Making Connections December 2019

Kurios – The New CBWC Gap-Year Experience

“… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Kurios,
    to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11 NLT)

Kurios is the new CBWC Gap Year Experience, launching in September 2020.

 A “gap year” is an opportunity for young adults to explore their world, identity, and character before starting higher education or a career.  For more than 40 years, Harvard has recommended that all their first-year students postpone entrance to college for one year: https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/first-year-applicants/considering-gap-year

 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada are excited to offer a gap year experience that will enable our young adults to encounter, pursue, and learn to love Jesus as Lord (kurios) over all areas of life—heart, soul, mind, and strength—and to learn and be equipped to love others as Jesus has loved us. In this, students will find the joy, freedom and purpose of being a useful part of God’s incredible plan for all people.

 Kurios is twenty-eight weeks of focussed discipleship and leadership training, all about seeking Jesus together and pursuing Him as Lord of all. Fourteen of those twenty-eight weeks will be at our home base in central Alberta (Gull Lake), where we will learn, work, and play together around a daily rhythm of morning prayer and evening prayer. Our teaching times will be wholistic, interactive, and experiential—covering topics including scripture, prayer, identity, spiritual disciplines, ministry and giftedness, leadership, justice issues and creation care.  Seven of those twenty-eight weeks will be in Costa Rica with our Canadian Baptist Ministries partners, where we will serve in ministries, learn about the church from our Latin American siblings, and explore God’s beauty in creation. We will spend five weeks travelling Western Canada, engaging in ministries and learning from experts doing ministry in our culture. We also plan to spend two weeks in outdoor adventure, hiking or snow shoeing or kayaking (to be determined).  

 And it doesn’t end after the twenty-eight weeks. We are committed to regular alumni gatherings, on-going mentorship, and mutual support after the program ends. Because following Jesus is a life-long pursuit—a “long obedience in the same direction” as Eugene Petersen put it.

Please pray for Kurios (specifically please pray for twenty-four students next September!), invite young adults to consider Kurios, and support Kurios financially

 To really get a feel for the heart of our program, check out our introductory video here.

 Come find out more! We are coming to a city near you with an info/dessert night to present Kurios, answer questions, and hopefully meet interested students/parents.  Please email steve@kurios.ca to RSVP (and include which location you plan to attend).

Save the date – BLTS/Ascent alumni reunion weekend. Come help launch Kurios with the strength of the BLTS/Ascent history!  May 22nd to 24th, 2020 (hosted by CBWC and Kurios; at Altadore Baptist Church).   Please email steve@kurios.ca to RSVP.

Watch for our BRAND NEW www.kurios.ca website coming mid December!

Celebrating Time Together: Banff 2019

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan, CBWC Church Planting

From November 4th to 7th, pastors, spouses and ministry representatives from across the CBWC gathered for the 44th annual Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference. We basked together in the goodness of God, enjoyed His creation, and responded through worship with Fraser Campbell Band and celebration around the table.

Monday night kicked off with a “Pastors vs Postors” game show, hosted by NextGen Director Peter Anderson. He helped many of our pastors, spouses and ministry contacts discover skills they never knew they had, or at least never knew they needed!

Keynote speaker Ken Shigematsu, author of Survival Guide for the Soul and God in My Everything, spoke about our personal journeys of devotion and rhythms of life. His vivid reminders of the love of our heavenly Father helped us consider how we will live out of the gratitude and peace that comes from knowing that we are God’s kids. We were invited to wear the yoke of the perfect love of the Father. Ken invited us to daily put this yoke on for, when worn, the way we breathe and live and move in this world will be changed.   

Bible study leader, Lissa Wray Beal, took us on a journey through the Waters of Power, the Waters of Sorrow and the Waters of Comfort through Psalms 144, 137 and 23. Psalm 144 reminds us that our God, the One God, is all powerful and at work all around us, inviting us to join Him. The lament of Psalm 137 invites us to recognize that sorrow and pain are a part of this world and how to find our offering of praise in the midst of our anguish, anger and angst. It also asks us to allow ourselves to be transparent and honest to selves and to one another as we minister and pastor.  Finally, after acknowledging our God is One and All, who walks with us in the midst of the sorrow, we find that oft elusive comfort of the Shepherd’s Psalm, which helps reorient us again in our faith, our hope and our joy as the people of peace who rest in our Creator’s great love for us. 

