Making Connections December 2018

Cultivating Leadership

What could be more cultivating than the incarnation. The act of God becoming human, of fully entering the physical, painful, sensational human experience. Of introducing us to the fullness of God by entering the limits of man.

Welcome to advent, a season for waiting, watching, hoping. For puzzling out the mystery, and doing it all within the harried month of December. We pray you know the fullness of humanity this month—the love and joy, the delicious snacks and smells, even the stress, pain and tension—all that creation has wrought.

This issue of Making Connections brings stories of leadership development at Zao Outdoor Ministries, an excerpt from one of Eugene Peterson’s essays, a library of advent readings and the B.C.-Yukon Regional Newsletter.

Blessing to all, and to all a good month. 🎄🎄🎄

From Intern to Director: A True Story of Leadership Development

Rolling out of your sleeping bag in the cold morning can be really hard. Especially when the coffee’s not been made, because the water hasn’t been boiled, because the fire hasn’t been started.

But that’s leadership.

“We talk a lot about leading yourself,” Alexis Collier says. “Yes, you’re leading the team, but if you can’t lead yourself out of bed, you’re going to have a hard time getting anyone else onboard.” Alexis is the Director of Communications for Vancouver Island-based Zao Ministries, a partner ministry of the CBWC.

The vision at Zao Ministries (which, by the way, is pronounced zay-oh, not zow) is to build leaders through outdoor adventure. Multi-night outdoor trips have a way of getting more out of you than you thought was possible.

You have to be constantly on alert. Always thinking about what the clouds are doing, about where you are in relation to where you’re going, about pacing. If someone gets injured, you need to be able to deal with that, and when things inevitably go sideways, you need to flexibly respond.

Alexis started as an intern with Zao in its first year. Being mentored by the founding Executive Director Mattias Morrison, Alexis not only developed hard skills and leadership confidence, but also found out that some things she thought were weaknesses were actually strengths.

“I always thought I wasn’t good at communicating, but Mattias told me actually I was, I just didn’t think I was.” With experience and mentoring, Alexis let go of the belief that she wasn’t a natural communicator and it all culminated this summer when she applied for and got the Director of Communications role at Zao.

Her journey of leadership growth from intern to guide to Director echoes the hope she has for Zao trip-goers too.

“It’s all about building up youth to lead and get better with their skills, rather than us leading all the time,” she says.

The first trip they led in 2014 took a group of homeschoolers from a partner organization out into the wilderness. Some of them loved it and kept developing their skills. Now four years later, a few of them are outdoor leaders themselves.

Click through the gallery of photos:

Zao staff designed the Guide Leadership Training program specifically to develop leaders (though inevitably, on every trip someone catches the outdoor bug). GLT is a two-week program in July run in partnership with Wildside where participants learn First Aid, relational and hard skills. They learn rock climbing, knot tying, cooking, hiking, caving and paddling.

They focus on creation care theology through practice rather than lecture. Outdoor leadership is really all about experiential learning. Instead of listening and reading, you’re practicing every day. 

“We focus on discipling others. As leaders, we see ourselves in a mentorship role, not an attitude of ‘I’m the guide so just follow me,’” Alexis says. “We encourage people to take ownership of the trips through various tasks and self-leadership.”

Interested to know more, partner, donate, pray or to go on a trip? Alexis would love to talk with you.

BC-Y Regional Newsletter

Are You Ready? | A “Gift” of a Youth Retreat | Banff BCY | Settlement Report

Glorious God, Embodied in

the Mess of Humanity


Eugene Peterson wrote the following introduction to the book God With Us, a compilation of daily mediations, illuminating history and fine art for the season of Advent through to Epiphany, to help us rediscover the meaning of Christmas.

(Click below to expand)

Birth: wonder… astonishment… adoration.

There can’t be very many of us for whom the sheer fact of existence hasn’t rocked us back on our heels. We take off our sandals before the burning bush. We catch our breath at the sight of a plummeting hawk. “Thank you, God.” We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship—we belong here; we say thanks with our lives to Life. And not just “Thanks” or ‘Thank it” but “Thank You.” Most of the people who have lived on this planet have identified this You with God or gods. This is not just a matter of learning our manners, the way children are taught to say thank you as a social grace. It is the cultivation of adequateness within ourselves to the nature of reality, developing the capacity to sustain an adequate response to the overwhelming gift and goodness of life.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for understanding for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbours turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.

If in the general festive round of singing and decorating, giving and receiving, cooking meals and family gatherings, we ask what is behind all this and what keeps it going all over the world, among all classes of people quite regardless of whether they believe or not, the answer is simply “a birth.” Not just “birth” in general, but a particular birth in a small Middle Eastern village in a datable time—a named baby, Jesus—a birth that soon had people talking and signing about God, indeed, worshipping God.

This invites reflection. For birth, simply as birth, even though often enough greeted with wonder and accompanied with ceremony and celebration, has a way of getting absorbed into business as usual far too soon. The initial impulses of gratitude turn out to be astonishingly ephemeral. Birth in itself does not seem to compel belief in God. There are plenty of people who take each new life on its own terms and deal with the person just as he or she comes to us, no questions asked. There is something very attractive about this: it is so clean and uncomplicated and noncontroversial. And obvious. They get a satisfying sense of the inherently divine in life itself without all the complications of church: the theology, the mess of church history, the hypocrisies of church-goers, the incompetence of pastors, the appeals for money. Life, as life, seems perfectly capable of furnishing them with a spirituality that exults in beautiful beaches and fine sunsets, surfing and skiing and body massage, emotional states and aesthetic titillation without investing too much God-attentiveness in a baby.

For all its considerable attractions, this shift of attention from birth to aspects of the world that please us on our terms is considerably deficient in person. Birth means that a person is alive in the world. A miracle of sorts, to be sure, but a miracle that very soon gets obscured by late-night feedings, diapers, fevers, and inconvenient interruptions of fussiness and squalling. Soon the realization sets in that we are in for years and years of the child’s growing-up time that will stretch our stamina and patience, sometimes to the breaking point.

So how did it happen that this birth, this Jesus birth managed to set so many of us back on our heels in astonishment and gratitude and wonder? And continues to do so century after century, at least at this time of the year?

The brief answer is that this wasn’t just any birth. The baby’s parents and first witnesses were convinced that God was entering human history in human form. Their conviction was confirmed in angel and Magi and shepherds visitations; eventually an extraordinary life came into being before their eyes, right in their neighbourhood. More and more people became convinced. Men, women, and children from all over the world continue to be convinced right up to the present moment.

Birth, every human birth, is an occasion for local wonder. In Jesus’ birth the wonder is extrapolated across the screen of all creation and all history as a God-birth. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”—moved into the neighbourhood, so to speak. And for thirty years or so, men and women saw God in speech and action in the entirely human person of Jesus as he was subject, along with them, to the common historical conditions of, as Charles Williams once put it, “Jewish religion, Roman order, and Greek intellect.” These were not credulous people and it was not easy for them to believe, but they did. That God was made incarnate as a human baby is still not easy to believe, but people continue to do so. Many, even those who don’t “believe,” find themselves happy to participate in the giving and receiving, singing and celebrating of those who do.

Incarnation, in-flesh-ment, God in human form in Jesus entering our history: this is what started Christmas. This is what keeps Christmas going.


Christmas, in the Incarnation that it celebrates, has its foundation in creation. The Genesis stories of creation begin with “heaven and earth,” but that turns out to be merely a warm-up exercise for the main event, the creation of human life, man and woman designated as the “image of God.” Man and woman are alive with the very breath (“spirit”) of God. If we want to look at creation full, creation at its highest, we look at a person—a man, a woman, a child. There are those who prefer to gaze on the beauty of a bouquet of flowers rather than care for a squabbling baby, or to spend the day on the beach rather than rub shoulders with uncongenial neighbours in a cold church—creation without the inconvenience of persons. This may be understandable, but it is also decidedly not creation in the terms that have been revealed to us in Genesis and in the person of Jesus.

All this arrives as most welcome good news at the birth of Jesus: here we have creation as God’s gift of life, creation furnishing all the conditions necessary for life—our lives. Good news, truly, what the Greeks named kerygma, a public proclamation that becomes a historical event. The birth of Jesus is the kerygmatic focus for receiving, entering into, and participating in creation, for living the creation and not just using it or taking it for granted.

In the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, his re-writing of Genesis, we read, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” St. Matthew and St. Luke begin their Gospel stories with detailed accounts of Jesus’ birth. St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians, the first written reference to Jesus’ birth, calls Jesus the “first-born of all creation.”

Creation is God’s work, not ours. We accept and enter into and submit to what God does—what God made and makes. We are not spectators of creation but participants in it. We are participants first of all by simply being born, but then we realize that our births all take place in the defining context of Jesus’ birth. The Christian life is the practice of living in what God has done and is doing. We want to know the origins of things so that we can life out of our origins. We don’t want our lives to be tacked on to something peripheral. We want to live origin-ally, not derivatively.

So we begin with Jesus. Jesus is the revelation of the God who created heaven and earth; he is also the revelation of the God who is with us, Immanuel. The original Genesis creation, the stories of Israel, the lamentations of the prophets, the singing of the psalms—all of these make sense of the light of that one birth that we celebrate at Christmas. The theologian Karl Barth goes into immense detail (he wrote four fat volumes on it) to make this single point: “We have established that from every angle Jesus Christ is the key to the secret of creation.”


The conception and birth of Jesus is the surprise of creation. “This is God’s initiative going beyond anything man or woman has dreamed of.” This is the birth that will now set all births under the conditions of God’s creative initiative.

By stating that Jesus is “born of woman”—this Mary (as both St. Matthew and St. Luke attest)—St. Paul insists that Jesus is most emphatically human, the firstborn of all creation.” That this Mary is at the same time a virgin prevents the birth of Jesus from being reduced to what we know or can reproduce from our own experience. Life that is unmistakably human life is before us here, a real baby from an actual mother’s womb; there is also miracle here, and mystery that cannot be brushed aside in our attempts to bring the operations of God, let alone our own lives, under our control. The miracle of the virgin birth, maintained from the earliest times in the church and confessed in its creeds, is, in Karl Barth’s straightforward phrase, a “summons to reverence and worship….” Barth maintained that the one-sided views of those who questioned or denied that Jesus was “born of the virgin Mary” are “in the last resort to be understood only as coming from dread of reverence and only as invitation to comfortable encounter with an all too near or all too far-off God.”

Artists, poets, musicians, and architects are our primary witnesses to the significance of the meaning of virgin to the virgin birth as “a summons to reverence and worship.” Over and over again they rescue us from a life in which the wonder has leaked out. While theologians and biblical scholars have argued, sometimes most contentiously, over texts, sexual facts, and mythological parallels, our artists have painted Madonnas, our poets have provided our imaginations with rhythms and metaphors, our musicians have filled the air with carols and anthems that bring us to our knees in adoration, and our architects have designed and built chapels and cathedrals in which we can worship God.

