Making Connections June 2024

Kurios Update & Lower Fees

Kurios is now the most affordable Christian gap year experience in Canada!

Thanks to a generous donation, we have been able to reduce the cost for students to attend this coming year to only $7500! For an 8-month program, that is less than $1000/month, which includes housing, food, teaching, mentoring, and tons of adventure!! The only thing not included is our 5 weeks in Guatemala (approx. $4000), which is fully fundraised by each student. Click here for cost info

Do you know any young adults looking to invest in their relationship with God? Please share this exciting news with them. We’ve learned, over 4 years of recruiting students, that the most significant factor is always the invitation to consider Kurios from a trusted Christian adult. We need you to encourage them to check out our program, our viewbook is a great place to start.

The adventure begins with moving to Jasper, into a newly renovated 100-year-old home in the center of this mountain community. We are warmly and deeply welcomed by the church community, and invited into their lives, homes, and ongoing ministry. Together, our group of young adults create a beautiful rhythm of life centered on Jesus Christ our Lord, learning to love God and love others with our whole, integrated beings. We get out into the mountains where cell phones don’t work, and begin the journey of learning to listen to God in prayer. Here are some comments from our most recent participants:

Ben – I love starting each day focused on God and inviting Him to be present in all that we have planned, and then ending each day looking back and thanking God for all that He has done. 

Grace – This year has given me time to begin to heal from hurtful experiences, and I can now see that God has been with me through it all.

Dani – I love that we take time to discuss the Bible and really try and understand it. I’ve learned that I really care about how to live out the Bible in my life.

Tyler – Being in Jasper with amazing people who showed me and guided me through scripture and my every day journey with Christ was very impactful and leads me to where I am today.

Our fall session includes a west coast road trip, the highlight being our time with HopeHill in Vancouver, where our young adults get to meet, learn from, and serve older adults in this amazing community. We are so grateful for this partnership! The trip also includes ministry opportunities with our lower mainland churches, learning sessions with amazing presenters, and an appearance at our annual pastor’s conference in Banff.

The winter session begins with our 5+ weeks in Guatemala, trading the -25°C Canadian winter for the +25°C Guatemalan dry season. This life changing immersion in another culture forever changes how we understand the Kingdom of God, as we build friendships with other followers of Jesus who see life and faith from a different point of view. Our CBM partners are amazing in coordinating and facilitating this core part of our program.

We appreciate your continued prayers for us as we look ahead and plan for this coming year, and for all of our alumni in their many endeavors. If you feel led to support Kurios financially, just click here. You can always follow us in our adventures on Instagram or Facebook.

Please reach out with feedback or questions! I can be reached by cell at 780-690-2357 or steve@cbwc.ca.

 Partner Spotlight: CBWC Foundation

Need Help Making a Will?

A recent study of Canadians found that 62% do not have a will and a further 12% have an outdated will. That is close to 75% of us who do not have this piece of important financial discipline properly cared for.

Why does a will matter?

Financially, it means lower costs to your estate and more help for your loved ones. Lower costs, because estates with a proper will are probated faster and more efficiently—saving money on legal and executor costs. In contentious situations where there is no will, the process can be prolonged by years, tying up resources and piling on fees. It also means that a court-appointed government agent will decide how the estate will be paid out with no obligation to be as efficient as possible with taxes or according to your wishes.

While finances are important, more importantly is the care it provides for your remaining family members. In a time of dislocation and grief, they are not forced to deal with the legal complexities that having no will can cause. They also have clear direction on your wishes, which is very helpful and comforting in a time of grief. And finally, no one knows the nuances of your family dynamics better than you to ensure your resources do the most possible good for your family.

Our final will is also our last chance to direct resources to ministries and causes we care about. Just like your annual tax return, our government is very generous toward charitable giving, allowing us to direct what would have been taxed to things we want to support. This is no less true on your final tax return. With the help of a gift planner, you can often make substantial contributions to causes you care about—like your church and ministries you love, without substantially reducing the amount you leave to your family.

Need help making a will?

CBWC constituents have access to guidance on making wills and gift planning services through Advisors with Purpose. AWP is a ministry designed to help with these crucial aspects of stewardship. CBWC, the CBWC Foundation and Carey have generously prepaid these services for you so that finances are not a barrier to anyone in our family of churches. You can access AWP through any of our websites. Its free and confidential.

Heartland Regional Newsletter

June 2024

Let’s Get Active!

It’s time to lace up your sneakers and get Active in Mission! 

Last year, we raised over $100,000 to help feed people in Canada and around the world. This year, we want to do even more! Will you be part of it this year? Whether it’s you, your youth group, or your church team—join us in Feeding Hope locally and globally.  

Are you ready to get Active in Mission?  Register today! activeinmission.ca

What is Your Soul Saying Today?

We’re in our third instalment in a series of reflections from Psalm 23 in which we hope you join us to rest in the character of God, release the things of this world that we cling to, and reset our focus on the Kingdom of God and His invitation to each of us to enter His shalom. These reflections are adapted from Pastor Deborah Judas’ book Cultivating Shalom and are used with her permission.

He leads me beside quiet waters (Psalm 23:2).

What is your soul saying to you today?

Is it parched and feeling like it is about to shrivel up? Perhaps it feels fatigued or weather-beaten, confused or disappointed. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe your soul feels like a deep well of fresh water, even overflowing enough to share with others.

Wherever you are at, caring for your soul is a vital part of spiritual formation. I don’t know about you, but I was not brought up with the concept of paying attention or tending to my soul. This now feels shocking to me. Our soul is our very breath of life.

Our soul is the place within us where our spirit connects with God’s Spirit. Why would it be okay to ignore that?

The imagery in Psalm 23 speaks loudly as we enter with the Lord leading us beside still and quiet waters. Note the Shepherd is the lead and the sheep are following. The Shepherd sees when His sheep are thirsty. They become restless and begin to look for water to quench their thirst. They will settle for any kind of water because they don’t know any better. This is often to their detriment because they will drink polluted water with parasites, causing all sorts of discomfort and disease.

The Shepherd knows where the clean, fresh, cool water is. He takes them to the best place—where the sheep can receive sustenance and satisfy their thirst. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NIV).

Jesus calls us to become deeper people. When we long for more, Jesus responds by offering us living water. We drink our fill from His wellspring, and in turn, He sends us out to bring it to those in need.

Rest enables us to gain clarity, to declutter and let go of things that prevent us from experiencing peace. This, in turn, creates space for us to drink from the well of living water, refreshing and restoring us.

Spending time with Jesus cultivates shalom.

  • Do you feel full and refreshed or parched and dry?
  • Do you long for more of God’s presence in your life?
  • What does it look like right now in your life to “drink from the well of living water”? Are you regularly setting aside time to care for your soul?
  • When was the last time you experienced God’s presence in your life? Take a moment to write about it. Describe the emotions you were feeling leading up to the experience and the emotions you felt after God met with you.

This psalm paints a striking picture of what Jesus, our Shepherd, is offering us. He is inviting us to drink from His well and fill our soul with His refreshment.

He is offering us life.

This reflection is brought to you by CBWC’s Banff Pastors and Spouses GIVE and GO campaign, a clergy care initiative to help as many pastors as possible to join us at Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference this November. Find out how your donation can make double the difference: cbwc.ca/clergycare

Let’s Celebrate Father’s Day!

World Refugee Day

By Jenna Hanger

There are 130.8 million refugees worldwide—according to reporting by the UN Refugee Agency—a number that is brought to light as we celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20th.

Refugee work is an important part of CBWC’s Engaging in Mission value. This past year, our churches have helped to sponsor 187 individuals. While this number may seem like a small drop in an ocean of need, we cannot underestimate the significance of being able to help even one individual.

Mahbuba, a refugee from Afghanistan who arrived in August 2023, is an example of a life changed. With the support of Kitsilano Christian Community Church in Vancouver, BC (Kits), Mahbuba has settled into her new life and pursue further education––a dream that would not have been a reality without support.

When Mahbuba arrived, she was provided with a place to stay rent free, a family to live with, and financial support as she completed English courses and now works to complete a Legal Administrative Assistant course. Having such a solid support system in place when she arrived has been a substantial leg up.

“If someone comes here and they don’t have anyone to guide them, they will feel completely lost. New country, new language, new people, new system… I have been privileged to have this,” Mahbuba said, excitedly talking about the opportunities she has had in Canada.

“If I talk about my country, there’s a lot of people that have a dream––they want to move forward, but they were deprived of a lot of things and couldn’t. But here, if you want to, you can do it. If you have a goal and patience for that specific goal, you can move forward here.”

Susan Ferguson, a member of Kits, has been instrumental in helping with her church’s refugee effort. 

Their journey started in 2015/2016 when they brought a family from Syria over through the CBWC’s refugee program. Since then, they have helped welcome several people from Afghanistan as well. This past year alone, they have helped a family of five, a family of four, and two individuals settle in Canada.

“It can be very overwhelming to work in this area because there is such a huge need. We are aware of what terrible situations people are coming from. It can seem really overwhelming. The thing that I remind myself of is that you can’t help everyone, but you can help the one that’s in front of you. You can help this small group, this family, this individual,” Susan said.

She added that the outreach to their immediate community through their refugee efforts has also been significant.

“When we have gone to raise money, more than half of the money is contributed from people outside of the church. When we are doing this work, people see our church doing something other than the things that churches make the headlines for these days,” Susan said. 

“It is an important form of outreach for our church. People who would normally never step foot in the door want to be part of something good that we are doing.”

For churches who are considering sponsorship, Susan says the most important thing you can do is really listen to the people you are trying to help.

“One thing that I think is important is to let yourself, to some extent, be led by the people you are trying to help. In other words, not deciding for them what is good for them, but making opportunities available and then listening.” Susan said.

There are things that we have no idea about that they are dealing with when they first arrive—the traumatic experiences they have been through, but also cultural norms and expectations. It is so easy to misstep.”

For more information on how you might get involved, check out the Justice and Mercy Network’s resource page HERE.

Notice of Voluntary Disaffiliation: 

The CBWC wishes to express its gratitude to The Church at Southpoint in Surrey, BC, in honour of our shared history and ministry together. The CBWC was notified of their voluntary disaffiliation effective April 26, 2024.

Southpoint was incorporated in 2004. We pray God’s blessing upon this congregation as they move forward in embracing a new beginning and alignment elsewhere.

Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections May 2024

What’s Happening

  • Looking forward to gathering with you on Zoom for CBWC Assembly 2024 on May 16
  • BC and Yukon Pastors and Spouses, join us for a retreat: June 13-14 in White Rock with speaker Mark Hazzard. Register here: https://cbwc.ca/events/#et_pb_text_5
  • From workshops to ice cream socials to keynote Carolyn Arends, BCY Regional Assembly and BC Convention AGM is sure to be a wonderful weekend. Join us June 14-15 in White Rock. Details and sign up info here: https://cbwc.ca/events/
  • Banff Pastors Conference is approaching November 11-14. Find out how you can give to support clergy wellness, or attend the conference, at chttps://cbwc.ca/resources/church-tools/clergy-care/

He Makes Me Lie Down

The great irony of Sabbath-keeping is how hard it is for us to say no to people but how with such ease we say no to being at rest with God. — A. J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath 

He makes me lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:2). 

 When was the last time you slept like a baby? 

And who came up with that phrase? Because whoever used that metaphor for a good night’s sleep clearly never spent a night with my kids! 

In our home, nighttime was the survival of the fittest. It was quite a production every evening: the bath and the story time, the prayers, the lullabies, the back rubs, and the reassurance that we were right down the hall, not far away. 

Finally, the lights were turned off, and my husband and I would sit down to relax. It was then that round two of the bedtime ritual would begin. Someone was thirsty or had to go to the bathroom. They were too hot or too cold, the blankets weren’t right, or they were lonely. 

Our kids could not bring themselves to surrender to sleep until all their needs were met. Finally, they were so utterly exhausted they couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer. And so were we. 

It was always a challenge to convince our kids that sleep was a good thing. They were tired but restless, unaware of what they really needed. They didn’t understand that while they slept, their bodies were healing, restoring, and growing.  

Our job as parents is to take care of our children and keep them safe. Their job is to trust us and in turn, obey. There is a mutuality to their thriving. 

Trust is the backbone of a healthy relationship. Trust is built over time and needs to be nurtured. For better or for worse, and often unknowingly, we tend to rely on our experiences with others to affirm or deny a person’s trustworthiness. It is difficult to rest in the presence of someone you don’t trust. Sadly, trust is something many of us struggle with when it comes to our relationship with God. I wonder whether the main reason is because we have placed ourselves in the driver’s seat of the relationship, constantly questioning if God is trustworthy enough for us to allow him to take over. 

We cannot rest in God if we do not feel safe. 

Psalm 23 speaks to this through the rich imagery of a shepherd tending his flock of sheep: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” 

The fact that the word makes is used in this verse indicates that we aren’t always willing to heed the Shepherd’s direction by giving ourselves over to rest. It seems that we have reversed the nature of what it means to be in relationship with Jesus. We forget it is God who initiated the relationship, not us. It is His role as our Father in heaven to take care of us and meet our needs. Our job is to respond with trust and, yes—obedience. But like children, we often resist the very thing that will keep us healthy and content. 

W. Phillip Keller is an author who happens to be a shepherd. He explains in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 that sheep don’t always know what they need and what is best for them, so they rely on the shepherd to guide them to a good place to rest.  

They don’t need to know where the green pastures or still waters are. They need only to know where the shepherd is. Because they trust their shepherd, the sheep look to him for guidance, comfort, safety and care. 

With this imagery in mind, we gain a deeper sense of what David is trying to say about his relationship with God. My shepherd provides all my needs. Because in Christ I lack nothing, I can trust Him to watch over me and care for me. When He sees I need rest, I can submit to His direction. I can relax and lie down because I know that all my concerns are safely in His care while I refresh and restore. 

Jesus invites us into this kind of rest-Sabbath rest. God created Sabbath and has given it as a gift for our well-being.  

Our job is to accept the gift.    

This reflection adapted from Deborah Judas’ book Cultivating Shalom is used with her permission and is brought to you by CBWC’s Banff Pastors and Spouses GIVE and GO campaign, a clergy care initiative to help as many pastors as possible to join us at Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference this November. Learn more: cbwc.ca/clergycare 

 Partner Spotlight: Hopehill

Hello From Hopehill in Vancouver. There is an old proverb that states, “Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.”   

It is great advice. There is much darkness to be aware of in life.  One of the dark spots in Canadian life is the “cost of affordable housing.” Every generation faces this challenge, and it seems to be true in almost every province, especially in the larger cities. Vancouver is just “insane” in this matter.

