BCY Regional Newsletter September 2023

Reconciliation & Healing Across the World

By Laurie MacKay, Church Office Administrator/Retired Pastor, First Baptist Church, Vernon, BC

With Karen Forman, Media & Communications Manager, Editor/Journalist, The Pulse magazine, Presbyterian Church of Australia (NSW)

The phone rang, the caller ID showing, “Tennessee.” I was in the church office on a Saturday afternoon, normally one of my days off. Who would be calling our little church from Tennessee? Was it a scam? Little did I realize where that phone call would lead.

When I answered, a woman’s voice with a bit of a southern accent said, “I know this sounds like a lot to ask of a church on the other side of the continent, but we’re wondering if there is someone there who could visit and pray with some dear friends of ours from Australia who are in the Vernon hospital. They don’t know anyone there.”

I took down the details—the mother Karen and her daughter Gabi, who is in the same room with her—their phone number, and the room number, and assured her that someone would go to see them. Of course, that someone turned out to be me, as Randy was on vacation at the time.

I hadn’t visited anyone in the hospital since my wife passed away from two strokes last July. I was anxious, the memories still raw, compounded by older memories four years before but no less raw, of our daughter’s body, cold and lifeless, after a traffic accident. I was so worried that in my deep grief I may not actually be of any help to these people from across the globe.

Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door to their room and was invited in. I had no idea how much opening the door to that room was going to change all our lives.

Continue reading…

Update from FBC Vancouver

Due to our Heart for the City Project, our congregation has gathered, worshipped, prayed, and served in 27 locations for the past two years and three months—most of it during the global COVID-19 pandemic!

Despite the challenges associated with having to relocate, adjust, and readjust, God’s grace has been deeply evident in the resilience of our congregation. The stories of pillars of cloud by day, fire by night, manna, and quail have become our story. More than ever, we are learning to trust and keep our eyes on Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who is leading us and changing us.

Our summer has been full for us—the good kind of full.

We celebrated formative milestones like baptism, membership welcome, and graduation. We participated in the mission of God through meals with our street friends, hosting neighbourhood camps, BBQ gathering with internationals, facilitating a Sanctuary Mental Health course for young adults, and serving alongside our Log Church friends in Onion Lake Cree Nation Reserve. We rejoiced over our new partnership with Burnaby Counselling Group to continue our work of providing mental health support in the city, which has been a priority of ours for the past four decades.

Additionally, while the transition saddened us, we were given the gift of commissioning Filipe Balieiro, who has been with us for over six years, to serve at our sister church, West Point Grey Baptist Church, as their Lead Pastor.

As a church, our story started in 1886 at the back of a pub known as the Blair Saloon, located at the intersection of Abbott and Water. Leading up to the construction of our very first church building—a humble 24’ x 35’ frame building on 432 Main Street—by 1887, we had already moved twice due to a citywide fire. There was a time when we worshipped out in the open as we were without a building. Talk about displacement!

In 1911, after several building projects and displacements, God planted us at the heart of the city, at the intersection of Nelson and Burrard. And now, over 112 years later, in the middle of our extended displacement, we are reminded again of God’s intentionality in physically placing us here. More than ever, we sense that where we are situated here not as a byproduct of chance. Rather, it is integral to the raison d’être—the God-given purpose—of our church to reflect the Good News of Jesus Christ in our neighbourhood.

We anticipate more changes in the coming months! However, knowing that our Good Shepherd is leading us, we are resolved to lean further into the exhortation of Colossians 3:12-15.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Keats Camp Update

It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of summer. At Keats Camps, we have welcomed over 1,000 campers thus far to have a memorable camping experience, rooted in the love of God. It has been incredible to see God moving in the lives of young people, many of whom were introduced to Jesus for the very first time. That really is the heart behind everything we do. Creating opportunities for memories and new relationships are absolutely a priority, but most importantly, sharing the good news of the Jesus Christ is what is truly going to change lives.

What are the campers saying?

“Wow, our kids came back raving about Keats today. They had the absolute BEST time and are missing it terribly already.”

“He had THE most AMAZING week (his words).”

“When I picked up my child, the first thing they said to me was, ‘I wish camp was longer!’”

“My son returned home from camp a tired but very happy kid. He had a great time and enjoyed all the fun activities and electronic-free environment! He’s already looking forward to next year :)”

These are just a few of many testimonials from camper parents this summer. Whether it be an exhilarating time on the waterfront, the ropes course, or the skate park, or whether it be relaxing and enjoying an ice cream from our store, or sitting on the front field with friends staring at the ocean, campers and staff have had a plethora of vessels available to them to have the time of their lives.

Seeing months and months of planning and preparation come to fruition over the last several weeks has been such a joy. Our year-round staff have continued to be a huge blessing to the ministry of Keats Camps, they are the true unsung heroes. Our summer staff, consisting of over 100 people, have brought energy, passion, and love to our community, and showered it onto every camper that comes into our care.

While the summer is coming to an end, we’re just getting started in this era of Keats. We look forward to finishing strong, getting some rest, and then buckling in to begin preparing to welcome even more campers next year.

Thank you to this wonderful community for all your prayer and support.

Jordan Chong, Executive Director

Comings and Goings in the BCY Region:

A warm welcome to Filipe Balieiro, the new Lead Pastor at West Point Grey Baptist Church. 

Filipe graduated with a Master of Divinity from Regent College, and he also has an MBA from Fundacao Getulio Vargas (Brazil) with a decade of experience in the business sector. He has served in various ministry roles as an Associate Pastor, Youth Ministry/Adult Education, and Director of International Ministries. Filipe is an avid soccer player and foodie. He is married to Jozilda, and together, they have two children—Antonio and Eva.

Moving on: A heartfelt thank you for your ministry! Wishing you God’s richest blessing for the next chapter in your life.

