decades.  We stand with you as you bring God’s Word to your respective communities.  Central to our calling as an accredited institution offering diploma, Master and Doctoral degrees is our highly-qualified and friendly faculty.

Welcome Professor Jimmy Chan

You met two of our recently hired faculty, Dr. Amy Chase, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies (Old Testament) and Dr. Wil Rogan, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies (New Testament) back in the December 2020 issue of Making Connections.  We are excited to welcome Professor Jimmy Chan as Assistant Professor of Theology who will be joining his faculty colleagues, Wil and Amy along with Dr. Colin Godwin, Dr. Joyce Chan and Dr. Ken Radant, beginning in August, 2021.

From an early age, Jimmy has known and felt the presence of God, having come to grow in his faith through various encounters and opportunities in Hong Kong as well as in Canada, including pastoring and ministering at several churches. Jimmy has served as a part-time pastoral staff member at Richmond Hill Christian Community Church in Ontario for the last five years. Serving as a Pastor of Fellowship Ministry in Intentional Discipleship Pathway, he has been responsible for a variety of ministries, including teaching, designing course curriculum and cultivating young and career adults.

We welcome you to connect with Jimmy come August!

Special Tuition-Free Offer to CBWC

Jimmy comes to Carey at an important time.  We have recently redesigned our academic offerings to now offer five distinct graduate degrees and four diploma programs.  Our starting diploma program can be completed in as little as two years of part-time studies without travelling onto campus.  We’ve also streamlined our application and financial aid process and reduced our total tuition costs to make your theological education pursuits more accessible.

Thanks to the support of faithful donors who share our vision, Carey is offering a tuition-free start to your seminary journey to all new students who are current members of CBWC churches.  It includes a full tuition waiver on the first three courses taken for credit in English and Chinese within your first 12 months at Carey.  Following that, exclusive CBWC financial aid offerings are available to eligible students to cover up to 100% of your tuition for the rest of your program.

We invite you to connect with one of our admissions advisors at Carey’s Office of the Registrar to find out more or start an application today to reserve your tuition-free start.

 Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

The Desire to Win | Adventure Day Camps | New Pastors

Returning from Exile Isn’t Easy

May 27, 2021 – Jonathan R. Wilson

As restrictions on church gatherings have eased in Canada, our initial euphoria may soon fade as we begin the hard work of rebuilding our congregations and our mission. Returning from exile wasn’t easy for Israel; it won’t be easy for us.

The life of many churches and Christians over the past year and more has felt something like “exile.” We must be careful with this narrative: it’s not clear that the pandemic was a direct judgment of God, nor is it only God’s people who suffered. Moreover, most of us were not displaced geographically, a factor that we must take very seriously. Otherwise, we risk diminishing the suffering of those who have been geographically displaced.

Nevertheless, with that caution in mind, the narrative of “exile” may help us place our disorientation and displacement. Certainly, there is a displacement in moving from gathering for worship in one physical place to gathering online. And many have suffered various losses.

So, the time of the pandemic has also been a kind of exilic time.

Now, we are gradually returning from the exilic-like time. As we do so, we may be prepared and guided by Judah’s return from exile. Among many I could choose, I will observe six dimensions of their return.

First, there will be opposition. One might think that the opportunity to return from exile—to reestablish life in the promised land, to gather once again for in person worship and mission—would be so wonderful that unity would prevail. It does not. The returnees and rebuilders of Jerusalem faced opposition within and without.

When that happens, we need to learn from Ezra and Nehemiah: set guards and keep rebuilding. That is, recognize the threats but keep focused on the main things.

Second, there will be nostalgia and regret. Returning from exile means things have changed and will continue to change. When the foundation of the new Temple was laid, Ezra tells us

11With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

“He is good;
  His love toward Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3: 11-13)

I imagine something like that happening among our people. Many will gather for worship and mission in person, but others will continue as they have—worshipping online in pyjamas and eating breakfast. Many will give thanks that we are together once again; others will give thanks that they don’t have to change the habits they’ve settled into during the pandemic.

Both groups may be right. It was right for a new generation to shout for joy at the laying of the Temple’s foundation. And it was right for the older generation to weep as they recalled the “former glory.”

But there is no going back after exile; yes, Judah needed to remember rightly the causes of their exile and their time in Babylon. But when we return from an exilic time, we must go forward.

Third, rebuilding takes a long time, and it won’t look like it did. The work of building the Second Temple took more than twenty years, and the people often lost motivation. We are in rebuilding from the pandemic for the long haul. We must not be discouraged by lack of progress, and we must patiently overcome any loss of motivation.

Fourth, the leaders of Judah, especially Nehemiah, had to watch for oppression and injustice as the people returned from exile. He was not so focused on “getting things back on track” that he failed to listen to and care for the people. (Nehemiah 5)

Fifth, we have cause to mark the return with special celebration and even a continuing practice of recalling the time when we “returned from our exilic-like time.” As the exiles returned to Jerusalem, they gathered to hear the reading of the Book of the Law. As the people began to weep, Nehemiah spoke these words, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) It seems also that Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, was intensified after the return from exile.

What might be an appropriate celebration and annual practice that would remind us of God’s goodness to us?

Sixth, the mission of God’s people is in danger. For the people returning from the Babylonian exile, survival and precise faithfulness to their understanding of the law meant the gradual erosion of the mission of God’s people and the severe reduction of the identity of God’s people to the “politics” of the world. This manifested itself most clearly in the various violent rebellions that attempted to throw off the yoke of the Roman empire.

However, from this time we also get the promise of a faithful remnant and YHWH’s intervention to bring justice and free YHWH’s people (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). These promises are fulfilled in the coming of Israel’s Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who is also the Saviour of all who believe and the One under whom all things are being brought into unity. The mission of God’s people who return from “exile” is to be faithful followers of this Lord and bear witness to His reconciliation and peace in word and deed.

In this brief reflection, I have noted a few things that we might learn from Judah’s return from exile. There is much more to learn from Ezra, Nehemiah, and the prophets of this time (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). May God grant us faithfulness in our continuing journey as God’s people.

Jonathan R. Wilson is Senior Consultant for Theological Integration with Canadian Baptist Ministries and Teaching Fellow at Regent College.

Rethink; Reimagine; Remission Cohort & Coaching Opportunities

It is likely no secret to any Christian pastors, lay-leaders and many churches that our world and our culture has and continues to shift rapidly. For us, the question is not, “How do we get back to the place where the church and Christian faith were central to society in general?” but rather, “In the midst of a changed world, how then do we, the church, re-engage our neighbourhoods, towns and cities as local missionaries called to be faithfully present to the people who live around us with the glorious story of God and His mission of shalom, salvation, reconciliation and restoration?”

Coming out of the success of the CBWC January Webinar, Allowing the Spirit to Reorient Us Around the Mission of God, staff at CBWC are excited to endorse three further opportunities for our churches and leadership teams to resource, strengthen and widen the ministry and mission of the local church in this rapidly changing world—both within the church and beyond into the neighbourhoods, towns, and cities in which we live, work, play and pray in.

Currently, there are three pathways to learning and coaching available and being offered to our CBWC churches. Each has been developed, facilitated, and taught by long-time CBWC pastors who love our denomination and family of churches. Joined by other gifted teachers and missional leaders, they bring their decades of experience to teach and coach church leaders, pastors, and lay folk, locally and far afield within cohorts. Their desire is to share with their family of churches from their wealth of knowledge and experience to equip our churches as we join God on His mission as local missionaries deeply rooted into our neighbourhoods.

If you are longing to learn and discover ways to re-engage your church with the community in which you are situated, but are not sure where to begin, there is a Pathway for you!

The Discovery Project is designed for those just putting their toes in the water and exploring what it means to join God on mission in their neighbourhood. Immersing ourselves in the text, we will explore what it means to bear witness to who God is through loving Him with all our hearts, minds, and strength, and by loving our neighbours as we love one another. Many leaders have gone through some missional training and are asking how they might help their people to “discover” some of the exciting opportunities presented to us as followers of Jesus in these difficult days. The Discovery Project is one response to this question. Facilitated by Cam Roxburgh, this Pathway will encourage a response and equip us for mission. 
There are 2 types of delivery systems:

1)    Church Specific: a weekend seminar that covers all the same material as the online option, plus the advantage of church specific input and consulting. The fee for this option is $1500 plus travel expenses. (We are working on possibly offsetting some of the travel costs for qualifying churches.

2)    Online offering of 6 sessions of 2 hours each. Cost is $59 per person or $300 per church. 6 weeks, bi-weekly from mid-September to end of November. This option is not church specific.

The Neighbourhood Project is designed for staff and lay leaders of churches who have been serious about exploring what it is that God is doing in the midst of the crisis the church is facing. Covid is but one of the issues that is causing the rate of change to accelerate and shining a spotlight onto the reality that much is amiss, and God is doing a new thing. This is good news. TNP is for a select number of leaders and churches that get the conversation and are wanting to not go back, but forward into what God is doing. This is a cohort of leaders journeying together with Allan Roxburgh, Cam Roxburgh, and facilitators from The Missional Network and Forge to:

  1. Learn to discern God’s activity in your neighbourhoods.
  2. Equip your people to join Jesus in your communities.
  3. Explore how to lead in disruptive times.
  4. Shape congregation life from Sunday-centric to neighbourhood-rooted.

This Pathway is an online offering which includes monthly sessions, one-on-one coaching with churches, and cluster cohorts. There are reading and experimentation expectations. Cost per church cohort is normally $3000, but with a generous grant we are offering it at $1500. An application process is required. Course begins September 2021 and runs through June 2022. This is filling fast, so register today!

Centre for Leadership Development – “Forming and Reforming Communities of Christ in a Secular Age: This three-year course in Missional Leadership is geared for congregational teams and individuals, offering both onsite or online accessibility and will resource, strengthen and widen the ministry of the local church. With Tim Dickau, Darrell Gruder & Ross Lockhart, plus many practitioner guests. Cost includes lunch for onsite and a private team consultation with Tim. Cost: $250 per person ($200 online). $500 for a group up to 5 ($450 online) per year. This course is geared for teams that have already determined the need to rethink church and are beginning their own internal culture change. Year 1 begins September 2021.