Madeline L’Engle’s poem “After Annunciation” tells us why:

This is the irrational season

When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason

There’d have been no room for the child.

Conception, pregnancy, and birth language that features God as the Creator occupy a prominent place in our Scriptures as they give witness to the Christian life. Jesus’ words to Nicodemus about being “born anew” are certainly the most well known. Jesus and Nicodemus between them use the word born seven times in the course of their conversation. In an extravagant metaphor, Paul sees the entire creation groaning “as if in pangs of childbirth” in his letter to the Romans. Another time he identified himself to the Galatians as a mother in the pains of childbirth.

The story of Jesus’ birth is our entry into understanding and participating in our place in creation. But every birth can, if we let it, return us to the wonder of Jesus’ birth, the revelation of sheer life as gift, God’s life with us and for us.

God is the Creator, and his most encompassing creation is human life, a baby. We, as participants in creation, do it too. When we beget and conceive, give birth to and raise babies, we are in on the heart of creation. There is more gospel in all those “begats” in the genealogical lists of our Scriptures (“And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias…”) than we ever dreamed.

Birth, any birth, is our primary access to the creative work of God. And we birth much more than human babies. Our lives give birth to God’s kingdom every day—or, at least, they should. And Jesus’ virgin birth provides and maintains the focus that God himself is personally present and totally participant in creation; this is good news, indeed. Every birth is kerygmatic. The birth of Jesus, kept fresh in our imaginations and prayers in song and story, keeps our feet on solid ground and responsive to every nuance of obedience and praise evoked by the life all around us.


But the actual birth of Jesus has never been an easy truth for people to swallow. There are always plenty of people around who will have none of this particularity: human ordinariness, body fluid, raw emotions of anger and disgust, fatigue and loneliness. Birth is painful. Babies are inconvenient and messy. There is immense trouble in having children. God having a baby? It’s far easier to accept God as the creator of the majestic mountains, the rolling sea, and the delicate wild flowers.

When it comes to the sordid squalor of the raw material involved in being human, God is surely going to keep his distance. Or is he? We may fantasize deep aspirations native to our souls that abhor this business of diapers and debts, government taxes and domestic trivia. Deep in our bones we may have the sense that we must have been created for higher things, that there is a world of subtle ideas and fine feelings and exquisite ecstasies for us to cultivate.

Somewhere along the way some of us became convinced that our souls are different—a cut above the masses, the common herd of philistines that trample the courts of the Lord. Such people become connoisseurs of the sublime.

As it turned out, the ink was barely dry on the stories telling of the birth of Jesus before people were busy putting out alternate stories that were more “spiritual” than those provided in our Gospels. A rash of apocryphal stories, with Jesus smoothed out and universalized, flooded the early church. They were immensely popular. They still are. And people are still writing them. These alternate stories prove very attractive to a lot of people.

In these accounts of the Christian life, the hard-edged particularities of Jesus’ life are blurred into the sublime divine. The hard, historical factuality of the Incarnation, the Word made flesh as God’s full and complete revelation of himself, is dismissed as crude. Something finer and more palatable to sensitive souls is put in its place: “Jesus was not truly flesh and blood, but entered a human body temporarily in order to give us the inside story on God and initiate us into the secrets of the spiritual life.” And, “Of course he didn’t die on the cross, but made his exit at the last minute. The body that was taken from the cross for burial was not Jesus at all, but a kind of costume he used for a few years and then discarded.”

It turns out in these versions that Jesus merely role-played a historical flesh-and-blood Christ for a brief time and then returned to a purely spiritual realm. If we accept this version of Jesus, we are then free to live the version: we put up with materiality and locale and family for as much and as long as necessary, but only for as much and as long as necessary. The material, the physical, the body—history and geography and weather, people—are temporary scaffolding; the sooner we realize that none if it has anything to do with God and Jesus, the better.

The attractions of employing this temporary scaffolding are considerable. For those of us who take this point of view, the feature attraction is that we no longer have to take seriously either things or people. Anything we can touch, smell, or see is not of God in any direct or immediate way. We save ourselves an enormous amount of inconvenience and aggravation by putting materiality and everydayness at the edge of our lives, at least our spiritual lives. Mountains are nice as long as they inspire lofty thoughts, but if one stands in the way of our convenience, a bulldozer can be called in to get rid of it. Other people are glorious as long as they are good-looking and well-mannered, bolster our self-esteem, and help us fulfil our human potential, but if they somehow bother us they certainly deserve to be dismissed.

But it’s hard to maintain this view of things through the Christmas season. There is too much stuff, too many things. And all of it festively connects up with Jesus and God. Every year Christmas comes around again and forces us to deal with God in the context of demanding and inconvenient children; gatherings of family members, many of whom we spend the rest of the year avoiding; all the crasser forms of greed and commercialized materiality; garish lights and decorations. Or maybe the other way around: Christmas forces us to deal with the mess of our humanity in the context of God who has already entered the mess in the glorious birth of Jesus.

Advent Resources

Found yourself reusing the same advent readings year after year? Check out our library of advent readings and service guides.

(Have something you’d like to add? Send it to us!)

Highlights from the 2018 Banff Pastor’s and Spouses Conference

Baptists in the News

Shiloh Baptist Church, the oldest Black Baptist church in Western Canada was founded in 1910. A documentary has been made about this story, called We Are the Roots.

You can watch the documentary here:

It premiered at Shiloh Baptist in October and as CBC reports, has won awards. “We are the Roots documentary honoured with four prestigious awards”  

Events Coming Up

  • Heartland Pastor and Spouses Retreat will be February 4th-6th, 2019 at the Russell Inn, Russell, MB. Brochure  |  Register online  |  Register by mail
  • Mountain Standard Region Ministry Retreat will be February 4th-6th, 2019 at Gull Lake, Brochure  |  Register
  • New Ministers Orientation 2019 will be held April 1-3 at Carey. Contact Dawn Johannesson at for details.
  • Registration for THE GATHERING 2019 is now open. May 23-25, 2019, High River, AB. Click here for more info

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Making Connections November 2018

Heartland Regional Newsletter

A Note from Mark | Joell Haugan | Meet Pastor Joe Welty | Settlement Report

Zion Baptist Solar Project

One year ago Zion Baptist Church in Edmonton hit the switch on their brand new solar paneled roof. They estimate that over the course of each year, they’ll generate 100% of their electricity needs! In the summer, when the solar panels produce more electricity than they need, they’ll sell the excess and earn credits. On less sunny days they’ll use the credits to buy electricity the way they used to.

It all started when a small group expressed interest in renewable energy sources, and found out about a grant the church could apply for. With the support of the board, they applied for an Eco City municipal grant. No church had done it before, and it was a major process to provide the research required. But it was worth it – Edmonton awarded Zion a grant of approximately $38,000. The church decided to go ahead, and budgeted for the remaining ~$15,000.

Part of the grant required the church to do some renewable energy educating, so they had fun hosting some local classrooms to learn about how solar energy works. The whole congregation got involved too, and it’s turned into a fun learning experience.

Creation care has become a focus for the congregation. Last year they converted their lights to LED which has reduced their energy consumption by about 25%. And they have a community garden which has become an important connecting point for the neighbourhood.

The panels themselves are very noticeable. Last December, for example, with a snow covered landscape the roof remained clear, collecting solar rays on sunny winter days. The visibility of the project has enabled the church to develop connections with the green community in Edmonton, a door they didn’t have before. They’ve had a number of phone calls from other churches interested in how they could also install solar panels.

“Creation care is incredibly important,” Pastor Craig Traynor says. “It’s a hot topic in our culture, and when we as churches take that seriously it gets the attention of our city and government and province. It sets an example of being stewards. We’ll also save a lot of money in the future.”

On the last Sunday in October they hosted Solar Celebration Sunday, with a potluck meal and lots of invited guests to commemorate one year of solar power.

Meal for a Meal in Leduc

The youth at Leduc Community Baptist recently threw their energy into preparing and serving a huge spaghetti feast for their church. Dinner was by donation – youth pastor Dean Haugan suggests guests donate what they would normally spend on a Friday night out. For some that’s $15, for others it might be $100.

And the thing they’re fundraising for? It’s not what you might expect. The $1500 they raised will purchase food for another meal which the youth group will serve at The Mustard Seed. A meal for a meal, as it were.

Spaghetti feasts are something the Leduc Youth Group has done periodically over the years. This year it was their experience at SERVE in Kamloops that energized the kids to serve more.

“They just wanted to keep going,” Dean says. “They came home from SERVE and wanted to find ways to keep helping here at home.”

This year Dean says they’re starting a new core group of youth, since a bunch recently graduated., so there were a lot of younger kids there, relatively new to youth.

“Sometimes youth have ‘workitis’… when there’s work to be done, they disappear. But that didn’t happen. They all worked so hard, they just didn’t stop.” Dean says. “One girl who is pretty new, I don’t think she’s a Christian, but she heard about the dinner and came down at the last minute to help serve.”

The fundraiser dinner served easily a hundred people at two sittings. That’s a lot of garlic toast. Dean told the youth before each sitting, “It’s going to get crazy out there, but as you’re serving, think about someone downtown who might be going without food tonight. That’s what we’re doing this for.”

“There are moments when you just stand back and watch. I’m so proud of my kids,” Dean says. “They really got behind it.”

Reflecting Theologically with the Hungry

By Rupen Das, National Director, Canadian Bible Society and Gordon King, Westview Baptist Church –JMN Blog

Gordon taught a course on Christian ethics last year at Ambrose Seminary in Calgary. He covered a number of approaches to ethics that were helpful in framing the way Christians could think and talk about moral issues. “Right” and “wrong” seldom present themselves without a difficult fog of collateral issues, personal interests and economic considerations.

Rupen ended his international career in 2017 in order to become President of the Canadian Bible Society. During the previous decade his vocation had included leadership for food assistance programs in the Middle East and work with the European Baptist Federation in response to the refugee crisis. His book called Compassion and the Mission of God was published in 2016.    

Our conversations in 2017 often included theological and ethical reflections that moved from places of relative power to social locations on the margins. We pondered a Biblical perspective that we called the “WOA” approach to ethics. WOA stands for the scriptural triad of the widow, orphan and alien. The three groups represented people that lived in the borderlands, or margins, of the community. They were often isolated, poor and vulnerable. The community of faith was called to identify with them, to protect their rights and to offer compassionate care for their needs.

We think that the WOA approach helps Canadian churches to think about hunger from the perspective of the hungry. The reality is that in 2018 we are seeing the number of hungry people climb for the third consecutive year. The official hunger count of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) now is 815 million people—11% of the world’s population. In Africa, 23% of the population receives insufficient kilocalories for their daily activities. 

We believe these figures actually mask the truth of hunger. The FAO works with a definition of hunger that requires 12 consecutive months of inadequate nutrition before one qualifies for the hunger count. Furthermore, the measurement is based on the kilocalorie requirements of a sedentary person. In semi-retirement, Gordon’s lifestyle could be described as mostly sedentary. In contrast, a woman farmer in Rwanda, a male laborer in El Salvador or a high school student in India have the nutritional needs of an active person.