We could curse the darkness, or we could light a candle. We choose the second. Hopehill is building 250 new, affordable, low-cost housing units for low-income seniors over the next 5 years. Our target audience is people, over 60, who are living on less than $50K per year. We know how stressful it is to find an affordable place if you don’t have one, and how stressful it is to maintain a place as costs keep rising. Once done, Hopehill will be home to 600 residents living in a vibrant, village-like community in Vancouver.

As of April 2024, we are halfway to completing our first of 3 residences. 64 units will be available in February 2025. Would you like to come join us? We clearly identify as a faith-based campus, but two-thirds of our residents profess no faith, or an alternative worldview. We believe we are on a mission at Hopehill! If you are interested, please contact us at office@hopehill.ca. We will begin taking applications in August of this year.

Jesus once talked about the value of “a cup of cold water in His Name.” If He were to contextualize it to today, would He also say “an affordable place to call ‘home’ in His Name?”

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

May 2024

Lessons from Motherhood

By Jenna Hanger

I remember last Mother’s Day, watching a cute video at church that listed all these adjectives for mothers. Endless patience, kindness, and understanding. Gentle as a lamb, strong as a giant. An angelic voice when singing lullabies, but loud as a foghorn when calling for dinner. There was even mention of mending and sewing clothes. These lovely words were accompanied by a mother smiling and whirling her children around. Energetically cleaning the house, which already looked suspiciously pristine and cradling her new baby serenely.

I sat there thinking, goodness, that is not me at all. I do not have endless patience, kindness, or understanding.

I have limits that I seem to hit daily. I am not as gentle as a lamb. I have a terrible singing voice. I cannot sew, and I am not serenely doing anything. I am maddeningly tidying the house, which never seems to stay clean, or I am sitting at my computer trying to get work done as chaos swirls around me. (Case in point, it has taken me a couple days to write this article because of the constant interruptions.) It seems I am constantly apologizing for talking too harshly to my girls and feeling overstimulated. Most moms I know are pulled in a thousand directions—trying to work like we don’t have kids and raise kids like we don’t work.

I watched this video, which we seem to see a different version of every year and thought, Why can’t they show something realistic? A haggard mom flopping on her bed with a to-do list that seems barely touched or shouting at her kids to stop fighting. The narrator could say, “Here is a mom, at the end of her rope. She’s given up on finishing the laundry, is exhausted from work, and has a pounding headache from the noisy household. This Mother’s Day, why don’t you go for a nice long walk and give your mom some well-needed peace and quiet?” Immediately, of course, I felt guilty. Because on Mother’s Day I should want to be with my children, not craving some alone time—though, alone time is very much needed now and again. It’s the never-ending emotional swirl of motherhood—the guilt, enjoyment, and genuine longing to be home again when we get a break—all mixed together.

I was beginning to feel resentful of these picture-perfect moms presented to us on Mother’s Day, but then I thought back to memories of my mom growing up. My mother raised five daughters while helping on the ranch, speaking at various youth events and pursuing her many interests. I remember my mom sometimes struggling. But mostly, oddly, I remember scenes like the idyllic video shows. I remember her having an impressive amount of patience in our chaotic house. I remember fun family moments, quiet snuggles on the couch, and family dinners around the table. Even the times when we all weren’t at our best are now funny to reminisce about. All these little moments—which I am sure weren’t always easy for my mom—are built up in my head as a happy childhood. My mom is still one of my favourite people on this planet. Celebrating her every May is easy for me. I count myself very lucky to have the mom that I do. Interestingly, she still says those days of us being young and demanding were some of her favourite times. It made me wonder if perhaps I am not doing too bad myself, and if my kids see things differently than I do.

This reflecting has made me thankful for three things; grace, forgiveness, and love without conditions. These traits are what my children give me so freely, what the Lord gives me daily, and what can turn even the bad days into good days. It amazes me how quickly my kids can forgive my shortcomings and move on to the next thing, or how they come to me for hugs and kisses even after I have lost my temper.

Even though it feels like I am the one always giving to my kids, the truth is they give some incredible gifts and life lessons to me. Though physically and mentally I can feel drained, spiritually speaking, I think they teach me and fill me up more than I can even recognize right now in the thick of it.

I see traits from the Lord, and reflections of my relationship with Him through both my relationships as a daughter and as a mother. Coming to Him for comfort, counsel and nurturing, He plays a significant maternal role in my life. Him forgiving me an endless number of times and loving me regardless of my shortcomings is akin to how my children bounce back to me, no matter what kind of day we have.

It’s interesting to view motherhood like this, like a reflection of our relationship with the Lord. We often reflect on God the Father, but there are verses about God being like a mother as well.

Isaiah 66:13 says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

In Luke 13:34,  Jesus says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

If you are like me, wrapped up in the thick of motherhood and feeling the weight of everything you aren’t, I hope that you can cut yourself some slack and realize you are doing better than you think you are. I also hope you can see the beauty in the chaos and see the Lord’s love reflecting at you throughout it all.

And if you aren’t a mother, but have one, go give her a hug and maybe some flowers. A little goes a long way!

Giving Room for Grief

By Jenna Hanger

Leanne Friesen was no stranger to the process of dying. In fact, she was somewhat of an expert on it. Having become a pastor at twenty-seven years old, completed courses on bereavement, led funerals, supported grievers in their loss, and sat beside deathbeds, she felt well familiar with the area.

But, when her sister passed away after an eight-year battle with cancer, Leanne was humbled to realize she did not understand grief at all. She found her journey with grief to be confusing, difficult, and surprising in ways she hadn’t expected.

“In the years that went from there, I came out with this term “Grieving Room.” I spent the next few years realizing that what grief needs is space. There’s always this desire to fix it, to come up with some big solution, but I started realizing I just really need my grief to be heard and seen and allowed to be. I needed to give myself that room,” Leanne said.

The lessons she was learning evolved into a blog, which eventually during the COVID lockdowns led to writing her book; Grieving Room: Making Space for All the Hard Things after Death and Loss—which was eventually published this past February. Throughout that time, she also built up an Instagram following of 30,000 followers who engage with her posts and discussions on grieving.

“Collectively this ministry just grew and grew and grew, so now I call it my weird hobby,” Leanne laughed, adding it isn’t the most ideal hobby when working full-time as Executive Minister of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ). Most of her time is taken up with her job, but when she can, she is writing posts and participating on podcasts, supporting people walking through grief, and promoting her new book.

Grieving Room has touched many people of all walks of life and faith journeys. A mix of memoir and how-to’s, Leanne shares her real-life experience losing her sister and advises both those walking through grief and those trying to support grievers.

“It goes from when I found out that she was sick, and all the type of room that was needed as she was dying, and then the early days of her death, and then as I grieve. So, it starts from ‘Room to be Uncertain.’ I talk about this fear when I hear she is dying, that I must have enough faith to save her. I’ve come to understand that there is room for uncertain faith as Christians,” Leanne said.

The book then moves into ‘Room for Dying’, and the cultural struggles that we have to make space for someone who is passing.

“We put a lot of pressure on dying people, and we don’t realize it,” Leanne said, sharing a story about a well-meaning person who told her not to say her sister was dying because that was giving up “hope.”

“It’s so interesting, as Christians, that the only [acceptable] version of hope is saying ‘they aren’t going to die’, which isn’t even scriptural. Scripture doesn’t say ‘don’t grieve.’ It says we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. Somehow, we have taken that to mean we don’t grieve at all, or we just pretend that everything is going to go in one particular direction, and our only version of hope is that things are going to get better in this life.”

“My hope is that if we live, we live unto the Lord, and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live or die, we belong unto the Lord. That was my hope in that moment [when my sister was passing]. My hope wasn’t that she was going to suddenly get better, my hope was this isn’t the end. We are going to get through this, and God is with her.”

Leanne shared that, although there is space for miracles to occur, there also needs to be recognition for things to be exactly as they are. There needs to be room for the reality that sometimes people will die, and we can’t push that truth away because it is awkward or difficult.

The book continues on to cover a vast majority of topics: covering how goodbyes are never like the movies portray, and that is okay; how Leanne walked through her own grief, making room for the rollercoaster of grief––and learning to live with it, not just move on.

“One thing that is really normal is that it lasts so much longer than people think. It’s normal that a few years later, the grief is still hitting you. We have this belief that a couple months in, and you should be in a better place. After a year, it should be done. And none of that is true.”

Another aspect of grief that Leanne discusses is that it is both profoundly personal, and profoundly universal—which is what makes it such a special experience.

“It’s so shocking and overwhelming, and each person’s grief is so unique, which is why it’s tricky to say to someone. ‘I know how you feel.’ We don’t know how anyone feels. Even if we lost the same person, we grieve for them differently. We lose different things when we lose a person because we all had different relationships with that person.”

For those who are helping someone through grief, Leanne gives two key pieces of advice. The first being that you don’t need to fix it. The second being you should not ignore it. These two things go a long way to help grievers have room to process their grief.

“First of all, anything with ‘at least’ you just don’t need to say, ever. Because you don’t feel ‘at least’ when you are grieving (at least they didn’t suffer, at least they had a long life, etc.)”

Leanne said, adding that you should take the lead from the person you are trying to comfort––agree with them and let them know you are sad with them.

“The other thing that really hurts grievers, so much more than someone saying something less than ideal, is when people say nothing. Or do nothing. I can tell you that in my many, many years of talking to people who have had loss, they all have a story–– every single one—of the friend who wasn’t there for them,” Leanne said.

To learn more about Leanne’s grief ministry, check out her Instagram account HERE, and her book on Amazon HERE. Or go to your local Indigo Bookstore to purchase a copy.

You can also hear more of her thoughts on grief by listening to the following podcasts:

· Grief and Light Podcast (March 2024): https://open.spotify.com/episode/4Lcx49LEwUuRfrXyUL2uki

· “The Story We Tell Ourselves” (February 2024): https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-story-we-tell-ourselves/id1629974682?i=1000646046776

A 45 minute discussion, digging especially into theology and faith issues like why we suffer, and how we process loss as people of faith: · “Faith and Grief” Podcast: https://www.faithandgrief.org/podcast/

Leanne discusses “Grieving Room” and why we need to talk about grief and loss, as we consider why our world is grief avoidant and what would help grievers who need space for grief.

· “The Power of Love” Podcast (February 2024): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAi_JH73lNA

In this episode of Power and Love, Leanne talks to founders Taj and TJ about the themes of her book and why she hopes to help grievers give grief room.

Healthy Leadership Cultures

A Conversation with Nate Collins, Hillside Church

As we dive into our series on Healthy Church Leadership Cultures, we hope to hear from many CBWC churches about the way you do leadership and where you see health happening in your congregation. We begin with a conversation with Rev. Nate Collins, Co-Pastor at Hillside Church, North Vancouver.  

CHURCH PLANTING: How would you describe the leadership structure at your church? Tell us about the makeup of the leadership and staff teams, Elders’ Board etc.  

NATE: We have three co-pastors, a youth pastor, an administrator (who is also director of children’s ministries), a building manager, and often an intern or two. The three co-pastors share the responsibility of leading the church as a whole (along with our board of elders). We divvy up tasks based on gifting and available time. Decisions (at least big ones) are usually made in consultation with each other. 

On paper, we are an elder-led church. Jeff, Pauline and I are not technically pastors from the church’s perspective, though we use the term plenty conversationally. Technically we are paid elders. We have 5 non-paid elders, too. Of course, we need some paid elders because non-paid elders don’t have time to run a church. The idea is that we are all equals on the elder board in terms of authority and influence.  

In practice, though, it doesn’t quite work that way. Most of the elders do perform an important function: One oversees our tech team and leads worship a lot. One is an intern and on our preaching team. One spearheads our efforts toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples along with her husband. One oversees our finances. I don’t want to minimize that, because it’s really important and good. At the same time, I usually feel like it’s up to the pastors to make most stuff happen, whether it’s calling elders meetings, setting the agenda, leading vision casting for the year, planning what events we’ll do, etc. That’s not what I would imagine if I were to hear about an elder-led church with paid and non-paid elders who are all equal. I’m not complaining, but I think it’s important to be honest about both what we’re supposedly aiming at and how we actually function! 

CP: How do people join the leadership team? What’s the relationship between congregation and leadership?  

NATE: Basically, our elder board has a brainstorming session about who we think might make a good elder. Elders have a 3-year term, which can be renewed for a total of 6 years as an elder before a mandatory year off of being an elder. That means we’re usually looking for a new elder or two each year. When we think of someone who would be a good candidate, we ask (and sometimes beg) them. If they agree, then the congregation votes at our AGM on whether they should be an elder. People could ask to be an elder and people could nominate someone to be an elder, but I’ve only seen that once.  

As for the relationship between elders, staff, and the congregation, it’s pretty open. We get some people in the congregation who like to see mainly the pastors as on a separate level from them, but that’s definitely not something we are trying to communicate at Hillside. Oddly, Pauline rarely gets put on a pedestal the way Jeff and I do. Lots of times people don’t feel like it counts as a pastor contacting them if Pauline does it. It drives her up the wall, as I’m sure you can imagine! In general, we try to foster an atmosphere of equality and accessibility.  

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Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections April 2024

What’s Happening 

There are plenty of opportunities to look forward to in our life together in the coming season. We want to highlight a few for you:

Theology for the Ordinary Book Club: At the next Theology for the Ordinary book club meeting, they will be discussing Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright. The meeting will be held Wednesday, May 1st at 6 pm, PST using Zoom. Please RSVP to heartland@cbwc.ca to receive the Zoom link, even if you have attended in the past.

Last Chances for Masterclasses

Shannon Youell and her church planting allies across the country have provided some top-notch training opportunities over the past couple of years in the form of free Evangelism Masterclasses. The final two Masterclasses (in this form, anyway), are coming up fast! Join the conversation around cross-cultural Gospel communication tomorrow morning with Tharwat Eskander & Mirna Dirani of the Salvation Army, and discuss what role house churches have in today’s church landscape with former CBWC pastor Scott Hemenway on May 7. cbwc.ca/masterclasses

Baptists, Assemble!

This year’s Assembly is coming to you online on May 16, making it easy to include many from your congregation in celebrating the goodness and faithfulness of God as we review 2023 and continue to live into all that 2024 has for us as a community of Christ followers.

Each year, we gather either in person or online for an Annual General Meeting, as required by the Canadian government. In our online meetings, our time together is centred on connecting with our family of churches using the Zoom platform in order to present audited financial statements, proposed budgets for future years, updates on our shared work together, and ministry partner initiatives.

Registration for Assembly 2024 closes April 25, so make sure to get your pastors and delegates signed up at cbwc.ca/assembly.