On Wednesday we were taken on a journey through the many facets of wellness; spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. Each of the 15-minute talks on these important topics are available on CBWC’s Vimeo page.

 We are thankful for the time Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference affords us to be gathered with our sisters and brothers from across CBWC, leading congregations large and small, rural and urban towards faithfulness to the ways of Christ.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Note from Dennis | Congolese Community |  Fishing Retreat | Brownfield Baptist Visit | & more

Life in the Light of Eternity – A JMN Blog

 

The Justice and Mercy Network (JMN) is made up of interested people from across our association of churches. Jodi Spargur, Faye Reynolds, Jeremy Keay, Bruce Martin, Chuck Harper and Mark Doerksen are on the network currently. They meet several times a year to discuss justice issues and attempt to equip our churches for similar discussions or Bible Studies. The Justice and Mercy Network (JMN) is part of the CBWC’s Ministry Priority known as Engaging in Mission, and two focus areas for the JMN include Sponsoring Refugees and working with Indigenous people. The JMN also has some further interests, one of which is Addressing Homelessness. That’s where Chuck Harper’s story comes in. Chuck is a chaplain working with North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy in Vernon, B.C., in conjunction with First Baptist Church Vernon. Chuck writes:

I have been in ministry either full-time, part-time or volunteering for over 40 years. There have been times in my Christian life where I have asked myself, “Am I being effective? Could I do more? How is my ministry changing people lives in light of eternity?”

Recently, two events happened that have not only confirmed that I am being effective for the Kingdom, but have also empowered and encouraged others in their walk with God and life.

The first event happened as I was preparing to lead a chapel service at our local soup kitchen. I had the question on my heart about being effective when a staff person came up to me and asked me a question that came out of left field. He said, “Do you remember when we first met?” I responded, “When we started working with each other.” He said, “No,” and then explained that it was when I worked at one of our shelters. The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that when we first met, I treated him with respect at a time in his life when he was very low. At the end of our conversation, he told me that it was this interaction that saved his life. Instead of ending it he went to recovery, treatment, became a man of faith and now works in a thrift store, helping others along the way. I got to share with him my own story and questions.

The second event happened not long after that. I came into the office to find a package that literally blew my mind and has encouraged me to continue the journey the Lord has led me on. But even more than that, it is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and His using the body as a whole.

The package was an award from the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. It is the SPARC BC Deryck Thomson award. It came with a cash gift as well. The award is given annually, and NOCC was nominated because of the work we do in advocating, speaking, empowering and supporting our homeless and impoverished community.

The changed life and the award are not just me being faithful to what the Lord has put on my heart. It is about the volunteers, the prayer warriors, the financial supporters, the churches and organizations, the members of our community who walk alongside our homeless and poor. It is about those we are called to serve. They, too, deserve this award.

As I write this, I am at a conference where we are trying to help other agencies receive the funding they need to keep on helping our houseless become housed. To be able to support our poor and marginalized is a big deal. I also believe that as the body of Christ we need to do more to help others find Christ, and empower them to become the next generation of Christ followers who in turn help others find Him.

Sometimes, along the way we become discouraged, but when you do, remember to look around you, for you may see a life that has been changed—and God decided to use you to change it.

Chaplain Chuck Harper

What a joy it is for us to be engaged in ministry alongside Chuck. FBC Vernon has ordained Chuck to be a truthteller and motivator in the city. Not only are we pushed out of our comfort zones for the Kingdom, we’ve seen many of the local churches also respond with the love of Jesus for the marginalized. As homelessness and addiction become increasingly visible and in the news, it’s wonderful to see the church community engaging in a grassroots way. From administration, cooking, serving, eating with, singing alongside to cleaning up and prepping for next time, many are finding out how they can be Jesus to our neighbours. Thanks, Chuck, for all you do, for how you inspire many churches, and congrats on this award—for you and all those who serve alongside you.

Randy Hamm and Laurie MacKay | Pastors, First Baptist Church Vernon

For further information on the JMN and for further resources, please check out the following page: https://cbwc.ca/our-ministries/social-justice/

Giving the Gift of Love & Generosity this Christmas Season

By Jenna Hanger

We are pleased to welcome Jenna Hanger as our new Senior Editor and Writer. After living for a time in Red Deer, AB working in the newspaper industry, she moved back to her hometown of Brownfield, AB. She lives there with her husband and two young daughters. When she isn’t busy chasing them, she can be found helping on the family ranch or writing. Jenna is ecstatic to be joining the CBWC team and can’t wait to see how God uses her in this position.

Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love everything about it; the lights, the gift giving, carols and decorating cookies. Each year I get maybe a little too excited when November starts to wind down and I can start enjoying Christmas in full force. I own about five different Christmas sweaters, including one that jingles when I move. My husband lasts about five seconds before it ruins his meager Christmas spirit, but I can’t help myself.

And I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t get into the holiday spirit. What’s not to love? Yes, it is an expensive time of year. Yes, it has gotten commercialized and it can be stressful in the workplace with the holiday deadlines. But at the end of the day it is a season about family, about being generous with others and most importantly, at the heart of it all is Jesus. The ultimate gift from God; His son who was sent to earth to be sacrificed for us. It’s a gift I still, after years of being a Christian, have trouble wrapping my mind around. The amount of love that Jesus has for us is so incredible, so beyond our understanding it makes me want to wear my jingling sweater year-round.

What is more, I know that His love and generosity has spilt over into His churches here on earth. I have personally seen it in action. Two out of the last three Christmases have been a very emotional time for myself and my family. On November 26, 2016 my daughter Eden was born at twenty-five weeks gestation weighing 1.8 pounds. Suddenly all my glamourous Christmas plans were shattered. Instead of enjoying hot chocolate by a fire admiring our tree, we were staring at our little baby girl in an incubator as she struggled with the machines helping her to breathe.

It was an overwhelming time, but during it I saw God’s heart shine through His people. My hometown church, Brownfield Baptist, wrapped their arms around us and showered us in prayers and support. It was one of the most humbling times of our lives as gift after gift arrived for us, including a blanket signed and prayed over by the congregation.

Two Christmases later found me in a slightly different position. I was pregnant again and though I was farther along than I had made it last time, the doctors were not hopeful that I would make it to full-term. Once more, instead of being able to enjoy the holidays I was in a hospital far from home. My church never missed a beat and again lifted us up. I ended up making it to my due-date in March and I know it was because of the ceaseless prayer support.

That is what I choose to reflect on this Christmas season—the unrelenting generosity of Jesus Christ and the people who choose to follow Him. Mine is not the only testimony from this time of year. The Christmas Love Gifts that the churches voluntarily send out to retired pastors and their families is another powerful way God has displayed His love and generosity for His people. This simple gift of money is appreciated by so many, as evident by the hand-written notes sent to the CBWC.

So, as you gear up for this holiday season, I encourage you to really reflect on what an incredible gift God has given us, and then take the initiative to bless those around you. As the body of Christ, it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of God. We must show His love and generosity and be His light here on earth. And so many people will need it this Christmas season, you don’t have to look hard to find someone who is hurting.

Your sister in Christ,

Jenna

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

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

Making Connections November 2019

Chaplaincy in the Canadian Forces

As we come to Remembrance Day, we are reminded of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and we honour those who served and continue to serve today.

Chaplaincy in the Canadian Forces has a long and proud record of caring for the thousands of military personnel who have served our nation. Chaplains are unique in that they serve on the field of conflict and as non-combatants. In the midst of war and violence, you will find CF padres caring for troops wherever they find themselves. They remind us that God is present even in the most difficult and terrifying circumstances.

The CBWC is privileged to hold the credentials of ten military chaplains stationed across Western Canada. They are: Major Paul Beckingham, Department National Defense; Chaplain Troy Dennis, Canadian Forces Base, Shilo; Rev. Heather Donovan, CFB Edmonton; Rev. Richard Larsen, Canadian Armed Forces; Rev. Stephen Neil, Canadian Armed Forces; Rev. Ken Nettleton, Canadian Scottish Regiment; Rev. Kevin Park, St. Joseph Medical Centre; Mr. Gordon Poley, Canadian Armed Forces; Chaplain Daniel Walton, CFB Shilo; Rev. Dr. Major John Huh, 3rd Canadian Division.

Rev. Dr. John Huh (GoodTree Christian Fellowship) and Rev. Ken Nettleton (New Life Community Church) are unique in that they also serve as full-time lead pastors in their respective CBWC churches.

Rev. Ken Nettleton

Rev. Ken Nettleton was first assigned to the Calgary Highlanders, an infantry regiment in Calgary, while pastoring at First Baptist Church.  He served his regiment for five years before being called to pastor New Life Community Church on Vancouver Island, at which time he joined the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s). Ken has been deployed three times within Canada: the Calgary floods of 2013, the BC Fires of 2017 and the BC floods of 2018.