How do we think theologically about hunger from the perspective of sisters and brothers that live in the borderlands of poverty, disease, and violence? How do we prayerfully consider the meaning of righteousness in a global context?

We would like to make a few suggestions for our thoughts, conversations, and praxis:

  • Hunger is largely a matter of geography. 98% of the world’s hunger people live in the Global South and the Middle East.
  • The hungry ask about root causes. One of the causes is poverty. Food follows money. Look at our grocery stories in middle class suburban areas. 
  • Hunger is related to conflict and violence in 18 countries of the world including Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, and Somalia. The hungry cry out for peace.
  • Hunger is affected by environmental issues. The number of extreme climate-related disasters, including extreme heat, droughts, floods and storms, has doubled since the early 1990s. The hungry attribute blame to the lifestyles of citizens of the Global North. 
  • Hunger is primarily a rural issue. There is a tragic irony that the places that produce crops are often the locations of highest under nutrition. The hungry ask questions about just rewards for the food they produce.

Moving our theological reflections to the margins encourages us to think of food as a human right rather than a simple economic commodity. We submit that there is something inherently different about food, water and air because they are a common good to be shared by all people. We encourage individuals and congregations to struggle with St. Paul’s teaching about a fair balance (NRSV) or equality (NIV) between the hungry and the food-secure in first century churches.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 2 Corinthians 8:13 (NIV)

We suggest that the Biblical virtues of discernment, generosity and courage are needed in facing this issue from the perspective of those who hunger and are asking God to intervene on their behalf. We need discernment to determine actions that are effective rather than alternatives that simply make us feel good. Generosity will enable a transfer of resources toward those who are most in need. Courage is required to raise our voices about the importance of working to end conflicts, tackle climate change and increase aid budgets.

Most importantly, we are called upon to pray alongside the hungry that God’s kingdom will come, His will be done, and that all people will have the daily bread that they require for a full and meaningful life.

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Making Connections October 2018

Happy Thanksgiving, all. We trust you’re enjoying the crisp, colourful days of fall, and are looking forward to taking many thankful moments ahead.

We’re thrilled this month to have produced a print version of this newsletter! If you don’t receive your copy by the end of this week, please contact us to make sure we have your address. Kim Li, our database manager would love to hear from you. 

This newsletter concentrates on Investing in Relationship, as Clive Baptist Church poignantly demonstrates through their heartfelt support of Shalom Christian Outreach.The Mountain Standard regional newsletter shares an exciting update in the Bonnie Doon congregation, which as you might remember transferred to a new Haitian church plant. The CBWC Foundation is a critical (and literal) part of investing in relationships. Foundation president Jason Krueger shares his heart for partnership this month. Finally, November is CBWC Sunday month, when we invite churches to take a moment to reflect on our shared ministry, as an act of thankfulness and encouragement. You’ll find a compilation of resources below. 

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

A Dying Church Reborn | FBC Calgary Fire Manse Rebuild | Settlement Report

Clive Baptist & Shalom Outreach:

A partnership that enriches congregations and galvanizes ministry

Venture partnerships are a longstanding tradition within the CBWC churches. As one of our oldest churches, Clive Baptist Church in Alberta has faithfully supported many fledgling ministries over the years.

Venture—a partnership program between CBWC churches and new church plants and ministries—is about far more than financial support, though that is a core part. Just as important is formation of relationships between ministries, which has been particularly crucial for Clive Baptist.

“We’ve always had that goal in mind,” says Missions Committee member Benjie Gray. “They’re not just a budget item. It has greatly enriched the Missions Committee and the congregation to meet these people.”

Four years ago when Clive wanted to take on another partnership, they prayerfully reviewed church plant resumes, and Shalom Christian Outreach stood out.

Shalom is focused on reconciliation and healing of deep wounds among refugees from the DR Congo, where genocide and deep tribalism have caused horrific wounds and fostered hatred between mostly Tutsi and Hutu tribes.

“To see those people and hear their stories firsthand…it’s just…” Benjie pauses, searching for the words that match the magnitude of what’s happening. “You have no idea until you meet with them and they open up to you, and you realize the issues you have in Canada are minuscule.”

Partnering to Advance the Kingdom

A column from CBWC Foundation President Jason Krueger

The Foundation has served in partnership with the CBWC family for many years. But where are we at relationally today? Quite simply, we share complete and unconditional trust. To God be the glory! Through offering financial support to the CBWC and its family of churches, we are able to glorify Christ. We pray together, eat together, laugh, and cry together. We openly share our dreams and challenges with one another. CBWC board members hold an open invitation to Foundation board meetings. We regularly engage with the leadership of Carey and the CBWC, as we discuss the exciting future that is at hand and discern together how we can help these God-inspired ideas become reality.

We do our best to find solutions where there appear to be none. Earlier this year, we were able to help in a challenging circumstance by crafting and funding an optimal lending solution in a 24-hour window. This is a tangible reminder of the direct impact Foundation depositors have on our lending ministry. We are thankful for each one of you! Over the past six years, we walked alongside a church plant by financing a dream that allowed them to grow their small community into a congregation of over 100 people. “How may we partner with you to advance the Kingdom?” is the starting point of our discussions—transformational language!

We wish to inspire generosity among our donors and depositors so that we may continue to abundantly support local church influence and CBWC leadership development. We are incredibly excited to hear of denominational dreams and plans for cultivating leadership, engaging in mission and investing in relationships, which are dependent on the continued generosity of all constituents.

We thank you for your faithful generosity to your local church, and ask that you continue to give, as it is so very important. For those of you financially able to do so, the Foundation offers additional ways for you to help support ministry. Please connect with us if you would like to find out more ( As it is written in 1 Corinthians 1:9, we are called into fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ. May we continue to respond accordingly.

CBWC Sunday(s)!

Every year in November, we invite churches to take a moment to reflect on our shared ministry, as an act of thankfulness and encouragement. Please visit for more information and CBWC Sunday resources.

Events Coming Up


ALBERTA WOMEN IN FOCUS RETREAT: October 12-14, 2018 Canmore, AB. Click here for more info.

CBWC SUNDAY: November 3, 10, 17 or 24. Your choice! Click here for more info & resources.

BANFF PASTORS AND SPOUSES CONFERENCE: Nov 5-8, 2018 in Banff, AB. Get more info & register here. (Registration ends OCT 3)

THE GATHERING 2019: May 23-25, 2019, High River, AB. Click here for more info.

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Making Connections September 2018

Welcome September. Welcome autumn. Welcome rhythms. Welcome change. (Is it really September without change?)

You’re hopefully aware of our denomination’s new ministry priorities: Cultivating Leadership, Investing in Relationship and Engaging in Mission. These foci were born out of the 77 Days of Prayer last fall where we sought God’s leadership for our denomination.

In the spirit of continuing to share stories from our community, we’ll choose one priority to focus on in each newsletter. First up is Cultivating Leadership. Read on to meet Peter Anderson, our new Director of Next Generation Ministries.

Also in this edition is the BC-Yukon regional newsletter, some back to school thoughts from Jodi Spargur, and an update from our database administrator Kim Li on the enormous improvements to our information systems over the summer. 

BC-Yukon Regional Newsletter

A Note from Larry | Photos from the AGM & Retreat | An update from YVR Chapel | Church Anniversaries | Settlement Report

Q&A with Peter Anderson, our new Director of Next Generation Ministries

We’re happy to introduce Peter Anderson, CBWC’s new Director of Next Generation Ministries. This role was born out of the 77 Days of Prayer last fall, where we sought God’s direction for our denomination’s ministry focus. This position was created to ensure we have concentrated focus on Cultivating Leadership throughout the generations.

Making Connections interviewed Peter to learn about his vision and heart for Next Generation ministry. This article is an edited and partially paraphrased version of our conversations.

First things first, what will Next Generation Ministries encompass?

My heart is for the next generation to be Christian leaders in whatever they do. That their relationship with Christ impacts everything, whether in pastoral roles at the job, with their families, etc.

I’ve been asked to help develop a gap year program focused on leadership development. There’s a huge desire for our graduates to have a space to consider where they fit in God’s kingdom. Where do they fit in their families, in their community and workplaces? A gap year can be a wonderful opportunity to explore these questions.

Working through questions like this is integral in leadership and spiritual development. So that’s one thing we’ll be working very hard on. It’s an explicit part of the Cultivating Leadership ministry focus.

Additionally, I’ll be part of planning SERVE and Potential Impact, and resourcing youth pastors and leaders. On a broader scale, I’ll work with our churches on youth & young adult ministries to help them think about how to love our youth, serve them, care for them, build them up. Camps are the other focus; I’ll be helping with the leadership development and discipleship components of what they do with their staff over the summer. I also want to support camp-church relations, to make sure we have strong connections between churches and camps.

That’s a large job role. How are the first few weeks going?

The first two weeks have been really encouraging. I’ve had a lot of conversations about youth and young adult ministries and the new gap year program—people are so excited about it. It really feels like something God is already doing and I get to be part of it.

Before this I was the Youth and Young Adult Pastor at West Point Grey Baptist for nearly a decade. Last year I felt called to move on, but didn’t know what I was being called to. It’s the strangest thing to be finishing in a church where things were great, and not knowing what I was saying yes to. I was hesitant about this role at first—it’s much different from what I’d imagined. But as I prayed, I felt God encourage me to pursue it. It felt like God was saying, “I’m sure for you,” even as I was unsure at first. I’m incredibly grateful to God for that. It’s amazing to have been praying for God to do this work in the CBWC all these years, never having imagined I’d be so much a part of it.

Tell us about your heart for Next Generation Ministries.

My deep hope really is to see young men and women be so transformed by Christ that it pours into every aspect of their life. That they would so embrace the gospel in all of its fullness, that it impacts their worldview, their job, how they see themselves in their churches.

I love the idea of this word ‘Lord.’ We say Jesus is Lord. Well, Lord means master and ruler. If we’re going to call Jesus ‘Lord’, that applies to every aspect of our lives.

I know from working with youth all these years, that so many young people are asking, ‘How do I not compartmentalize? How does what I’m hearing at church or reading in the Bible matter for hanging out with my friends on a Friday night? For the work I’m doing in the classroom, for decisions I’m making around university or the things I buy… all these things… how does it matter?’

So many of our young adults are journeying with us through high school, then they get to 19-20 years old and then they’re gone. They’re just gone. So how do we journey with them and create safe spaces to ask their questions? To deal with theology in a way that relates to the culture they live in? Which hopefully contributes to every single person saying, ‘Jesus is Lord … of everything. I’m not just waiting for heaven, there’s things to do here and now.’

If that’s the foundation for all of this, then it’s not just about creating a program here or there, it doesn’t just focus on one thing while missing something else.

Tell us more about the gap year.

The gap year idea is specifically vague right now. A huge part of my role right now is collecting research, interviews, surveys and input from our churches. So many people have been praying for something like this and want to be part of it. That’s great because it really needs to be shared CBWC program.