Summer is A-Comin’

Our 6 camps are shifting gears as we come out of winter season and looking to the summer ahead, which means spots are already filling up! Register your child/grandchild for camp, or donate to support the great work of these ministries:

And speaking of summer fun, is your group signed up for SERVE yet? Join youth from across the CBWC to serve, connect, worship, and learn in Prince Albert Saskatchewan from June 30 – July 6, 2024. Early Bird registration ends April 30: cbwc.ca/serve

Posting Summer Jobs

We’re pleased to share a new resource for churches and camps: the Seasonal/Short-Term Job Postings page on CBWC’s website. This online job posting board is specifically for CBWC positions like summer camp staff, ministry interns, school year interns, and any other short-term positions. Because this is brand new, there are only a few positions currently listed. Visit the new page at www.cbwc.ca/careers/seasonal/ to view current postings and learn about how to submit your own.

Truth and Reconciliation

There is a team of Canadian Baptists across the country collaborating to create resources for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which is on September 30. Resources include support for Sunday, September 29 worship gatherings. Throughout the coming months, they will be adding more pieces, but now is the time to put September 29 and 30th on the calendar and begin to plan how we as churches, families, and individuals will mark this important time. More information to come; keep checking CBWC website for details.

Give or Go to BPC 2024!

Registration opens TODAY for Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference (November 11-14, 2024). A survey published in the Journal of Psychology and Theology showed that pastors in the US named clergy retreats as one of the most helpful supports for their mental health. Do you think the same could be true for our church leaders here in Canada? Find out how you can support clergy care in a special matching campaign, or sign up for BPC:  https://cbwc.ca/resources/church-tools/clergy-care/

Cultivating Shalom: Rest, Release, Resetting with Psalm 23 

Out of our desire at CBWC to see pastors and congregations cared for and flourishing, we are offering reflections from Psalm 23 over the coming months. We hope you join us as we seek to rest in the character of God, release the things of this world that we cling to, and reset our focus on the Kingdom of God and His invitation to each of us to enter His shalom. These reflections are adapted from CBWC Pastor Deborah Judas’ book Cultivating Shalom and are used with her permission. Let’s dive in! 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). 

Following the way of Jesus requires a complete reframing of how we see God, ourselves, and the world. One part of this reframing is that in Christ (our shepherd), we lack nothing. This truth presents a great difficulty for us, especially living in the Western world. We are surrounded by abundance, yet we continually experience a sense of scarcity. All around us are things we want, which feeds our discontent. And sadly, it is not only material possessions that we feel we lack.  

 We are also told that, as people, we are not enough. Before our feet hit the floor every morning, we feel inadequate. We never have enough money or time, are never good looking or thin or smart enough. Even we who minister in churches struggle with feelings that our churches are not big enough, cool enough, gifted enough, or effective enough. 

Choosing Trust 
With the world constantly reminding us of our inadequacy and shortfalls, how do we move from our feeling of scarcity to a place of contentment? How do we begin to flourish and experience the wholeness of God’s favour on us—and His delight in us—even in genuine scarcity? 

The “I lack nothing” statement calls us to make a decision. In fact, in other translations, the phrase is “I shall not want,” which seems to better communicate that we are to choose to not desire more than what the Lord gives us. It demands a certain amount of trust to accept and believe that God’s blessing is not limited to our finances, material well-being, health, and relationships. In fact, the things we place our trust in and allow to rule our lives are often the things that will never permit us to flourish. 

  • Where are you experiencing the most lack? Where do you need the most healing? Are you willing to invite God into these areas and allow Him to heal and transform you? 
  • Is God on your radar as you go about your day? Is His guidance and His work in the world important enough to you that you keep an eye out for opportunities to participate with Him?  
  • How often do we miss out on His invitation because all we can see are the things that are blocking our view—things like fear, insecurity, and inadequacy? 

Experiencing a life without lack comes when we give ourselves away to others, thus making room for more of God in our lives. It is like gardening. If we leave the fruit or flowers on the plant, it will eventually wither away. But when we cut flowers or pick fruit from the plants, we increase our harvest capacity. Over the years, the crops will enlarge, and the fruit will be abundant. In the same way, as we cultivate shalom by giving of ourselves to others, our capacity to minister will increase, and we will live and serve out of the abundance. 

Lord Jesus, In the midst of our perceived lack, may we be reminded of Your abundance. May our minds be renewed each day with the truth of Your gracious provision. As we awaken each day, may we choose to not desire more than You give us. May we live in Your delight, trusting in Your word, and flourishing in Your love and grace. In Your name, amen. 

This reflection is brought to you by CBWC’s Banff Pastors and Spouses GIVE and GO campaign, a clergy care initiative to help as many pastors as possible to join us at Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference this November. Join us in reminding our pastors: you matter to us, and you matter to God! cbwc.ca/clergycare 

 Partner Spotlight: Carey

Carey Student Residence: Graduate Reflections

As the UBC academic year comes to an end, Carey Student Residence says farewell to many of our students who are graduating or moving out. This year, we have seven students in our residence graduating from their undergraduate UBC programs to venture off into new directions.
Hear from two graduating students, Jaslyn and Logan, who share what it has been like living at Carey.

Jaslyn Thienbunlertrat is graduating from the Faculty of Arts with a major in English

How has Carey been part of your faith journey?
Living at Carey and sharing life day-to-day with the other “Careyites” has been transformative in how I understand loving my neighbour. You’re given chances to learn how to do that every single day; at the cafeteria, in the lounge, and at regular dorm social events. In the past two years, I’ve experienced the 

depths of God’s grace and tenderness through the people here and the ways they have loved me—as well as in the ways I have been invited into loving them. Sharing life in this way is so meaningful and has helped me grow in my faith—not just learning what it means to love my (literal) neighbours, but also learning what it looks like to walk alongside other Christians in their daily lives (in both joyful and sorrowful seasons).

What will you miss the most about Carey?

I’ll miss living so close to such dear friends and being able to live life with them! Part of the beauty of living at Carey is being able to study, pray, have fun, and make music with my friends at any given time. This support network has been so precious to me. I will be very sad to say goodbye to these people whom I’ve grown to love very much.

What advice would you give students considering applying to Carey’s student residence?

I’d recommend investing in the Carey community! Regularly participating in dorm events and community life makes such a difference. Being part of communal meals, Monday night events, and discipleship groups allows you to get to know people on a deeper level. It teaches you a lot about how to be comfortable with being yourself, how to extend hospitality to a stranger (who can quickly become a good friend!)—and in that long process of getting to know who you’re living with, what it means to love and be loved (which in itself is such a gift!).

Logan Wiebe is graduating from the Faculty of Applied Science

How was Carey part of your faith journey?

Something I appreciated was getting to know people from different Christian backgrounds. The diversity in thought among fellow believers is useful in building your faith. Also, I’ve noticed that Carey excels at offering opportunities to connect with my peers and with God. I had no shortage of small groups, worship nights, or church invitations. 

What will you miss the most about Carey?

Without a doubt, being able to eat every single meal with friends. I look forward to coming down to the cafeteria because there will always be welcoming people to have a conversation with.

What advice would you give students considering applying to Carey’s student residence?

Don’t delay! Carey is a beautiful place to make friends, establish habits, and grow.

From Jaslyn sharing about experiencing the love of others and being invited to love her fellow students back, we are pointed to the verse in 1 John 4:7: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” As our students grow in friendship and community, our hope is that they will also grow in their love and knowledge for God.

We are excited to share about the upcoming expansion to our student residence program. Currently, the maximum capacity for our student residence program is 44 students. This year, 33 of our 44 students have decided to continue staying at Carey for another academic year beginning this Fall 2024. We are thankful that we have been a community that these students enjoy and want to continue to be part of year after year. With 145 student resident applications last year, we anticipate it will be a competitive year for new students wanting to live at Carey this fall.

Construction has been moving swiftly! In March 2024, we placed the last beam on the sixth and final floor of our building.

We are thankful that our new student residence building is under construction and is projected to be completed by spring of next year, 2025. Our new building will add an additional 104 beds to the UBC campus. It is designed with amenities such as in-unit laundry, full kitchen, and shared meeting spaces for students to study and worship. With the ongoing increase in demand for student housing on campus, we are excited for the opportunity to welcome more students to our student residence program, where they can enjoy a unique Christian community focused on discipleship and fellowship. We hope to continue to be a light in the UBC community and build up a community of Christ-followers across campus.

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year closed on April 1st. Late applications will still be reviewed, and CBWC members will receive priority placement. All other applicants will be placed directly on the waitlist. If you want to learn more about our student residence program, check out our website here.

BCY Regional Newsletter

April 2024

The Power of Short-term Missions

By Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie 

Some of you may have already seen my post on Facebook, that this all started with me saying to Bonnie last fall, “How about an all-inclusive in Mexico in January?” To which she replied, “How about joining our church (Bonavista Baptist) mission to Guatemala and building houses for some people who could use a hand?” And so, we became a part of a team of 11 people who built 16 houses in 5 days. And it was great!

If you let those numbers sink in, you soon realize that the only way we could do that was if there was a huge amount of work done by many people before we ever arrived on Guatemalan soil. We were invited into God’s mission, already well underway, in Central America!

When we returned home, I began thinking more and more about our role in going and building these homes, and the practical side of me thought, “They really didn’t need us to come and build the houses.” They needed the money that was raised by the church and so many individuals, but there were enough people there on the ground that they could have built those houses without us. I really wasn’t sure that they needed us. 

As I continued to ponder this, I began to think about the fact that perhaps it’s not about them needing us, but rather us needing them. We needed to go and experience the people and the living conditions and the poverty to shake us out of our normal North American comforts and expectations; to challenge us to read scripture through the eyes of people different than ourselves; to help us to think about what our lives would have been like had we been born in their context; to challenge us to understand that we are not any better than anyone else and we are not more blessed by God because of the stuff we have, or the place we live; and to encourage us to learn to look at those that have less than us, that we see right here in our own towns and cities, in a different way.

These are people of faith. Some spoke of praying for a home for their family for years. Most wanted a small wooden cross, which we brought for them, mounted high on a wall because—symbolically—they wanted Jesus to be the head and overlooking the household.

And so, I went from “They don’t need us, they just need our money” to “We need them”—but I think I’ve settled on a place that says, “We need each other.”

We have resources and time and a willingness to share with others.

The people we built homes for were kind and gracious and welcoming and thankful, even with very little—a powerful example to us all.

And I think this is what the church is called to be.

Skye Jethani—co-host of the Holy Post podcast, guest speaker at our Banff Pastor’s and Spouses Conference in November and author of several books, including, “What if Jesus was Serious about the Church”—says,

Rather than an event, a building, or an institution, the New Testament calls the church to be a community living in communion with God and one another for the sake of the world.

People in relationship with God and one another for the sake of the world is what I hear when Jesus declares that “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:49). James challenges us, in the second chapter of his letter to the churches, that faith and works cannot be separated, and that we are called to live out our faith in the things we do. Or in Matthew 25, in one of the most powerful parables given in scripture, Jesus says, “Whenever you did this (feed, cloth, visit in prison, etc.) to one of the least, you did it to Me.”

There are lots of opinions held by people about mission trips to the developing world. As a fairly simple guy, here is my take. If you go, go with a heart to serve, and go with an openness to be touched and changed. And go out of a desire to be in communion with God and others, for the sake of the world!

Celebrating Creation Care

By Jenna Hanger

Spring is here, the days are longer, and the snow is melting! April is such an exciting time as we tentatively step outside again and enjoy the fresh air, baby animals, and the promise of summer coming (even if it comes with mounds of mud). It is also the time to acknowledge the annual celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd!

Earth Day is a great opportunity to take some time to reflection on Creation Care. Over the past few years, we have chatted about this topic or highlighted a ministry that is actively taking steps to care for our planet and get people involved.

Check out our older articles here:

https://cbwc.ca/making-connections-april-2023/#hope, https://cbwc.ca/making-connections-april-2022/#growing, https://cbwc.ca/making-connections-april-2021/#creation

This year, we are thrilled to share about the efforts at Calvary Baptist Church to extend their community garden project. Calvary Baptist Church was one recipient of the Active in Mission Grant, and they have already started putting the funds to good use!

On behalf of Calvary Baptist Church, the Board of Elders, and the Jubilee Garden Committee, I would like to thank you very much for the grant that has been received from the Justice and Mercy Network and CBWC.

Our Community Garden extension project has already begun. On February 17, we were delighted to have seventeen volunteers at a work party removing old garden boxes, taking down old fencing, levelling the ground with mini-excavator and tractor donated for our use by a church attender—with seven new garden boxes in place by the end of the day. It was a time of great co-operation and fellowship, which included a hardy mid-day lunch. A second work party is planned for March 9 to continue the work. When completed, we hope to have forty-two new garden boxes for neighbours and members of our community to grow vegetables, fruit, and flowers. A formal report with pictures will be sent in the future so that you can see the finished garden. At present, we are continuing to receive donations to continue with the project and see it to completion before planting time in May.

We are excited about this opportunity to connect with the community and provide garden boxes for those interested in raising organic vegetables and enjoying the gardening experience.

Another exciting item is that a couple of members of our congregation recently donated a new large BBQ. We hope to have a barbecue celebration with gardeners and church folk when the project is complete.

Again, thank you for the donation from the CBWC to help make this project happen.

Sincerely,
Katherine Johnson
Calvary Baptist Church of Gibsons

We would like to encourage everyone to take part in this year’s Earth Day celebration! For some resources on Creation Care, click HERE.

JustWork—Closing After 20 Years

By Jenna Hanger

Nearly twenty years ago, Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in Vancouver had a vision of helping the growing number of people in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood struggling to find work. Through this desire, JustWork Economic Initiative was incorporated as a charity in 2006, and operated three social enterprises; JustPotters, JustCatering and JustRenos.

In January, it was announced that JustWork made the difficult decision to close, citing that financial struggles caused by the current economic climate were too much to overcome. 

JustWork shared this statement on their Facebook Page:

Big THANKS to our amazing community! As JustWork comes to a close, we reflect with awe and gratitude on those who have walked alongside us. This work will resonate meaningfully throughout our community and the lives of those we have served, leaving a lasting impact for years to come.⁠

We started in 2006 with a dream and a mission to fill a critical employment gap and help those facing the most significant barriers. It has been a privilege to give people the opportunity to sustain an income through our social enterprises for 18 years.

As we move forward, we carry beautiful stories of impact, struggles, moments of gains and loss, and the bonds of friendship and joy.

We are grateful for you—our silent companions, faithful supporters, and the soul of our journey.

⁠We wish you the very best! THANK YOU for being a part of our story.

The heart that Grandview Baptist had all those years ago led to years of touching and changing many lives. We are so proud of the work that JustWork has done, and wish everyone who was involved the very best in their next chapter!

Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections March 2024

Upcoming Events

As we look forward to the approaching Easter season, with all its opportunities to recognize the Father’s goodness, remember Christ’s sacrifice, and renew in us the Holy Spirit’s power that sends us into our neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces, we also consider some upcoming ways to gather and grow as a CBWC community:

May your Lent and Easter practices help you and your church community be emptied of the things that hinder and filled with hope and perseverance for the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1)!