Ben Ewert (First Baptist Church Vancouver)

Scott Hemenway (New Life Community Baptist Church)

Neil Jongbloed (Living Hope Fellowship)

Alvin Jordon (Trinity Baptist Church)

Bob Jones (West Point Grey Baptist Church)

Tom Mei (West Point Grey Baptist Church)

Upcoming Events

BC & Yukon Baptist Women | 2023 Autumn Celebration

View event details and download registration form here!

 

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter June 2023

We warmly welcome the new pastors in the BCY Region:

Daniel McDougall – Interim Team Leader at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria:

My new role as Emmanuel Baptist’s Associate Pastor/Team Leader (Interim) is a kind of revisiting of my role as Interim Lead Pastor there from May 2012 to August 2013.

Although I was born the fifth of seven children in a quite nondescript family in northern Ontario, as I grew up, I slowly came to realize that I was surrounded by events and people who were quite noteworthy:

• My father was Principal at Sudbury High School and had Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek as a student.

• My mother later co-taught a 6th grade elementary school class in Oakville (ON) alongside a fellow named Steve Smith, who later gained some fame/notoriety as Possum Lodge’s ‘Red Green’ (and Steve’s own wife Morag was my 8th grade teacher in another school).

• My maternal grandmother was a longtime friend of Canada’s Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson and they often painted landscapes together (several of which my siblings own to this day).

I was privileged to serve as Teaching Assistant (at Regent College, Vancouver) to both J.I. Packer and Michael Green. I served in a post-graduate editorial capacity on some of Eugene Peterson’s articles and devotional works. From 1999 to 2003, I served as Director of Ministries at Schloss Mittersill, a gorgeous castle in the Austrian Alps.

I’m delightfully married to Sandi, my bride of now-over-40-years. Although I myself came to faith through the influence of my third-year chemistry professor at the University of Guelph, Sandi can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t fully believe in the rescuing Jesus. Our differing (but complementary) experiences have been hugely helpful in our mutual ministry among the University of Victoria’s International Graduate Students.

I’m grateful that Sandi and I work daily among international graduate students. At now age 66, I’m keenly aware that our ‘rank’ has risen over the years, and we’re often seen as the ‘wise elders’ (whereas if I served as a Youth Pastor, my ‘bloom’ would fade and I’d probably be regarded as somewhat ‘creepy’).

I love to do woodwork, plan and cook meals (in a wide variety of genres), lecture/preach about real-life biblical themes, simply connect with folks, canoe, go off the grid (even without my wristwatch), and simply revel in the company of my beloved wife and two daughters—who have their own stories to tell about God’s grace and their involvement in the arts and the business world.

Jenny Penner – Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Vernon:

I remember in grade two I got 2 Bibles. I read them both. In grade four, I wrote my first sermon. At age 16, I decided I wanted to be a Youth Pastor. I went to Briercrest from 1989-1994 and graduated with BA in Biblical Studies. Over the years, I have worked in various capacities in and throughout Europe, California and BC with faith-based ministries.

In 1998 I moved to Vernon with my husband Marvin. Together we have 2 girls Ruby, who is 19 years old, and Zola, who is 21 years old. Together with Marvin we have been involved with Skatelife Canada with skateboarders for over 25 years. Over the past 24 years, I was a bike mechanic. I become certified as a snowboard, paddle board, and Nordic ski instructor. I have utilized each of these sports to serve the schools throughout North Okanagan.

I have recently landed at First Baptist Church with an opportunity to lead their youth. I am passionate about the voices of youth being heard, and providing opportunities for each of us to explore the wonder, freedom, and joy that Jesus gives. I am excited, curious, and yielding to God with this new role as a Pastor.

You can find me either biking, roller-skating, skateboarding, paddle boarding, skiing, or at our local coffee shop—Ratio. Life is good, and God is great!

Grace Wulff – Pastoral Care Pastor at First Baptist Church Vernon:

I have transitioned from the Hospital Chaplaincy ministry, where I served for 11 years, to Pastoral Care (part-time) at FBC Vernon. My role and ministry include teaching, pastoral care, art, and prayer at FBC Vernon and throughout our city.

Christopher Chu – Associate Pastor at Grace Community Church:

Hi CBWC Family,

My name is Christopher, and I’m honored to share with you a bit about myself and the ministry God has called me into. I grew up in Vancouver, BC to first generation immigrants from Hong Kong. I had the privilege of growing up with seven foster siblings and an older brother. I currently live in Burnaby with my wife of seven years, Sunnie.

After coming to know the Lord at 16, I went to TWU, Regent, and Carey for my training. I spent a brief time in the maritime industry at BC Ferries, but the call to ministry was too strong. I love anything to do with the sea, sailing, fishing, and boating. You might also see me driving around Vancouver or at campsites in my Caribbean Green Westfalia.

My passion to serve in ministry is especially strong in theological education, preaching, and spiritual direction. I’m particularly influenced by my mentor Jim Houston and the love of the ascetic movement in the early church. I’m keen to know the people I serve personally by never being ‘too busy’ and encouraging them in their walk with God. My previous ministry experiences have been with children, youth, and families, although I love preaching God’s Word and teaching!

I currently serve at Grace Community Baptist Church in Killarney, and I love serving there. The people are so friendly and inviting. There is so much diversity in the church, and I’m excited to see how God will be working in and through the church.

Feel Free to Connect!

Mason Jennings – Interim Youth and Young Adults Pastor at Gateway Baptist Church:

Mason Jennings is Gateway Baptist Church’s Interim Youth Pastor. Mason was born and raised in Victoria, BC with his father, mother, and younger sister. Mason has been part of Gateway for over 13 years and has been serving in Gateway’s youth ministry for 7 years. 

Mason has worked as a summer intern for Gateway for three summers and has completed school practicums and many projects at Gateway. Mason has a passion for youth and preteen ministries and is excited to see the gospel preached and taught to students at Gateway. Mason has seriously considered vocational ministry as a calling, so when the opportunity came to test the waters of youth ministry in an interim role, he was excited to see how God would use that time and opportunity. As of now, Mason plans on completing his degree in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria and then aims to continue to masters-level Biblical or theology studies.