Pictures are of a field service during the B.C. wildfires of 2018.

Ken explains, “I joined the CF out of a long-standing interest in serving Canada through police and/or military, and when I arrived in Calgary, I found out that though there were several hundred reservist soldiers in the city, there was no padre (chaplain) south of Edmonton to serve them. At the time, there were also over 70 Calgary reservists on the ground in Afghanistan. Weeks before being officially sworn in, I found myself in the homes of several Calgary families providing care for them because their loved one had been gravely injured that day in Afghanistan and were being brought home near-death. I have experienced the difficult moments of informing parents, spouses and children that their loved one is not returning to them. It is in these moments that chaplains prove their value within our armed forces.”

As an older and experienced chaplain, a large part of Ken’s role is mentoring younger chaplains in his region and recruiting others to pick up where he leaves off at retirement when he reaches age 60. Ken concludes, “I will look back on my years of chaplaincy as yet another delight and privilege that the Lord has provided me–one I never expected but will always hold dear.”

Rev. Dr. Major John Huh

Rev. Dr. Major John Huh is the Deputy Chaplain in the 3rd Canadian Division and lead pastor at GoodTree Christian Fellowship in Calgary, AB. He has been serving in the reserves for the past eight years after joining the military at age 40. Reservists are not normally deployed overseas, however, John has accepted a 7-month tour of duty. Due to the security of his mission, we are not able to share when and where John is being deployed.

Husband to Doris and father to four children between the ages of 13 to 21, it was not an easy decision to agree to be deployed. On top of being away from his family for an extended period of time, he will be missed by his church family who graciously agreed to grant him a leave of absence.

John has had to take many courses to be ready for active duty including “conduct after capture” and what to do in the event of chemical or biological warfare.

 He has had to obtain a number of security clearances and holds a military driver’s licence.

John joined the Canadian Forces as a way to give back to Canada. John is second generation Korean and is very grateful for Canada’s role in the Korean War of the 1950s. If it hadn’t been for Canadians joining UN forces to fight against the North Korean insurgence, the entire country would likely be under North Korean rule today. John does not take this for granted and is honoured to serve Canada with his regiment as a way of saying thank you.

Until his deployment, he will continue to work two days a week in an administrative capacity for the Canadian Forces, and once deployed, his focus will be on the care and support of troops. John says he is very excited to go, as it is a privilege to move beyond administrative duties to one-on-one pastoral care. To do what he and other chaplains have been trained to do is the culmination of many years of service: to care for people when care is needed, with skill, compassion, experience and the Holy Spirit.

When asked whether he will put his name forward at some point for a second tour of duty, it took John only a second to say, “Doris made it clear it’s a one-time deal!”

Walking Through Advent Together

By Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan, CBWC Church Planting

Can you believe Advent begins in a month?

On our Church Planting blog, we’re in a series discussing the importance of shared practices in missional discipleship. As the Christmas season approaches, we’d love you to consider whether Advent 2019 would be a good chance for your community of faith to be introduced to shared rhythms.

Here’s why: Advent is a defined period of time when churches can focus thematically on reflection, hospitality, Scripture and prayer. During this season, churches likely already engage in shared practices such as eating together, giving generous offerings, incorporating Advent readings into Sunday gatherings, serving the poor, and perhaps even a daily Advent devotional or prayer guide. The kind of intentionality that we find in the weeks leading up to Christmas is a great foundation for exploring what deeper engagement in shared practices could look like in the broader church calendar.

The Forge Church’s Experience

Shared practices as we’ve been introducing are not a new thing at all. The Jewish community of Jesus’ day practiced traditional Spiritual Practices throughout the year. (Jesus emphasizes three of the main practices in Matthew 6, though as correctives to how they were being practiced).  These formed and shaped them into a community on God’s mission together when they practiced them in ways faithful to God’s ongoing redemptive plan of restoring all things together in unity.

Utilizing the Advent season to introduce shared practices has been a rich and growth-inducing journey for Shannon’s church, the Forge. For two years now they have been digging deeper into what it means to be disciples together on God’s mission.

The Forge has offered to share two resources: the Advent Guide they used when first implementing an intentional framework of shared practices for their congregation, and also the guide they used a year later as the Shared Practices were more established. As the folks at The Forge grew deeper together, so did their Shared Practices—and you will see that reflected in these two guides, which are a year apart.