The Importance of Clergy Care & How You Can Help

Pastors are prime targets for burnout. There is rarely a time when they are not on call. One way that healthy churches care for clergy is by providing regular opportunities for rest and renewal.

After nearly two years, we are thrilled to invite our pastors, once again, to the Banff Pastors & Spouses Conference this coming November. We want as many pastors as possible in attendance this year and we are poised and ready to help make that financially possible.

A generous CBWC supporter has stepped up to match any donations given to Banff Pastor’s Conference Clergy Care dollar for dollar, up to $25,000! With your generosity, we can grow that gift to $50,000 and help subsidize conference costs for our pastors.

This conference is too important for your pastor to miss! Visit our page at cbwc.ca/clergycare to either GIVE to this initiative, or ensure your pastor is GOing to Banff Pastors & Spouses Conference 2024! Registration opens April 1st.

 Partner Spotlight: CBM

Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Baptist Mission Together 

2024 marks a historic 150 years of our collective journey in mission together as Canadian Baptists! It all began in 1874 with the commissioning of John and Mary McLaurin from Ontario to India, marking the outset of our calling to bring the Good News of Christ to a broken world.

We invite you to join us for key celebrations and events happening throughout the year. Special resources have been developed to mark this occasion including an original song, biblical reflections, and podcasts from thought leaders who have journeyed with us along the way. Each month from December 2023 to January 2025, a new reflection will be released which you can use as part of church discussions, small groups, or your own personal devotions. Visit CABA150.ca to find out more and to download the resources. Here, you’ll also find a summary of key Milestones in Missions over our 150-year history.

One of the continued goals of our mission is to help create and maintain sustainable projects and programs for individuals and communities to find healing and wholeness through the gospel. CBM values a holistic approach in sharing the Good News, which means our words and actions work together in tandem. We share the gospel by expressing God’s love alongside everything we do. Over the years, CBM has advanced our understanding of how compassionate leadership plays a vital role in effectively building the Church. Through your support, we invest in partnerships that train leaders to impart essential skills, facilitate change, and spiritually nurture local communities.

Your support and prayers have made a difference in the lives of individuals and whole communities throughout 2023. Together with your help, CBM’s work with our partners have:

  • equipped nearly 6,000 leaders that are trained to address pressing issues in society by ministering as the hands and feet of Christ.
  • empowered 20,000 women to find their voice and gain greater self-sustainability to feed their families.
  • supported 56,000 refugees with urgent needs, such as food and winterization supplies to get through the cold, winter months.
  • aided over at-risk 25,000 kids so they can go to school and have a meal every day.
  • fed 30,000 people worldwide who were unsure of where their next meal would come from.

We look forward to what 2024 holds, not only in our 150 celebrations with you, but in how God will lead us in sharing the gospel in word and deed in the years to come.

Heartland Regional Newsletter

March 2024

Tarantulas & Treehouses: Finding Eden on My Hands and Knees

By Joline Olson

My work for the CBWC is pretty much invisible. And I like it that way. I get paid to be persnickety, and to know how to use words like persnickety. I’ve been working as proofreader with the CBWC communications team since 2017. I’ve also been a part-time math teacher for 19 years. But as of June 2023, I gave up my teaching contract. It was time for a change, and I was keen to launch into a freelance editing career. But first, I had an adventure to go on.

As someone who loves to notice the little things, the jungle was a feast for my senses. I spent 3 months in Costa Rica this past fall, two-thirds of which was volunteering on a coffee farm in the jungle around Monteverde. It was pure delight. I was Mowgli—running through the vines and over boulders, dodging the visible creatures and praying not to meet the more invisible ones. Though, to be sure, they were there. (On day one, a scorpion climbed up onto my backpack, reminding me that I was not in Calgary anymore. By day 7, I had removed the first of what would be a few tarantulas in our volunteer sleeping quarters.)

While there, I was able to continue with my editing contracts by working in a delightful treehouse situated on the farm. Think, Swiss Family Robinson and you’re probably envisioning the right kind of structure. It was a 10-minute hike up a hillside from the buildings of the farm and, ironically, the only place on the 90-acre property where I could get four bars of cell reception. Best remote workspace ever!

About half of the volunteer work on the coffee farm I did was with a hoe or shovel, nurturing the coffee plants in various ways. I spent hours on my hands and knees, pulling weeds from the base of the plant, then leaving it there as mulch to protect the soil from the heat of the coming dry season. It sometimes meant taking a heavy-duty tool, plus some elbow grease, and engineering a kind of terracing of the earth in order to catch water and other organic materials as they washed down the hillside in the rains. The other half of the work, the best part, was collecting the coffee cherries from the trees. It’s not unlike a Saskatoon bush where fruit grows in clumps, but it is ripening at various stages; you have to be selective about taking only the ripe ones, while letting the others have more time on the branch. Collecting coffee was meditative and prayerful. I loved every day that I got to do that.

My days at the coffee farm echoed of Eden. I got to embody the mandate we have been given in both kingly language—radah (to subdue, have dominion over)—and priestly language—shamar (to keep, watch, preserve) creation. As I knelt on the damp jungle floor, I was aware that my weeding was making order out of chaos. I was doing the work of subduing and preserving. Sure, there were ant bites and blisters and sunburn, but there was keeping and nurturing and watching over. On coffee collecting days, as I placed ripe cherries into my basket, I felt nothing but gratitude for the abundance of creation. I felt appreciation for every cup of coffee I’ve ever enjoyed, and every farmer and worker who has nurtured the land to be fruitful.

It was a profound experience for me, to live that close to the earth for that many days, to spend 16+ hours of every day outside in the elements, and away from the shape and pace of life in Canada. I was transformed by the reward of the work, the hospitality of the people, and the wildness of the jungle. I will, most definitely, be back to that coffee farm. It was a little piece of Heaven on earth.

HeartSmart HR: March 2024

Churches as Employers and the Termination Process

By Louanne Haugan

Navigating terminations requires a delicate balance of compassion, integrity, and adherence to legal standards. As Christians, our faith calls us to also embody principles of love, forgiveness, and justice in all aspects of life—including the employment realm.

When terminating an employee’s employment, churches need to consider the impact it has not only on the employee, but also on other staff members and congregants. Added to this, is the reputation of the church. Here are some guidelines outlined by the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities to follow when faced with an employee termination.

Are Churches allowed to terminate employees? Some employers wonder if they are legally entitled to terminate an employee’s employment at all, without a good reason. The answer to that question, in almost all cases, is “yes.” In general, Canadian employers are legally entitled to terminate non-union employees’ employment at any time and for almost any reason. The legal question is, how much it will cost the employer to do so? However, there is more to a termination than its legal or financial cost—churches must also account for the wellbeing of the employee, remaining staff, and its members.

Is there just cause to terminate the employee? In general, churches who have just cause to terminate an employee’s employment will not owe the employee any termination payments, apart from the employee’s final wages and any accrued vacation pay owing to the employee. However, just cause is very difficult to establish. Generally, only very serious misconduct such as theft, fraud, assault, or sexual harassment will be considered just cause. Poor performance, even incompetence, is rarely just cause.

Has the employee resigned or was he or she constructively dismissed? In general, employees who voluntarily resign are not entitled to termination payments, except their final wages and vacation pay. Sometimes it is not clear whether the employee resigned voluntarily or was “pushed out,” or whether the employee was constructively dismissed. An example of constructive dismissal is where the employee leaves as a result of material changes in powers or duties, usually in the form of removing a main area of responsibility/ministry or decreasing hours. Legal advice is recommended in resignation or constructive dismissal situations.

Assuming the employee signed a valid employment contract containing a termination clause, what does it provide? Four main questions need to be asked before confirming whether the church can rely on the termination clause: (1) Does the termination clause provide at least the employee’s minimum entitlement under employment standards laws? (If not, the clause is void.); (2) Is the meaning of the termination clause clear?; (3) Did the employee receive “consideration” (such as the initial offer of a job, or an offer of a promotion) for signing the employment contract?; and (4) Did the employee sign the employment contract before starting his or her job or new position? (If not, the contract may not be valid.) The analysis of these four questions often requires legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer. If the answer to all of these four questions is “yes,” the employee’s entitlement will generally be limited to what the termination clause in the employment contract requires.

Is the employee entitled to Common Law Notice of Termination, and if so, how much? If the employee does not have a written employment contract that deals with termination, or if the employee does have such a contract but the termination clause is void (because, for instance, it provides for less than the employment standards termination entitlements, or because the contract was given to the employee after he or she had already started work), the employee will be entitled to common law notice of termination. Common law notice includes, and is almost always greater than, notice under employment standards legislation. Common law notice is an obligation imposed by a body of case law that has built up over the years. The common law obligation is to provide reasonable notice of termination. What is reasonable is based mainly on the employee’s position (the more senior, the more notice), years of service (the more service, the more notice) and age (generally speaking, the older, the more notice). There is no “formula” for determining common law notice. The common law notice period ranges from 0 to 24 months. For example, an employee with twelve years of service may be entitled to nine months of common law notice, including his or her eight weeks of notice under employment standards legislation. Charities, including churches, are not “exempt” from the obligation to provide appropriate notice of termination. If an employer terminates immediately, it must provide payment in lieu of notice.

The Termination Letter and Full and Final Release. A termination letter should be carefully crafted to set out all of the employee’s entitlements on termination. In most cases, the church will have the employee sign a “Full and Final Release” giving up the right to make any claims against the church in exchange for receiving the termination package offered by them. However, employers are not permitted to hold back employees’ employment standards entitlements because the employee has not signed a Full and Final Release. If the employee signs a Full and Final Release and receives more than his or her minimum employment standards entitlements, the employee (in general) will not be permitted to advance any claims against the employer.

How should terminations be handled? While employees rarely commend employers for how they handled a termination, employers should always strive to manage the termination in a fair, discrete and compassionate manner. Terminations not handled in this way present a much greater risk of litigation.

The best advice for churches facing the termination of an employee is to know the applicable employment standards laws and have a carefully developed and implemented employment contract that brings certainty to the employee’s entitlement on termination. If the employee accepts the employer’s termination offer, the Termination Letter and Full and Final Release should also be carefully drafted to ensure the resulting settlement is indeed clear and final.

Finally, as image bearers of Christ, we should approach terminations with a posture of compassion and empathy, understanding that job loss can be a significant life event for any individual. Be ready to offer support, provide resources for transition, and demonstrate genuine care for the well-being of the employee. In all things, and especially when considering the termination of an employee, always seek guidance through prayer asking for wisdom and discernment to navigate the situation with God’s guidance.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

Celebrating Chinese New Year

By Jerry Wang

Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important holiday for anyone who grows up in Chinese culture. It happens every year between January 21st and February 20th, as it is determined by the Lunar Chinese Calendar. During this time, every Chinese will try their best to get home before the New Year’s Eve. During the 2024 Spring Festival travel season, there were around 210 million people travelling back to their hometown before the festival, spending one to three weeks with their extended family, and then going back to where they live and work.

The number one element of Chinese New Year is family reunion. Just as Christmas Eve is reserved for family members, New Year’s Eve is also the time for family members to gather and enjoy family time. Chinese culture takes family relationship seriously, and usually siblings will bring their small families together. 

Adults will prepare for a dinner while kids get themselves ready for red packets and fireworks.

New Year’s Eve dinner is another important part of the festival. You can imagine that the whole family will fill up the dinner table with all kinds of delicious food. People living in various places will enjoy various cuisines. One common dish that every family must have is whole fish. That is because in Chinese the word “fish” and “surplus” are homophones. This becomes part of the tradition since everyone wishes may there be surplus year after year.

Food is not the climax for most kids. After the dinner, adults and kids will play games and enjoy snacks. This is one of those nights when kids will not be asked to go to bed, as their parents will stay late or all night to wait for the arrival of the New Year.

When the New Year does arrive, older kids get chance to start long-prepared fireworks in the yard. The fireworks normally can last 1-2 hours before you can hear each other talking. Then, kids will pay a new year call to parents and grandparents and get red packets. Now they have enough money to buy more fireworks. Some lucky kids can gain so much through red packets that it could be enough for them to buy a new laptop or pay the new year tuition.

On the first day of New Year, before anyone comes to your home, people would like to post New Year’s couplets and stick them on the door frames for good fortune. Some Christians believe that somehow Chinese might have learned it from the Jewish Passover tradition in ancient times. From this time on until the end of the month, people will visit their relatives, offer blessings, and enjoy meals together. People will get to meet their relatives and friends whom they have not seen for a long time, or even an entire year.

When I grew up, most of the businesses were closed during this festival season for at least two weeks. This is another attractive part of Chinese New Year. People get released from their daily work during this time.

As a Christian grown up in Chinese culture, I would love to see more Christian elements when people celebrate the Chinese New Year. What people usually have in their mind is their wish for a better year, and a hope that they would prosper in the new year. I know that there is no better hope than the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. I hope that one day when people offer blessings to each other, they will say “Blessed is the one whose God is the Lord!”

New Theology for the Ordinary Podcast

Not Improving on Our Instructions: The Mission of the Church in the Gospels and Acts is to Love One Another 

A few years ago, CBWC started a new initiative called Theology for the Ordinary (TFTO). Born out of a want to connect deeper amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, TFTO strives to bring people together to have discussions on the deeper things of life. Consisting of book reviews, book club discussions over Zoom and a yearly podcast, TFTO brings pastors and lay people alike together to strengthen each others’ faith, and their understanding of the Bible and theology.

TFTO is excited to share that their third podcast is now available for streaming! Nine episodes have been released, with a new episode being posted every Wednesday for a series of twenty weeks. This new topic, Not Improving on Our Instructions: The Mission of the Church in the Gospels and Acts is to Love One Another is led by Ed Neufeld.

Ed Neufeld is married to Marilyn, and they have four children and no grandchildren. They’ve been serving the Kleefeld Christian Community Church since 1990. Ed is diligent with the Biblical text in ways that not many are. His approach to the Scriptures is refreshing and will serve as encouragement for many. He has recently retired from a long career in New Testament studies at Providence Theological Seminary. Ed drives a 1952 Mercury half-ton that has been his daily driver for over 35 years. He also has three bicycles.

In this third podcast series, Ed discusses a unique perspective on what the church’s mission should be.

“Some of the reading I do and conversations I have are about what the church’s mission is. It’s hard to isolate what the one, main thing is that the church is supposed to be doing,” Heartland Minister, Mark Doerksen said. “Ed has been saying to me for a long time that it’s not as outward focused as you think. The important impulse from the New Testament scriptures, at least, is inward.”

“Many people do a lot of reading on the missional church. But I think this is something that you have to hear out of the ear. What does it mean to be missional? Sure, I think that is important. But also, what does it mean to love each other, the people in front of you––that is hard work too.”

“Ed is going to the foundation of things––the root of things. That is how he looks at the Bible,” Cindy Emmons, Administrative Assistant for the Heartland Region, added. “How I interpret Ed’s approach is that he is wanting to make sure that churches have a solid understanding of what it means to be the church and how we should be interacting with others, before moving outward.”