Simon Burin – Pastor at New Life Community Baptist Church:

Simon began his working career as an electrical engineer but after a short time, felt called into ministry. He met his wife, Irene, while attending Capernwray in England, and together they have two daughters—Alycia, who is 10, and Amelie, who is 8. Simon has his master’s degree and has worked as a Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, 

and was lead Pastor at Bethany City Church in Sunderland, UK, from 2018-2022.

In September of 2022, a friend sent him a job posting for a Lead Pastor position on Vancouver Island, and although the deadline had passed, Simon and Irene both felt a strong call to apply. They spent a week on the Island in mid-November meeting the congregation and teaching, and Simon was affirmed as Lead Pastor by the members of New Life Baptist Church in Duncan on November 30.

After months of sorting through all the logistics of immigration, housing, and shipping four humans, two dogs, and a household halfway across the world, the family landed on the Island on March 9 and Simon officially started as Lead Pastor on March 28.

He and his family are loving island life, where apparently the sky is bluer, and the sun is brighter. They have been busy exploring their new home and getting to know their new church family at New Life.

Farewell:

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Gary Hockridge, for his ministry as Associate Pastor at Ward Memorial Baptist Church. May God’s richest blessing rest on him as he enters the next chapter in his ministry.

Pastor Ingrid White’s Retirement Celebration – 40 years serving the community and church! View photos.

Praise Report from Vancouver Chin Baptist Church:

The Chin people demonstrate a deep devotion to our faith, establishing worship spaces wherever we settle. With a fervent desire to secure a permanent church building in Vancouver, the Chin people embarked on a faith journey.

In 2002, a few Chin families began migrating to Vancouver, BC, Canada. Initially, we conducted weekly worship services in the 

family home, taking turns to provide a gathering place. Subsequently, we rented a small church at Knight Street and King Edward to accommodate our growing congregation. As membership continued to increase, we later moved to Grace International Baptist Church, which we rented for our worship services.

Recognizing the high cost of real estate in Vancouver, the Chin community remained resolute and steadfast in our belief that God would guide and provide us with a suitable church building someday. We established a building committee, tasked with raising funds for the building project and searching for a suitable property. Simultaneously, church members consistently made financial contributions, faithfully sowing seeds toward realizing our dream. The Women’s Ministry earnestly sought divine intervention during their weekly Saturday prayer gatherings, supplicating to acquire a church building.

In 2011, the congregation made faith-based commitments, pledging financial contributions for the building project until 2020. Additionally, the church diligently saved surplus funds each year, further augmenting our building fund.

Engaging the services of real estate professionals, we explored various properties. Though we encountered challenges such as limited space, inadequate parking, and exorbitant prices, our faith remained unyielding. We always have hope. Ultimately, our unwavering trust in God bore fruit when, on December 8, 2021, we acquired a church building located at 76 Jamieson Court, New Westminster, for $5.2 million.

The Chin community uses the acquired building for various purposes—including women and youth ministry worship services, Sunday school classes, meetings, and prayer gatherings. With plans to enhance and upgrade the facility, our aim is to fully transition all our activities and services to this new found spiritual home. The Chin community at Vancouver Chin Baptist Church sincerely acknowledges the manifold blessings bestowed upon us by the grace and goodness of God.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter March 2023

Ministry News

Introducing New Pastors:

Mr. Silas Kittikundamrongpon, Youth & Young Adults Pastor at Trinity Baptist Church
My name is Silas Kittikundamrongpon. I was born in Chiang Rai, a small town in Northern Thailand. I was born into a Christian family. My father was a pastor, and my mother was a school teacher. I also have one younger sister.

Looking back, growing up in a devout Buddhist country taught me much, laying the foundation for the future in terms of cultivating relationships and sharing the gospel with people of different faiths. My family and I moved to Australia in 2004, and I was baptized there in my teenage years. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature in 2018. I moved to Vancouver to pursue education in Theology at Regent College, graduating with a master’s degree in Theology at the end of 2022.

I joined Trinity Baptist Church in early 2023 as a pastor of youth and young adults. I love the scene in Revelation 7 depicting the multitude of every nation, tribe, people, and language coming together before the throne of God. I see Trinity as a small glimpse of that; people of different backgrounds coming together in unity. I enjoy the presence of the younger generations, cultivating relationships and growing deeper together in the knowledge of the Lord. I am fascinated by contemporary youth culture, including its many opportunities and challenges. I am excited to see and participate in what the Lord is doing in such a time in history. I enjoy reading and collecting books. I am in the process of building my own library in my study.

Dr. Luz Figueroa, Family Pastor at West Point Grey Baptist Church
Dr. Luz Figueroa is the founder and director of Entre Niños—a ministry with global reach. Luz has a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation from Carey Theological College. She also has the Master in Divinity equivalent and a Doctorate in Theology and Leadership from Bethel Seminary. She has served as a children’s and family ministry pastor, speaker, writer, 

and academic professor. She is passionate about education and the Christian spiritual formation of the family. She resides in Vancouver, BC, with her husband José. They have two married children and are the proud grandparents of two of the sweetest granddaughters and one adorable grandson.

We welcome back these pastors who are serving in an Interim role:
Rev. Awlywn Balnave at Berea Baptist Church
Rev. Bob Bahr at West Vancouver Baptist Church

Fond Farewells:
Pastor Mike Oshiro for 15 years of ministry at The Forge Church
Rev. Chris Kibble Interim minister at West Vancouver Baptist Church

We were saddened to hear the news that Heritage Mountain Community Church voted on the closure of their church and ministry after 21 years of faithfulness serving the community of Port Moody. They had just recently affiliated with the CBWC after years of looking for a denominational home. We rejoice in the many hearts and lives touched by God through their ministry being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Upcoming Event!