We believe this is the right time for churches to begin pursuing one of these Pathways, especially as we emerge with all we have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Talk to us about which Pathway is best for your church and leaders! Contact us to assess which Pathway is right for you and your church.

Shannon Youell
Director of Church Planting (and new initiatives)
syouell@cbwc.ca

Cam Roxburgh
Facilitator/Leader of The Discovery Project & The Neighbourhood Project
cam@southside.ca

Tim Dickau
Facilitator/Leader CML course Forming & Reforming Communities of Christ in a Secular World
dickautim@gmail.com

Ken Nettleton
Facilitator & Lead Pastor New Life Church, Duncan BC
ken@newlifechurch.ca

Theology for the Ordinary Bookclub

One of my favourite recent television commercials comes from Kruger products, and it’s called Unapologetically Human. It’s about how all human beings have the need for paper products, each day, and in circumstances ranging from heartbreak to celebration.

Stan Grenz wrote that every Christian is a theologian, and that our commitment to the God revealed in Christ calls forth theological reflection. If you’re like me, that can seem like an over-reach and a bit daunting, something perhaps reserved for the ivory tower. Yet I have this nagging feeling that Stan was right; as Christians, we think about God, and sometimes we’re pushed into thinking about God, even when we’re not ready for it. As a parent, when your young child asks, “Will our dog Bernie be in heaven with us?” you are quickly ushered into either distraction mode or theological reflection. When you hear another report on your newsfeed about climate change, do you stop and think about creation care, about the future of God’s creation, and what a Christian outlook of creation care might look like? 

The CBWC has launched a platform called Theology for the Ordinary. We hope to cultivate a love of reading and reflection for pastors and congregants alike, ordinary people—if you will. Part of this initiative is a book club that will meet online, twice a year, to discuss a book that we’ve read together. We want to give enough notice so that you have time to acquire the book and read it, and then join in an hour-long discussion on the designated evening. 

The first book we will read is by Tish Harrison Warren. Tish is an Anglican Priest who has written a book entitled Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. The book is about spirituality for ordinary people, and she uses the template of an ordinary day for spiritual reflection. She starts with waking up, and ends with sleeping, noting spiritual observations along the way, reflecting historically and theologically. She will make you laugh, and she will make you stop and think. If you’re interested, please read the book, and we will meet online on Wednesday, October 6th at 8pm CST. To receive access to the zoom link in October, you can email Cindy at heartland@cbwc.ca. Click here to sign up for Theology for the Ordinary newsletter.

In Memoriam

We extend our deepest sympathy and prayer to Pastor Jon Emanuel (FBC Nanaimo) and his family in the passing of his beloved wife Sarah on July 8, 2021, after a courageous battle with cancer. Sarah brought so much love into her family and so much joy to all who knew her. Please pray for Jon, children Miles, Evangeline and Oliver, and the Emanuel and Snider families, that they may find comfort, hope and peace in the days ahead.



In May 2020, we were blessed to have Sarah write a story for our Making Connections newsletter sharing how she found peace in the promises of God, as she processed her journey with cancer. 

Gladys (nee Davidson) Ogilvie
October 15, 1934 – July 13, 2021

Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with Rob and Bonnie Ogilvie and the family and friends of the late Mrs. Gladys Ogilvie who passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at the Parkwood Institute, enfolded in the love of her family. She is survived by her brother, David Davidson, and children David Ogilvie (Kim); Susan (Ralph) Weber; Bonnie (Joel) Vivian; Rob (Bonnie) Ogilvie; and Glenn (Ami) Ogilvie as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her sister, Evelyn Connor, her sister-in-law, Jean Ogilvie, and her loving husband, David, whom she had been married to for 59 years.
Gladys and her husband David pastored together for 30 years serving CBOQ churches in Jerseyville, Arkona, Burtch, and St. Lambert and leave a rich legacy of loving God and loving others. Gladys will be remembered for her deep Christian faith, her genuine and generous spirit, the twinkle in her eye, and her infectious zest for life. She will be deeply missed.

 A celebration of her life will be held in the Fall of 2021.

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

BCY Regional Newsletter July 2021

Starting What Can’t Be Finished 

The guide’s voice, well-rehearsed and modulated, faded into the background. The size and beauty of the cathedral filled my thoughts as I contemplated climbing the nearby bell tower to capture it with my camera. Santa Maria Del Fiore—Saint Mary of the Flowers—is part of a world heritage site, and is the largest dome ever constructed in the Renaissance. After many guides in many cities, I had developed a habit of listening for a while, disengaging for a time, and then returning to the guide’s monologue. I focused again on the guide’s voice just in time to hear, “They built the building without knowing how they would finish it.”

They did what?

The guide explained that they built the Cathedral knowing that they couldn’t finish it. They didn’t know how to build a dome 150 feet in diameter and 180 feet in the air. But they started building anyway, believing that someday someone would be able to finish it. Finally, after almost 100 years of gathering inside walls under an open sky the construction of the dome began which took another 100 years to complete. In other words, once the walls were up, it took almost two centuries for the cathedral to be completed!

As I contemplated this incredible story, I alternated between wanting to admire their faithful commitment and wanting to lecture them on the words of Jesus. After all, Jesus said that no one should begin a project that they couldn’t complete. (Luke 14:28) Yet the people of Florence felt that God called them to build the cathedral, and that, therefore, He would also send someone to help them finish it, so they started what they couldn’t finish. Later that day, as I looked at the beautiful dome from the bell tower I prayed, “How could this be Lord? You warned against starting what couldn’t be finished!” Then the Spirit whispered, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)

In our highly pragmatic, strategic, and efficient world it is good to remember that sometimes faithful obedience to our Lord means that we will start something when we have no clue how to finish. He doesn’t ask us to understand, but He does ask us to trust that even when we can’t, He always finishes what He starts. (Phil. 1:6)

-Larry Schram ,BCY Regional Minister

Here are just a few examples of how this truth gets worked out in ministry:

Called to Start what will never be finished—New ministry beginnings: Matthew Fox starts July 1st at Comox Community Baptist Church, Stefano Piva starts in August as Lead Pastor at West Point Grey Baptist Church.

Called to finish when the work isn’t done—Retirement: Norm Sowden retires July 31st and Jack Leighton retires October 31st.

Called To Do What Can’t Be Fully Paid For (Summer camp)—Keats Camp:

“When we lookback on our lives, there are key moments that have set the direction of our future. For many, camp is the place where that happens. For Keats this year, the practical reality is that we will run a significant deficit (even with offering 8 weeks of camp), but have been called for over 90 years to provide quality camping to children and youth and are stepping out in faith. We know that this year’s loss is miniscule in comparison to what God can and will accomplish this summer through our staff, volunteers, campers and guests. It is the generations of testimonies, support and conversations that carry us along in faith to get through these challenges.”

Blessings,

Stan Carmody // Executive Director

Called to build when the future is uncertain—Beulah:

Beulah provides an affordable place to live for maturing, financially challenged adults, in Jesus’ name. More than housing, we provide a community of love, support, and grace. Presently, the waiting list to get into an apartment is 3 years. So, based on the growing need, with a conservative financial approach even though the future is uncertain, our board has approved a plan of adding two 64-unit buildings in the next 5 years. We believe that what we do is an extension of Christ’s call for His people in Vancouver. We are missionaries, not landlords.

– Jamey S. McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Beulah Garden Homes Society

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections July 2021

A Journey to Healing & Understanding

By Michelle Casavant

I raise my hands in honour of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, Cowessess First Nation, and the many more Nations that will continue to uncover the remains of innocent children in unmarked and mass graves.

The determination to find the children that Canada left lost and unaccounted for. The strength to share this tragic news with our country, and the world.

The grace to witness an international response of surprise and shock to the realities that Indigenous communities have been recounting and living with the devastation of for too many years.

In 2016, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report acknowledged the tragic experiences suffered by children who were forced to attend our country’s Indian Residential Schools between 1831 and 1996, speaking to the likelihood of mass, unmarked graves at the sites. On May 27, 2021, the small bodies of 215 of those missing children were found, buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School. Every week, more have been found, and with the astonishing numbers, like at Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. More will be found… with determination, strength, and grace.

These horrific discoveries, in their indisputable physicality, have finally triggered long overdue action to commence the work it will take to address the myriad of intangible forces that have suffocated so many Indigenous people. In a morbid, yet necessary, offering of reconciliation, some engineering firms across Canada are providing their ground-penetrating technology, pro bono, to help First Nations locate and recover the ones who are still missing.

It has reignited outrage and cries for justice.

We knew these little ones were missing.

They were never forgotten.

For me, right now, the intersectionalities of the identities that I was born into—and have walked into—are breaking. My heart, soul, mind and body ache in ways I haven’t known before.

I am a Cree Métis woman. I was raised in rural Saskatchewan; however, my Métis grandmother completely denied our Indigeneity. Withdrawing from ceremonies to evade racism, my ancestors may have feared their children would also be taken. They felt it necessary to deny their history in an attempt to protect their future—and succumbed to the colonizer. When discoveries are made near my home, it hurts even more deeply.

I am a mother. It shatters me to imagine what it was like for the mothers, grandmothers, and communities to witness Indian Agents and RCMP destroy families. Children stolen. It overwhelms me to think of small, rural towns without children laughing and playing. It devastates me to consider the mothers of the missing and murdered being lied to, dismissively informed that their children had simply ran away from school. As if that could be enough for any mother. Subsequently, countless families have been searching for these lost souls for decades. The heartache I have for these generations that were lost…for the knowledge keepers, mothers, fathers, siblings, that were callously denied their life’s purpose.