I think it’s in one of his first two episodes where he talks about ‘freely receive and freely give.’ What we receive from God is what we give to other people. And it should be first to the community of believers.  As we learn to care for and get along with our brothers and sisters, it then becomes natural to interact with everyone around us in that way. That’s what draws people to the church and makes us a light in the darkness.”

For a glimpse of what Ed Neufeld has been talking about, check out his article; Response to Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, by Ed Neufeld – Kleefeld Christian Community (ourkcc.ca)

To listen to the podcasts, click HERE.

Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections February 2024

Upcoming Events

Aim Grant Given to Assist with Food Security

The CBWC has a committee known as the Justice and Mercy Network (JMN). This committee

picked up from where the broader CBWC community left off after a successful summer of raising funds for CBM’s Active in Mission initiative in partnership with our sister conventions. 

This presented our group with the opportunity to do an audit of sorts amongst our churches, to see how many are currently involved with ministries to those who are experiencing food insecurity. We were very encouraged to receive feedback from 21 churches who are ministering in this way. 

  We had 21 applications for the money that was raised over the summer, with a total of $11,000 allocated to the CBWC. The grant requests, however, totaled more than $90,000. The JMN then had to decide which ministries received the grants, which was not easy to do.  

 The following churches received AiM grants:  

  •  Calgary Chinese Baptist Church: Fresh Food Program 
  • Calvary Baptist Church Gibsons: Community Garden expansion 
  • First Baptist Church Saskatoon: Food Pantry Ministry 
  • NewGate Baptist Church, Calgary:  Tuula’s Trunk Ministry and Big Cook Blessing classes
  • Shoal Lake Baptist Church, Manitoba: Shoal Lake & Area Food Bank
  • The Neighbourhood Church, Burnaby: Community Grocer Program 
  • Trinity Baptist Church Winnipeg: Upright freezer for church-run Food Bank  

  Much encouragement has come from being part of this initiative. One outcome that we hope to pursue in the near future is to form an affinity group with the churches involved in such ministries, so that they can network together. 

  We are hopeful that this initiative continues and are grateful for the chance to participate! 

 Partner Spotlight: CBWC Foundation

The CBWC Foundation is in a partnership with CBWC and Carey to engage Advisors with Purpose (AWP) to support CBWC constituents on their financial and stewardship journey.

With a focus on the whole person, AWP can help us all achieve our goals—from saving or giving, to wills, tax management, and beyond.

Trained and certified advisors will help you develop a will, plan for supporting faith causes you support, and bring purpose to your overall financial stewardship. They offer high-quality webinars, resources, personalized counselling, and advising. AWP is committed to making a lasting impact on the lives of those whom they advise, as well as the larger community.

As CBWC constituents, you are eligible for FREE financial planning with AWP. They will protect your anonymity, help you reach goals beyond the balance sheet, and navigate you and your church towards a future filled with purpose and kingdom impact.

Contact them anytime at www.advisorswithpurpose.ca for more information on signing up and FREE webinars for you or your church.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

February 2024

Celebrating Pilgrim Baptist Church in Honour of Black History Month

By Jenna Hanger

Nestled on 41 Maple Street in Winnipeg, MB, a small church with a large history stands. Pilgrim Baptist Church is not only one of the oldest established churches in CBWC, but it is one of the oldest black churches in Western Canada.

Pilgrim Baptist Church was first established by the celebrated Dr. Joseph T. Hill, a minister from Hot Springs, Arkansas, dubbed “The Black Knight of Arkansas.” 

Hill first came to Winnipeg two years prior, to preach at Zion Methodist Church as a fill-in pastor for seven weeks—while their reverend was away. Hill’s extraordinary preaching skills and powerful sermons drew attention from the media and created an overflow of attendees at Zion Church, some traveling a great distance to hear his sermons.

He returned to Winnipeg in October 1924 and is credited with founding Pilgrim Baptist Church— then known as Hill’s Memorial Baptist Church—to serve the city’s Black Community. (The name was changed in 1928.)

In 1935, the building on 41 Maple Street was purchased. It had been built in 1890 and was badly in need of repairs. A campaign was launched and, after much effort and sacrifice, it was dedicated in a service on April 30, 1939. It was renovated and modernized again in 1948. Then, in 1950, a devastating blow was dealt. During a minus 30-degree morning, a fire ravaged the building, causing an estimated $8,000 worth of damage. The congregation rose to the challenge—and with support from the Baptist Union of Western Manitoba, the Red River Valley Association, as well as from individuals and other churches from across Western Canada—they were able to restore the building.

However, that same year, another calamity struck. The Red River overflowed and flooded the city of Winnipeg. The congregation pitched in to clear the rubbish away and once more worked to restore the building. In 1984, the old building was bulldozed and a new building was established.

Throughout the years, Pilgrim Baptist Church has been blessed with many pastors whose leadership and passion have kept the church running. The longest serving pastor to date was Rev. A.R. McCarver, whose “can do” spirit, godly manner, and humility strengthened and encouraged the congregation and community for 23 years, until he retired in 1989. He briefly acted as interim minister from 1993 to 1994, and again in 1995 to 1996. Then, in 2003, at 92 years old, Rev. McCarver again filled the need at the pulpit during another search for a new pastor.

Pilgrim Baptist Church was more than a church, it was the hub for the Black Community throughout the years—especially the first part of their history when the community was small and often isolated in the city of Winnipeg. To many––especially those traveling to Winnipeg for work, often on the railroad––it was like a community centre. Concerts and gatherings often took place within its walls.

A quote taken from a Winnipeg Free Press article published Feb.18, 2021 described it this way:

“It definitely was known as the hub, not just for Black families who lived in the North End or in Winnipeg, but for people who might be travelling through town and needed a place to worship that was safe.”

“I think there are a lot of places that Black people couldn’t go in Winnipeg. To know that you could go somewhere safely with your family, or if you were feeling isolated, was essential to that feeling of belonging. Everyone needs to feel that feeling of belonging.”

Today, history lives on within its walls and current members of the congregation. Many members are fourth-generation families who still have a passion to keep the spirit of Pilgrim Baptist Church alive and thriving.

Banff Pastors Conference is Back!

Find out how you can get involved!

By Jenna Hanger

One month into 2024, and we have hit the ground running! There are so many fantastic things in the works for this year. (Just check out the Upcoming Events list at the top of this month’s Making Connections!)

One event in particular that we are so excited about is the much-loved Banff Pastor and Spouses Conference (BPC) happening this November! It’s been two years since we have offered this retreat, and we know many of our pastors are looking forward to gathering in the mountains again––this year one week later than usual, on Nov. 11-14, 2024. We are very excited about this year’s keynote speakers, Skye Jethani and Carolyn Arends!

This is a significant retreat, not only for our pastors, but for their spouses as well. Finding time to rest and recharge can be very challenging for couples who serve in ministry. BPC is a time to relax together, share some quality time as a couple, and connect with other friends and new acquaintances.

Every year, we receive feedback from grateful attendees who share how much they appreciated the opportunity to partake:

Thank you to all those who spent hours planning this retreat…it was an excellent getaway and so lovely having time with good friends.

____________________

The highlight of the conference was the personal connections. As someone new to the CBWC, it was amazing to meet and get to know so many new people in ministry.

___________________

What a beautiful place, what wonderful people to mingle with! Thank you for the opportunity to participate as a spouse.

______________________

 I feel full and rested. Josh and Anna gave me language that I’ve been struggling to articulate—both personally and as a leader. Another great retreat! All your work is really appreciated.

The importance of this retreat has been affirmed year after year. This year, we want to send as many pastors with their spouses as possible to BPC, and that is where you come in! We have created a special Clergy Care donation designation where we will collect funds to help any pastors who may need a boost to get to Banff. If you would like to be part of this opportunity to bless those in ministry, CLICK HERE and select the Clergy Care option in the drop-down menu, adding “BPC” in the note field. A little goes a long way!

Love and Lent

By Faye Reynolds

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15: 13 (NIV)

How perfect is it that the first day of Lent begins on Valentine’s Day—perhaps not if you’re fasting or giving up chocolate for the next 40 days—but for taking time to reflect upon the meaning of the cross, there is no better day to begin than this day that celebrates love. The greatest distortion to love is to define it as personal feelings. I love ____ because it gives me pleasure, it warms my heart, it makes me feel valued or important. Love is not for the benefit of the lover, but for the beloved. We can never fully grasp that profound truth apart from the Son of God dying for us on a cross.

We know that agape refers to God’s love for us. It is rooted in the Greek concept of “to prefer.” in the sense that divine love is “what God prefers.” Thus, we might translate John 15:13 as “There is no greater definition of love than one who prefers the well-being of the other over themselves.” I might be able to hypothesize a horrific situation where I could heroically sacrifice my life to save my family, trusting that such a situation would never occur. It is another thing to consider sacrificing my personal preferences or desires for my husband’s preferences or my friends’, let alone my next-door neighbour. That hits much closer to home as I consider how well I truly love the well-being of others over my own well-being. Can I honestly prefer to forgive a wrong done to me for the sake of the beloved over my own pride or my principles or hurt feelings, in the same way that God lovingly forgives all my myriad of transgressions against Him?

What might we learn about God’s preferences as we reflect on the cross over the next 40 days of this Lenten Season? We may see that God preferred sacrifice over retaliation for the great wrongs of injustice and oppression amongst His people. We may see that God prefers us to be in relationship with Him through forgiveness over being rejected for all eternity for our wrongdoings. And what might we learn about ourselves and our relationship to our families, our friends, our neighbours and enemies? How about how well we love our church? Do we put aside our own preferences over the needs of the fellowship and the proclamation of Good News? What about politics? What personal preferences might need to be crucified so that the community, province, country might thrive? How might we better love God’s creation over our own personal conveniences?

Over the next 40 days, consider finding 40 verses on God’s love and studying how we are called to love in the same way that God loves us in light of the cross. In those times of reflection, ask God where He is calling you to release some personal preferences so that another might benefit. A good place to start might be I Corinthians 13 or John 15.  This Valentine’s Day, if you are able to attend an Ash Wednesday service, receive the ashes knowing that we are but dust—but a dust for which Jesus preferred to die than to live, in order that we might be saved.

By grace alone,

Faye Reynolds

 ¹Strong’s Concordance -Greek: In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers).

More Ways to Connect

Did you know that several CBWC ministries have newsletters that offer resources and tools for your life and ministry? Here are a few subscriptions from across CBWC that we think you might like:

We’re grateful to have you as part of our community. Happy reading!

View these resources on our MAid page.

Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections January 2024

Upcoming Events in 2024!

As we each enter into a new year, we step into fresh opportunities for growth, change, relationship, and mission. Below are dates to be aware of that represent the ongoing work of the CBWC in cultivating leaders for effective ministry through retreats, training, and ordination—investing in relationship through group gatherings and events, and engaging in mission with SERVE, camping ministry, evangelism resources, and ongoing support for refugees. 

  • TFTO Book Club- Jan 3 at 6 p.m. PST– We will be discussing How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today by Mark L. Strauss. For more info visit www.cbwc.ca/ordinary 
  • MasterClass January 16, 2024: Sharing Faith with Children and Youth cbwc.ca/masterclasses 
  • Alberta Regional Retreat Feb 5-7  
  • Heartland Regional Retreat Feb 5-7 
  • Ordination prep workshop February 27-29 
  • Save the Date: Online Assembly May 16 
  • Ordination Examining Council May 13-14 in Calgary 
  • New Minister’s Orientation May 14-16 in Calgary 
  • BCY Pastors and Spouses Retreat June 13-14 
  • BC Convention June 14-15 
  • CBWC Board Meetings: January 19 online, April 18-20 in Calgary 
  • Registration open for SERVE 2024! June 30-July 6 in Prince Albert 
  • Many of our camps have Registration opening for summer, so don’t miss the chance to send your kids for an unforgettable experience. 
  • Banff Pastors and Spouses Retreat 2024: Nov 11-14 

Light in the Darkness

By Jenna Hanger

This past month, there seems to be a theme emerging. Various conversations with friends and devotional blogs have all pointed to the phrase “light in the darkness.” The season we are in, of course, is an obvious reason. The physical darkness of winter cutting our daylight short and bringing a coldness whistling against our houses is hard to ignore. Sanctuary Mental Health recently reflected on the effect of winter in their blog written by Rachel Watson, about the darkest night of the year (Dec.21).

For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, these are cold and dark days. Today—December 21—is the darkest of them all.


I have a sort of desperate energy as I search for little glimpses of light wherever I can find them, watching out my window for pockets of sun between the clouds. But by 4:00pm, I’m mid-work project and the sun has already slipped out of my grasp, yet again. I usually resolve to white-knuckle my way through winter, closing my eyes tight until someone taps me on the shoulder to tell me that the summer months of lingering warm light have returned.


For some, these feelings are intensified due to a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The experience of less daylight, among other things, can contribute to chemical changes in the brain throughout the winter months. Perhaps your lived experience has been lumped into the general “winter blues” category, or perhaps it hasn’t been acknowledged as legitimate. This can increase the difficulty of navigating through this season.

Author Katherine May, who wrote the book Wintering, has been my personal guide as I have been learning to make my way through the dark winter months. In her book, she describes the importance of acknowledging winter as a way to equip ourselves with the tools we need to prepare for it.


“I recognized winter. I saw it coming, and I looked it in the eye. I greeted it and let it in,” she writes. “When I started feeling the drag of winter, I began to treat myself like a favored child; with kindness and love. I assumed my needs were reasonable and that my feelings were signals of  something important.”


What if instead of blocking out my current reality, I was more able to do as May suggests? What if I looked winter straight in the eyes and welcomed it in? After all, it is a gift that we can see it coming and that it can be named and marked in our calendars. We feel the natural evolution of warm to cool to cold air on our skin each day. We can use these calendar and sensory markers as a way to acknowledge our reality, prepare physically and spiritually, and care for ourselves in a difficult season.


In the early days of dating my (now) husband, we’d go for winter walks. I would show up in tennis shoes, a jacket, no hat, and shiver my way through our conversation while trying to dodge large patches of snow that could easily turn my toes to icicles. His bewilderment at my lack of preparation for winter became a form of light teasing between the two of us. But each year, he would encourage me to invest in one item that would keep me a little warmer than the last. A decade later, I have built up a solid collection of items that keep me toasty on these winter walks we still take together.


My improved wardrobe has not magically solved all my challenges with winter, though I wish that was the case. But coming to terms with the seasonal changes happening around me signaled that my physical needs were important. I began to prepare my way through winter. 
(To read the full blog click HERE)

Expanding past the physical darkness, there also seems to be a heavy feeling for many people; an uncertainty of the future, and depression watching the bleak newscasts featuring war and death. Dividers that developed through the pandemic still affect relationships and, in our own CBWC family, there have been changes that have been significant.