How can we pray for you?

For wisdom in particular, to know, in a brand new role, what things are ‘now’ things and what should wait for a little bit. As well as adjustment to this type of role. I’ve served in a more traditional pastoral role for all these years, so this is an adjustment for me. So, prayer for guidance in the role. I’m learning a lot as I go.

Thanks Peter, and welcome to the team! 

Thoughts on School

A blog post by Jodi Spargur from the CBWC Justice and Mercy Network

Back to school. How is it going in your house or community? Even for those of us who have been out of school for decades there is some sense that things get back to a regular routine as school resumes. With the presence of Facebook in many of our lives we have seen lots of photos of friends and family headed back to school in their new school clothes, with this year’s new grade depicted in one of many creative ways.

Most of those pictures depict smiles. This is one of my favourites:


But for some people it raises deep anxieties. It took me a long time to understand why some of my Cree and Nuu-chah-nulth friends would not “make” their kids go to school if they, like most kids, resisted going to school. It took listening to some of them tell stories about being sent to residential school and difficulties of those experiences to understand that school was not, in the words of Pam Palmater, “for Indigenous peoples a pathway to self-improvement and increased opportunity but an area of trauma from which we will need to heal before it can become anything else.”

This September I want to invite you and your congregations to consider two things.

  1. Learn about Orange Shirt Day ( It falls on September 30th (a Sunday). Consider wearing an orange shirt to church that day and to talking about what the day means.
  2. Pray for kids in Canada whose school experiences are still a source of trauma rather than a path to increased opportunity. Pray in particular for the schools on reserve that are underfunded, understaffed and under-resourced (Shannon’s Dream). Pray for students who still are being removed from the support of family and culture who have to board in other cities because there are no schools for them where they live.

– Jodi Spargur, Healing at the Wounding Place and CBWC’s Justice and Mercy Network

CBWC Database Update

In 2015 we began a multi-year project to update our data management system. It’s made a world of difference to our information accuracy. Kim Li, the CBWC database administrator, recalls where we came from and reports how we’re doing now.

The CBWC Database: Where we came from

Our new database “Sunergo Systems for Ministry” includes an Information Management Tool and Event Management Tool, both systems were launched in 2016. The two tools are web-based, more accessible and user friendly. Most importantly, the new database is a denominational tool customized for the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada by NCOL Ministries. NCOL is a non-for-profit society registered in B.C., and is dedicated to enabling the ministry of denominations and churches through the effective use of web-based technologies.

Prior to this, we were using a program called Raiser’s Edge. It was a powerful tool that was donated to the BUWC by a church many years ago. However, it was designed more for fundraising than database management, and was expensive for a non-for-profit like us to use. Additionally, users found the software difficult to use, so they found it hard to get involved.

Kim Li has been the CBWC database administrator since 2012. She recalls often being swamped with maintenance and management of the old Raiser’s Edge database, and had to spend plenty of time planning the transfer and development of the new database. It was a difficult time when she had to deal with a large amount of backlog work.

By the end of 2015, with approval and support of the CBWC Board and the CBWC Executive Staff, Victor Ku, Director of Finance and Administration decided to switch into the current database. It was a milestone as our information management and event management tools are making us more effective and efficient. The database team is growing; besides Kim, active team members include the three Regional administrators, Dawn Johannesson (BCY), Sue Hunter (Mountain Standard), Cindy Emmons (Heartland) and Jerry Wang, the Operations Manager.

Church Logon Launch: New Feature of the Database

On April 27, 2018, the Church Logon program was launched to all our churches by Louanne Haugan and the Communication & Development team. It was a big day, when the new database became interactive. Now by clicking here (or navigating to > About > Church Staff/Volunteer Login), church staff and volunteers can update church information and submit Annual Church Stats (Church Clerk’s Report) and Church Treasurer’s Report online.

We believe that the program will impact our denomination and church families positively and profoundly.

  • Churches have responded to this new system positively. For the first year of running Church Logon, 70% churches have submitted a “Complete” or “In Progress” report as of August 2018
  • Numerous current and previous employee details have been updated by churches, which saves lots of correspondence and manpower
  • So far we’ve received more than 600 updates from churches, including 285 staff updates, 85 church updates and more than 230 person updates

Resource our Churches Better

If church users still have questions or troubles, your Regional administrators will be more than happy to help/train you as requested. The CBWC have been building up a wonderful database team, and the CBWC Calgary Office initiates a face to face staff training/fellowship annually beginning in 2017. We’re equipping ourselves to provide resources for our churches and clergy to maximize their health and effective ministry.

Scripture says, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:2-121 (NIV)

Prayerfully and hopefully, the CBWC, our Regional offices and churches will build up a marvelous team based on the interactive database. Dawn Johannesson said: “Yes, we are an army of ants!” Well said.  May we always be like marching ants carrying a MISSION, falling again and again but never giving up until we reach the goal for the sake of His Kingdom.

— Kim Li

If your church hasn’t checked out the new system, refer to this Quick Start Guide. You can also contact your regional administrator for your login information and any additional guidance.

Events Coming Up

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Making Connections August 2018

Click here for the

Heartland Regional Newsletter

A Note from Mark | Hyas Baptist Church Closes After 92 Years | Meet Our People: Alisa Powers | Summer BBQ Meet and Greets

SERVE 2018: Kamloops

Hundreds of young people came to Kamloops for seven days of work projects, peppered with group meals, a few fun activities and nightly worship services. This is an annual event put on by CBWC Youth, with a heart to develop a servant minded generation. Thanks to Cailey Morgan for the amazing photos! (Click through to see them all)

Summer Camps Update

Summer camp is a yearly highlight for a lot of people – campers, volunteers, staff and parents included!  There are seven camps in the CBWC family. We managed to get ahold of a few of them in between water fights and archery to see how the summer’s going so far.

Camp Wapiti
Camp Wapiti, near Grande Prairie, Alberta has had 300 campers so far, hosted by 12 staff and 100 volunteers. Four campers chose to get baptized (in a repurposed horse trough for lack of a lake). Ten new hammocks have been a highlight, especially at junior high camp where every night of camp a different cabin slept in the hammocks. They estimate they’ve killed 1,000,000,000 mosquitoes, give or take a few thousand.
Gull Lake

Gull Lake, in between Edmonton & Calgary has had 568 campers so far, with more coming up in August, hosted by 55 staff and more than 55 volunteers. Five camps have been held so far, with four more scheduled for August.

Camp experiences are central to many peoples’ stories of faith. Please keep these camps in prayer as they head into the final month.

Keats Camp

Keats Camp, off the coast of West Vancouver is expecting 1,603 campers plus 100 LEAD participants by the end of the summer. By the end of August, they’ll have hosted eight camps, run by 85 staff & volunteers – eight of whom are planning to walk the plank (it’s a camp thing). Campers licked up an average of 750 scoops of ice cream each week, while the epic foam fights use up 500L of water and 20L of concentrate per fight. The hardworking kitchen crew figure they bake 2,660 buns every week, and cook an extra 110 meals for guests who come for Sunday church and/or lunch.

Other CBWC Camps

The rest of the CBWC camps weren’t able to get the numbers to us, but rest assured they’re in the full swing of summer activities.

  • Katepwa Lake Camp, an hour outside of Regina, SK
  • Quest at Christopher Lake, in northern Saskatchewan
  • Zao Outdoor Ministries, operates wilderness trips throughout B.C.
  • Mill Creek Baptist Camp in southern Alberta

Events Coming Up

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter July 2018

No, I Don’t Agree with You, But …

In life we cannot go very many minutes without running up against someone who has an opinion contrary to our own. We might see it in the paper, hear it on the radio, watch it on the television, possibly absorb it from our kids, sense it in advertisements, or glean it from clerks at the store. The feeling of wanting to stop the world and set others straight is a common experience, especially when we feel like we are in touch with the heart of God.
I, too, have to cool myself down on minor or even major confrontations to my values. The verses of 1 Peter 3:15-16 have had special meaning to me lately. You may have it memorized, but hear it anew: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (NIV) Historically for me, I have placed these verses as a shield about me for when I feel formally attacked for my beliefs. It can certainly be applied that way, but more often in my spirit, I feel attacked by informal encroachments upon my values. I think there is something here for me in terms of how I handle myself in those moments.

The part that sticks out to me is: “…Do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.” If, in my spirit and attitude or words, I fight back hoping to dominate as though I have an argument to win, then I lose. I need first to have gentleness, respect, and a clear conscience. The verse says I am to be ready to give a reason, but it is not my duty to convince an opponent. My opponents are ultimately accountable to God themselves. If my words convince them of my position, I will indeed be pleased. But if my words are void of gentleness, respect and a clear conscience, then something is truly wrong. Dare I forget the challenge to “love your enemies”? The internal attitudes reflecting the fruit of the Spirit in the inevitable challenges of opponents speaks volumes for the Kingdom.  

Another challenge in these verses is to be sure our behaviour does not give others the privilege of slander against us or against the Lord Himself. The moments we feel challenged are the very times we need to breathe, pray, request the Spirit’s filling, then respond with godly attitude, and then think of what words God might give. The truth sets us free, but it does not set us free to release attitudes that reflect badly on His name or His work within us.

May God help us all to be known for shining forth “love, joy, peace, patience …”

Your co-worker, Dennis

Recommended Reading

It’s All Your Fault!: 12 Tips For Managing People Who Blame Others For Everything by Bill Eddy

This book comes recommended by Paul Spate and a friend of mine, Alan Simpson. It speaks about ‘high-conflict people.’ The book gives some practical guidelines on how to understand and approach this difficult type of personality. Everyone comes in contact with these personalities from time to time, but those in ministry can find them especially awkward to handle within a church context. You can read an excerpt here.   


Canadian Baptist denominational leaders (CBWC, CBOQ , CBAC, and L’Union d’Eglises Baptistes Francaises au Canada) met in Guelph in May 2018. One of the projects they are working on together is the development of a new Worship and Service Manual.

Coming Up: Alberta Women in Focus Retreat

October 12-14, 2018 Canmore, Alberta. Get more information and register here.

Bonnie Doon Baptist Church is undergoing a transformation. In addition to some renovations of the building (a new roof, flooring, etc.), a growing Haitian group is holding weekly Sunday services in Creole. Bonnie Doon is a French neighbourhood in Edmonton, AB. We’re thrilled to see the ministry of Christ thrive in this place.

We’ve Got a New Name!

As promised, in our April newsletter, our region has agreed on a new name. Thank you to many who submitted suggestions. As of now, we are no longer the Alberta and Northwest Territories Region. The CBWC Board approved our new name in April 2018: Mountain Standard Region. This name is now inclusive of our AB, BC, and NT churches. Our corresponding new email address for our Edmonton office is 

Speaking of the Edmonton office, we’ve also moved! As of July 1st you’ll find us on the Taylor Seminary campus. Our phone number remains the same: (780) 462-2176.

11525 – 23 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T6J 4T3

We are planning to host an open house sometime in September so you can drop by and see the new space. Stay tuned for the date.