I am a lawyer with the Government of Canada. For six years, on behalf of Canada, I witnessed the confidential, individual hearings with the Survivors of Canada’s Indian Residential School system. The Survivors bravely attended, forced to describe frightening experiences in exchange for a financial ‘compensation’, calculated via an objective spreadsheet that will never make anything equal. The trajectories of so many lives diverted and devastated and perpetuated through generational trauma. Almost ten years later, the memories of those hearings continue to occupy my thoughts.

I am a Christian. I cannot reconcile the actions that were committed in the name of Jesus. I want to scream from the rooftops that this is not Christianity. Jesus is calling those little ones to Him now, “Come to Me. You belong in the kingdom of heaven, all ye who are hurting, and I will give you rest.” Christ is the one that is bringing me peace during this time of deep sorrow and grief. Yet some of those who suffered these great injustices do not know His peace because they were violated by those who held positions of power in the church.

I am a Christian Indigenous person. I know Creator is the one true God. My current struggle is that despite requests, precedents and reasoning, the leaders of my home church will not incorporate an acknowledgement of the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory that the church is located on into our practices. Simultaneously, there are Indigenous communities in Canada that don’t have access to clean drinking water, and yet, our churches are sending enormous amounts of money to remote countries. I’m hurt and confused by the perceived hypocrisy of my church’s resistance to engagement with acts of reconciliation.

I am human. I am heartbroken by the reality of adults, in a faith-based position of trust, systematically harming vulnerable children. I am confused by the reality that virtually no one has been held accountable for these crimes. Trusting children—instruments of pure love—led into physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural abuse. These are crimes against humanity that have gone unpunished. If these found remains were of Caucasian descent, the culprits would have been held to account.

These days, my sorrow changes as it unfolds. I am working to be present to the feelings, so that I can heal. I do not want to be resilient anymore; I am fatigued, I am weary and I am weak. Yet, I know that I need to heal so my children can have a better life. As communities, we need to heal so our offspring will have better lives. As each of these discoveries is unearthed, the open, gaping wound in my soul is covered with salt again.

I know that Jesus can and will restore all things…with determination, strength, and grace.

All my relations.

-Michelle Casavant

If you would like to contact Michelle, she would be happy to hear from you at metismichelle@gmail.com 

Honouring Our Responsibilities

By Jodi Spargur

Memorials have popped up all over the country. Flags fly at half mast, our attention captured we don an orange t-shirt or an Every Child Matters frame on our profile photo, we try to find the words to pray for the 215 children now 751 now… What now? 

Let your heart feel this hurt in the hopes that we might find the strength for change. “Listen hard to the stories you are told (by Indigenous Peoples) so that your heart can begin to be changed. Without a changed heart you have no capacity for changed action.” Dr. Ray Aldred

Dr. Cheryl Bear and Brian Doerksen have written a new song called 215.
215 Indigenous children
who can’t come home.
215, how many more missing?
Indigenous children
who can’t come home.

Why did it take so long?
Revealing this ancient wrong
When mothers cried
through countless nights alone.

The church and the government
Complicit in violence
How could such savagery
Stay unconfessed?

How do we allow those questions to move us to action rather than indifference and silence?

Let the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples help us recover the image of God in our neighbour.

Article 7
ii. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom,
peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to
any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly
removing children of the group to another group.

In May 2017, the CBWC voted to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. What does that mean for us? A number of things:

  1. That when the atrocities of genocide as articulated in Article 7 above are revealed, as people of faith committed to these principles we cannot turn away and say, “That wasn’t us.” That, in essence, is an “Am I my brother’s keeper?” question, and the answer is, Yes.
  2. Like Zacchaeus—who, when convicted that he had been benefitting from harm done to others, set about to repay his debts and more—we too must commit to setting wrongs right. This is a long process and not one we fix overnight, but we must commit ourselves to this path.
  3. We need now, more than ever, to commit ourselves to prayer. We need all kinds of prayer, repentance, lament, prayers for healing, prayers for conviction and for courage to act. But I would encourage us to pray with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at this time to help us see what perhaps we have been unable or unwilling to see before now.

Let justice be our part in setting the stage for healing and conciliation.
Aubrey Bosak, in speaking about reconciliation as a black South African says, “If one expects forgiveness from the victim, why can we not expect justice from the perpetrators and beneficiaries? If the name of Jesus is invoked regarding forgiveness, His name must also be invoked to call for justice.” (Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism). For Settler Christians, our place in the journey of healing and reconciliation is one of seeking justice as those who have benefitted from the perpetuation of injustice whether it happened by our hand or not. This is a spiritual call and spiritual work that can only be sustained by faith as we walk with our neighbours in self-giving love.

Three next steps:

1. Pray with this resource https://cbwc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Praying-the-United-Nations-Declaration-on-the-Rights-of-Indigenous-Peoples.pdf
2. Learn. There are many places to start. Check out this resource for a next step that is appropriate to where you and your community are.
3. Act. Contact Jodi Spargur to explore how your church community might begin engaging locally in your context.

CBM Spotlight | Get Moving for Education: Active in Mission

Most of us, in the past year, have had the chance to recognize what a privilege it is to physically go to school, that even the struggles of online learning are worth persevering through—rather than to go without education. Perhaps our perspective has shifted as we have witnessed our own children’s formal learning threatened, and we can understand how important it is to try to help our global neighbours resolve the issues that keep kids out of school. In many places, families face school fees they can’t afford, or need their children to help support the family by working.

At the height of the pandemic, schools were closed for over 90% of learners.  While schools shifted to remote learning such as radio, television, and online, an estimated 500 million students are being left behind due to lack of equipment needed for at-home learning, remote learning policies, and access to the internet. Add to that, the 258 million students who were already out of school before the COVID-19 crisis. There has been much loss because of the pandemic; we cannot let the virus take the futures of millions of children as well.

Thankfully, through CBM’s partners and local churches, many of those students will not be left behind. It’s in the margins—the places that are overlooked—where the church is present and caring for those often pushed to the sidelines. 

In 2021, Active in Mission is back! From July 18-25, 2021, we will be walking, biking, and running to raise funds to support education for kids. Education is a powerful tool to fight generational poverty, and you can get active this year to bring children around the world the education they deserve. 

Just as we help our kids get out the door to walk or bus, or out of bed and onto their online class, we can partner together with communities to help solve their barriers to education.   

Will you help these children along a path to a brighter future today?

Let’s say YES and get Active in Mission together!

How to Take Action:

1. Go to activeinmission.ca and register your fundraising campaign page, either as a group or as an individual.

2. Get social! Follow us and tag us on Instagram @readytobesent #ActiveinMission

3. Between July 18-25, 2021, get moving! Whether you’re kayaking, rollerblading, walking, or biking, anything goes–as long as you’re active.

4. Let your donors see the progress your fundraiser is making in real-time on your campaign page.

 BCY Regional Newsletter

Starting What Can’t Be Finished

Newest Board Members 2021-2023

The CBWC wants to extend a warm welcome and thanks to the newest Board Members for 2021-2023, with a special acknowledgement of our new President, Loralyn Lind. For a complete list of Board Members, click here.

Loralyn Lind pastors in Dauphin, MB. She is married to Cordell, and together they own a Bed & Breakfast and train Cordell’s hunting dog, George. Loralyn and Cordell have served in all three regions of the CBWC and attended the Banff Conference with determined consistency for 30 years. Loralyn loves to read and discover new insights into how God is bringing us all closer to Himself as we daily experience His presence.

Tim Kerber pastors at Leduc Community Baptist Church in Leduc, AB and has done so for the past 26 years. He is married to Rachelle, and they have two teenage children. Tim loves God, his family, his work and his community. He loves to preach and plan and create and dream. It is his desire that people find freedom and hope in Christ which invades their daily lives and changes the world. Tim enjoys being active and challenged. He enjoys road biking, triathlon and adventure races. He loves to garden, work with wood, and read. He also loves burgers, pigeons, hockey and hot tubs.

Richard Currie lives in Duncan British Columbia, is a member of New Life Church, and does some volunteer work in his community.

Before retiring in 2018, Richard was Vice President of Finance and Operations at Concordia University of Edmonton for nine years. Most of his career has been with operation management of non-profit organizations, having held senior administrative positions in health care administration as well as with advanced education institutions. In addition, he has worked cross-culturally for three years as administrator of a busy rural mission hospital in far-west Nepal, and later as administrator at the office of TEAM of Canada. He also has done volunteer work assisting with settlement of Bhutanese and Syrian refugees in Canada. He currently volunteers as vice-chair of Cowichan Valley Basket Society (Food Bank), treasurer of the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival Association, and treasurer of Stonewood Village Strata Association. He holds a CPA (Alberta) designation and a Master of Health Services Administration degree from University of Alberta.

Grant Hill, with his wife Becky and their two daughters, has been a part of the Elk Lake Baptist Church community in Victoria, BC since 2016. Born in Kelowna, Grant completed his Bachelor of Music at UVic in 2003 and his Master of Divinity at Regent College in 2007. He served as an Associate Pastor at Mississauga Chinese Baptist and Olivet Baptist (New Westminster) before his call to serve at ELB. He enjoys people, good conversation, playing guitar and being outdoors.

Gladys Tsang came to Canada and studied in Ontario when she was a youth. Gladys returned to Hong Kong upon graduation from U of Toronto but returned again to Canada to study at Regent College in the 80’s. Gladys was called by our denomination to plant an ethnic church in Vancouver in the 90’s which resulted in founding the church called Westside Baptist Church in Richmond, BC. She has been serving as the senior pastor at Westside since its beginnings. Gladys is married to Anders Tsang who is also an ordained minister with CBWC.

Laurel Auch “I’m a farmer’s wife, a mother of three, and a gramma of 2. My husband and I became Christians in 2002 and were baptized together at Faith Community Baptist Church in Claresholm. I was a Chartered Accountant until I decided to stay home with my children (one of whom has autism), and help with the management of the farm. I’ve used my training to serve as the church bookkeeper for many years and have also taught Sunday school and helped in other ministry areas. I don’t consider myself to be a leader, but I enjoy working collaboratively with other people to enact a common goal or vision, so I’m very much looking forward to being part of the CBWC Board.”