In one of our communication meetings, Louanne shared a devotional she read in the advent season about a family who was out camping. In the night, the mother had to take her young son to the washroom. They had to walk a little way to get there, and she was worried he would be scared of the deep darkness of the wilderness. But, instead of being afraid, the little boy looked up and was in complete awe of what he saw. The stars. Amid the darkness, there was beauty to be found—shining across the darkness on breathtaking display.

This story stuck with me because it is a perfect example of how God works. In times of seemingly bleakness, God shines through. He uses everything for the good of those who love Him. When I think about significant times in my faith journey––when God has shown up the most, taught me the most, or humbled me the most—it was in perceived dark times. There truly is beauty to be found when we are in the valleys of our lives.

If you are going through a hard time, struggling with SAD, or other mental health issues, know that you are not alone. There are resources to help.

If you have embraced this season with joy, you have a different challenge—how to help others who might need a lift. Look at those around you and ask God how you can be a blessing.

 Partner Spotlight: HopeHill

April is the cruelest month…

The above words are oft quoted from T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land.” I’ve lived on the prairies for half of my adult life and used to quote the phrase regularly during the month of April. Snow or sunshine today? Rain or ice? Running shoes or snowshoes? Jean jacket or down parka? Any hint or sign of green? None, just more brown. It can be a cruel month.

For seniors, especially those past 80, the cruelest months can be January to mid-February. Mortality rates for people in their 80s is 16% higher during these months than any other time of the year. Psychologically, the will to live for and to Christmas is so strong that the energy to go much beyond that peters out. It’s not usually to disease or disaster that people succumb; it’s exhaustion.

I don’t know that there are a lot of preventative measures for this fact. But there are pastoral measures. When you are dealing with a senior person in your life, there is no guarantee they’ll be with us in a month’s time. How would you treat someone today if you knew they would be gone before the next calendar month comes? When you gather with an aging parent, a seasoned grandparent, or a distinguished aunt or uncle, do they know that you love them and value them? 

 We often revel in the extreme old age that some people reach. And we should. At Hopehill, a senior living society here in Vancouver, 7 of our 400 residents are over 100. 

That’s amazing. But the bulk of people are over 80. If you just use statistics, you could build a case that people in their 80s are more vulnerable to passing than people in their +100 years. Go ahead, read the obits in the newspapers. There are very few people over 100 who are listed. Much more often, it’s people in their 80s that are found there.

Every life is precious. Don’t miss the opportunity to communicate that.

 Hopehill—Living in Community, Vancouver BC

 PS.  We are adding more low-cost living spaces for low-income seniors. If you, or someone you know, is a senior and living on less than $50K a year, they would be eligible to live at Hopehill. If interested, please contact us at info@hopehill.ca. We hope to find 20 residents from the CBWC for the opening of our next building in the spring of 2025.

Rev. Jamey S. McDonald
Chief Executive Officer

BCY Regional Newsletter

January 2024

Great Canadian Bible Study History

By Faye Reynolds

For many decades, Women’s Mission Circles met monthly to pray together, to educate themselves about missionaries working overseas, and then to give an offering to support their church’s missionary partners—just a dollar or two as able. At one point in our history, women’s mission circles supported over 125 women missionaries in the many countries in which Canadian Baptist Missions were serving.

As times changed, more women worked out of the home and mission circles were less convenient to attend, and mission became more of a total church focus. Women continued to gather for Bible study and prayer and leadership development but did not necessarily contribute to any particular ministry.

In 2005, the four Canadian Baptist Women’s Organizations were having their bi-annual executive meeting, discussing how we might encourage younger women to engage in missions, when we came up with the idea of offering a free Bible study for every church across Canada to use. We thought that if women could find this common connection across the country, studying a woman from Scripture, they might also be willing to contribute to a common mission project. We could demonstrate how a little from many could make a great difference. Thus, the idea for the Great Canadian Bible Study was birthed. 

At that time there was a school in Tuni, India–The Eva Rose York Technical School for girls— with which CBM was in partnership. This school helped girls whose families had little hope of raising enough dowry for them to be married and hopefully rise to a better caste. We knew this would be a great ministry to support, and the idea of “a toonie for Tuni” became our first project. We set a target of raising $50,000 over 5 years and were thrilled when that target was reached in 3 years. In 2010, a team from Canadian Baptist Women of which I was privileged to be part went to Tuni to see how our support had made an impact.

Our next project was to support literacy projects for women in Rwanda and DR Congo. Again, we were able to reach our $50,000 goal in 3 years. Another team went to visit that project, as well. Since then, we have continued to choose projects that assist vulnerable women and children, most recently supporting the Eagle Wings project in Bolivia with Tim and Kallie Hutton.

Over the 16 years that I have written the study, we have alternated studying an Old Testament and New Testament woman of Scripture to engage our stories with their stories. Last year, Dr. Melody Maxwell of Acadia Divinity College took over the writing of the studies. This year’s study is written by Rev. Sandra Sutherland. The project is “Health and Mentorship for Boys and Girls in Kenya.” The topic is “The Women at the Cross.”

With Faye’s permission, we have compiled the Bible studies she wrote for GCBS over the years into in a single, beautifully presented study guide for your personal or church use. Click here to download. 

Don’t Miss Out!

In case you didn’t see it on our December Making Connections, we have a gift for you!

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada have partnered with RightNow Media – the largest streaming library of Bible studies and discipleship content. It has over 400 Christian publishers, tens of thousands of Bible studies, conferences, training sessions, kid’s cartoons, and much more. All pastors and/or paid ministry staff person within the CBWC, are receiving FREE personal access to this resource!

This is a gift to you to use personally and with your family. Please know that your user account cannot be shared or given away to your church. However, in addition to the free personal membership, your church now also qualifies for a significant discount for a church-wide subscription to use RightNow Media to equip families, resource small groups, and develop leaders within your local church. Note: If your church is already currently subscribing to RightNow Media, you may be eligible for a lower monthly subscription fee. To enquire, contact Graham Smith via the info below.

GET FREE ACCESS to this amazing resource with the following link –

https://app.rightnowmedia.org/join/cbwc

The RightNow Media app gives you instant access to the whole media library, as well as the ability to watch content offline. Access biblical video content anywhere, anytime, for you and your family! Click here to get the free app with your membership!

You may hear from RightNow Media as they’d love to introduce themselves and help with any questions you might have, but you can also reach out to CBWC’s rep, Graham Smith, if you need assistance with anything in the meantime. You can reach Graham with the information below:

Graham Smith – Director for National Accounts, RightNow Media

(972) 560 – 4381

graham@rightnowmedia.org

Thank you again for all you do, pastors and ministry leaders!

Celebrating Rev. Jessica Lee

By Cailey Morgan

Her congregation calls her Pastor Jessica; PJ for short. And on November 18, the question was whether they’d have to start calling her RJ.  

Pastor Jessica Lee was ordained into the Gospel ministry that evening by Makarios Evangelical Church (MEC), ostensibly changing her title to Reverend Jessica—although she thinks she’ll stick with PJ.  

Around 5 years ago, Pastor Jessica planted Makarios with support from her husband Dr. Tim Ngai and the CBWC Church Planting team, as well as Olivet Baptist Church, who hosts MEC in their facility in New Westminster, BC. Built on the pillars of spiritual formation and mission, MEC has since grown to a thriving, intergenerational congregation. Jessica has a strong Elders team and Staff team around her and continues to lean into new avenues of leadership development and discipleship as the congregation grows. 

This strong foundation was apparent when we visited Makarios for their Saturday gathering, which began in the afternoon with Bible School Training. Regional Minister Larry Schram, Erna Schram, Church Planting Director Shannon Youell and I arrived in time for dinner—a lovely spread enjoyed by tables of bustling families and brothers and sisters in Christ and punctuated with apple pie. 

Post-meal and many a long conversation, the worship service began with a time to quiet hearts and prepare to hear from God together. We were led in worship in both Cantonese and English, and Larry gave a sermon on the Hebrew concept of hesed, exhorting Jessica to continue loving her congregation with this “stubborn love” and inspiring all of us to consider God’s great and steadfast love for each of us. 

Then it was time for the Ordination Service. In the CBWC, it is churches who ordain ministers. The denomination’s role is to help prepare the ordinand and to give a recommendation of ordination to the church, based in large part on the interactions with these ordinands as they appear before the Ordination Examining Council. Shannon and Larry offered encouragement and prayer for Jessica, and MEC leaders laid hands on her as well. 

You may remember that Jessica’s husband Dr. Ngai passed away this past June. He was a huge cheerleader for Jessica on the path to Ordination. At the end of the Ordination Service, we were able to hear an audio message he had recorded before his death for this very occasion. It was clear in that moment that his impact is still felt strongly at Makarios and he continues to be greatly missed.

Then it was photo time, and once the flashes had ceased, round two of dessert was served!

Please continue to lift Rev. Jessica and Makarios Evangelical Church up in prayer as they look to continue making disciples in New Westminster and beyond. And talk to us if you or your church would like to partner financially with a church plant like MEC.

Notice of Voluntary Disaffiliation: 

The CBWC wishes to express its gratitude to First Baptist Church Peace River in Peace River, AB, and Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat, AB in honour of our shared history and ministry together.  First Baptist Church Peace River and Heights Baptist Church gave December 31, 2023 as their effective date of disaffiliation.

Both churches have been part of the CBWC for over 100 years, and we pray God’s blessing upon each congregation as they move forward in embracing a new beginning and alignment elsewhere.

Copyright ©  2024 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections December 2023

Upcoming Events

      • TFTO Book Club- Jan 3 at 6 p.m. PST– We will be discussing How to Read the Bible in Changing Times: Understanding and Applying God’s Word Today by Mark L. Strauss. For more info visit www.cbwc.ca/ordinary
      • MasterClass January 16, 2024: Sharing Faith with Children and Youth cbwc.ca/masterclasses
      • CBWC Board Meeting Jan 19 Online
      • Alberta Regional Retreat Feb 5-7 cbwc.ca/events
      • Ordination Prep Workshop for Feb 27-29
      • Heartland Regional Retreat Feb 5-7 cbwc.ca/events
      • CBWC Board Meeting in person April 18-20
      • Ordination Examining Council May 13-14
      • New Ministers Orientation May 14-16
      • Save the Date! Online Assembly May 16
      • Registration open for SERVE 2024! June 30-July 6 in Prince Albert cbwc.ca/serve

Christmas Reflection 

From Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie

You know how sometimes you don’t realize how good something is until you lose it? It’s easy to take much of what we have for granted. There was much pain and hurt that came out of the pandemic, but one of the blessings is that we’ve come out with a greater understanding of our need to “connect” with one another. Our communications team produces this monthly newsletter called Making Connections, and it is awesome. It’s an important way for us to be able to communicate and tell stories about what is happening across the CBWC. But it is limited, in that it is one-way communication. You read the stories, but you can’t engage with the storyteller.

For six weeks this fall, we attempted to add another level to our communications by presenting Making Connections Live!! Ten churches hosted regional gatherings from Winnipeg to Victoria, allowing a chance for CBWC staff to “connect” with about 450 people from 75 different churches in a setting where we could express the hope we share in Jesus, tell stories of our shared ministries, and engage with one another in dialogue. It was a gift!

I want to thank each of the host churches for donating your time, your space, and your desserts. They were fantastic. I want to thank our staff team for all the work they did behind the scenes organizing and planning and allowing those of us leading each night to walk into a church forty-five minutes before we were to begin, confident all would work well. And I want to thank all of you who attended a gathering. Many of you met people you didn’t know before, heard about ministries we do together that you didn’t know existed, or visited a church building you had never been in before. It was a gift!

We are about to enter the Advent season where gifts will once again become a theme. We look ahead to Christmas Day when we celebrate the greatest and most profound gift that has ever been offered, the gift of Jesus, our Lord and our Saviour. As I give thanks for the gift of Jesus, I have also been reminded again this fall of the gift of being an association of churches, called to serve Jesus together.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Rob

 Partner Spotlight: Carey Theological College

Passing the Torch: Reflections on 2 Timothy 2:2 and Discipleship
Rev. Dr. Colin Godwin, President, Carey Theological College

Earlier this year, Carey Theological College began a reflection about how seminary education—the training of pastors and church leaders—can better support discipleship in the local church. While there have historically been many noble purposes for theological education, Christian discipleship as the goal of seminary education emerges clearly from Scripture.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” –2 Timothy 2:2

To inform our reflection, Carey commissioned a series of interviews with Christian leaders, pastors, and lay people to discover what the state of discipleship was in our local churches. Several themes that emerged from the interviews were aligned with the goal of leadership development in the local church, as expressed in passages such as 2 Timothy 2:2.

The core of Paul’s message, “the things you have heard me say,” underscores the indispensable role of Scripture in discipleship. This aligns with the survey’s findings, where a lack of biblical knowledge and theological depth were identified as key challenges in many churches. Today, as we navigate a polarized post-pandemic world where many people get their viewpoints in an internet thought bubble, anchoring discipleship in the enduring truth of Scripture is more crucial than ever. It is through a solid foundation in God’s Word that believers are equipped to discern truth, embody Christ-like character, and engage effectively with the world.

Paul’s call to “entrust to reliable people” speaks to the importance of intentional selection in the discipleship process. This echoes the survey’s emphasis on the need for relational, mentorship-based approaches. Discipleship is not merely about disseminating information; it’s about investing in individuals who demonstrate a sincere commitment to following Christ. This intentional focus ensures that discipleship efforts are channeled towards those who are not only receptive but also demonstrate the potential to lead and nurture others in their faith journey.

The phrase “who will also be qualified to teach others” captures the essence of reproducibility in discipleship. Paul’s vision extends beyond the immediate circle to future generations, reflecting a strategic, long-term perspective. The survey results highlighted the need for innovative and adaptable discipleship methods that address the real questions that believers are asking today. By equipping faithful disciples who can teach others, we can create a sustainable model of spiritual growth and multiplication. 

At Carey, we have found the results of these interviews quite challenging. We are considering how to strengthen the biblical focus of our curriculum. And although we make considerable efforts to ensure that our admission process selects students that are committed disciples of Christ and servants of His church, we do not always succeed. Most difficult for Carey is the realization that much of what is commonly taught in seminaries is not immediately transferable to local church leadership development. 

Please pray for Carey as we seek to align our courses and programs to the needs of discipleship in our churches, including Biblical knowledge, mentorship, and reproducibility. I would also encourage you to consider these same themes as you labour to strengthen Christian formation in your church.

Do these interview results connect with your experience? As Carey continues to reflect, I welcome your feedback at presidentsoffice@carey-edu.ca

In integrating these insights with 2 Timothy 2:2, we are reminded that effective discipleship is a journey that requires depth in biblical knowledge, intentional focus on devoted followers, and a vision for reproducibility. As we reflect on this scripture and the insights from the Carey Theological College survey, let us recommit ourselves to these principles, adapting them to our current context. May we strive to be faithful stewards of God’s Word, investing in reliable individuals who will, in turn, teach others—thus ensuring the continuous spread of the Gospel and the strengthening of the Church in this generation and beyond.