Transitions

By Grace Wulff

This week it will be three weeks since I “retired.”
I really don’t like that word; it sounds like I’m tired… And although that is true, I’m seeing this season of my life as changing gears, transitioning.

Retiring from ministry or any life’s calling is foreign to me. I’ve long believed (and have been told) that we follow our calling for life. There is always service to be done, a purpose to life. But I have stepped back from the intensity of my position as a hospital chaplain and am taking a rest.

Or at least that is my intent! I think of other major transitions in my life—the day I became a widow at age 37, and my life as I knew it was finished. It took time to grieve, to mourn, and establish a new normal. Remarriage was another big transition. When my hubby and I found ourselves without work in our early fifties, we faced another major shift, a challenge to learn new skills; he started a painting business, and I found myself led to a ministry role.

These transitions didn’t come without feelings of loss, grief, learning, adjustments, and at times, even depression. So, I’m not surprised to find myself on this new journey with all of its emotions.

Major transitions can be very unsettling. I’m finding this to be true, all over again. Life feels sideways, even upside down. The familiar has changed. Who am I in this place? I remember, as a new widow, thinking, “Am I still married… or not?” It can feel discombobulated. Yes, that is how I feel. I like that word!

I’ve watched many reach this step of “retirement,” some with absolute joy and anticipation, where others take time to find their way. There is a loss of identity, and even purpose. But there is also relief.

I want to be intentional about this journey. I will read and learn more. I want to move and be active. I want to nourish my connections with family and friends. If there have been painful conclusions, there must be time for process, for counselling, for forgiveness.

I want to grow in my spiritual life, to go deeper. I want to find time for creativity. But yes, there is also time for naps. It doesn’t all have to be done today.

Who knows what the next steps will be. I’ve been encouraged to take a sabbatical, a step back, a time for deep rest and freedom from responsibilities.

And then, I will trust God to guide the way. I think of Moses leading the people of Israel at age 80. There are many authors who started their writing careers in their seventies. I know many who continue to serve and teach, to counsel, to provide spiritual direction, and to be active in ministry, no matter their age. There is a world of possibilities.

So, instead of saying I’m retiring—I’m relearning, and I’m resisting the notion that I’m done. There are new beginnings as I transition into a new phase of life.

This past year my word was joy. I tried to start each day with the words, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I want to continue that. My word for 2023 is “Hope.” I am thankful we can live each day with hope, whatever tomorrow will bring.

“See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” ~ Isaiah 43:19

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter December 2022

With

By Larry Schram

It is hard to imagine a more welcoming word than with. Think of the people you love the most, and then imagine being with them. Consider family coming home for Christmas, loved ones returning from long trips, holding hands with your soul mate, or cuddling a newborn. Think of the surprising joy of seeing someone you love—but believed was half a world away—suddenly walk into the room, and knowing they came to be with you! 

That is the power and the gift of with. It drives our lives, directs our choices, and stirs our souls as we try and express its beauty in poetry, art, and music. Lack of with, on the other hand, generates fear, disease, and aloneness. Simply put, lack of with throughout the global pandemic, made many people unwell and revealed that with may very well be one of the most powerful needs of our lives. 

It is also one of the most life changing gifts of Advent. 

Theologians love to use words and phrases rooted in ancient wisdom and languages to describe complex truths, especially during this season. Words like incarnation, epiphany, kenosis, nativity and hypostatic appear regularly and these words represent important truths for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. But there is one word that describes the heart of Advent, and you don’t need a crash course in theology and ancient languages to understand it. It is the word with. 

Let me explain. 

When Matthew describes for us the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus, he quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and ties in a crucial verse of scripture, declaring that in the birth of Jesus, God is with us. This is far more than poetic marketing or the overactive imagination of someone who is clearly fixated on the Old Testament. Matthew wants us to understand that in the person of Jesus, God came into the world for one express purpose—to be with us. Let that truth settle into your heart and soul, because when we really grasp it, everything changes. 

Think of some of the soul-stirring truths of the New Testament and how often they highlight the message of with. Think of John 3: 16 and the description of God’s love for this world, or the last section of Romans 8 and the incredible declaration that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Or think of our adoption as children of God and the life changing gift of abiding in Jesus. All these truths, and the gifts they represent, are just the unfolding of this incredible core truth: Jesus is really with those of us who know Him, and nothing can stop Him from being with us forever. 

The little word with takes the deep and complex truths of Advent and scripture and moves them from technical doctrine to heartwarming grace and love. Make no mistake—that is why Jesus came. He moved heaven and hell to be with us…to be with you. May that gift—and the truth it represents—warm, restore, and heal your soul in fresh ways this Advent season. 

Immanuel – God With Us

By Marleen Bahr

Sometimes I tremble
At the challenge of the journey ahead.
Will it be smooth or rough, short or long?
Will there be strength and wisdom
To conquer each unforeseen turn,
Courage enough to claim His presence
And respond in positive song?

When I’m tempted to complain
Or crumble under the pressure at hand
I’m reminded of Mary.
She must have trembled in dismay
As the message of the angel invaded every corridor
Of her quivering heart and questioning mind.
Gripped by conflicting human emotion she grapples with the truth:
“God in human form – developing within me!”
Her response is astounding: “I am the Lord’s servant…
My soul praises the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem must have been a roller-coaster experience;
Extreme weariness, body wrenching pain and heavenly rejoicing.
From Bethlehem to Calvary, from the empty tomb to the Ascension
She must have been torn between hanging on to her son
And letting go of the Divine Immanuel.

Mary was there with the early disciples
To wait, to pray and to experience the coming of God’s Spirit.
Mary was there to carry on the work of love her child had begun.
I, too, want to be available to carry within this human form
The gift of God’s love to a hurting world.
As God was with Mary He will be with me!
“Immanuel, God with us!”

Marleen Bahr is a member of West Vancouver Baptist Church, with ministry to Women. She is an accomplished poet with several self-published books.