David Vandergucht lives in Regina with his wife Katherine and four young children. He and Katherine are members at Argyle Road Baptist Church, and David has previously served on the church board there. He works as a lake ecologist for the provincial government.

Flexible Existentialists 

By Kevin Vincent, Director of the Centre for New Congregations Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada

Recently, I heard Simon Sinek explain his philosophy of “existential flexibility.” He said, “Existential flexibility is the capacity of a leader or an organization to shift 180 degrees and begin to plan and behave in an entirely new way, given an entirely new reality and environment. It’s the capacity to make a 180-degree shift to advance your cause.” 

In addressing that specifically for churches, he said that as the church moves past the COVID-19 chapter, many faith leaders are simply moving back to the way it was, to what they know and to what they have always done. He said, “They know they can’t do what they used to do, but they don’t know what to do!”  

Perhaps you can relate. As it relates to your church, you would say, “I know we can’t go back now! But I don’t know where to go now!” Let’s be “flexible existentialists” for the next few minutes. Let me prompt your thinking by heading down what would be a 180-degree shift for most churches moving forward, and let’s begin with a radical question. Here it is. 

Is it time for your church to cancel your Sunday morning worship service? Is it time to say that the current model of how most of us “do church” has run its course? Is it time to embrace the reality that the culture has shifted, people have little interest in weekly, larger, group gatherings and post-COVID, it’s not coming back? Is it time to abandon a tired old model of church? 

If I’ve already said enough to tick you off, stick with me because I’m much more hopeful than I’m sounding. 

A recent survey in the United States by the UNSTUCK group reported that churches that have re-opened have seen about 36% of people return. 

Now, I know those are American statistics. Hold your fire! But, at least anecdotally, even if we don’t have Canadian survey results that are as clear, a lot of pastors are experiencing the same and are wondering, “Who’s coming back?  When will they come back?  Who’s not coming back?”  

Let’s just imagine that we’re twice as good as the Americans (Canadians like to think that!).  Let’s imagine that we get 70% of people back! Are we OK with that? Is 70% good enough? Perhaps we should just conclude that those that don’t return are simply the hard soil, the rocky and thorny ground, of Jesus’ parable. They’re a good excuse to clean up our membership list. 

Even more shocking is that the American survey discovered that only 40% of those under the age of 36 prefer larger in-person gatherings. That means that 6 in 10 church-goers under the age of 36 aren’t sure that they care about your Sunday morning worship service anymore and aren’t looking to return. So, should you cancel Sunday? 

I believe the answer is No!  But let me suggest an “existentially flexible” new way forward that was true pre-pandemic and has been dramatically accelerated as we move toward becoming a post-pandemic Church. Here it is. 

The future of the church in Canada will not be grounded in a single-site expression but in a multiplicity of congregational gatherings, meeting at different times, in different places, with different people. 

Single site. Single gathering. Single location. Single time. “See you Sunday at 10:30” is not the future. 

What could that look like for your church, if you adopted that type of a posture? Is there still a place for a Sunday morning worship gathering? Of course! There are many who love that expression of church. In fact, 70% of the church-going Boomers surveyed want to go back to that traditional Sunday gathering. It’s still meaningful. It’s what they know and love. We can’t steal that. Moving forward, it needs to be a piece of the reimagined church. 

But the great majority of younger generations don’t share that conviction. They’re finding connection in the digital church. They’re enjoying a house church that has emerged with 4 other families. They’re creating dinner church experiences with a dozen friends on a Thursday night. They’re a Sunday morning “huddle church.” Some are creating their own “worship gathering and liturgy.” Others are joining together for a “watch party” of their church’s online service. 

What would it look like for your church to consider a multiplied model? What would it look like to embrace a true hybrid expression of church that still celebrates the traditional Sunday gathering but also cheerleads and celebrates multiple, smaller congregations meeting during the week, in various locations, at various times, with many groups of people?  

I think I can already hear some push-back. “Yeah but we’re a little church! We’re only small! We can’t multiply anything! That’s a big church model!”  

No, it’s not!! Don’t take your “existentially flexible” hat off yet!  What if there were 31 people meeting on Sunday at 10:30am in your church facility? Perhaps there’s another group of 14 on Thursday night, over dinner? And another group of 23 on Tuesday night over coffee in a café? And what if fellowship happened? What if care happened? What if teaching happened? What if you started serving together? Could that, in fact, be a true congregation by New Testament standards? Could that simply be another expression of your church, another congregation, at a different time, in a different place, reaching different people, tethered together as multiple congregations and still ONE church? 

Could THAT be a new way forward? Could that be the answer that your church needs to consider? As Simon Sinek asks, “Do you have the capacity to make that 180-degree shift to advance your cause?” We must! It’s a new day for the Church!  Jesus is still building His Church, and His cause is too great not to try! 

Kevin Vincent is the Director for the Centre of Congregational Development with CBAC. He is part of Canadian Baptist National Cohort along with Cid Latty from CBOQ and Shannon Youell from CBWC. Together we dream and vision and work towards sharing resources and imagination for our churches as they join God in extending the Good News into multiple communities in which the folk in our churches live, work, play and pray. And we laugh a lot. 

Banff Registration is Open!

Those in pastoral leadership know that restful rhythms do not just happen – space must be created for rest and renewal. It has been a privilege to provide such space to our pastors and spouses for the past 44 years in one of the most picturesque locales in the world! November 2021 will be our 45th year to gather together in Banff for restoration of mind, body, soul and spirit. We hope you can join us this year at the Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference!

Registration for Banff 2021 opens on July 1, 2021.
Early bird registration: August 30, 2021.
Regular registration deadline: September 30, 2021.
Dates: November 1 – 4, 2021

Click Here to Register!

Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Heartland Regional Newsletter June 2021

The Season of Seeding

I reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba, having grown up in southern Manitoba. Around here, May is the month when plenty of farmers get busy seeding their fields, and when many folks work on putting in their gardens.

Now, I’m not a farmer, but I often like to talk about the work of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) when I meet farmers. One of the reasons I do so is because the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada have been a part of a partnership of 15 church and church-based agencies working together to end global hunger through CFGB. We’ve been doing this since 1983, and Arnold Epp, long-time member of Argyle Road Baptist Church in Regina, was part of the initial organizing team.

In 2014, I had the privilege of going to Africa, arranged by the CFGB and with a team comprised of 10 people from across Canada who were interested in the international work of CFGB. I was a Doctor of Ministry student at Carey Theological College at the time, and I was able to incorporate this trip into a guided study course, under the supervision of Dr. Gordon King. We went to two countries in Africa to visit villages that had benefited from an ongoing relationship with CFGB. We first visited some sites in Sierra Leone, considered at the time to be the second poorest country on the planet. Next, we headed to Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in western Africa which also struggles with food insecurity. We arrived in Burkina Faso not long after an intense struggle against drought. The sites we visited, however, were examples of how significant support from CFGB can be. The photo below illustrates some of the hard work by people living in Watinonma, who banded together to dig wells for consistent irrigation, establish composting techniques, and then plant a significant amount of vegetables.

Happily, there are examples of churches supporting CFGB across our association of churches, with Moosomin Baptist Church and Brownfield Baptist Church committed to doing good work in this way. There are various ways to support the work of the CFGB, as a church or individually, and you can even donate via Canadian Baptist Ministries here: https://foodgrainsbank.ca/cbm/. In my personal experience, I am glad to know that I, as an urban dweller, can support the CFGB via a local Grow Hope project, a project located near the town where I went to high school. The money donated goes to cover the cost of inputs for an acre, and I will be receiving updates on the field throughout the growing season. Once harvested, the Canadian government matches the profits 4:1. Indeed, when you support the CFGB, a little goes a long way.

On a smaller scale, my wife Mary and I are also interested in growing some food for ourselves. This spring we’re doing a lot of yard work, and this has included the replacement of our old garden boxes with new ones, and as I write they are nearly complete (see photo below). I already anticipate toasted tomato sandwiches with fresh tomatoes from our garden. But having a garden is more than that. It helps us remember, using Wendell Berry language, that beautiful cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal and decay, and around again. It helps us remember, using Biblical language, that we are creatures, and God our creator cares for us in such a way that He has spoken creation into functional order, both for our sustenance and stewardship.

Since this is the season where all sorts of seeding has begun on various scales for all sorts of folks, I thought I would draw your attention to the great work of CFGB and our partnership with them. With donations from all sorts of people, ranging from urbanites to agricultural companies to rural churches and farmers, resources are combined (no pun intended) to have a seriously positive impact on those suffering from food insecurity. I also think it is valuable to try and grow some food yourself, if possible. It’s great to be involved in these initiatives, and I’d encourage you to get involved if you haven’t already done so.

Peace,

Mark Doerksen

Ministry of Presence 

By Rev. Tim MacKinnon

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to share something that has been close to my heart over the last decade. When I was quite new with my last church in Salisbury, NB, a young man in our congregation, who was a volunteer firefighter, asked me if I would consider being the Fire Department’s Chaplain, as the former one had left the province. My initial reaction, to be honest, caused me to pause and say, “Hmmm, I will pray about that.” The truth is, as much as I thought I understood about chaplaincy, I really didn’t. There are many forms of chaplaincy—such as emergency service chaplains, like police, fire and EMS, disaster relief chaplains, military chaplains, prison chaplains, hospital and nursing home chaplains—all with a similar set of gifts and responsibilities, but each very unique to the people they serve. After some time, I felt that God was plunging me into community mission in a way I had not been involved before. I fell in love with chaplaincy and the people I serve!

Being able to interact with people who, for the most part, don’t do church, being available for community people when they are afraid or hurting and being able to be involved in community concerns in a meaningful way, all made me realize what a wonderful opportunity the Church, pastors and leaders have to ‘love on’ their communities. Chaplains and Pastors played a very important role when the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash occurred. Recently, two SaskPower employees in Weyburn died in a tragic workplace accident and our Co-Police Chaplain and I were able to bring comfort and support to emergency workers involved.