The guidebooks are only one of the tools Forge uses to make room in their everyday lives to spend time both with God individually and as the scattered community of disciples who gather for a few hours during the week.

Advent Shared Practice Resources

Here are some other resources that you may find helpful in gathering your congregation or household in shared reflection and action throughout Advent:

  • Advent Conspiracy is a multi-faceted movement to “celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously.” They offer tools from inspirational videos and kids’ curriculum to a full-fledged book and small group series. Great to engage as whole churches or as a family, Advent Conspiracy was the basis for The Forge Church’s Advent Guide provided above. If you look further into the Advent Conspiracy resource, you may wonder how children felt about their parents engaging in the Spend Less (on yourselves) and Give More (to those who have less/not). Overwhelmingly, from small to teen, the kids at The Forge embraced this idea. So that’s just a plug for those of you who fear your kids not feeling like Christmas is Christmas.
  • CBWC’s Advent Page provides samples of Advent devotionals, Advent readings and Christmas Eve service orders.
  • Saturate’s “How to Make a Plan for the Holidays” is a short, simple and very practical guide to preparing for the season before it bulldozes us. Intended for use in small groups.
  • Marva Dawn’s brief daily devotional Follow the Story https://www.amazon.ca/Follow-Story-Daily-Advent-Devotions-ebook/dp/B008PTU9KO takes a reflective bent as she walks slowly through the story of that first Christmas and invites us to enter into the anticipation of the coming Saviour alongside ancient like disciples Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon, Joseph and Mary.

What other resources have you found helpful around Advent? Let us know by visiting churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com and leaving a comment.

BCY Regional Newsletter

Note from Larry | Church Planting Stories |  Camp Update 

Refugee Sponsorship Update

This summer, the Canadian Government partnered with the Shapiro Foundation and G. Barrie Landry to provide funding for refugees who have already been identified and approved to come to Canada but need local sponsors. We sent out a plea to our churches, and White Rock Baptist as well as Altadore Baptist took up the challenge to help sponsor these refugees. Where many of our church refugee applications take 12 – 18 months or longer to be approved, processed and finally arrive in Canada, these Blended Visa applications brought Fihima and Charles to their new church families within three months! Fay Puddicombe has led the team for White Rock, making arrangements for accommodations and local support services for their Somali woman to begin making her home in the Surrey area. Fihima is wanting to find her lost sons so that they may be able to join her, and White Rock Baptist is willing to help her accomplish this dream. Fihima speaks no English and so there are many challenges to understand her needs, but she is determined to make a new life here. 

Marilyn Kaiser has guided Altadore in helping to sponsor Charles to make a new home in Calgary. This small church would not be able to financially care for Charles if not for the funding grant to assist with housing and food costs for Charles to settle here. Already there are challenges with paperwork and identification as his name was not properly recorded and Charles has no passport but a temporary visa. It does take patience and perseverance to complete all of the needed paperwork for a new resident to access banking services, health services and other essential needs. I am so grateful for these two churches accepting this challenge and walking for the next year with these landed refugees.

Many of our CBWC churches are helping refugees who have already settled in Canada bring more family members to Canada. I am presently working with 12 churches who have sponsored family members of refugees [that they have already supported] and have assisted a few individuals in bringing their families to Canada. We are also partnering with a Lutheran community to bring Eritrean refugees to the Calgary area and so, in 2019, the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada will have helped with the sponsorship of close to 100 refugees this year! 

Imaginative Justice

The Canadian Baptist Youth Team has released a brand-new curriculum called “Imaginative Justice” designed to engage the next generation on ways to creatively right wrongs in our world in the name of Jesus. The curriculum includes two, full youth group sessions which focus on an exploration of what Biblical Justice is all about, with a special emphasis on issues faced by refugees and displaced people. There is also a 24-hour engagement which challenges youth to put into practice what they’ve learned—on November 14. To watch an informational video and download the curriculum, visit imaginativehope.ca/justice.

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

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

Making Connections September 2019

SERVE Update 2019

This year over 250 youth, leaders and volunteers came together in Weyburn, Saskatchewan for SERVE 2019.  SERVE is an event like no other.  Imagine the best part of summer camp combined with the best part of a mission trip and you’ll begin to get a sense of why SERVE is so incredibly special.  The kingdom building impact that this one week has on the host city and church along with all those who participate is profound and long lasting.  It’s difficult to capture the deep impact of SERVE in a short article, but here are a couple of stories. 