Retirements

We honor the following ministers for their tireless perseverance in serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your faithfulness, the many prayers, the numerous seeds, and for the hope and encouragement you shared with those touched by your ministry. You have truly made a difference and we thank God for you. Wishing you God’s richest blessing as you move into retirement.

  • Les Clarke, Pastor of First Baptist Church Penticton (Nov. 30)
  • Allan Walker, Pastor of Qualicum Community Baptist Church (Nov. 30)
  • Laurie MacKay, Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church Vernon (Dec. 31)
  • Del Riemer, Pastor of Summerland Baptist Church (Dec. 31)
  • Grace Wulff, Chaplain of Vernon Jubilee Hospital (Dec. 31)

Introducing our New and Interim Pastors

Derek Baker, Interim Pastor at Riverdale Baptist Church

My name is Derek Baker, and I am the interim pastor at Riverdale Baptist Church in Whitehorse, Yukon. I along with my wife, Jenny and my two teenagers, Em and Dawson are from New York State.  We came to the Yukon 15 years ago with SEND International as church planting missionaries.  Some of my favourite things to do are cooking, hunting, and fishing.  Riverdale Baptist Church became our church home over 3 years ago, and I was incredibly honoured that they called me as their interim pastor.

Wayne Snider, Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church Nanaimo

Wayne served as pastor of the Cranbrook Fellowship Baptist Church in Cranbrook BC, then as pastor of Armstrong Bible Chapel, in Armstrong BC. In late 2020 Wayne stepped back from ministry and moved to Nanaimo, so along with his wife Rita, they could come alongside their daughter Sarah and her family as Sarah battled cancer. Wayne responded to a call from FBC Nanaimo to step into a part-time role as Interim Co-Pastor, starting on Nov. 1, 2021 and again on Sept.1, 2022. Wayne and Rita have a son living in Victoria, a daughter in Calgary, and a son-in-law in Duncan, who is also a great dad to their 3 grandkids. In his free time Wayne loves spending time with family, drinking coffee with friends, riding motorcycles, and walking his dog, Angel.

Laura Nelson, Interim Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church Gibsons  

Laura is no stranger to the CBWC, having been involved in a variety of capacities. Prior to her retirement in June 2021, she was the Lead pastor at Olivet Baptist for 12 1/2 years. Since then, she has been involved in ministry as an Interim Pastor. She has been with Calvary Baptist since May 2022. A notable fact about Laura is that she has written a book called, Avoiding the Potholes: Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct.  It is her prayer that she can be of encouragement and help to those who are struggling in this area.

Crystal Campbell, Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church Prince George

I became the Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church-Prince George in July 2022, with a focus on the Sunday worship time and volunteers, along with preaching in the regular rotation. I am not sure which part of my ministry is my favorite: getting to know people, planning worship, being part of music teams, or preaching…. It is all pretty great! That said, I am also still so new, that everything is an adventure at some level. I am currently looking forward to advent, so Christmas is on my mind! 

On a personal note, my husband Ray and I have been married for 23 years. Ray works at the local correctional facility, and Sundays off are not that common, but when he is there, he is often onstage helping with music as a vocalist.   We share a love of music, labradoodles, and games of all kinds (online, ttrpg, board… if it is a game, we will play it! except Monopoly. I will not play monopoly). Oh, and we both love a good dad joke and terrible puns.

Stephanie Fehr, Pastor at Olivet Baptist Church

Stephanie became Lead Pastor at Olivet Baptist Church in New Westminster, B.C. on November 1st, 2022.  She moved to B.C. in October with her husband, Scott. and two children, Margot (6) and Jameson (4) from Edmonton, AB.  For the last 9 years, Stephanie has served as Pastor of Worship Arts and Discipleship at Greenfield Community Church in Edmonton, which has been her home city since she was a child.  Growing up as a pastor’s kid herself, Stephanie always felt a burden for the church and sensed God’s calling into ministry when she was 15 years old.  That calling led her to serve in a variety of church ministries and pursue theological education, including a Master of Divinity from Taylor Seminary (now called Kairos).  She is passionate about the church gathered and scattered and hopes everything we do as the body points people to the love of Jesus Christ.

Deb Judas, Associate Pastor at The Neighbourhood church

Deb Judas is currently serving as an associate pastor at The Neighbourhood Church in Surrey and Burnaby, BC.  As well, she is the Director of Formation for Forge Canada – also a relatively new role for her.  Deb has served in pastoral ministry for more than 20 years in various roles including discipleship, worship, and interim pastoring.  Her passion is for the next generation and she has served in camp ministry as well, creating and implementing leadership training programs for summer staff.  Soul care and holistic spiritual formation are also an area of passion for Deb and she has her own side business called Creating Space that offers retreats, workshops and coaching.  Before coming to serve at the Neighbourhood Church, Deb was very privileged to be involved as a co-pastor in merging two churches from two different denominations, working with both Elders Boards and staff to establish a healthy and thriving new church. It was an absolute delight to see how God orchestrated things and brought unity between the two congregations.
Deb is a graduate from the Centre for Spiritual Formation and holds a Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Carey Theological College.  Her vocational ministry has spanned through various churches and denominations, but she feels excited to have come full circle back to CWBC which is the denomination she grew up in.  Deb is married to Walt and together they have three grown children, two of whom are married, and their latest greatest joy is their two grandchildren. They are keeping the airlines in business traveling to see all their kids. Deb loves tennis, cycling, fitness, travel, reading with a good cup of coffee as well as finding the best plate of nachos around the city.

Jon Emanuel, Pastor of Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship

Jon was born and raised in Louisiana and moved to the Cowichan Valley in 2017. Jon has been involved in full time ministry for over 10 years and is excited for the season ahead as Lead Pastor at MBBF. He is committed to reaching out to the “farthest person out” with the gospel and love of Jesus Christ. Jon also loves to lead worship on occasion. Outside of work, Jon can be found with his lovely family. He and his beautiful wife, Amanda have three children and enjoy frequenting local hikes, beaches, and markets. Jon also enjoys woodworking and DIY projects.