Upon moving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, I approached our Fire Chief, who paired me up with an already-serving chaplain who had been well-loved in the community for many years. He was a retired Presbyterian Church minister. Since I was sharing the fire chaplaincy, I had also been approached about being a co-Police Chaplain for our Weyburn Police Service. This was another new adventure for me. Though there are similarities between the emergency services, they are different ‘breeds’ of people with systems that work quite differently from one another. The former fire chaplain has since passed away, so I’m quite busy being available for both departments. Once again, I found myself falling in love with our police officers, staff and their families and love being involved in the community. As a Chaplain, one never knows the type of calls and needs that they could be involved with. I have filled in for other chaplains, such as our local Legion Chaplain, to hold Remembrance Day services, funerals, etc. I have received calls from our local Mayor, who may be trying to help a member of the community with something. Chaplaincy has also been a wonderful way to partner with the other churches and Pastors in our community, as requests often come in regarding practical needs of people, such as those who may be vulnerable in different ways.

I strongly encourage our Pastors to think about the possibility of being involved in some form of chaplaincy, if the situation arises and if God is nudging you. I have received valuable training that is also very useful in pastoral ministry. Crisis intervention, for example, is a set of skills that chaplains need to be trained in. I have done many courses about critical stress management, rapid response, group and individual counselling, suicide prevention, and have a greater understanding of abuse, etc. This training has helped me to be more prepared for the types of things that happen in church circles, as well. I am a member of the Canadian Police Chaplain Association, Federation of Fire Chaplains, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, and available to help with CISM for SK. All of these offer various training opportunities. I also had the opportunity to host a training event recently for general emergency chaplains. Twenty-seven chaplains from about 15 different provinces and states signed up for this virtual course. A facilitator with Chaplain Services Network led us in a three-day training on how to give death notifications to loved ones, being able to identify where someone is at emotionally, support for those suffering from PTSD, how to greater ‘get at’ struggles people may be dealing with but holding in, being involved in community crisis if it should arise, etc.

When we think of the ministry of Jesus, He conversed with many varied types of people who had many different physical, emotional and spiritual needs. He interacted with Centurions, who would have been an early version of our police and military officers. He ministered to families in need and crisis. Many of these people came to faith as a result of His involvement in their lives. The motto of one chaplain department is “With you in good times and bad.” What I have discovered the most about chaplaincy is that it’s not necessarily what I do or the ‘tasks’ I may perform for a department, it is ‘just being there.’ The presence of the Christ-follower brings with it the reminder to people (whether or not they are even looking for it) that God is present. We all represent someone or something else. A teacher represents the school system, a lawyer represents the system of law, the fire fighter represents the fire service and—the chaplain represents God.

A chaplain friend who serves as a police chaplain in Ontario sent me a copy of his book, “Community Policing: The Path to Healthier Relationships – A Police Chaplain’s Perspective” and in it, he wrote the following, “Chaplain Rev. Tim MacKinnon, you are a transformational leader with a passion to impact lives for God’s glory—strategically placed to expand His kingdom on this side of eternity. Your role as a chaplain is God-given…” I’m thankful for his encouraging words as I go on ‘ride-alongs’ with police officers, ‘check in’ on various firefighters and their families and bring words of encouragement and hope to our Police and Fire Chiefs, who are often expected to do much with limited resources. During times of uncertainty and crisis, we are called to draw people to “the God of hope” who can fill us “with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). My guiding Scripture is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 as we point others to the comfort and hope we have found in Jesus Christ, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” As Pastors and leaders in our churches, we all have a God-given call on our lives to love others and point others to the love of Jesus. We also all have a God-given call to share the Gospel in the community around us, even in some challenging situations that may not always be that easy. We can be a ‘ministry of presence’ to others, just as the Holy Spirit fills us with his power, love and grace (Acts 1:8). May all of us be in prayer about how God may want us to be involved in our communities. If anyone may be considering Chaplaincy, I would be available to chat with you: revtimmack@gmail.com

Rev. Tim MacKinnon, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Community Church & Chaplain for the Weyburn Police & Fire Services

Heartland Baptist Women Announcement 

On behalf of Manitoba Women in Focus, we are excited to announce our new name and Logo for the Baptist Women of Manitoba and the Prairies—HEARTLAND BAPTIST WOMEN.

The Women of the Canadian Baptist of Western Canada have been an important part of the denomination over the years with different titles as time has passed. Their focus has been on Missions and supporting women in the denomination. As was announced in a fall newsletter, Women in Focus has completed their term as of May 1st, 2021. It is time for a rebirth.

Over the past few months, through prayer, conversation and connections, the executive of Manitoba Women in Focus felt it was time for a change and a new start.  We want to include all women of the prairie region. Something new! Having “Heartland Baptist Women” as our new name will serve all women in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and beyond. We hope to connect and reach out to more women across the prairie provinces to encourage and pray for one another and to be the salt and light that God calls us to be in our Homes, Communities and local Churches. This is open to all women who love Jesus and to those searching for Him.

We are excited and we look forward to what God will do through Heartland Baptist Women.

We are so thankful for all the Women who paved the way for us to continue, even through the seed that was planted years ago from Women in Focus. There was fruit! We Praise God for all He’s done over the years. Faye Reynolds mentioned that something had to die for something to be born, and we believe it is Heartland Baptist Women. We Pray for the Harvest!

Your executive for Heartland Baptist Women includes:

Carol Parsons, Peggi Talbot, Colleen Allan, Charlene McAlpin, Rerie Resendes, Lesia Andrushyshen. We will be looking for volunteers from other areas and provinces. Through our newsletter, KEEPING CONNECTIONS, we hope to reach out to many.  Please visit our “Heartland Baptist Women” Facebook page to connect, share and watch for upcoming events.

As your first President of Heartland Baptist Women, let us pray and dedicate Heartland Baptist Women for the glory of God.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections June 2021

Need Something To Look Forward To? Check Out Summer Camp!

It is no secret that COVID-19 has impacted everyone’s physical and mental health. Especially our children, whose in-person interactions and physical activities have been so limited over the past year and a half. This is why it’s more important than ever to make plans this summer that support healthy living and meaningful development, and what better place to start than at camp? 

While things might not be back to normal yet, CBWC camps have been hard at work coming up with creative camping ideas and preparing for this summer. Check out what your local camp has planned currently, and get involved!

Katepwa Lake Camp – Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask:

July 2021, Katepwa is planning to offer Summer Day Camps for the first time ever! This will allow them to offer a camping experience, while respecting the governments restrictions and keeping everyone safe. It will include tubing, zipline, rock wall, archery, swimming, crafts, chapel and much more.

The LIT program will be running as well.

In August, they are planning on opening their camp up for families to sign up for Family Getaways, with meals and activities provided. They will also be offering swimming lessons!

For more information check out their website: https://katepwalake.campbrainregistration.com

Mill Creek Camp – Pincher Creek, AB:

Mill Creek Camp is running a mix of camp programs this summer, some in person and some online. Make sure to check out the different camps on their website: https://millcreekcamp.org

There are a multitude of ways to be involved with Mill Creek Camp, and they are open to suggestions! A few ideas are to register for one of their summer programs, volunteer (painting, wood chopping, etc.), donate, book a family rental, or apply for a summer position.

Gull Lake Centre – Gull Lake, AB:

The theme for summer this year at Gull Lake Centre is “into the unknown”—a theme they say is “appropriate for our collective journey through COVID, but also our spiritual journey as we commit our lives to Christ.” There is hope that some of the camps will be able to run close to normal, as there is talk of restrictions easing this summer. With that in mind, Gull Lake will begin with three weeks of LTD camp, which will hopefully give time for overnight restrictions to be lifted. There is a back-up plan ready in the event that this isn’t the case. One thing is for sure though, there will be things happening this summer at Gull Lake!

For more info, go to their website: https://gulllakecentre.ca

Keats Camp – Burnaby, BC:

After a quiet summer last year, Keats Camp is excited to get things rolling again this summer! They are opening their camp up for eight weeks, for families to come experience camp life. They will take care of all the details so families can come and enjoy island life! Families can choose from a variety of activities, explore nature or just enjoy the chance to slow down. To learn more, visit their website: https://keatscamps.com

Quest – Christopher Lake, Sask:

Quest has been busy making exciting plans for this summer! They are offering three weeks of day camps, family camps called Family Fresh Air Weekend, and just got word that they can offer overnight camp using tents! Campers will get the fun experience of having their own individual tents, set up in what they are calling TENT-A-CITY. Campers will be able to experience all traditional camping activities. To register, visit their website: http://www.questnet.ca/camps.html

To hear more about the Quest and ways you can pray for them this summer, click here.

Camp Wapiti – Grand Prairie, AB

Camp Wapiti has been adjusting their plans as things change in the province. They are excited to run some form of camp this year, whether it’s hosting families for a camp experience or being able to run some sort of program. Check out their website for updates! https://campwapiti.ca

Spotlight: CBWC Foundation

The highly publicized, extra-terrestrial duo, “Perseverance and Ingenuity” launched on July 30, 2020, and after 6+ months of space travel, both the rover and tiny, robotic, solar helicopter landed safely on Mars. On April 19, 2021, Ingenuity boasted the first, powered, controlled flight on a planet other than Earth, and the team behind Ingenuity’s 3-metre, 39-second flight, logged thousands of manpower hours and invested $80 billion to make it happen. The short but triumphant flight is widely referred to as a Wright Brothers moment and is a critical step towards the viability of future human expeditions.

At the Foundation, we continue to envision a preferred future on prevailing and unfamiliar terrains. We imagine a lasting partnership with new donors whose extravagant gifts towards our Education Fund generates perpetual aid for current and next generation leadership. We imagine re-igniting a passion of converting family values into bursaries, similar to past legacy-givers like George Segerstrom, Margaret Kellough, Lynn Symington and Jack & Catherine Farr. We imagine churches accessing financing for building expansions that increase foot traffic, or for resourcing online platforms that open church doors to those who may not ever open one. We are ready for flight!