Carey celebrated the start of construction towards a new 104-bed Christian student residence at UBC–a bedrock of discipleship for generations to come.

Heartland Regional Newsletter

December 2023

Covid Relief Grant Blesses Church

By Jenna Hanger

Northmount Baptist Church in Calgary was recently the recipient of an incredible gift. After being alerted by CBWC about the COVID-19 Recovery Federal Grant, they were able to put together a proposal. They were ecstatic to have received nearly $100 000 to go towards enhancing translation and worship for members of their church.

With 80% of their congregation being new Canadians, finding a way to properly communicate has been a challenge, but the grant money has allowed them to purchase the equipment, and hire the employees needed to better minister to newcomers.

Using A.I. technology, Northmount now has the ability to translate sermons in real time into Spanish and Farsi, which are displayed on newly-purchased screens in front of the church.

“One immediate benefit is that Spanish- and Farsi-speaking people can at least feel a little more part of the service. Even if the translation is not perfect, they can get the gist of what is going on,” Pastor Greg Butt shared, adding that they can feed the program Bible phrases and words, so the translations will get more and more accurate with time.

On top of being able to purchase the translation technology, new screens, and video cameras, they have also been able to hire a part-time IT person who revamped their website so it can switch flawlessly from English to Spanish and Farsi. They have also expanded their sound booth to accommodate the new equipment and were able to purchase a whole new set of instruments for their worship team.

Having these new instruments has been a huge blessing in itself. This year, Northmount sponsored six incredibly talented musicians from Nigeria, who have committed to helping them with their worship ministry for at least a year. With these leaders, they have not only enhanced their regular Sunday worship times, but have been able to host special worship nights geared towards different cultures. They have already had an African worship night, and plan to have an Afghan and Spanish praise night, as well as a jazz concert for non-churchgoers.

“It’s been a huge boost for us,” Pastor Greg shared about receiving the grant. “With so many of our congregations new to the country, it has been a challenge to sustain what we have, but we are hoping because of these technologies and exposure the church will draw people in and grow.”

CBWC Has Two Christmas Gifts for You!

It’s the season of giving, and we are so excited to give you two amazing free gifts!

For the first, we have partnered with RightNow Media to give all pastors and/or paid ministry staff within the CBWC FREE personal access to RightNow Media, and churches will qualify for a significant discount for a church-wide subscription!

The second gift, we are pleased to share a brand-new youth leader resource called Create and Cultivate—born out of The Youth Ministry Forum in 2022.

Keep reading to learn more about these awesome gifts!

RightNow Media Gift:

The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada have partnered with RightNow Media – the largest streaming library of Bible studies and discipleship content. It has over 400 Christian publishers, tens of thousands of Bible studies, conferences, training sessions, kid’s cartoons, and much more. All pastors and/or paid ministry staff person within the CBWC, are receiving FREE personal access to this resource!

This is a gift to you to use personally and with your family. Please know that your user account cannot be shared or given away to your church. However, in addition to the free personal membership, your church now also qualifies for a significant discount for a church-wide subscription to use RightNow Media to equip families, resource small groups, and develop leaders within your local church. Note: If your church is already currently subscribing to RightNow Media, you may be eligible for a lower monthly subscription fee. To enquire, contact Graham Smith via the info below.

GET FREE ACCESS to this amazing resource with the following link –

https://app.rightnowmedia.org/join/cbwc

The RightNow Media app gives you instant access to the whole media library, as well as the ability to watch content offline. Access biblical video content anywhere, anytime, for you and your family! Click here to get the free app with your membership!

You may hear from RightNow Media as they’d love to introduce themselves and help with any questions you might have, but you can also reach out to CBWC’s rep, Graham Smith, if you need assistance with anything in the meantime. You can reach Graham with the information below:

Graham Smith – Director for National Accounts, RightNow Media

(972) 560 – 4381

graham@rightnowmedia.org

Thank you again for all you do, pastors and ministry leaders!

Create and Cultivate Resource Gift:

To access the Create and Cultivate flipsnack CLICK HERE.

Read below testimonies from pastors who attended the 2022 Youth Ministry Forum:

Andrew Bird- Youth Pastor at Brightview Church

The Youth Ministry Forum was an incredible time of fellowship and connection with other youth pastors from across the country. I had not met most of them, and so for me, the forum was such a great opportunity to hear from youth workers and learn about youth ministry in a variety of contexts. Our time together was incredibly life-giving. We were able to share joys and struggles, challenges and celebrations from the common ground of pursuing God’s kingdom wherever we served. Over this past year, we have continued to be connected through a group chat, offering prayer requests and care for one another. I personally would like to experience and see more gatherings of youth ministers from across the nation.

Create and Cultivate is a call to Canadian churches to take seriously the ministry to youth and young people. The wording of the document is both challenging and encouraging, pointing to the continued need for ministry throughout all generations, as well as encouraging churches that such a ministry is possible. All churches are in the process of creating and cultivating. It is what the Christian church does to varying degrees of effectiveness and depth. Therefore, I suppose the value of this document is that it calls churches to turn some of that work and effort toward the young, toward the lost, toward the disenfranchised. 

Kyle Merkel- Youth Pastor at Lethbridge First Baptist Church

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to attend the Canadian Baptist youth ministry forum last fall. It was great to connect with youth pastors from across the country who all have a heart and passion to reach our youth for Jesus. It was incredibly valuable to have a safe space to discuss the opportunities, challenges, and obstacles we are facing in youth ministry, and to receive encouragement and prayer from one another.

I am excited about the ministry priorities that were distilled from the conversations that took place and the unified vision they provide as we minister in our unique contexts. There is a deep encouragement that comes from knowing you are part of a community of youth workers, all pulling together in the same direction.

I am looking forward with anticipation to seeing how God will work in our ministries and churches as the Create and Cultivate resource rolls out, and for the continued opportunity to inspire, support, and encourage each another.

Christmas Fun for the Family!

In keeping with the theme of gifts, we wanted to gift you some ideas for a special time for you and your family this Christmas season! Check out the booklet below for craft ideas, colouring pages, crossword puzzles and more!

Ruminating on Rest

An Update from Rev. Shannon Youell, Director of Church Planting

I spent half the summer recovering from a bad fall that resulted in broken bones. I suppose it is a type of forced rest that isn’t all that restful! But it has given me a lot of time—while laying across the couch with an elevated leg—to read, think, and pray, specifically about the work we do in our own church contexts and in our greater CBWC family.  

Executive Staff Retreat this September: crutches and all!

When I think of the difference between rest and restful, I think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28:30, a very familiar verse where Jesus describes rest as something found in our souls: as His teaching (His yoke) being easy and the burden of it light. This kind of rest, Jesus infers, leads us to restfulness rather than to restlessness. And it appears to come to us when we respond to Jesus’ “Come to Me,” which reminds me of His “Come and see” we hear several times in the Gospel accounts.

“Come to me,” “come and see,” “taste and see that the Lord is good” all connote a rest that is otherworldly and unforced. The Message uses the phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” to describe the rest Jesus speaks of in Matthew 11:29. As we enter this new season before us, with all the activities familiar and new that our churches may engage in, may we discover anew the rest that is good for our souls and crucial for the mission God has entrusted to His Church. Taste and see that, indeed, the Lord has been and is good!

CLICK HERE to keep reading!

Notice of Voluntary Disaffiliation: The CBWC wishes to express its gratitude to First Baptist Church Calgary in honour of our shared history and ministry together for more than 100 years. The CBWC was notified of their voluntary disaffiliation effective September 24, 2023.

We pray God’s blessing upon First Baptist Church Calgary as they move forward in embracing a new beginning and alignment elsewhere.

Copyright ©  2023 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections November 2023

Things Happening in November

– It’s Book Club Night! Join us at 6pm PST TONIGHT, November 1, for the Theology for the Ordinary Book Club on Zoom. Email Cindy at heartland@cbwc.ca to get involved.

– A reminder that there is no BPC 2023, but save the date for Banff Pastors’ Conference 2024! See some of the exciting details below!

Banff 2024
Dates: November 11-14, 2024
Location: Banff Springs Fairmont
Speakers: Rev. Skye Jethani, Carolyn Arends
In Concert: Carolyn Arends & Spencer Capier
More details to come!

-November is a great time to think about Advent rhythms for your home and church. Find resources at cbwc.ca/advent, and watch for more resources being added in the coming weeks.

-Upcoming Evangelism Masterclasses: November 7 – Relating to Newcomers, and January 14 – Sharing Faith with Children and Youth. Register for free at cbwc.ca/masterclasses

-Join us this month for CBWC Sunday: an opportunity for your church community to celebrate our shared ministry across Western Canada. Visit cbwc.ca/cbwcsunday for resources, or contact your Regional Office to make arrangements for a CBWC Staff person to participate in your service.

-November 28 is Giving Tuesday! We’re raising funds for the Disaster Relief Fund, which provides support to on-the-ground relief organizations in times of crisis. cbwc.ca/givingtuesday

Apply Today for an AiM Grant!

Over this past summer, many folks from CBWC churches participated in Active in Mission, raising money with other Canadian Baptists across Canada to ensure people around the world and here at home have access to adequate, nutritious food. You championed the cause as individuals, teams, youth groups, and churches by running, walking, cycling, playing volleyball, and so much more! 

Collectively, over $90,000 was raised! Amazing! Half of the funds will be used to fund global food programming in 12 different countries, while the other half is being shared between our Canadian Baptist denominations to fund local food programs.  

The CBWC’s Justice and Mercy Network wishes to thank all those who participated and now looks forward to dispersing our portion of monies raised by way of grants to CBWC churches currently involved in food security ministries. 

If your church offers hospitality and welcome by providing food to those who are going hungry, please complete and submit a grant application to the Justice and Mercy Network by November 30thCLICK HERE for link to application.

We hope to disburse funds to successful grant applicants before the end of this year. 

Thank you for making a difference!  

 Partner Spotlight: CBM

Making a Difference with Hopeful Gifts for Change

This year, we celebrate 20 years of Hopeful Gifts for Change!

For 150 years, Canadian Baptists have been answering the call to share the Gospel through word and deed around the world. We are thankful for how you have joined in God’s mission especially through CBM’s Hopeful Gifts for Change catalogue. Your generosity over the past two decades has helped alleviate poverty, bring about justice, give hope to children, respond in crisis, build up local leaders, and expand the reach of the Gospel message.

At CBM, we work together with our global partners to live out the Great Commission by demonstrating the Great Commandment. Because of your gifts, South Sudanese refugees have the resources to start over after the civil war. Marginalized women in Rwanda can start their own businesses. Youth in the Philippines are able to get a college education. These are just a few of the many ways your gifts make a difference.

We also know that needs shift in our unpredictable world. Your gifts toward What’s Most Needed allow us to respond in ways that make the largest impact. Whether it’s helping in times of crises, investing in sustainable programs, or empowering individuals, we are committed to supporting our local partners as they minister to those around them.

You and your church community can use the catalogue at Christmas (or at any time of the year) to purchase gifts that make a meaningful impact for people across the world. Kids can select gifts of education for their teachers, churches can support leaders around the world in honour of their own pastors, and families can give one another presents that matter—all through the Hopeful Gifts for Change catalogue. There are so many ways to give a gift that will last a lifetime!

Visit hopefulgifts.ca to find out more.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

November 2023

Prayer for Remembrance

Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:
for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For those who love them in death as in life,
offering the distress of our grief
and the sadness of our loss;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For all members of the armed forces
who are in danger this day,
remembering family, friends
and all who pray for their safe return;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For civilian women, children and men
whose lives are disfigured by war or terror,
calling to mind in penitence
the anger and hatreds of humanity;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For peacemakers and peacekeepers,
who seek to keep this world secure and free;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

For all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership,
political, military and religious;
asking for gifts of wisdom and resolve
in the search for reconciliation and peace;
may God give peace.
God give peace.

O God of truth and justice,
we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,
and those whose names we will never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,
and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.

As we honour the past,
may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life and hope,
now and for ever.
Amen.

(All join together in the Lord’s Prayer)

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

— from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000), “All Saints to Advent.” Copyright 2000 © The Archbishops’ Council. Posted on the Church of England website.

Giving Tuesday—Disaster Relief Fund

In the event of an emergency or a natural disaster, we want to be able to jump into action to respond quickly and effectively during a crisis. The CBWC’s Disaster Relief Fund, financed by generous donors, is one way for us to meet the initial practical realities that come with natural disasters such as the recent wildfires in Kelowna and Yellowknife, as well as ongoing spiritual and mental health support in the days that follow. We assess each crisis to establish where donors’ dollars will make the greatest impact.

With natural disasters on the rise, the CBWC wants to be ready to respond generously and effectively. On Tuesday, November 28th, we will be participating in GivingTuesday to raise funds for our depleted Disaster Relief Fund. Visit cbwc.ca/donate and click on GivingTuesday to give!

Christian Plays with Pizzazz

Written by Jenna Hanger

NextGen Ministries newsletter is out! Mentioned in this edition is a terrific, free resource that will benefit churches this holiday season!

For the past decade, Joanna Richards from Elk Lake Baptist Church has developed a unique skill which has grown into an incredible resource for churches—writing original Christmas and Easter plays.

She just launched her website, https://christianplayswithpizzazz.com/, with six Christmas plays available for download. She also has plans to add Easter plays in the near future. The plays are biblically based, funny, and tailored to the skill level and needs of church congregations—running for about the length of a sermon, with characters able to be played by a mix of ages. 

Joanna’s journey into writing plays came from a heart to serve and a willingness to say “yes.” Since she started attending Elk Lake Baptist in 2000, she took part in the seasonal productions, which at that time were written by former pastor Les Funk (who has since passed). Les was an artist in his own right and brought his creativity to the original plays that he wrote. 

After years of being mentored and taking part, Les told Joanna he wanted to pass the mantle to her. At first, she was unsure she had the skill-set to take over—but with some background in writing skits, and a love of writing in general that showed through her academic work, Joanna agreed and wrote her first play in 2012.

Since then, she has written a Christmas and Easter play nearly every year. Often times, visitors would approach her and ask if they could use her plays in their own church. Many shared that finding a play which conveyed the holiday stories in a real, raw, yet authentically humorous way was challenging—with many online options coming across as cheesy rather than impacting. 

“It’s difficult to find fresh content. When you look around online, a lot of it is––you know––kind of canned. It’s such a potent story––there is such beauty in it, and a lot of what you can find is not capturing the audience,” Joanna said. 

Hence, her slogan: Christian Plays with Pizzazz! Your Source for Cheese-Free Christian Plays was born. 