Aden Mari, Youth Pastor at Summerland Baptist Church

Aden grew up in Lloydminster Alberta for the majority of his childhood. It was there that he committed his life to Jesus at Pleasant View Bible Camp in 2012. He then got plugged into First Baptist Church in Lloydminster and began to feel like God was calling him to be a pastor. After graduating High School, Aden then went to Briercrest College where he received his BA in Christian Ministry. Aden then moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and worked at a church called Lakeview Church for five years. After his time at Lakeview came to an end, Aden’s brother who works at Maple Springs Bible Camp informed him that Summerland Baptist was looking for a Youth Pastor. The more he learned about SBC and interacted with their people, the more he felt God pulling him to head there next. The feeling was mutual, and in August of 2022 Aden moved to Summerland to begin serving as their Youth Pastor.

Lorne Willms, Interim minister at Qualicum Community Baptist Church

Lorne is starting his ministry at Qualicum on December 1. Over the years he has given himself to serve the church and desires to see healthy, vibrant churches that engage in their community. Lorne has his MDiv in Pastoral Ministry and more recently has been continuing his education by taking courses in transitional ministry. He’s been active in transitional ministry in Alberta and BC these last 3 years and now looks forward to serving at Qualicum with his lovely wife, Heather.  Lorne is a sports enthusiast and admits he is a Canucks fan – but don’t hold that against him =). He’s recently became a pickleball player in addition to all the other sports he enjoys. An exciting news item within the Willms family is that they have just welcomed their first precious grandchild into their family circle.

John Lunn, Interim Pastor at Fairview Baptist Church

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter August 2022

Trinity Baptist Church’s Inaugural AIA Basketball Summer Camp

Alvin Jordan, Pastor of Children and Family Ministries
Trinity Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC

What a privilege it was to host a children’s summer Basketball Camp from July 4-8, 2022! We teamed up with “Athletes in Action,” a ministry of “Power to Change” which runs Christian sports camps all across Canada. Two coaches were provided by AIA, who worked alongside the 12 volunteers from Trinity Baptist Church, to not only teach basketball skills but to help campers grow physically, socially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Congregational members also helped as part of the snack team, with billeting and feeding the AIA coaches, and as prayer warriors who interceded for our whole camp.

This camp was designed to be an outreach camp, so I was very intentional about personally inviting community kids who 1) do not know Jesus, and 2) were kids from the community whom I could follow up with. There were many school yard conversations with other parents and flyers handed out at the public elementary school my kids attend. We had 26 kids registered out of the maximum 30 kids we could have registered, with many of coming from the local school! Out of the 26 kids registered, 17 indicated they do not belong to a church, so 2/3 of campers were unchurched. There was also an excellent ratio between kids and coaches —2 to 1 in fact!—meaning the campers all had personal, individual coaching and attention.

Our camp was a full day camp from 9am to 3pm. For the volunteer team, we started each day with a devotional and prayer; we prayed for the kids that they would know Jesus. After doing morning basketball skills, we had a teaching time, splitting into small groups. We went through a booklet called “More Than a Game” which introduced the children to God.

On the last day of camp, I shared the gospel message with the whole group and invited everyone to pray with me a prayer to know Jesus. The response was very positive. Many of the campers indicated to us on a form that they would either like to “know more information about Jesus” or they “chose to know Jesus for the first time.” I look forward to following up with kids and parents.

It was great working with “Athletes in Action,” getting to know and billet the 2 AIA coaches and seeing the enthusiastic support of the congregation in various aspects of camp. It was a great camp filled with lots of basketball skills and games, new friends and new learning about God for most of the campers.

This basketball camp was intentionally scheduled in early July as an outreach and lead up to our VBS-style “Kids Bible Adventure Week” in August. Within days of the AIA basketball camp finishing, almost 25% of the unchurched campers have already registered for our VBS kids camp. I anticipate more basketball campers joining “Kids Bible Adventure Week” in mid-August! To God be the glory! Awesome to see what God is doing in these young lives!

North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy 

Being Truthtellers and Peacemakers in the Heart of the City July 2022

One morning, as we sat across from each other reading our Recovery Bible and discussed one of the steps to moving forward with faith addiction free, one person shared about being stabbed in the head and trying to move forward with their life. Another shared how since accepting the Lord, the voices in their head are getting less and less. This person is not a regular volunteer in our ministry, and I had the privilege of performing their baptism. Unfortunately, it is a rare occurrence when you can tangibly see people moving forward in their faith.

Recently, I was in one of our parks looking for someone who I have been helping. I was speaking with a bylaw person regarding this, when an older gentleman stood behind listening. He then began to complain about the garbage in the park and the homeless. He referred to our homeless population in a way that meant they should be disposed of, much like the garbage they create. I can only say that the Lord and His grace enabled me to respond, rather than react, to this man who also is in need of a saviour. I often get asked how we can continue to feed, serve and love our marginalized population? I can only say that it is by His grace and recognizing these are our Lord’s children. I, too, was once one of these homeless folks. As I hear and find out about the high death rate among our homeless population, I also say we need prayer. Our front-line workers need prayer, many who are not Christ followers. I also say, “It ain’t working folks!” The system is failing us all. Harm reduction and safe supply may stop someone from over-dosing or dying, but they are still in the midst of addiction. We need more recovery, detox and supportive living homes.

This is a big topic, with lots of varying viewpoints. As the church, as Christ followers, we have the answer. Simply put, we have Jesus. And we can share His love with others in very simple and practical ways. On and off the streets, people are dying from drugs that are designed to kill. Our ministry gets to walk alongside our homeless men and women. By building relationships, we are getting to share the love of Jesus in real and practical ways. We even get to use words sometimes. Find a way in your own family, church and community to reach out and love someone in Jesus’ name. You may save a life.

Thank you. God Bless,

Reverend Chuck Harper, C.Min.