You’ve likely heard it said, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and as the Foundation re-invents itself, we remain committed to exploring optimal ways of combining financial expertise with financial resources. As Lincoln aptly wrote, “The best way to predict the future, is to create it,” and we believe, with God’s guidance, that teamwork, perseverance and ingenuity will get us there.

 Heartland Regional Newsletter

Season of Seeding | Ministry of Presence | Heartland Baptist Women Announcment

What Are We Planting Exactly?

By Shannon Youell

Models of church planting all have their season in culture and context. This is important, as we sometimes lament the future of the church. There have been innumerable books written, studies published and anecdotal stories surrounding our malaise on the state of the church in today’s Western society. We acknowledge and grieve and often blame ‘the world’ or ‘secularism’ for this state. To counter the dilemma, we invigorate our efforts to plant more churches, or attract non-believers to our existing churches, still stuck on the notion that if we build it (better) they will come. Sometimes our ‘stuckness’ is because of our DNA of ‘what’ church is. It’s so deeply imbedded that we can have difficulty imagining church gathering/life differently. We love certain things the way they are, and there is merit in that! Tradition is built upon the richness of how we gather and live as Christians.   

‘Church Planting’ is rather recent terminology. Some of the reading on the history of church planting that I’ve done over the years suggests our current understanding of it developed right after WW2 and met the need of newly suburbanized, already-Christians missing their Methodist or Baptist churches that were in their neighbourhoods in the cities or the rural communities from which they migrated. In North America, it was also a time of rising multiplication of denominations. Juxtaposed together, denominations heeded the call of their adherents to provide suitable places of worship for Christian gathering, and teaching. Church Planting, then, was a response to what God was already doing in growing and developing neighbourhoods, as more and more people exited from city and rural communities to suburbia on the return of soldiers from the fields of war.

Four Churches on one block in NE Minneapolis  

The target demographic was those who already were Christian and wanting to be in communities of Christian faith. During that season, many families attended churches of their choice for all sorts of different reasons. There was still a common shared moral ethic and those moral ethics emanated from the Bible, whether or not one was a church-goer.
With general society having a shared understanding in those codes of morality, evangelism as a calling of the local church, in general, declined–most were already considered ‘evangelized.’ Local churches focused their activities and teaching on helping Christians live better Christian lives.    

Congregants mostly understood their role in evangelism as inviting their unsaved family and friends to come to church, where the pastors and elders would ‘get them saved.’ Most of us would never consider ourselves missionaries. Missionaries were a specially called and equipped people who are ‘sent’ to live among the people of other lands, and we were happy to support them and happy to not ‘be’ them.   

Fast forward a few models and decades into the twenty-first century. As the once presumed common moral and societal codes seemingly disintegrated around us, the spiritual needs of our neighbourhoods shifted away from the church and towards other disciplines and pursuits. The presumption of North America being Christianized nations was crumbling, even in the midst of mega-churches and continued efforts to plant new churches. While engaging some, the majority of the unchurched remained just that, and the efforts mostly resulted in already-Christianized people to change address or move back ‘home.’   

We are no longer a dominantly Christianized nation. Many who grew up in the church leave or are leaving and finding meaning in their lives in other ways. They aren’t necessarily abandoning God, they are abandoning our way of being the church. There is no doubt that our culture and context have experienced a sharp paradigm shift. I believe that when this occurs, it behooves us, the church, to pause and seek God for where and how He is working His mission in the world, because God is always at His work even when everything we thought we understood shifts.   

The missiological movement has helped us recognize that we are all missionaries, each one of us–that mission overseas to usually under-developed nations is one aspect of God’s missional activity in the world. I believe it is also starting to shift our emphasis from church growth and church planting back to evangelism and discipleship as the task of the church. Healthy growth and the planting of new churches are not sidelined, just realigned within the goal of the God’s mission.  

I think church planting and church growth are the accidental and necessary result of intentional relational evangelism and discipleship. Along the way of joining God on His mission of restoration, redemption and reconciliation to all humanity, we suddenly find ourselves becoming new communities of faith as “…the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47b)

Disaster Relief on St. Vincent

By Jenna Hanger

On April 9th, 2021 the beautiful, lush Caribbean island of St. Vincent was transformed when a volcano erupted, forcing those living in the northern part of the island to leave their homes and head south to safety. About twenty per cent of population (roughly 20,000 people) have been displaced, and likely won’t be able to return home for six months to a year (depending on when the volcano stabilizes). They are now living in shelters or with friends and family—a situation which is made complicated by the social-distancing requirements of the pandemic. The beautiful, green trees and blue water, along with thousands of homes, have been covered in a thick, heavy layer of ashfall from the violent explosions of the volcano. The once-vibrant colours have been diminished to a grey-coloured world, akin to a black and white movie. The damage done to homes in the northern part of the island is estimated to be extensive, from the cement-like weight of the ashfall—many of the roofs will have collapsed. Crop land in that area has been severely affected as well—a considerable blow to the economy, which heavily relies on agriculture.

For members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Saskatoon, the disaster is more personal than just another news story. Their connection to the island goes back several decades to when they first started taking groups on short-term mission trips to St. Vincent. On one of those trips thirty-four years ago, Brendon Gibson, a native on St. Vincent, met his future wife who was part of the mission team. For the past seventeen years, he has been on staff at Emmanuel Baptist and currently serves as the Executive Pastor. Over the course of those years, Brendon has taken five teams back to St. Vincent. Between 2010-2017, the teams worked in partnership with a local leader named Hadyn Marshall to build a church called Elim Community Church, which Hadyn now pastors. Elim is affiliated with the Gospel Halls of St. Vincent.

When the disaster struck, a formal partnership was established between the Gospel Halls and Emmanuel Baptist Church so they could set up proper channels to be able to send assistance to St. Vincent. Elim is in the safe zone, but two of their sister churches, consisting of 130 members, are in northern part of the island and have been directly affected.

The main aid Emmanuel Baptist has been able to provide is funds to support the relief effort of the Gospel Halls, through their disaster relief committee, which Hadyn chairs. Hadyn said the main focus right now is setting up the shelters for people to be able to stay long-term. Schools, church halls and community centres are being used to house people, but they need to be modified with things like showers etc. In addition to other sanitary needs, there is a plan to build privacy barriers (like cubicles) for families, as some of them are currently sleeping in open areas on cots or mattresses. The wood from these cubicles would later be repurposed to reconstruct homes, once it is safe to go back into the evacuated zone.

Emmanuel Baptist, with some help from CBWC’s disaster relief fund has been able to send $35,000 to the Gospel Halls to help. Right now, that amount has been substantial enough for their needs, but as things progress and the extend of the damage comes to light, more funds may be needed to assist the reconstruction efforts.

If you would like to contribute to the relief effort you can contact Brendon at bgibson@ebap.ca for more information, or you can send donations to Emmanuel Baptist Church, designated to St. Vincent Relief.

Welcoming The Stranger

Testimonies of Sponsoring Refugee Families 

By Faye Reynolds on behalf of JMN

I am so grateful for the many churches across the CBWC that have reached out to global refugees and offered them hope for a new life in Canada. Some churches assist Canadian newcomers to sponsor refugee family members to join them here. This is called a private sponsorship, as you are applying to sponsor a specific refugee. Mill Bay Baptist Church on Vancouver Island has a passion for assisting persecuted Pakistani Christians and has several sponsorship applications, in partnership with other churches to form a community among them. Emmanuel Iranian Church is reaching out to bring many Persian Christians to Canada, and other churches continue to sponsor Syrian refugees through the families they have previously sponsored.

Another pathway is the “Blended Visa Office Referrals” (BVOR) of our Canadian Government to bring refugees in urgent situations, who are already pre-approved for settlement in Canada, and the Government offers some funding support for these sponsorships. In 2019, White Rock Baptist church stepped out in faith to sponsor a Somalian woman with the assistance of an additional funding grant through the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto. Finances, however, were not to be the greatest challenge of this sponsorship. Fay Puddicombe quickly took Fih under her wing and began the daily commitment of helping one who speaks no English and is illiterate in her own language, but is fiercely independent, begin to navigate life in Canada. Finding accommodation with those having Somalian connections was helpful, but the learning curve for banking, language and other life skills was a huge challenge. Fay quickly realized that it would take much more than 12 months to help Fih get on her feet. Then COVID restrictions complicated the ability to access language classes and other support services. Those offering accommodation soon found Fih not the easiest person to live with, and her housing arrangements changed several times, often without Fay finding out until weeks later. But she persevered in caring for Fih, long past the end of the official sponsorship and recently wrote:

“Well, I feel like a mom after her chick leaves the nest. (Worried, hopeful, teary, relieved, and more!) Today I handed Fih the file of paperwork I was keeping for her rent/expense money for March and April, and the bank card for her account. She will need someone else to help her with it, and I hope she has honourable friends…. It’s not easy helping someone when you can’t communicate, but her smile says a lot. When we left and said we would visit again, that we care about her, she smiled and through the translator said that she cares for us too.” 

This is agape love in action, and I give thanks for those who have given sacrificially for the sake of another.

Wendy and Peter Burnham had the opportunity through CBM to travel to Lebanon and became connected with a Christian refugee family during their visit. They came home with a burden to help this family come to Canada and began the process of sponsorship, with the help of their home church, Altadore Baptist. The family arrived in March 2020, one week before the COVID lock down took place. Suddenly, all of the immigration support services were closed, and language assessment tools inaccessible, which hindered the ability to begin language classes not yet established online. Canadian Government offices, which process Permanent Resident Cards, was closed—making everything more difficult for the family to get established in Calgary. Wendy and Peter, along with friends and many others, persevered in assisting the children to get into school, get their Benchmark assessment and into language school, finally obtain their PR card, banking established, health cards, dental and medical care. In the end of their 12-month sponsorship, Wendy writes:

They made out well in their apartment, with their two children in online Catholic School. The dad worked for the last half of the year in a construction/demolition/painting job with some fellow Arabic speakers, and the mom studied hard at her English course and made great strides in speaking English.