This year’s SERVE theme was “A Generous Revolution”, and to put what we were learning into practice, on Thursday afternoon everyone joined in on a city-wide food drive to support the Salvation Army.  A pair of youth were going door to door asking for donations and approached a home that looked in shambles.  There was junk scattered throughout the yard and it hadn’t been painted in a long time.   The youth considered not even walking to the front door; assuming that the occupant wouldn’t be capable or interested in helping.  But because they were instructed to go to every house, they knocked on the front door.  No one answered.  They knocked a second time and heard someone approaching the door.  As it opened slowly before them was an elderly man in a wheel chair breathing heavily with the help of an oxygen tank.  The youth were considering a quick “Sorry for bothering you” followed by a quick exit.  But before they could get out the words the man said, “How can I help you?”  The youth explained who they were and what they were doing.  When finished the man smiled and said, “wait here”.  He disappeared for a few minutes and when he returned there was a box filled to the brim with food balancing on his lap.  The youth were shocked.  This was by far the most generous anyone had been during their hours of collecting. 

These two youth shared this story during one of the evening sessions and had this to say when reflecting on what had happened. “We thought that because someone had challenges, they wouldn’t or couldn’t be generous.  We learned that God wants us to be generous always, no matter our situation because generosity isn’t based on our circumstances”.   

The second story is a perfect example of the organic unexpected impact that SERVE makes on a community.  Our hosts Calvary Baptist Community Church did not have a large enough sanctuary for us to hold our evening sessions there.  We began reaching out to other Weyburn churches and found one that agreed to open their doors to us.  During the week, the staff of that church observed what was happening with SERVE and were deeply moved.  So much so that they rewrote the job posting for the youth pastor position they are trying to fill.  The new job description places a strong emphasis on creating opportunities for youth in the church to regularly serve in their community in the name of Jesus.            

The last story is just one of the countless similar stories shared by our youth pastors.  I received a text message from a pastor who wanted to share that his youth were still talking about and reliving their SERVE experience more than a month afterward.  God did a significant work in their lives and what they experienced at SERVE is changing the way they live and love at home.  This lasting impact and life change is what true discipleship is all about.  When we pour ourselves out for others in the name of Jesus, our heart becomes more and more like that of our generous Saviour.  We are changed and God’s world is changed.  Praise be to God. 

SERVE 2020 is going to be hosted by Riverdale Baptist Church in Whitehorse, Yukon from July 5-11.  For more information visit www.cbwc.ca/serve

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

By Louanne Haugan

Well… not how I spent my entire summer vacation, but a good part of it!

I love my work. I love being behind the scenes, cheering our churches and pastors on – telling the amazing stories of God at work in our communities. I love making sure the (seemingly) little things are taken care of, too, like ensuring our pastors and their families can afford dental work and prescriptions, and one day – retire with dignity. What I have missed though, is being on the front line of ministry – working alongside CBWC family members in the context of their missional community. So, when Leduc Community Baptist Church put out the call for volunteers for their week-long summer camp program, I thought… I’m in!

Leduc Community Baptist Church has been running their summer ministry, Zao Discovery Camp, for about 20 years. While other churches in the city have had to discontinue programs due to poor volunteerism, LCBC has managed to keep their camp running successfully. That would explain why both weeks of camp were 100% full only 36 hours after registration opened to the public. My mission: Grade 5-7 girls!

Girls today are awesome. Actually… kids today are awesome! The Imaginative Hope report, put out a few years ago, by our Canadian Baptist National Youth and Family Team described this generation as having the following qualities:

  • This generation looks for what unifies rather than divide
  • This generation is seeking loving and caring adults who believe in them
  • This generation is capable and willing to lead
  • This generation is curious and interested in spiritual things
  • This generation is more aware of global issues than previous generations

I can honestly say that I found these qualities to be true and took great pleasure in watching them lived out in our group. For instance, there was great effort by the girls to ensure no one was marginalized and everyone got a fair turn at whatever we were doing. They respectfully let one another share personal stories and prayer concerns. The theme for the week was that each of us is created uniquely by God and intended for greatness. They were eager to share what they thought made each other special. It was a bit harder to get them to talk about themselves because they didn’t want to seem prideful!  On the day of our “slurpee run” to the Mohawk store, a few of the girls knew a short cut through the neighbourhood and wanted to lead the way, so I let them. I’m not sure it was all that faster, but it was a much more interesting walk! My girls were strong, well-spoken, funny and fiercely kind – all well-equipped future leaders! We have much to look forward to.