With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, check out Joanna’s plays HERE, and see if there is a right fit for your congregation this season! All plays are free, but donations are accepted and will support Joanna and her playwriting efforts.

HeartSmart HR—Advice on Compensation Packages

By Louanne Haugan, Director of Communications & Development

Talking about salaries and compensation can feel awkward, especially in churches and Christian organizations. After all, we are doing the Lord’s work and ministry, and no one is in it for the money, right? However, neglecting to establish a good employment policy that lays out how employees are paid, and unintentionally underestimating your church’s compensation package can be a significant mistake. Attracting and retaining the most suited and gifted pastors and ministry workers should be a top priority, taking your church’s financial budget into account.

A proper compensation package will reflect Jesus

A well-designed compensation package, rooted in Christ-like attitudes, fosters positive relationships, and creates an environment that helps retain the men and women called to minister in your church. How you care for your staff will impact the church’s effectiveness and reputation, as well as help you fulfill your mission.

The best compensation packages do the following:

  • Demonstrate care for the employee, ensuring fair treatment and promoting employee morale
  • Ensure compliance with employment legislation
  • Help maintain competitive pay levels
  • Protect the organization’s reputation against claims of unfair treatment
  • Allow Christian organizations to model exemplary treatment of staff to their members and other stakeholders
  • Bring in the best possible people to serve your ministry
  • Sustain your pastors’ lives so that they don’t need to go somewhere else. For instance, the CBWC offers a Sabbatical Leave Plan to ensure pieces are in place to promote the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of its pastors as part of ongoing pastoral care.

Annually, the CBWC provides a Salary Grid to assist our churches in determining fair compensation for their pastor(s) given qualifications such as education, work experience, responsibility, church size, and cost of living based on the location of the church. The grid does not include the cost of benefits such as pension and group insurance (including health & dental coverage), which should also be considered when determining payroll expenses for eligible employees.

The CBWC also provides churches with an annual recommendation for cost-of-living adjustments to salaries in keeping with Canada’s rate of inflation, found in our 2024 COLA Letter.

Changes in charitable legislation in 2023

As we draw near to the end of the year, we want to remind churches in British Columbia and Saskatchewan of important changes and updates made to charitable legislation in your provinces. Links to these changes are found below:

British Columbia

A number of changes to the B.C. Societies Act came into effect in May of this year. Designed to increase clarity and address concerns with the legislation since it was first introduced, the provincial government has put together a table that sets out the majority of changes.

Saskatchewan

A new Not-for-Profit Corporations Act governing charities and other not-for-profit corporations in Saskatchewan came into force in March of this year. Intended to modernize the law dealing with charities, some important changes in the new Act deal with director qualifications, audits and reporting requirements, and electronic communications.

Copyright ©  2023 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections October 2023

Don’t Miss These Upcoming Events

 Making Connections LIVE CBWC Fall Road Trip: Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie, along with members of Executive Staff, are stopping by locations across Western Canada to share resources and exciting stories about what God is doing in our midst. Previous stops were in Winnipeg and Brandon on Sept. 26 & 27.

  • Oct. 2: Regina
  • Oct. 11: Calgary
  • Oct. 12: Edmonton
  • Oct 18: Victoria
  • Oct 19: Vancouver
  • Nov. 1: Ponoka
  • Nov. 2: Grande Prairie
  • Nov. 7: Kelowna

Visit cbwc.ca/mc-live for event details. Hope to see you there!

Take part in the next Theology for the Ordinary book club via Zoom on Wednesday, November 1st. Email heartland@cbwc.ca for details and to RSVP.

CBWC Church Planting invites you to join us for free Evangelism Masterclass webinars:

  • Oct. 3: Evangelism Incubator
  • Nov. 7: Relating to Newcomers

Register at cbwc.ca/masterclasses

October Print Edition

Copyright ©  2023 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections September 2023

Summer Highlights!

Our churches were busy this summer! So many kids and youth were blessed by summer VBS programs and day camps that gave them a chance to connect and learn about Jesus!

We loved seeing the photos so much we had to share some highlights! Click HERE to see a snapshot of some of the fun!

 Partner Spotlight: Hopehill

Summer Case Study from a low-cost housing society for low-income Seniors—Hopehill—Living in Community, Vancouver BC (a ministry of the CBWC)

She was upset—understandably so. Her suite had suffered water damage from the tenant above her. The damage was so severe that she needed to move out of the suite for a couple of weeks while repairs were made. As I listened to her, I realized she was very angry. Angry about what? The damage. The disruption. The tardiness of the repairs. The unwillingness we had in allowing her to stay in the suite. And the bigger question—“Where will I go?”    

I listened to her even more intently, and I gently offered the observation—“It sounds like there is something really deep going on inside of you that’s deeper than the ruined ceiling. What’s going on?” She blurted out, “I don’t want to be homeless. I have nowhere to go. I have no money. I am estranged from my family. This makes me feel so afraid. I feel like I have been ejected from home. This is so frightening to me.”  

When people are afraid or anxious, they will sometimes say things that are harsh and unhelpful. They will sometimes even do things that are destructive, not contributive.  

I have been living in the story of the Good Samaritan for the last while. Besides the big idea of us needing to be like the Samaritan, I’ve tried to understand the situation of the traveller on the side of the road. He lay there, “stripped, beaten, and left half dead,” Losing your home leaves you stripped and beaten. So can losing your job. So can losing a connection to a loved one through a blow up. People we meet in life can be fighting a battle we know nothing about. A kind word is better than a combative one. It’s not about my needs; it’s their needs that are the issue.

In the end, we offered her a temporary place to stay which was less than ideal. Instead, she opted to go to a friend’s home and live, temporarily waiting for the restoration of her “home.” But we repaired the relationship. Maintenance of a building is very important—so too is people work.  

Jamey McDonald 

Hopehill–Living in Community

PS. On July 13th, 2023, we broke ground on construction of our next 64-unit, low-cost for low-income senior residence. It is slated to be ready for occupancy in early 2025. Helpful to you? Contact us at office@hopehill.ca

BCY Regional Newsletter

September 2023

Resources for the 2023 National Day of Truth & Reconciliation

September 30th is the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. We want to encourage all our churches to take a moment to reflect on this day and participate in some form. Below is information found on the Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) website: https://www.cbmin.org/nationalday/.

In 2022, we extended a heartfelt invitation to all Canadian Baptists to unite in an online service of remembrance and reflection. This occasion brought us together as a community to acknowledge the painful history and lasting effects of the residential school system. This year, as we commemorate the 2023 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we invite you to join us in a prayerful and reflective commemoration, right on the very lands where you live, work, and play. To ensure this year’s observance is even more impactful, there are three meaningful steps you can take to honor the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation wherever you are located:

  1. Utilize the Prayer Guide: On September 19th, we will make available a guided audio meditation for your use on Sept 30th. This audio recording has been specifically crafted for this solemn occasion. This guide can serve as a powerful tool for your personal contemplation or to be shared with a small group of family and friends. Through it, we encourage you to deeply reflect on the past and present ramifications of the residential school system in Canada, offering prayers for truth, reconciliation, and profound healing. 
  2. Engage in Regional Events: Take an active part in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by participating in local events held in your region. Seek out gatherings that are led by Indigenous people, who hold a sacred and unique perspective on the experiences of their ancestors. Approach these events with an open heart, humility, and a genuine desire to learn. Discovering and attending these events will undoubtedly enrich your understanding and contribute to fostering a bond of unity and respect between all Canadians. Click here to locate a Friendship Centre near you and discover what resources and events they have to offer.  
  3. Explore Additional Learning Resources: Our commitment to truth and reconciliation extends beyond the day’s observance. To deepen your knowledge and awareness of the historical and ongoing impacts of residential schools in Canada, we encourage you to peruse the myriad of available resources. Delve into the stories, testimonies, and educational materials to learn more about the past and present impact of residential schools in Canada. We also encourage you to invite others to explore these resources alongside you, fostering discussions that promote empathy, growth, and understanding. Access these valuable resources for learning and reflection through the following links:  

Have less than 15 minutes?

Whitehorse Baptist Mission School (short article) 

Learn whose territory you are on (self-guided website exploration)

Have 15 – 60 minutes?

Indian Residential School History & Dialogue Centre Collections (self-guided website exploration) 

Former Residential School Site and the Search for Unmarked Graves (self-guided website exploration) 

Have more than an hour? 

Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts  (66 min. documentary) 

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Events (a series of online events Sept 25 – 30) 

Walking in a Good Way with Indigenous Neighbours Online Course (20 hour online course) 

Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report (sign up to pledge to read the 6 volume report) 

The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative (5 part audio series) 

Red Clover (self-guided website exploration and ongoing training resources)

Through these carefully curated steps, we believe that the 2023 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will serve as a catalyst for meaningful change and foster a sense of unity and understanding among all Canadians. By engaging in prayer, participation, and education, we can collectively take significant strides toward reconciliation, healing, and a shared vision of a compassionate and inclusive Canada. Join us on this profound journey of reflection and remembrance, as we honor the past, acknowledge the present, and forge a path of hope and healing for generations to come. Together, we can build a stronger and more harmonious nation, founded on truth, respect, and compassion.

Unity through Music

Submitted by Pastor Sara Westnedge, First Baptist Nelson

I received a text message on Sunday night with this request, “Hi Sara, would it be okay if my son came to practice piano? Ours is gone for a couple of weeks.” This seemed like an easy request to fill—since our church has four pianos that sit alone on stage from Monday to Saturday, only displaying their full glory on Sunday morning. However, Erik, the pianist, also happens to be 15, and I was a bit skeptical as to whether he would actually show up each weekday morning.

Erik arrived promptly on Monday morning. The first thing he did was apologize because he is working on a difficult piece so he might be playing sections over and over, on repeat. Fortunately, I have small children and since they ask the same questions or share the same jokes over and over on repeat, I was able to assure him that I was not concerned.

On Tuesday morning, God made my heart soar through Erik’s beautiful music, and I was not alone. Monday was a delight, but on Tuesday I realized at 9:30 am that I was not alone in the upstairs of our church. The entire preschool that runs in the basement of FBC Nelson had congregated on the pews. Rows of children, all under five years of age, sat in silence as Erik played piano for 15 minutes. Their teacher came and told me that they had heard him from downstairs, and so they had to come for the concert.

Like most small rural churches, ours often feels somewhat neglected. We do not have the congregation that we once had, but the faithful souls that do attend have prayed fervently for life and renewal. This week God blessed us by answering this prayer through Erik and a community of small children—reminding me that God is always calling us to beauty and God’s presence in surprising ways. 

Protecting the Vulnerable

By Bree Young, Children and Families Pastor at Summerland Baptist

The statistics for child abuse in Canada is staggering. Government of Canada statistics show that about 6 in 10 individuals reported experiencing some type of child maltreatment before they were 15 years old. The sad reality is that abuse, in all its forms (physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect), is far too common.

Churches can be vulnerable places because they are considered places of trust, but can often lack the necessary screening for volunteers. I was reminded of this trust during the summer of 2020, when during the first summer of Covid our day camp was full. Even during a pandemic, parents trusted us with their children. The Church reflects God’s love to those in our care. The safety of the children, youth, and vulnerable adults in our care needs to be a top priority.  

Preventing abuse from happening is reason enough to make sure a church develops clear policies and procedures that will protect the volunteers, children, and youth in their care. But I have another reason. We have the privilege of walking with kids and youth, building relationships with them, and being people they can trust—which means we have a front row seat to notice when something is out of the ordinary. In order to recognize warning signs of possible child abuse, we need to know what we are looking for. Training volunteers and staff to know the indicators and how to watch for physical or behavioral changes or patterns helps us advocate for the children and youth in our care. 

At SBC we partner with an organization called Plan to Protect®. They equip SBC to meet the highest standard of vulnerable sector protection. By partnering with Plan to Protect®, we receive support, resources, and expertise of customized policy, procedures, and training. The job of being a safe Church requires lots of administrative work. Organizations like Plan to Protect® ease the stress by providing the expertise needed to write policies and procedures. In many cases, these resources are provided by them. All you have to do is customize them to your needs. 

One of the most important policies to have at a church is a screening process. A volunteer at SBC working with children, youth or vulnerable adults must:

  • Complete a Family Ministry application form 
  • 6-month, “getting to know you and you getting to know us” period
  • Interview and references 
  • Criminal record check
  • Plan to Protect® training (full training every 3 years + refresher every year)
  • Final approval from ministry lead
  • Training in your specific kid’s ministry role by a Volunteer Coach

Becoming a person of trust at SBC means completion of all the steps of the screening process. But it means more than just a process; it means that parents can trust that the staff and volunteers at SBC are safe, trustworthy, trained, and equipped. It also means that as a volunteer you are confident in how to keep yourself safe, look for indicators of abuse, report, record or ignore incidents, and know the expectations of the volunteer role you are in. 

Keeping kids safe requires commitment, time, and sometimes sacrifice, but it’s all worth it in the end. If you have any questions about keeping kids safe at your church, feel free to email me at bree@summerlandbaptist.ca

Upcoming Events!

As our summer activities wind down and we look towards autumn and a refreshed start into ministry and life together, here are several upcoming events to take note of. 

Please join us in praying for the Executive Staff Team who will be gathering September 5th-7th for a retreat and September 20-22 for meetings, and for CBWC’s Board who will meet September 22nd-23rd

We hope that over the past year you have already taken advantage of the great, free seminars being offered through CBWC Church Planting in cooperation with Salvation Army and CBOQ. The new lineup of Evangelism Masterclasses for 2023/24 features practitioners from across Canada, kicking off with a workshop on Prayer Evangelism on September 5th. Visit cbwc.ca/masterclasses for details and to register. 

On September 10th at 10am, KURIOS is kicking things off with an Opening Service at Jasper Park Baptist Church! Please pray for them and for the new students who are beginning their adventure!

Don’t forget September 30th National Day for Truth & Reconciliation. Once again, we are invited to join CBM in prayerful reflection and commemoration. For a Prayer Guide and other resources on how we as churches and individuals can listen, remember, and engage well on this important day, click here.

Now is a great time to plan for your church’s CBWC Sunday participation. Each year we ask that you set aside a Sunday in November to celebrate what it means to be part of the larger CBWC and its shared ministries. Choose a service in November in which to highlight the CBWC, and watch for resources to be released soon.

Looking ahead, remember that there is no Banff Pastors’ Conference in 2023, but you can mark November 7th-10th, 2024, on your calendar for BPC ’24. Assembly 2024 will be held online in May, with the date yet to be determined. Watch for more details.

Lastly, we are excited to announce a new initiative starting this month called Making Connections- Live! A CBWC Fall Road Trip. Tour dates and details to come, stay tuned!

We pray that you and your congregations are blessed with opportunities to continue to grow in love for God, one another, and neighbour in this coming season.

Copyright ©  2022 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.