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Faye Webber. She died suddenly on the afternoon of May 29. Faye had a passion for mentorship and was involved in various ministries including marriage retreats and worship leadership. She had been involved with the Alberta Regional Advisory Group and with Gull Lake Camp. Along with her husband, Bob (a former CBWC staff member), Faye was actively involved in her home church, Brownfield Baptist Church, AB. The funeral was held at Brownfield Community Centre on Monday, June 11.
John Easter passed away on Sunday, June 17 after battling cancer for quite some time. He is survived by his three children, Martha Jean, Ian and Elizabeth. Along with his late wife Martha (who passed away in January 2017), John was a missionary in India for 19 years. They worked at First Baptist Church in Victoria and then settled into retirement and served at Laurier Heights Baptist Church in Edmonton. John’s love for God and gregarious positivity will be remembered by all who knew him. The celebration of life was held on Tuesday, June 26 at Laurier Heights Baptist Church.

New Ministers Orientation

We had 23 participants this year for New Ministers Orientation (NMO) at the end of April. Each year we hold the NMO at Carey Theological College in Vancouver. It’s proven to be a helpful orientation, and in fact, it is required that all of our pastors and chaplains attend an NMO within the first few years of their ministry. 

It’s a 2-day orientation, with lots of interaction between staff and participants. CBWC covers the cost of transportation, accommodation and meals at Carey.

Brenda and Everett Budd (pastor, First Baptist Church, Peace River) celebrate the birth of their son David James Budd. Congratulations to the new parents!

Sam Breakey (CBWC Church Health Strategist) facilitates discussion Fort Saskatchewan Community Baptist Church. If your church is interested in participating in this initiative, please contact Sam at

Settlement Report

New Hires:

  • Joseph Steeves, Senior Pastor, Faith Community Baptist Church, Claresholm, AB
  • Dick Schonewille, Interim Pastor, Virden Baptist Church, MB

Moving on:

  • Bill Christieson, Senior Pastor, Awaken, Calgary, AB
  • Barry Breker, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pincher Creek, AB
  • Paris Perry, Interim Pastor, Sonrise Community Baptist Church, Calgary, AB


  • Al McPhedran, Senior Pastor, Fort Saskatchewan Community Baptist Church, AB

Making Connections July 2018

Click here for the Mountain Standard regional newsletter

A note from Dennis | We’ve Got a New Name! | Obituaries | New Ministers Orientation | Settlements

Chuck Harper: Chaplain and Advocate for the Homeless in Vernon

Chuck Harper’s friend was found, dead, behind a gas station dumpster in Vernon a couple of years ago. He had been homeless; no one knew the cause of death, and few seemed to care.

“There was nothing made of it. It was like he never existed,” Chuck recalls.

It happened a few years after Chuck started the North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy (NOCC). Amid grieving his friend’s death, the experience underscored again an acute need in the community. Every year, a startling number of homeless people die in Vernon, and the town struggles to understand the issue of homelessness.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and a lack of understanding,” Chuck says. When a homeless person dies, it’s hard for their friends to find out what really happened. They often don’t know if they died from exposure, murder, poor health, a drug overdose, or some other cause. People come to Chuck for information that he often doesn’t have.

So when yet another person he knew died after falling down a stairwell, Chuck knew he needed to do something more. With the help of other agencies and the city, he organized an annual Homeless Memorial and monument in a downtown park. The monument has become a safe place for the community to mourn their dead, and the annual gathering helps to raise the issue of homelessness in the public eye.

The BC Coroner’s Service heard about his work and reached out to see if they could collaborate to learn more about the deaths. Since then, Chuck’s developed a good relationship with them, and now when someone is missing or has passed away, he can get accurate information to share with

the community. He’s also working with the Coroner’s Office to get better statistics on homeless deaths and the challenges facing this community.

“It’s often said that opioids are the problem, but in fact the leading cause of death among homeless people is compromised health, including malnutrition,” he says. “The second leading cause is cancer.”

Having this information allows Chuck to help in educating and advocating on behalf of the homeless. Chuck shares this information with the agencies he collaborates with so that front-line response is better targeted to real needs. He also uses the information to tell the whole story of homelessness.

“This person who died is not just some nameless, homeless bum. It’s a person of value who had a life and had fallen on hard times,” he says.

Homelessness is a political hot potato in Vernon, and there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the issues. Politicians like to say the homeless people come from other towns, that it isn’t really Vernon’s problem. But actually, the majority of homeless people are from Vernon, Chuck says. Instead what needs to be focused on is Vernon’s serious lack of affordable housing, which has dramatic costs on the lives of the marginalized. Compromised health and a hard time accessing health care are contributing to over a dozen deaths every year.

“If there were fatalities at an intersection, and 14 people died at that location, you can guarantee that something would be done about it,” Chuck says. “Yet our guys and gals are dying, largely from preventable issues. And it doesn’t appear to be important enough.”

At the heart of his work is the love of Christ. “For me, the bottom line is that people are dying without knowing Jesus,” he says.

Chuck spent time on the streets in Vernon as a teen, has lived a life of addiction and experienced firsthand how CBWC churches’ shared the love of Christ to the “least of these.” He encountered the transforming love of Christ at First Baptist Calgary’s Burning Bush coffeehouse years ago, and was able to turn his life around. “I don’t know where I’d be if the Burning Bush hadn’t been there,” he says. Later he helped found the Mustard Seed, and in 2013 he started the North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy to fill a gap in Vernon.

A big part of his work is spending time with people going through hard times, giving them friendship, mentorship and support. He also does a lot of speaking to small groups to educate people about issues related to homelessness, and advocates on behalf of the homeless. In 2016 he started a monthly street church at First Baptist Vernon. The church service and meal gets about 70-80 people out each month, with the support of seven local churches and two dozen volunteers. They’re working towards becoming a regular, weekly church plant.

“I think our denomination does well at looking after our less fortunate, and we need to keep on keeping on. Too many people are dying without knowing the love of Jesus.”

Moving On: Sherry Bennett & Majd AlAjji

Sherry Bennett energized intergenerational ministry at CBWC churches

Over the last 12 years, Sherry Bennett has been a key advocate and resource for our churches in their ministries to reach children and families for Christ. Whether a church has 5 or 500 children in their congregation, she endeavoured to offer ideas to provide a meaningful ministry through inter-generational engagement. She became trained in safe practice policies and assisted many of our churches in establishing workable guides and policies for responsible risk management. She led workshops both with Carey and on location in churches, answered numerous email queries, researched curriculums, and the list goes on.

Sherry finished her role as the Children and Families (CFam) Coordinator at the end of June in order to take on a teaching position in Kelowna. We are so grateful for the years of service Sherry has given and we know that she will continue to offer support and encouragement as she is able, though no longer in an official capacity.

Thank you, Sherry for serving us so well and faithfully!

Children and Families Ministry Going Forward

In order to continue to resource our churches, Sherry has helped to line up leaders from our churches who could offer you workshops on a variety of topics listed below. If you would like to host a workshop in your church, the CBWC can help with travel costs so a presenter can come to you and in-service your leaders. Contact Faye Reynolds ( to book a workshop or training event. Faye will also be your primary contact for other questions or needs and she will endeavor to point you to the best source. A brochure with a fuller description of these workshops will be available on our CBWC website later this summer.

* Biblical Storytelling — Amanda Hecht, pastor in Wakaw, SK

* Volunteer Recruitment — Bree Young, Children & Family Director, Summerland, B.C.

* How to Go from a Great Children’s Ministry to a Phases Ministry — Bree & Lee Young, Summerland, B.C.

* Why Family Ministry? — Bree Young, Summerland, B.C.

* Generations Worshiping, Learning & Serving Together — Sherry Bennett, Kelowna, B.C.

* Creative Worship — Joan Dosso, Minister of Music, Emmanuel, Victoria, B.C.

* Parenting and Partnering with Impact — Sherry Bennett, Kelowna, B.C.

* Developing Mission Minded Family — Sherry Bennett, Kelowna, B.C.

* Teaching for Transformation — Sherry Bennett, Kelowna, B.C.

* Growing Your Children’s Ministry — Natasha Ewaskow, Children and Family director, Cranbrook, B.C.

* Intergenerational Church Ministry — Natasha Ewaskow, Cranbrook, B.C.

* Inviting and Supporting Volunteers — Natasha Ewaskow, Cranbrook, B.C.


Majd AlAjji invested incredible energy into CBWC’s refugee sponsorship ministry

If you are a church that has been involved with refugee sponsorship, then you are well aware of Majd AlAjji and the wonderful expertise and support he has offered our churches in navigating the many requirements and complications of sponsoring refugees. Majd’s attention to detail, his tenacity, his compassion for families coming to Canada, his desire for our churches to be safe landing places for refugees and his fluency in Arabic have all been incredible gifts to the CBWC.

We’re so grateful for the time he spent with the CBWC, but unfortunately for us, Majd has accepted a full time position with the Canadian Bible Society, where he’ll focus on reaching ethnic churches in the prairies. This is a great move for Majd and his wife Angel, and we celebrate this opportunity for them, though it is a huge loss to us. The CBWC will continue to be a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) and assist our churches with private sponsorships or blended visa applications. Faye Reynolds will now be your contact person to assist with applications and process.

CBWC Ministry Priorities

As we’ve mentioned before, the CBWC, through prayer and discernment has decided on three ministry priorities for the coming years. Here’s a video message from Rob Ogilvie, expressing our hopes and prayers for these priorities.
You can read a summary of each here:

Thanks for joining us for Assembly 2018

We had 69 churches with more than 190 participants registered to take part in the 2018 Online Assembly. An invitation was put out to CBWC churches to submit photos or videos that would be defined by the #wearecbwc hashtag. This was compiled and shown at the start of our meeting to celebrate the beautiful diversity of our church family, united in one purpose.

Some churches got together for a potluck dinner before the Online Assembly, which was a great way for them to get to know each other and strengthen relationships before getting down to business.

  •  “Hearing from Rob was the highlight for me and made coming worthwhile. I was very glad to hear the follow up from the prayer initiative. But the others were good too and the business is important.”
  •  A highlight from one of the churches that gathered at Westview Baptist was “being with delegates from other Calgary churches.”
  •  “I appreciated the updates from Rob, Victor, Colin and Jason. It provided an opportunity for my church to see some of the people they never see.”

We continue to work towards a seamless online presentation, and got many helpful suggestions to help improve the online experience in future years. Thank you to everyone who participated and we look forward to welcoming you in person next year at the Gathering 2019 in High River, AB!

The Gathering 2019

High River Baptist Church, High River, Alberta,

May 23 – 25, 2019

Events Coming Up

Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference: Nov 5-8, 2018 in Banff, AB. Get more info & register here.

SERVE: July 1-7, 2018 in Kamloops, BC. Pray for the youth this week.

BCY Pastors’ Retreat: July 5-6, 2018 in Victoria, BC.  Click here for more info.

BCY Assembly: July 6-7, 2018 in Victoria, BC.  Click here for more info.