One of my personal “take-aways” from the week was when some parents who aren’t part of a local church community went out of their way to thank me for loving on their girls all week and to say how amazing the week was for their children. In my head, I know that providing an urban summer camp experience is critical in cultivating the next generation of Christian leaders, and that it is also an excellent way to engage in mission in the context of community. These are two of our shared ministry priorities after all. But I needed to know it in my heart. I needed to be reminded that God’s love speaks in playing a good game of Ga-Ga ball, racing friends down a waterslide, canoeing in slug-infested bogs and going for slurpees. It’s found in lip sync battles, Fortnite dance moves and screaming at the top of our lungs. It’s found in showing up, in listening, in cheering one another on to be the superstar God created us to be.

I love my work. But I love who I am in Christ even more. Thank you, Leduc Community Baptist Church, for allowing me to rediscover God’s purpose for me this summer.

“For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Thoughts from Dennis | Happenings & News  

Announcement

The CBWC is pleased to announce the hiring of Steve Simala-Grant as Director of Kurios: A CBWC Gap Year Experience—furthering the commitment to our ministry priorities: cultivating leadership, investing in relationship and engaging in mission.

Steve is passionate about discipleship of the next generation and brings more than 25 years of pastoral, teaching, business and leadership experience to this position, making him perfectly suited for heading up this new initiative.

“Growing young Christian disciples and leaders is where I’ve known both the greatest joy and seen the deepest fruitfulness in my ministry. Kurios excites me, and I feel a very strong call from the Holy Spirit to commit myself completely to this high call of cultivating leadership among the next generation. I find myself regularly dreaming about ways to help young people grow their love for Jesus, His Kingdom, and our lost world, in the context of this new gap year experience.” – Steve Simala-Grant

As director, Steve will continue to develop Kurios over the next year in preparation for its launch in September 2020. He will then shepherd the participants throughout their entire experience.

Steve is husband to Joanne (who would love to go to Disney World with him to see the fireworks) and father to Thomas (whom he believes he can still beat in an arm-wrestling match). Steve loves the outdoors including tent camping in -5oC, as well as snowshoeing 27km in a single day. He is also a collector of tools, both construction and kitchen (a favorite is his smoker in which he makes a mean brisket).

Steve will begin his work with the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada on September 1, 2019. We are all rejoicing that God has called him to this brand-new role and are excited to witness what God will do in and through him.

October is Clergy Appreciation

Did you know that since 1992 October has been established as National Clergy Appreciation Month? It’s a fantastic opportunity to intentionally show your pastor some love and appreciation! Read below for the Top 10 Ideas on how you might creatively express gratitude for the hard work and dedication of your pastor(s). 

  1. Fill a mason jar with notes of encouragement written by people in your congregation.  Be specific – how has your pastor blessed you or challenged you to grow? Give the jar to your pastor for those tough days of ministry leadership.
  2. If your pastor has a family with young kids, offer to pay for a babysitter of their choice so that they and their spouse can go out on a date.  Better yet, include a gift card to their favourite restaurant!
  3. Invite them over for dinner with no agenda other than just to enjoy an evening together. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it: stay off the topic of all things related to church.
  4. Give them tickets to a fun local event in your city (i.e. zoo, symphony, theatre, movie passes, pool).
  5. Encourage your church to cover their expenses to come to the Banff 2019 Pastors and Spouses Conference.  Give them the gift of an opportunity for rest and to be restored with engaging speakers and transformative worship, where they themselves do not need to be the speaker or worship leader!
  6. Find out who their favorite author is and surprise them with an Amazon or Kindle book delivered to their home or inbox.
  7. Write them a hand-written note of appreciation for who they are and how God has used them in your life and leave it on their desk or pulpit (or send it in the mail to them).
  8. And don’t forget your pastor’s spouse. They make many sacrifices in giving up their spouse to ministry opportunities. Express gratitude for the part they play in the teamwork of pastoring your local church.
  9. Take notes on Sunday and email your pastor on Tuesday to tell them you are still working through the notes you took from their sermon on Sunday.
  10. Pray for your pastor and their family—especially on Sundays—as those are the days that are sometimes the most challenging on a pastor or pastoral family. Later that week, call your pastor and tell them you’re praying for them, and ask for prayer requests.