BCY Women Autumn Celebration 2022

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter May 2022

Upcoming Events

Island Women’s Day Away

Saturday, June 4th, 2022
10am – 3pm at Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship

Registration Form ↓

Poster ↓

Comings & Goings Within the BCY Area

Axel Schoeber will be ministering as part time interim pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church Victoria

Bob Jones is serving as part-time interim pastor at West Point Grey Baptist Church

Melanie Ihmnels is the new Hospitality Pastor/Manager at The Mustard Seed Street Church, Victori

Cecil Kleu is now full time Next Steps Pastor at The Mustard Seed Street Church, Victoria

Drew Snider is the Interim Congregational Pastor at The Mustard Seed Street Church, Victoria

Mark Wong is the new Associate Pastor at Westside Baptist Church

A HUGE thank you and appreciation to the following for their dedicated service and ministry!

-Joy Banks, Associate Pastor has resigned from Grandview Calvary Baptist
-Joan Dosso, Worship and Arts Pastor has resigned from Emmanuel Baptist Church Victoria
-Stephen Hasbrouck, Senior Pastor, Fairview Baptist Church has moved on to Baptist Housing as Chaplain
-Andrew MacDonald, Associate Pastor, New Life Community Baptist Church has moved on to a ministry call in California
-Stefano Piva, Lead Pastor of West Point Grey Baptist Church has resigned
-Sean Lewis, Lead Pastor of The Mustard Seed Street Church has resigned
-Philip Wambua, Youth Pastor of New Life Community Baptist has resigned
-Ken Nettleton, Lead Pastor of New Life Community Baptist Church has moved to Alberta and is now a chaplain in Calgary
-Wayne Snider, Interim Pastor at FBC Nanaimo has resigned
-Garth Borthistle’s transitional contract has been completed at FBC Nanaimo

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter February 2022

Clarity, Please

Larry Schram, BCY Regional Minister

I love clarity and I know I am not alone in my appreciation. Indeed, multiple times a day, I am engaged in conversations and ministry appointments that are all about clarity—the pastor wrestling with their ministry placement, the church struggling with best practices amid Covid protocols, and inquiries exploring ordination are all about finding clarity. A church questioning the process around our Identity Statement, the local church elder who wants help discerning how to respond to a church conflict, and the seminary student questioning biblical interpretation—all are seeking clarity. Almost every day as a regional minister, I wrestle with questions from someone pursuing clarity. Is autonomy really a biblical value? How do we know if something is a disputable matter or not? Why do different Baptist associations hold different positions on some issues, and yet all claim that they are being biblically faithful? We seem to be living in a time when clarity is fervently sought.

I believe that clarity is also important to Jesus. When I read the gospels, I see how time and time again, Jesus brought clarity to those who listened to Him. He challenged the teachers of the law who confused people with their complex and self-serving interpretations. Instead, Jesus often brought absolute clarity about God’s intentions. He also made it crystal clear that anyone who chose to follow Him would not fit into the surrounding culture very well. He was very clear about why He came and what His purpose was in coming. Further, He was shockingly clear that the whole purpose of anyone who chose to be His disciple was to be a servant in the Kingdom. I love that clarity, even if I don’t always like its implications in my life.

I love it so much that it has become part of my daily prayers: “Jesus, grant us clarity about what you desire and what really matters.” I believe that Jesus is the only one who can bring clarity about what really matters in these confusing and challenging days. Candidly, I don’t always get an instantaneous answer to my prayer, but one thing always becomes clearer: I need to keep my eyes fixed on Him. When I do, I always find some clarity.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 1-3

Please join me in praying daily that Jesus will grant clarity to these three areas of need:

Our Ordination Prep Candidates

  • Greg Pearson – FBC, Victoria
  • Diana Zhao – Joy Fellowship, Vancouver
  • Jasper Song – University Campus Baptist Church, Vancouver
  • Kent Dixon – Braemar Baptist, Edmonton
  • Tim Challen – Virden Baptist, Manitoba

May Jesus grant them great clarity on their pathway to Ordination.

Our Interim/Transitional Pastors:

  • Garth Borthistle at FBC Nanaimo
  • Scott Hemenway at New Life Duncan
  • Laura Nelson at Berea Baptist Church, Surrey
  • Chris Kibble at West Vancouver Baptist
  • Lorne Wilms at Mill Bay Baptist
  • Awlwyn Balnave at Olivet Baptist, New Westminster
  • Terrance Froese at Grandview Calvary Baptist, Vancouver

May Jesus grant them increasing clarity in their ministry settings.

Our CBWC Family of Churches as we prayerfully seek clarity on what it means to be a family of churches. May we all fix our eyes on Jesus.

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

BCY Regional Newsletter November 2021

Good News

By  BCY Regional Minister, Larry Schram

Most news sources these days are filled with stories of death, disasters, missing persons, morally failed leaders, pandemic restrictions, and dire climate change predictions. Church prayer chains, likewise, request prayer for people battling health challenges, relationship breakdowns, Covid exposures, overwhelming grief and loss, and heated polarizations. In addition, my email inbox and messaging services overflow with updates and requests that cover all the topics above, only now it is very personal: I know the people involved.

It is no wonder that I come to the end of most days just wanting to hear some good news for a change. I am very sure that I am not alone in this desire.

As followers of Jesus, the phrase ‘good news’ carries two primary meanings for us. We know the Gospel is good news in all its expressions, and every time someone repents and believes this good news about Jesus, the angels in heaven rejoice. So do most of us, for this is miraculous grace. In addition, good news is information that comes to us as pleasant, positive, and a blessing that we can rejoice in. This is what I pray will occur for each of our churches and pastors these days. That we will regularly hear some good news of salvation, steps of faith, and answered prayer with the pleasant and blessed reminder that, despite all the bad news that fills our days, our Lord is still at work.

What follows are some reminders that our Lord is indeed still at work and that there is still good news to hear. Let’s rejoice in it and be quick to pass on all the pleasant and positive good news we can.