This family missed social interaction with family and friends very much through the year, as we all have. They decided they would, at the end of their sponsorship, move to Windsor where they have an aunt, uncle, and friends from the Iraqi village they ran from in 2014. And so, today we said goodbye at the airport. While we were sad to say goodbye, we could sense their anticipation as they moved to this new life with a community they know. Such is Canada, that persecuted people from a bombed-out village in Iraq can move to Canada and return to the warmth of their village. But now the village is in an area of Windsor, with safety for them all and opportunity for their children. 

Sponsorship is not always easy, but graciously rewarding, and is one way that we as citizens of God’s kingdom can continue to welcome the stranger and offer a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus. Perhaps God is calling your church community to do the same.

Kurios – A CBWC Gap Year Experience

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Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter May 2021

The One, True Superhero

I like watching superhero movies. Whether it is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Ironman or the like, something draws me to them. I love the imagination it has taken first to write the script. Then again, I marvel at the technology and photographic instrumentation it takes to bring to life that which was in the author’s mind. Truthfully, some of it is the mental escape these films provide, the privilege of getting lost in a world that does not really exist. (By the way, I can be a sucker for the average ‘chick flick’ as well.)

The annual season recognizing the Resurrection of Jesus has just passed at the time of this writing. In that story, it seems to me that all the traits of superheroes are lacking when compared to Jesus. He appears in a room while not coming through a doorway. He ascends into heaven. He transfigures while with Peter, James and John. He passes through crowds without being touched. He expels demons. He makes bread and fish multiply. He is able to kill a tree by talking to it. He knows what people are thinking, even when at a distance. Superhero myths might copy some of these abilities, but they cannot match Jesus. Even if those myths have a superhero come back to life, it is obvious they will have to die yet again. Truthfully, imaginative superheroes cannot compete with omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence.

Movie writers usually miscast representatives of the Church. They will show the plot where the villain is a vain tele-evangelist wrongfully raking in monies for themselves. They often mock the average Christian or church attender (Homer Simpson’s neighbour comes to mind). Then they will borrow some concepts from Scripture and bend them in a manner that is quite unbiblical (angels do not get their wings when a bell rings).

With our Saviour so supreme over human imagination, how is it the efforts of the Church seem so common and less dynamic in the minds of most people around us? How is it that the mystery of the Creator of the universe living within us, is not the story noticed and told most often? The message of God’s great love, pardon and mercy does not yet seem to resonate as profoundly as it deserves within the average resident on earth.

What happened to the passion I had when I/we first believed? Is it the distractions? Is it the schedule? Is it a divided loyalty? Can I—can we—become what our neighbourhoods need at this time of uncertainty? Will I/we care enough? Will I/we make sacrifices as God might lead? I think for us to regain the ‘superhero’ quality within us, which should be shining, it will require us to ask these important questions and take them seriously.

Our theology is lacking if we only go for what we can find in popular psychology. If Jesus made a difference in us, then we should allow Him to make us different. We do not believe in an unrecognizable ‘higher power’ but in Jesus, the Saviour of the World. Isn’t this Superhero enough for us, for the world? Of course He is!

-Your co-worker, Dennis

Weathering the COVID Virus

We have been more than a year under COVID-19 restrictions. To my knowledge, there have been infections in some members at Zion Baptist, at Bonavista Baptist, and at Shiloh Baptist to name but a few. The Roadhouse family at Gull Lake Centre has also encountered this infectious disease. Beyond these few stories, there are numerous individuals who came in contact with a potential link, therefore needing to isolate themselves for the required number of days.

Rumours persist that restrictions in Alberta will be lifted at the end of July. That is not a sure date, as many factors will need to be assessed. The number of people taking the vaccine is the greatest measure by which governments will make judgments as to when we can circulate freely.

This has been a tough season for congregations, pastors, church boards or even denominations in the process through the middle of this health crisis. I have heard from several pastors who are facing the stress from congregants pushing one agenda or another. There are the maskers and the anti-maskers. There are the vaccinators and the non-vaccinators. There are the ‘Come as you are’ and the ‘Don’t worry about the regulations’, versus the larger majority that wish for the church to follow the regulations as much as possible. It is tough to be a leader and a procedure manager within these settings. What makes it more difficult is the lack of ability to share, in-person, the reason behind decisions in a more present manner. Emails and signage only go so far and do not express the agony and level of thought process that church boards and pastors have gone through to make decisions. Those decisions relate to what to do currently, and then again, how to plan going forward.

Everyone is looking for this season to end. Everyone is hopeful for a return to what we saw as normal. There have been victims during this epidemic. Some have lost jobs, lost investments, lost meaningful friendships, and lost privileges. Others have benefitted financially. Others have made gains through increased time and attention to marriage and family. Others have taken stock of their goals and priorities.

No one knows where we will be a year from now. There could be more calamity or very little. There could be prosperity or a challenge to the financial markets. There could be a rush to re-enter church sanctuaries, or quite the opposite. Whatever is to come, we need to remember that our God will never leave or forsake us. He is always present and everywhere present.

May God give you wisdom in your own setting!

-Your co-worker, Dennis

Dayle and Dawn Medgett from Westview Baptist Heading into Retirement

On April 8th the Calgary cluster of CBWC Ministers were invited to join a Zoom conference to hear from and celebrate with Dayle and Dawn Medgett, who are retiring from Westview Baptist in Calgary after a couple decades of ministry. Dawn noted that she will miss ‘doing life with people’, which means sharing in the joys and challenges of the church family. Dayle referred to the ups and downs of his tenure at Westview, but that he felt he was leaving the church in a positive space. He was pleased to leave the church where they have connected more strongly with their community, where they became more multicultural, and where they have reached a place where their debts have been paid. God has blessed both them and the church during their time at Westview. The couple are moving to Campbell River, BC to be closer to grandkids and to sailing.

Coming to Westview in June as the new Senior Pastor will be Garry Koop from Steinbach, Manitoba. Also coming in June is Hanneke Boersema to take up the mantle that was held by Dawn Medgett in Children and Family Ministries.

Spring is Here!

While Covid restrictions have locked us up at home more often, it is good to notice what is right around us. This beautiful photo of a chickadee in flight was taken by my daughter Cara in our backyard recently. For our family, winter seemed longer than usual, partly because of Cara’s chemo and radiation treatments. Her prognosis is very good and her attitude amid the challenge has been exceptional, especially with her friends and faith intact. God has been so good. May all of us see the good around us, even when the challenges are also great.

-Dennis

Calvary Community Church Yellowknife

When the pandemic hit, plans were already in place at Calvary Community Church Yellowknife to upgrade our facilities so that those with mobility issues could access our building. We had already completed phase one—installing a ramp, rails and power doors. Phase two was to install the elevator lift that could go from the basement, to the foyer and sanctuary. Phase three was to reconstruct the washrooms in the basement so we could have an accessible washroom. The accessibility project was due to the ongoing generosity of churchgoers and the work of our property coordinator, Vicky Johnston, who oversaw the work of contractors and applied for federal funding from the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Overall, this project cost about $250,000 with $150,000 granted through the federal government.

So, when we could not access our building in the early months of the pandemic, construction was taking place inside of the church in order that, in due time, others would have access. We also thought it was an opportune time to replace our large 45plus-year-old windows with ones that are more energy efficient and that also qualified for an energy rebate.

Many community groups utilize the church, and it is great that in the future no one needs to be left out without access to the building. Church services, events, fellowship gatherings in the basement around food, piano recitals and other events are now accessible. We look forward to gathering together again soon—restriction free!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Making Connections May 2021

A Major Crisis Facing the Church

Leah stared at her husband as he sat on the couch—his hands clasped, head down—as she tried to digest what he just told her.

“How long?” she finally asked.

“Since I was fourteen.” He still couldn’t look at her.

His words froze her. Fourteen. The implications of that stole her breath away. The entire time she had known him, through their whole relationship and marriage, her husband had been battling a porn addiction, and she had no idea. The only reason it was coming out now was because several other close people in their life had been confessing that they were struggling with their own addiction. It was staggering. Christian men she had respected and had known her entire life were suddenly saying they had been struggling with this for years. It had rocked her to her very core—her foundation felt shifted. Leah had told her husband just yesterday how relieved she was that he, at least, wasn’t among them.

How wrong she was. How foolish. That’s what really hurt—how naïve she had been about this whole issue.

“I’m so sorry.” Her husband said. Then he began to cry. He told her how a friend had introduced him to it when he was a teenager, how it had quickly consumed him. He tried to get help from his youth pastor, and eventually his father, who had told him he would “grow out of it.” For years he struggled with it alone, doing well for months, only to relapse and hate himself for it. The guilt and the shame were heavy and ever present. He had no idea so many others struggled, no idea how common it was.

For Leah, the realization of how common the issue of pornography was wasn’t a comfort. It was another blow. This was common? Why wasn’t it being talked about then? Why did her husband think he was abnormal, and struggled alone and ashamed for so long? Why did women not have support for one another to handle this? Why wasn’t it mentioned in pre-martial counselling, in the church, at marriage groups, in men’s groups—beyond the standard ‘Don’t do it, it’s bad,’—when the truth is that the issue is beyond telling people not to. People are watching, they are addicted, and they need help to get out of it. Leah felt like she just got initiated into a secret club that everyone knew about, but no one discussed.

Leah and her husband’s story isn’t at all an uncommon one. In fact, it’s the communality that is exactly the problem. Dan Gowe, an addictions counsellor and member of West Point Grey Baptist, has been working with people, particularly men, for twenty years who have porn addictions. He says, with great authority and passion, that the problem of porn addiction is, without question, one of the biggest crises facing the church today, and the least talked about.

It is common knowledge that porn addictions exist, but it is far less common to acknowledge just how many Christians struggle with this issue. Throughout his ministry, Dan has found that young Christian men, in particular, are extremely susceptible to becoming addicted. It only takes seeing it one time for many men to become hooked. The age of exposure is also getting younger and younger. A lot of the men in the program Dan runs started viewing porn as young as eleven years old. With the widespread use of technology, particularly cellphones, it has become impossible to shield young people from being exposed to it. If they aren’t viewing it on their own devices, it is almost guaranteed they will see it on their friends’ phones at some point.