Alberta Women in Focus Retreat: October 12-14, 2018 Canmore, AB. Click here for more info.

The Gathering 2019: May 23-25, 2019, High River, AB.  Click here for more info.

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

Making Connections June 2018

Q&A with Jodi Spargur, One Year after CBWC Adopted the UN Declaration

What has it meant that CBWC adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

It means that we now have a framework to engage as a non-party denomination, who wasn’t involved in running residential schools. The UNDRIP gives CBWC churches a clear way to participate in the work of reconciliation.

Our pastors are telling me they feel they now have a way to participate in the conversation about healing and justice after the Truth and Reconciliation process. It has brought clarity, and given us a role.

What are some CBWC churches doing to participate in the work of reconciliation?

We’ve hosted conferences throughout the denomination where participants learn the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and about the current realities that prevent Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations from thriving. Each of those conferences includes one UNDRIP learning session. They also include opportunities to hear from local Indigenous leaders about what is necessary for moving forward.

There have also been several teach-ins about both the UN Declaration and Bill C-262, what it means for churches to support the government in adopting the UN Declaration as a framework for reconciliation. A number of churches used the prayer resource during Lent, and others have used it as a resource outside of Lent. It’s pretty broad engagement on the topic, for us.

What comes out of these conferences?

One place that’s had some amazing outcomes is Dauphin, Manitoba. Last year a group of church members attended a conference in Winnipeg, and were so impacted that they decided to host one in Dauphin. They’ve begun a process of learning and healing both within their congregation and among the community. In their church there are some Indigenous folks who were adopted in the Sixties Scoop, but some of them didn’t know that wider context until they did the blanket exercise and realized, ‘That’s my story.’ This whole journey has been about them finding their identity in Christ, in their community and in their traditional communities. Those are powerful stories to watch unfold.

As a church also, Dauphin is continuing to build right relationship with their neighbours. For example, they’ve learned the names of all of the chiefs of the five nations who surround them, and they pray for them every week in their church. Similar to how some churches pray for provincial leaders and city leaders. I love that they know their names, and they have this framework for why it’s important.

What are the Bill C-262 teach-ins?

MP Romeo Saganash contacted me asking to be put in touch with our churches, so a number of teach-ins have occurred regarding Bill C-262, where people can ask questions and learn what the implications of the legislation would be.

I’m really encouraged by this. Because it’s a private member’s bill, lots of people were pretty pessimistic about it even making it to committee, but it’s almost done in committee and will come back to the floor this summer. Even for it to get this far is hugely encouraging, and speaks to the actions of a lot of churches involvement across the country from a variety of denominations.

(Bill C-262 is a private member’s bill, sponsored by MP Romeo Saganash, which would legislate the federal government to adopt and implement UNDRIP, as it has promised to do. Learn more in this past Making Connections article.)

What is CBWC leadership doing to participate in reconciliation?

Rob Ogilvie recently appointed me as the CBWC representative on Indigenous justice issues to the Canadian Council of Churches and Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, for the next three years.

The CCC committee will meet four times a year with representatives from other denominations to talk about which peace and justice issues each of us is working on. We’ll look for ways to collaborate and resource one another. Indigenous justice is one of their main focuses for the next three years.

With EFC, I’ll be in Halifax in June attending the North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Study symposium on white supremacy. That’s the next step the EFC’s Indigenous advisors asked for. So we’ll attend that conference and then meet to talk about collaborating.

What are the next steps for our churches?

We’re continuing to plan conferences—five are scheduled through November, two in the Okanagan, two in southern Alberta, and then back to Regina for a follow up conference from what we did last year.

There will continue to be conversations with all of the places we’ve been in terms of how we keep moving forward. And the teach-ins will continue.

How can churches start to get involved if they haven’t yet?

They can contact me. We can talk about anything from study resources for their congregations to prayer resources, all the way up to hosting a conference or listening circle.

I’m encouraged by conversations I’m having with churches who previously haven’t known what their place is in this process. They’re realizing the potential this has to open up areas of relationship in their broader community—and sometimes, to open conversations inside their own community that they hadn’t known were sitting there.

Aspen Green Living Celebrates its Grand Opening

The day of the ribbon cutting was overcast and chilly. People were holding cups of coffee, milling about the entryway. Architects, donors and residents were here to celebrate something remarkable.

In a town where rents and home prices have immobilized retiring homeowners and pushed out fixed income renters, Aspen Green Living offers an alternative: lifetime leases where you get your money back when you leave.

L-R: Rob Ogilvie, Executive Minister of CBWC; Nis Schmidt, Board President of the Beulah Garden Homes Society; Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East; Bud Phillips, Board President of BG Aspen Green Society; Heather Deal, Vancouver City Councillor; Larry Schram, BCY Regional Minister for CBWC; Jamey McDonald, CEO of BG Aspen Green Society.
“When I saw that sign, ‘From $299,000’, in Vancouver, I thought you missed a zero,” said Jenny Kwan, MP for Vancouver East, to the crowd. That low number is possible because of the investment that a small group of people made in 1947.

“It was an embryonic group,” says Beulah Board President Bud Phillips, of the early founders. Seventy-one years ago a group of Christians were concerned about housing prices for seniors. So they held a Mother’s Day carnation sale, raised $500 and bought a whole city block. “They had vision, but they didn’t know what to do with it yet.”

That was the start of Beulah Garden Homes Society’s campus of care in East Vancouver. Now they have five seniors’ residences with a mixture of independent and assisted living. All of them are below-market pricing, but Aspen Green is the first to offer a life lease. The threshold to be called below-market housing is to be 20 per cent below; Aspen Green is 35 per cent below.

Residents were given carnations as an homage to the original carnation sale of 1947 that raised enough money to purchase the land.

Life leases are relatively rare in Canada. Here’s how it works at Aspen Green: Residents pay 29 years-worth of a lease in a lump sum. But when they pass away or move out, Beulah “buys” their suite back from them, minus a slight refurbishing fee. It’s kind of like a long-term savings account: the investment doesn’t grow, but it’s guaranteed safe. And more importantly, residents don’t pay rent, just a management fee similar to a strata fee.
No one really makes a profit in the life lease model, which is probably why it’s so rare and why it takes such a remarkable organization to do it. With no profit expected, and because residents get their lump sum returned to them, this kind of business plan doesn’t qualify for loans. Because Beulah already had four other seniors’ residences right across the street, they were able to subsidize the life lease building as part of their whole campus of care. Residents also benefit from being surrounded by a supportive community right away.

“There is lots of other non-market housing, but they don’t offer the support we can,” Phillips says.

The City of Vancouver, while not a financial partner, and while they still put Aspen Green through all the regular development hoops, is thrilled with the outcome.

“Thank you for being the kind of partnership we can say yes to,” Councillor Heather Deal said to the crowd of celebrators. “When we introduced Vancouver’s housing policy, we knew we’d need great partners like you. The quality, community and care in this project made it easy to raise our hands and say yes to.”

Aspen Green is the result of a deliberate effort to make affordable, safe, connecting housing for seniors. It’s also a direct outcome of faith.

The rooftop garden, with views of Burnaby and the North Shore has been planted with vegetables, herbs, flowers and vines by the residents.
Aspen Green is the result of a deliberate effort to make affordable, safe, connecting housing for seniors. It’s also a direct outcome of faith.

“We believe in compassion because Jesus taught us compassion,” said the new Aspen Green CEO, Jamey McDonald. “We owe a great deal of our identity to our background as Baptists. There are many expressions of faith, and for us it’s a rich and important part of who we are.”

Beulah Garden Homes Society is a not-for-profit organization, affiliated with the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. The other residences are: The Cedars, Beechwood, Charles Bentall, and Rupert Residences. Aspen Green has four floors, a rooftop garden with beautiful views and 54 suites located at 4th Avenue and Rupert St. in East Vancouver.

“We’re not done yet,” McDonald told those assembled, reverberating the future-focused mindset of the Beulah founders, 71 years ago.

CBWC Foundation Column: Unforced Rhythms

By Christine Reid

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl 3:1). As the dog days of summer approach, we cannot help but observe the unforced rhythms of florae in bloom, and the shifting landscapes from bronze to emerald. Likewise, the unforced rhythms of change help us navigate the pending shifts of distinction, diversity and development. As our role in the CBWC family continues to mature, we remain faithful to “why” we exist and use our talents as contributions to the bigger story.

  1. Distinction (dəˈstiNG(k)SH(ə)n) – a difference or contrast between similar things or people

The CBWC Foundation is similar to the CBWC in terms of “why” we do what we do but looks distinctly different in “how” we get there. Our pastoral brothers and sisters labor joyfully, managing the human capital that keeps the local church relevant in today’s culture. As math-types, we create, manage and tweak the financial matrix needed to resource these vital relationships. Although the aim of the Foundation is to protect and grow financial assets, we never lose sight of what team we play on. We walk alongside our CBWC family, offering varied perspectives that satisfy key roles on the ministry playing field. We do not simply cheer from the sidelines but instead, continually focus on honing skills, showing up for practices, and being game-ready.

  1. Diversity – If you’re brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello. P. Coelho

In June 2018, we bid adieu to three retiring board members and welcome two new ones to our Foundation tribe. Truth be told, I am not a fan of goodbyes, but do speak for many others when expressing a deep gratitude for the time spent with Jack, Steve and Peter over the past 33 years of collective service. In parallel, am equally appreciative for the servant hearts of our newest members (Donna and Ken) trusting they will quickly feel at home and provide a renewed sense of energy and optimism.

Jack Borchert, Chairman & Director, 2002 – 2018
Jack served five years at (Avalon) Emmanuel Baptist in Saskatoon after graduating from Seminary in 1978 and prior to moving to Summerland Baptist in 1983, where he served until 2000. Jack joined the BUDF until 2007, subsequently moved to FBC Kelowna and enjoyed semi-retirement at Summerland Baptist before returning to full-time co-pastor in 2017. He is happily married to Pam, with whom he shares a wonderful circle of friends, children and grandkids. In 2016, Jack and Pam’s house burned down which has been a great source of angst, forcing them to live out of suitcases and sleeping in 17 different beds and locations. Jack’s 2018 goal is to be settled in one place for retirement! We expect his summer will include long trips on his motorcycle and taking Pam to Costco for date nights. Thanks, Jack!
Steve Newransky, Director, 2011 – 2018

Steve has been a member of the CBWC for 28 years, serves on his church council, and was an Assembly rep in 2017. Steve served six years with the Opportunity Grants Committee, has a heart for initiating new ministries, shared his musical talents on many praise and worship teams and is currently involved in ministry to men from different churches. Steve’s professional background includes 22 years in the financial industry in both in advisory and corporate roles and is a proud dad of two teen girls, which is his biggest personal challenge to date. Thanks for your service, Steve!