Larry Schram, BCY Regional Minister.

Baptisms – The Good News of People Immersing Their Lives in Jesus

Food Bank Drive – The Good News of People Helping the Hungry

Clark Taylor, First Baptist Church, Penticton, BC

A couple weeks ago, across BC, was the Thanksgiving Food Drive for the Salvation Army. Some of the youth and adults from Penticton First Baptist Church, along with Pastor Les and Clark, took part. We delivered about 200 bags on Wednesday after school. We returned early Saturday morning and picked up bags that had been left on the doorstep of homes. After filling the vehicles, we dropped them off at the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. The Food Bank collected over 11 000 pounds of food! It was a wonderful day of walking and gathering food, and our youth are excited to do more routes next year.

Affiliation – The Good News of People Joining the Family

By Paul Truman

This fall, Heritage Mountain Community Church is celebrating 21 years as a church in Port Moody. Ask any of them and they’ll share what the ministry direction ‘Form the Heart’ means to them. Pastors Paul Truman and Deanna Hackett lead by respecting the uniqueness of each heart and encouraging a lifestyle that cultivates relationship with God. As heart formation continued through the obscurity of the pandemic, the church was delighted to share in seven baptisms at Sasamat Lake in early September. Usually meeting in a performing arts theatre that reopened in October, they were delighted to be together again. This beach gathering was far more than seven people identifying with Jesus; it was a whole community sharing faith that God is continuing to form their hearts. Over the past years, the church has been discerning a denominational home where they can live the calling that God has given them. In June, the members voted unanimously to pursue affiliation with the CBWC.

Ordination – The Good News of People Saying Yes to the Call of Jesus

The first woman ordained by Trinity Baptist to the Gospel Ministry, Rev. Dr. Doris Kung-Poon.

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

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

BCY Regional Newsletter April 2021

April Devotion

from BCY Regional Minister Larry Schram

I love condiments. The burst of flavours added to my food makes my taste buds dance, my tongue tingle—and if spicy enough, I will even break out in a wonderful sweat. As a flavour junkie, condiments always add some delightful zest to my mealtimes. In my experience, condiments lack only one thing: they cannot stand alone as a meal. They are intended to add spice or complexity to a dish but can never be a meal in themselves.

I was listening to a sermon recently, and it struck me that too often in my life, I have approached Jesus like a condiment. I have asked Him to add something to my life, like zest to a meal, forgetting that He is much more than that. In fact, His clear call to me is not to add flavour or zest to my life, but to yield my life to Him in all things and follow Him.

In Mark we read; Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (8: 34) It is kind of hard to miss the point of Jesus’ words. If I want to walk with Him, I start by denying myself. This is more than the habits of self denial, like so many of the common practices of Lent. Instead, denying myself is to give up ownership of myself, to disregard myself, or as Eugene Peterson framed it, accepting that I am not in the driver’s seat. To deny myself is to trust Jesus enough that I yield to Him in all things. When I do so, my identity and purpose are found in Him, and not in anything else this world can offer me. In other words, I do not add Him to my life as a meaningful addition—I let Him rebuild, refocus, and redefine my life in every way as I follow Him.

I was convicted by what I heard in that sermon, and it made me think. I cannot truly follow Jesus and syncretize my faith into a personal brand, like some people try to do. Likewise, I cannot treat Jesus like a convenient value added addition to my life—a spiritual condiment, if you will. Neither can I hold back some part of my life as my personal identity that is somehow private and beyond the claims of Christ. Instead, His invitation is clear, and all I need to do is trust Him enough to yield everything to Him and follow Him in all things. All it will take is everything I have, but what I gain is worth the cost of this denial: I gain a life under the Lordship of Christ.

Therefore, I choose to yield and follow Jesus.

Changes in Leadership throughout BCY Regional Churches

Talita Nell began her ministry at Gateway Baptist as Youth Pastor May 6, 2019.

Shawna Nairn began her ministry at Gateway Baptist, Victoria as Associate Pastor of Children and Families on Sept. 25, 2019.

Gregg Cochrane began his ministry as Associate Pastor at Gateway Baptist, Victoria on Jan. 30, 2021.

Axel Schoeber is retiring as Pastor at West Vancouver Baptist on July 27, 2021.

Jocelyn Melder’s start date at Olivet Baptist, New Westminster was Feb. 1, 2021 and Induction Service was March 7, 2021.

Lee Young’s starts as Lead Pastor at Summerland Baptist on April 1, 2021.

FBC Vancouver has hired Dr. Ben Ewert as their Minister of Worship.

  • Paul Leslie is the Transitional Lead Pastor at FBC Nanaimo and Garth Borthistle Interim Associate since Sept 2020.
  • Ella Cho completes her ministry at West Vancouver Baptist on April 30th.
  • Allen Jacques began his Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Elk Lake Baptist, Victoria Sept. 1, 2020.
  • Matthew Fox with began his ministry at Comox Community Church on July 1, 2021.

Laura Nelson is retiring from Olivet Baptist, New Westminster on June 30, 2021. A note from Laura: It has indeed been a privilege to be the Senior Pastor at Olivet for the past 12 ½ years. The years have flown by, and it is amazing to look back at all the things that have transpired and the incredible people I have come to know and love. With being at the church for so many years, turning 66 this month, and coming out of this season of COVID-19, I felt it was time for me to retire/resign. I have written a book, which came out last March called, Avoiding the Potholes: Preventing Clergy Sexual Misconduct. My prayer is that I can do some coaching/mentoring for people who are struggling in this area, do some speaking, and fill-in preaching, periodically. I am not looking to retire, but rather to renew and refocus.

Upcoming Events

Ordination Examining Council dates: May 4-5, 2021

New Minister’s Orientation: Jan. 17-19, 2022

The BC Convention AGM is on Wed. June 9, 2021 (ZOOM)

BCY candidates for Ordination are: Jennifer Friesen of White Rock Baptist and Jake Tucker of Grandview Calvary, Vancouver

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