Several years ago, Dan’s ministry, simply called Men’s Group, conducted an informal survey of one of the most prominent, well-known churches in Vancouver. Out of 170 men, 144 of them admitted they struggled with a porn addiction. They also found that 30 percent of women admitted they, too, had an addiction.

There are several reasons the church isn’t addressing this issue as it should. The biggest one being there’s a massive stigma attached to this type of addiction. This is exactly why it is so important that church leaders step up to the plate and acknowledge this issue. People need to know that they have a trusted place to turn to where they can go to get clean.

The message Dan wants most to convey is that porn addiction is widespread amongst Christian men, pastors and leaders. A plague has infected the church. They are not alone. There is real freedom and hope in Jesus in overcoming lust/porn addiction; those who have become addicted can experience and know the joy and peace of God that they have known in the past.

How does this happen? Meeting weekly with other Christian men in Christ-centred accountability meetings is essential. Strong , supportive, relationships develop. As men gain continuous months, then years, of clean time, they are able to help the newcomers. As men daily memorize scripture, in time, their brains begin to change and their souls are strengthened. As they learn to “take every thought captive,” and resist lustful thoughts in Jesus’ name, they experience the truth of His promise that with every temptation He will “make a way of escape.”

For the men that come to these groups, Dan said it will be the most important meeting they go to all week, because it is the start of being set free from a dark addiction that affects every part of their lives.

“The only way a guy can walk in freedom is if they totally reorient their lives to the Lord Jesus. It can’t be church on Sunday and then maybe a 15-minute devotional once a day. It’s got to be much, much deeper than that. A real heart-felt, total turn to Jesus and walking with Him,” Dan said.

“We are at your service to help start support groups in your local area. We have found this relatively simple to do. There is no financial charge for this. It is our joy to freely pass on what has been freely given to us in Jesus’ name. Please feel free to contact me via our web page (linked below.) We can arrange a Zoom meeting with several of the leaders to share their testimonies of what Jesus has done for them and answer any questions.”

We encourage pastors to reach out to Dan and the Men’s Group through their website: https://mensgroup.ca , check out the powerful video testimonies and take the first step to helping those struggling in your congregations. These groups need to be everywhere; the fight needs to be fought in every church.

 Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

The One, True Superhero | Weathering the COVID Virus | Dayle and Dawn Medgett Retirement | & More

This month for our Church Planting blog, we are sharing an article written by my friend and colleague Reverend Cid Latty—the Congregational Development Associate for our sister denomination, Canadian Baptist of Ontario & Quebec.  Cid hails recently from Great Britain where he was involved in planting Café Churches. This is another example of innovative ways we can join the Spirit at work around us wherever we live, work, play and pray. ~ Rev. Shannon Youell, Director of Church Planting CBWC

Could the principles of cafe church transform your community?

By Rev. Cid Latty

The now almost-legendary TED talk by Simon Sinek about the essentiality of understanding ‘the why?’ is worth considering before you contemplate any new venture, especially one that will affect the lives of people.[1] The idea is simple, if you are strong about the ‘why’, you are clear about the ‘what’ and it’s easier to do the ‘how.’ Therefore, when thinking about micro-church, or a version of them like café church, we must begin where any good seminary student begins—with good, biblically-based theology (the why) so that we can work out in our practice (the what & the how). Thankfully, I don’t have to use much space here developing a theology of place or the repercussions of atonement as this has been done extensively elsewhere[2]. However, let me summarize how I read a key scripture that I see as giving us a strong enough ‘why’ for the what that I’ll illustrate in the form of café church later on.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in John 1: 35-38 where we read:

The next day, John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

I call this (somewhat humorously) the least preached-on verses in the Bible. Why would the disciples want to see where Jesus lived? Notice first the context is one where years of prophetic silence have just been shattered by the loud call of the uncommon revivalist, John the Baptist. His declaration is simple; Jesus, the carpenter’s son, the one from obscurity, was actually the long-awaited Messiah. He is the bringer in of a new epoch who could put right the defragmentation of the cosmos. This was no small matter. It would be life-transforming for everyone who believed. Now hear the words again of the disciples, who have just been confronted with the culmination of Israel’s history. They say, ‘Where are you staying?’ Yes, let me say that again. On the backdrop of a huge paradigm shift, they enquire, ‘Where are you staying???’ This sounds like a strange question, for sure. You see, I think I might have asked a different question in that moment—maybe something like ‘How will you take away our sins?’ or ‘Explain to me what Daniel meant when he saw the Son of Man?’ or better still, ‘How will God rule the world when the culmination of the end times occurs?’ No, they don’t ask our good theological questions. Their question is all about hospitality, locality and humanity. In my paraphrase they are asking ‘Can we come over for a coffee?’ or ‘Where is your house?’ Or even ‘Do you live like we live with the same mod cons?’ And it’s this line of questioning (not the one I would have) that John gives credit for seeing ‘His glory’ (John 1:14) because the one who was in the ‘closest relationship with the Father has made Him known.’ (John 1:18) It seems that through the ability of Jesus to be relatable, accessible, giving people a view into the normal parts of His life, they were able to connect with God. Now it follows that our good theology will ask ‘If God is like this how should we behave?’ Our theology will be seen in praxis. What we do as a result of what we see in God will be crucial. So, any café church, or micro-church for that matter, will need to incorporate being relatable, hospitable and accessible if it is to reflect the way of Jesus.

This was definitely the basis for what began in 2006 when we started a café church in Welwyn Garden City (a commuter town just outside London, UK). Our question was, “How could we incarnate the gospel in the café culture around us?” We could see how a thriving café culture was rapidly developing in our town. Coffee shops were opening up everywhere, and this was also replicated all over the UK. In fact, a staggering 50% of the UK adult population at the time visited a coffee shop (something that was unheard of before this time). Our own church congregation were a part of this café culture, with many of them using coffee shops as ‘third places’ between home and work. With this in mind, we asked our local Costa Coffee[3] if we could develop a community in their store and were amazed when they said yes.

What we planned then was a themed event with quizzes, a short talk, discussion and live music—all with the added benefit of being served by friendly, coffee shop staff. Our purpose was to help people engage with issues like debt, parenting or the environment from a faith perspective. We called it ‘coffee with a conscience.’ People would not only be invited to enjoy a lively evening of chat, hope and humour, but we would offer them resources and prayer to help them take action after the event was over. All this would form the basis of our hospitable community.

What we ran on that first night proved to be so popular that I began discussions with Costa Coffee management, and a few café churches were piloted in other stores. Due to the success of these, Cafechurch Network was formed. This registered charity was later given the ‘OK’ to put a café church in every suitable Costa Coffee store in the UK. Over the next ten years, we would help to start more than one hundred café churches all over the UK.

Running a café church in a main street coffee shop was a win-win for the church and coffee shop. Stores benefit as café church helped them to feel part of the local community. The church would benefit as people who might not enter a more traditional church setting interacted with people who did. This may be one of the first steps for some towards going to church. For others they may feel that café church in a main street location was the kind of community they wanted to belong to. This then challenged us to re-imagine how we could help people in a café context move forward in their faith journey.

When developing a café church (or a micro-church), one of the challenges can be the word ‘church’ itself. It can be a loaded word for some people as they may have either misconceptions about what it means or real experiences of pain in a church context that could be off-putting. While running a café church, we often found ourselves having to reassure people that what we were doing was inclusive and not accusative in tone and texture. We therefore found that we, ourselves, had to learn how to communicate differently in a café context. For instance, while it may be acceptable in churches to expect people to sit patiently through whole services, offering only polite contributions and encouraging sentiments at the end, in a main street café context this is not the case. People come ready to talk with each other and are familiar with connecting in a relaxed environment. If the subject is not engaging and the talk is monotonous, people will begin to talk among themselves and the whole evening will be lost. I would often say to café church leaders ‘whatever you do, don’t be boring.’ It is better to keep it lively and make a mistake (correcting yourself later) than to be mind-numbingly dull and risk jeopardizing the whole meeting. Part of the thrill of serving in this context is that the content needs to be transformational, not just informational. We need to be an engaging presence, not just a welcoming one.[4]

The questions I ask today in Canada are ‘What do people enjoy doing?’ ‘Where do they enjoy meeting each other?’ ‘Where do conversations happen?’ ‘Where do people yearn for hospitality?’ ‘How can we address the pandemic of loneliness?’ If you can think of an answer to these questions then you are a step away from taking the principles of café church (being accessible, hospitable, a relatable community) and applying them to your situation. Our Canadian adventure could be a similar one to my UK story because the needs are the same, even though the cultural expressions may be somewhat different. Here is a leader’s guide that will help you run an online café church:  https://baptist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/cafechurch-at-home-leaders-guide.pdf .

If you can dream about the needs around you for a while, I’m sure that you can also translate your thoughts into doing something good to transform what you see. And as Paul said to the Ephesians, God is ‘able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’ Our first step is to begin with our own creative imagination so that we can step into the opportunities with our actions. Café church is a micro-church expression that you could do today. The decision is yours. By the way, I can hear my community asking me one question, and if you listen closely, you’ll hear your neighbourhood asking you the same question, too. The question is this, ‘Where are you staying?’ What will your answer be?

Rev. Cid Latty Clatty@baptist.ca 

Congregational Development Associate, Canadian Baptists of Ontario & Quebec

———–

[1] You can watch the talk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA 

[2] I will not offer a list of books and resources as these are readily available and almost without limit; however, a surprisingly good book that summaries the effects of the incarnation is ‘A Community Called Atonement’ by Scot McKnight, Abingdon, 2007.

[3] Costa Coffee had, at the time, 900 chain stores of coffee shops similar in style to Starbucks. Costa Coffee is owned by Coca Cola today.

[4] There are some excellent points on how to do this in the book ‘How to Revive Evangelism’ by Craig Springer.

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Copyright ©  2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.