Peter Burnham, Secretary & Director, 2008 – 2018
Peter is a geologist by training, worked for Dome Petroleum in the early 1980s and moved into the realm of junior-sized oil and gas entities, spending 35 years building new companies and selling them. He’s participated on the boards of several private and public oil and gas companies and for the past 10 years has been involved part time in private equity placement in the oil and gas sector. Peter has been married to Wendy for 35 years, has three married children and one granddaughter who brings an incredible amount of joy. Peter enjoys sailing, fishing and travelling with Wendy and friends. He’s interested in international mission, particularly the Middle East and India, has a 40-year history of involvement with Young Life of Canada and upon retirement from the Foundation Board is available for other areas of service. Thanks, Peter!
Donna Johnson, Director, appointed April 2018
Donna attended Kings University in Edmonton studying psychology and music, and then worked at Family Freehorse Wellness Society with Indigenous families. After moving to Calgary, Donna attended the University of Calgary and switched gears, using her talents in the credit industry, working with UFA for six years handling commercial credit and leading regional managers in the field. While raising a young family, Donna freelanced in bookkeeping, accounts receivable & payable, payroll and credit adjudication. In 2015, Donna joined the Westview Education Society, handling the bookkeeping and intra-office administration. She is currently finishing her second year of a B.Comm. in Accounting and was most recently hired by BDO. Donna is an active member of Westview Baptist Church, serves in the CBE teaching pysanka and mentors seniors regarding credit security and fraud. In her spare time, Donna is learning ASL in the hopes of increasing her volunteer time with the Deaf Church at Westview. Welcome, Donna!
Ken Ritchie FCIP, Director, appointed April 2018
Ken is a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of Canada, has a Business Management Certificate from the University of Calgary, has enjoyed a career in the insurance business since 1976, and is currently the CEO of Mennonite Mutual Insurance Co. (Alberta) Ltd. Ken has served on the boards of The Society of Fellows, Camp Chestermere, Crescent Heights Baptist Church, the CBWC Finance Committee and remains actively involved with several Mutual Insurance Associations. Ken’s greatest satisfaction in business and non-profit work has been participating in setting and implementing strategic plans. Having the ability to influence organizations to move in creative new directions captures his interest and motivates him to succeed. Welcome, Ken!

3. Development – Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. Viktor Frankl

When it comes to missional development, we each do our part to resource the CBWC community. For example, the Foundation provides an environment to steward resources, and our churches provide the environment to place them. We act as an intermediary, resourcing goals by converting monies from our Ministry Impact Fund into loans for churches, pastors and partner agencies. Again, we notice the natural, unforced rhythms play out through a collective net worth. In early seasons of cultivation, many organizations rely heavily on capital, however, when a mature harvest reaps fruit, the excess is re-deployed and replanted. We depend on these natural and cyclical shifts to create loving, interdependence on community and, when done in harmony, we all thrive. Currently, the Foundation has the privilege of stewarding monies that are available to lend out, so if you are in a season, where additional capital can increase ministry potential, please give us a call. We are eager to serve. (

Celebrating 130 Years at First Baptist Calgary

First Baptist Calgary celebrated a momentous 130 years as a church this May. Here are a few photos from their celebration.

Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference:

Registration is Open

A highlight of our year is the Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference, were we get a chance to retreat among the majestic Rocky Mountains and be filled with worship, preaching, fellowship, and of course, food! This year we’ll gather over November 5-8, 2018. Details are all posted on our website here: Click on the speaker’s names to view session topics.

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at

BCY Regional Newsletter June 2018

We are family 

By grace alone we have been drawn together by the Holy Spirit, saved by Jesus Christ, loved by God the Father and placed into a family of faith. The New Testament uses many metaphors to convey this thought and one of the most repeated and my personal favourite, is the image of family. Because of Jesus Christ, our primary identity is no longer found in cultural terms like ethnicity, socio economic status, or gender*. Instead, as Paul reminds us, our interconnectedness in Jesus has changed everything. By grace alone, we are one in Christ; a family of faith.

Erna and I have experienced this in wonderful ways over these last months. We have been blessed to travel around our province and visit many of our church families. In small gatherings and large, we have seen our family of faith gather to pray, worship, serve, discern and respond to the leading of Jesus. As a result, I am more convinced than ever that we are indeed a family. Not only because of our salvation uniting us in Christ but also because we share a common set of values and presuppositions, which I call our Baptist identity markers. Our local church families, governance structures, worship styles, ministry foci and preaching preferences vary greatly but we are still all interconnected through a common set of assumptions that make us Canadian Baptist. We are indeed a family.

Let’s remember that and strengthen the family relationship. When we gather this July as the Convention of Baptist Churches of B.C. in Victoria, let’s gather as a family and deliberately and personally connect with one another. When we hear that one of our churches has called, ordained or commissioned a new leader or started a new ministry let’s intentionally rejoice with them and join them in the celebration. When we discuss some hard things, experience hard seasons and disagree with one another—Baptists do this well—let’s do so in love as a family. Let’s recognize that our family is larger than our local region and that together we are called to faithfully follow Jesus into the future he has for us in Canada.

We are family and I am glad to be a part of the BCY region of the Canadian Baptists.

Larry Schram

* See Galatians 3:28

Ward and Jane Cowie being recognized by the Berea Baptist Church as Ward officially retired.
Co-pastors, Les Clarke and Clark Taylor being commissioned to lead at First Baptist Penticton
Pastor Axel Schroeber’s commissioning at West Vancouver Baptist Church

Potential Impact 2018

“Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.” This prayer echoed throughout the weekend of April 26-29 as young adults from across the CBWC gathered at Keats Camps to explore the call of Jesus in their life.

Potential Impact, a three-night retreat, was hosted by the BCY region for young people from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Yukon, as well as from CBWC’s regions further east.

A well-rounded team facilitated the retreat, diving into the theme of hearing God’s voice as found in the book of 1 Samuel. Speakers included Colin Godwin of Carey, CBWC Director of Church Planting, Shannon Youell and Church Planting Associate, Cailey Morgan, author and teacher Linda Smith, youth pastor Eric West, and CBWC Youth Director, Tammy Klassen.

Beyond studying stories of God’s voice in the past, and beyond even considering the exact life choices these young adults would make, the retreat pushed participants to make listening for God’s voice an everyday rhythm by choosing postures of open-handedness and attentiveness.

CBWC Administrator Sue Hunter, who also serves as a chaplain, took participants through a series of multi-sensory spiritual formation exercises throughout the weekend, such as a silent hike, lectio divina and praying through colour. Local pastor Phil Wambua led worship.

Tianna, a receptionist from Victoria, said that Potential Impact helped her grow in her ability to be vulnerable with others, and with God. “It helped me deepen my connection with God in a way I never really knew I needed,” she said.

Stay tuned for next year’s dates!

Ministry Feature:

North Shore School of Mission

Last September, with help from a CBWC Opportunity Grant, a new school of mission and ministry opened at Hillside Baptist Church in North Vancouver. In partnership with Columbia Bible College, the North Shore School of Mission offers a one-year ministry apprenticeship program, where students earn a full year of credit courses (at a fraction of the cost), and have concurrent ministry learning opportunities at their local church. The credits can be applied to any C.B.C. degree; many credits are also transferable to Trinity Western University.

The ministry placement involves real responsibility for a specific ministry within the church, determined in discussion with the student. Students can serve at Hillside or another nearby church.

The program ends with a one-month short-term missions trip with one of our partner missions: Reachout to Africa (working with orphans in South Africa), Bulembu (holistic community ministry in Swaziland), Himalayan Life (work with street children in Nepal), or Keats Camp.

The School’s hope is to identify and nurture leadership gifts, and to empower, encourage and equip younger leaders to be great servants to their churches, whether or not they take up vocational ministry.

In the first year, there were three full time students who served as ministry apprentices at Hillside Church. They’re going on a short-term missions trip to South Africa this Fall, where they will conduct research work.

The school isn’t just for full-time students; it’s designed to benefit the community as well. Monday evening classes were open for anyone to audit. At times there were up to 90 participants from nine different churches. The school also has a theological library with over 6,000 selected volumes, which has been made available for local church leaders. Recently a local pastor spent a week at the library studying church renewal.

Several CBWC pastors have taught classes, plus four pastors from other churches, as well as John Hall, Director of Missions Fest and Mission Central. Even more great teachers are scheduled for next year.

The three full timers who served as ministry apprentices at Hillside ran evening programs for pre-teens, Sunday programs for middle schoolers, served as youth leaders and in participated in worship ministry. They’ve been a huge blessing to the church as they served and grew in their ministry and teaching capabilities.

The North Shore School of Mission is accepting applications for September 2018. If you know someone who would be a great candidate for a year of post-secondary, ministry-focused schooling, and your church has space for a ministry apprentice, then we invite you to explore this opportunity with us.

Find more details on our website: or send us an email:

Greetings from Norm Sowden at

Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship

Dear CBWC Family,

The key word echoing in my soul just now is gratitude:

  • To the Lord for causing Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship to germinate and come to life in March 2011 under the leadership of Pastor Chris & Lois Naylor with a dedicated core group.
  • To Pastor Chris and the MBBF Church Family for the opportunity to share some of the early services and eventually a call to be their pastor.
  • To Pastor Tom Lavigne for guiding this visionary church family into affiliation with CBWC.
  • To Pastor Tammy Klassen and Rick who, when suddenly without a church home, were willing to trust our vision for a Pastor of Family Ministries and jumped into the deep end without any guarantees or assurances, but faith that the Lord has a BIG plan for this church family.
  • To our BCY Region and the CBWC for support and acceptance in so many ways.
  • To the Baptist Foundation for having faith in our vision and especially in developing 4.97 acres alongside the Trans-Canada Highway… our cross and church home will soon be the first human structure that greets people as they cross the famous Malahat Pass and enter the even more famous Cowichan Valley.
  • To the small group of loving sacrificial Christians who have raised over $400,000 to purchase the land and begin building, and to finance the mortgage the first five years.
  • To those coming out in fair and foul weather to supervise and work and clean so that we can keep the cost of building as low as possible.
  • To our dear Nora Walker and the amazing prayer team she inspires to back up all that we do.
  • To Shannon Youell, Dawn Johannesson and Larry Schram who are always there in a time of need.

Our desire as a church family is to love the Lord, one another, our community and our world. We seek to worship, fellowship and play inter-generationally as much as we can. Our garden has been a real spark plug for that until this year when construction de-railed gardening for a year. It has given an opportunity for seniors to share their gardening knowledge and skills with our children and teens. We also use those times for wiener and marshmallow roasts! We have several music teams who take turns leading worship, so every Sunday in a month can be different from each of the others.

Mill Bay is a very rapidly expanding area north of Victoria as housing prices in Victoria keep driving people north over the Malahat. The Lord has planted us in a very strategic location, right on the edge of several new building developments. As well, we are the only church south of Mill Bay, where most of the residential population is. Outreach is a great opportunity for us. On our eastern edge we are fortunate to be in close proximity to the Malahat Nation. SERVE have twice blessed us by providing teams to work with the Malahat people assisting in some of the needs they have.

Personally, I am blessed to be invited by Pastor Joey Cho to attend and share in weekly services Sunday afternoons with Malahat Grace Church.

QUESTION… Are there any people out there who would like to come and camp on our property for a few days or weeks and help us with siding, suspended ceilings, flooring or finishing carpentry? We would love to have your fellowship and building expertise… If you shoot me an email or text, I will put you in touch with Gord Gonske, our Project Manager.

TONS of thanks to all. Love, hugs, prayers and thanks for all the support you have blessed our MBBF Church Family with.

In Christ,

Norm Sowden

BCY Events

Our regional Assembly and Pastors, Chaplain & Spouse Retreat (conveniently scheduled back to back) are coming up in early July.

Settlement Report

To see open positions, visit our Careers page:

New Hires
  • Larry Boss, Provisional Pastor, Southwest Community Baptist Church, Kamloops, BC
  • Gordon Patterson, Interim Associate, First Baptist Church, Nanaimo, BC
  • Aaron Cranton, Street Ministry, Strathcona Baptist Church, AB
  • Rob Priestly, Associate Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Saskatoon, SK
Moving On
  • Eric West, Associate (Youth, Children, Young Adults), Gateway Baptist Church, Victoria, BC
  • Eric Scramstad, Family, Children, and Youth Minister, FBC Kelowna, BC
  • Stephen Carleton, Youth and Young Adults Minister, Westview Baptist Church, Calgary, AB
  • Kevin Haugan, Youth Pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Sherwood Park, AB
  • Greg Anderson, Lead Pastor, Riverdale Baptist Church, Whitehorse, YK
  • Marcel Leffelaar, CBWC Chaplain, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, AB
  • Paul Matheson, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Saskatoon, SK
  • Dave Bonney, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Neepawa, MB

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 editor Zoë: or the BCY office:

Making Connections May 2018

Announcing CBWC’s New Ministry Priorities

During the fall, Rob Ogilvie invited the CBWC community to participate in 77 Days of Prayer to listen for God’s direction for the coming years. Many churches shared feedback, thoughts and messages with the Board and Executive Staff, who spent the following three months praying through the results. They settled on a final focus of three areas:

Cultivating Leadership | Investing in Relationship | Engaging in Mission

Cultivating Leadership – We will be fostering future generations of Canadian Baptists by hiring a Director of Next Generation Ministries who will work with our partners in developing a possible gap year program, continue to invest in our youth leaders and youth through SERVE and work alongside our camp directors in supporting their leadership training programs.  

Investing in Relationship – We will be providing resources for our churches and clergy to maximize their health and effective ministry. In this we will focus on enhancing relationships with pastors, churches and ministry partners.

Engaging in Mission – We will be growing our CBWC family through fresh expressions and intentional implementation of the gospel. We will continue to sponsor refugees, serve alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters, and continue to seek to plant new ministries and churches.

We are not a large denomination and we can’t do everything, but we pray that these new emphases we help us prioritize the ministries that God is calling all of us to, together, in this next season of ministry. Please pray with us that we might hear His voice and be faithful to His calling.

Click here for the Heartland regional newsletter

A note from Mark | Meet Tim Coleman | Interview with camp intern, Annika Scheelar | Dates

National Day of Prayer for Youth

All churches are invited to participate in the National Day of Prayer for Youth on Sunday June 10, 2018. It’s an annual initiative from the Canadian Baptist Youth and Family Team (a cooperative of youth and family leaders in the Canadian Baptist denominations).

“Our hope is to encourage prayer for the youth in our country, as well as educating people about what’s going on in the lives of youth today,” says Tammy Klassen, the CBWC representative on the Youth and Family Team.

“A lot of our churches don’t have a lot of youth, so they might not be that aware of what’s going on. But it’s not a reason for them not to be praying for them.”

The Youth and Family Team, who also produced the Imaginative Hope report about the state of youth and children in Canada which Making Connections wrote about here.

For the day of prayer, they’ve put together a guide with specific prayer requests, activities for youth and a prayer guide for adults. You can download it here and get more information about the team here:

“Regardless of whether a church has youth, we really want all CBWC congregations to join us in prayer on Sunday, June 10,” Tammy says.

Opportunity Grants, propelling CBWC local church ministries for 20 years

CBWC Opportunity Grants were founded in 1998 with a generous gift from the Charles Bentall Foundation. Since then, dozens of ministry start-ups in CBWC churches have been funded, expending the arms of Christ in our communities. This April, the Opportunity Grant Committee recommended to the Board that the program be dissolved for the foreseeable future, as the funds were depleted. With a heavy heart, the CBWC Board agreed.

In light of this decision, a celebration of the past is called for. Here are a few highlighted ministries that Opportunity Grants propelled forward.

Healing at the Wounding Place

Jodi Spargur founded Healing at the Wounding Place to help catalyze right, just and whole relationships between the church and First Peoples in Canada. In the past few years, Jodi has facilitated workshops across the CBWC for churches to gain a shared knowledge of the past, and a picture of current realities that prevent Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations from thriving. Only then can we begin to attend to the harms that have come—often at the hands of the church—and to seek healing and a way forward. Workshops include Indigenous leaders from the local community, so that work churches do supports that leadership. To host a workshop in your community, contact Jodi here:

The Wagon

Over the past 10 years ‘The Wagon’ (which was purchased and outfitted in part, through a CBWC Opportunities Grant) has enabled the Summerland Baptist Church ‘Music & Creative Arts Outreach Ministry’ to travel throughout Western Canada sharing music and a gospel message.  We have used this resource in 8 prisons, 6 North Coast First Nations communities, dozens of churches, parks, concert halls, parades, Senior facilities and Block Party Venues.  Some of the equipment even accompanied our Back Porch Gospel Bluegrass Band on 2 tours of Japan.  ‘The Wagon’ has and continues to enable our ministry teams to go where ever opportunities arise.  

Eastside Story Guild

Eastside Story Guild (ESG) is a ministry of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in Vancouver. It’s are a community of children, youth and adults engaged in the craft of biblical storytelling. They embody stories in theatre, music and dance, exploring the intersection of our story with God’s story. Through fostering wonder and building creative skills, they deepen our faith and cultivate our imaginations.

ESG’s presentation of The Fallen Tent incorporates shadow theatre into the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi.

North OK Community Chaplancy

The gracious gift of the Opportunity Fund Grant. Enabled our chaplaincy ministry to grow into a full time operation. It gave me enough funds to work more hours and be more involved in the lives of our marginalized and homeless in our city. It helped purchase a sign, buy food for our once a month services.  Our two big roles in the city is the Homeless Memorial which we hold an annual service each October. To remember the large number of homeless related deaths we have each year. The Second of course is Street Church, we have entered our second year of operation and gone from 3 volunteers to about 15. 1 church involved to 7 represented. We are able to provide spiritual and physical food of over 70 people on a regular basis. Thank you very much for enabling us to move forward. Let me add how sorry I was to find out I could not reapply due to lack of funds. This grant was life changing in so many ways.

North Shore School of Mission

North Shore School of Mission had around 90 students attend one of the three Monday evening courses: Reading the Bible in the Church and the World; Introduction to Preaching and Teaching; and Issues in Global Mission. Students came from nine North Shore churches. Seven CBWC pastors taught classes, and four pastors from other North Shore churches and para-church leaders have been involved in teaching. Three students are enrolled full time for credit and are serving as ministry apprentices at Hillside Church. Other courses they have taken include Discipleship Then and Now, Missional Church, and Missional Leadership, as well as reflective ministry practicum courses. These three will be going on a short-term missions trip to South Africa in the Fall, during which they will conduct research work. The school’s library has been made available for use by church leaders, just had our first pastor spend a week studying with us this month.

Westside ARTS Academy

“Being created in the image of God is a mysterious thing, and one thing it means is that we can’t help but be creative. It is part of our nature. And creativity isn’t just exercised in traditional arts, but in all aspects of life. Our goal with the ARTS Academy is to give people permission to explore and grow their God-given nature. As Eric Liddell famously said in Chariots of Fire, When I run, I feel His pleasure. I echo it by saying, When I paint, I feel God’s pleasure.” – Westview ARTS Academy founder and director, Elaine Hileman

CBWC Churches in the News

Brownfield Baptist Church was featured in Alberta Farmer Express for their work with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Iain Armstrong, a long time member of Laurier Heights Baptist Church in Edmonton passed away tragically after trying to stop a robbery. His son, Sean Armstrong wrote a tribute to his father, which he hopes will make people remember his father’s extraordinary life, not just the sudden end.

How to hand over a labour of love to the next generation
By Dianne Finstad, April 6, 2018 for the Alberta Farmer Express

The Brownfield and District Growing Project continues to thrive because it has been embraced by the whole community, young and old alike. This picture is from a video shot during last fall’s harvest. The video, which features swooping footage taken by a drone, can be found at the Foodgrains Bank’s Facebook page here.

It’s not only family farms facing the succession challenge these days. Community efforts such as Growing Projects for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are looking to the future to see if they’ve inspired the next generation to carry on the cause.

One such venture finds itself in the middle of the process. The Brownfield and District Growing Project was among the first on the Prairies, and has been underway for more than three decades.

“My dad and his cousin took the first load of grain from our project 32 years ago, and my dad will turn 90 this year,” said Faye Webber, the first woman to chair the Brownfield project.

The effort began as an outreach of the Brownfield Baptist Church, and is now into its third generation of volunteers.

Succession was on the minds of many at a recent meeting of Alberta Foodgrains Project leaders. Some groups are filled with seniors who are realizing they can’t carry on indefinitely and need some younger help. However, the dedication to helping tackle global hunger becomes a real heart work, so it’s not easy for volunteers to step away.

“It’s an emotional decision, as much as it is practical, because there’s such deep meaning and commitment when you are aware of what this means to people in the world,” said Webber.

“If I had to point to one thing in terms of succession and being successful, it would be that the older generation has to ‘choose’ to let go.”

Read the whole article here.

Son of Southgate victim Iain Armstrong shares his dad’s ‘legacy of love’
By Karen Bartko, April 26, 2018 for Global News

Sharon and Iain Armstrong

Iain Armstrong was, by all accounts, the kind of man anyone would welcome into their homes and hearts. The 61-year-old was happily married for over 35 years to his wife Sharon and the father of two children, Dana and Sean.

Together with his wife, brother and sister-in-law, Armstrong owned Bunches Flowers Co. Last week while trying to stop a robbery near the company’s Southgate Centre store, he was violently attacked. He suffered severe injuries and died in an Edmonton hospital three days later.

Now, his son Sean is sharing his father’s story.

“If we would all behave just a little bit more like Iain, the benefit to humanity would be spectacular,” Sean Armstrong wrote in a touching tribute.

Given the criminal case involving his father’s death will remain in the public eye for some time, Sean said he chose to focus not on the abrupt end, but rather “the rich and worldly totality of my father’s life.”

“While the community at large has been appropriately shocked by the brazen attack, I want people to remember Iain for the adventurous life he lived all the way from his humble beginnings,” Sean wrote in his message accompanying his testimony.

Read Sean’s full statement here.

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at