What about the kids?

  1. Give them space to explore as they grow up and let them ask tough questions. Remember– they do not have to be perfect just because their parent is the pastor.
  2. Express gratitude to them for sharing their parents with the whole church.
  3. Remember their birthday and send them a card.
  4. If you know them, take them out for ice cream on a particularly busy ministry day for their parents or invite them over to hang out with your kids on a Saturday.
  5. If they are teens, show interest in their life and follow up after important milestones.  You are their community!

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

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC.  

Making Connections June 2019

From CBWC Executive Minister | Rob Ogilvie

The Gathering 2019 was an awesome time of listening, talking and learning together. The overall theme was resilience, which was modelled to us firsthand by our host congregation of High River Baptist Church—who didn’t let a flood, which destroyed their church building several years ago, drown out their ministry. Below you will read much about what took place at The Gathering. Know that along with these activities there were laughter and tears, remembrance and renewal, and a spirit of grace-filled acceptance of one another. Thanks be to God for this family of churches known as the CBWC, and thanks be to God for all those who came and participated in The Gathering. It was great being together!

Thursday

CBWC Family Night

After a wonderful welcome reception hosted by Hansel and Gretel Catering, we gathered for worship and to bear witness to the work of God in our midst. Pastor Scott Fisk of High River Baptist shared their story of resilience and restoration after the 2013 flood, as we sat in their new sacred space dedicated to the ongoing work and ministry in their context of High River, Alberta. Together we commended new ordinands, and marked the seasons of retirement for some and beginnings for others as they step into new ministry positions. A moment of silence, and a video marking the lives of those who have gone before us, gave space for lament, followed by a joyful celebration of affiliating four new churches with the CBWC. What an amazing way to kick off Assembly 2019!

Ordination Examining Council

Sam Breakey, OEC co-chair, brought forward the names of those who entered the ordination process and passed the examining council held on Wednesday and Thursday, May 22-23, 2019 in High River, Alberta. He reflected on these individuals as being evidence of how God is renewing our churches through home-grown pastors, as well those whom He is bringing to us from elsewhere.

Commended for Ordination at Assembly 2019:

Samuel Kim | Bonavista Baptist, Calgary, AB
Duane Guthrie | New Life Community, Duncan, BC
Anna Braun | First Baptist, Lethbridge, AB
Mikel Laurie | Highlands Baptist, Edmonton, AB
Pam Reichenbach | Strathcona Baptist, Edmonton, AB
Ella Cho | West Point Grey Baptist, Vancouver, BC
Nixon Solomon | Thompson First Baptist, Thompson, MB
Michelle Porco | Riverdale Baptist, Whitehorse, YK

Welcoming New Churches into Affiliation with CBWC

The Assembly joyfully granted membership to Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Calgary; Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Burnaby; Emmanuel Iranian Church, North Vancouver; and Filipino Community Christian Church Calgary. CBWC staff threw a “shower of blessings” to celebrate them and the continuing work they do in their communities to be the presence of Christ to both new and already believers.  Three of these new churches are in various stages of planting again!

“Showers of Blessing” is one aspect of our new Church Planting Trust Fund, initiated to build up our ability to support and celebrate the hard work of missionary planters. In the same way that new couples and new babies are given a huge boost to start their new life, our churches are invited to financially gift new initiatives to facilitate and support their work of being local missionaries where they are. 

It can cost up to $15,000 in the first year alone for leader assessment, training and CBWC integration. It can cost up to $50,000 in the second and third year to help with staffing and ministry costs. All told, the potential 5-year investment in a single church plant could cost as much as $165,000 to see it reach maturity. We need your help! We need individuals and churches to invest in church planting today. Without new donations, we will not have funding in place to the end of this year.

Planting a church is hard work Planting a church takes hours and hours of commitment, often from a pastor who must work full-time elsewhere to pay the bills, and then volunteer near full-time hours again to the work of the church. They do this because they love the church, they do this because they love God, and they do this because they have been called by God to make missional disciples and grow God’s Kingdom in the context of their community.

Click here to financially support our church plants in their formative years.

Friday

Gap Year Challenge

Rob and Bonnie Ogilvie, graduates of the Baptist Leadership Training School (BLTS) in 1983, are challenging all former BLTS students and faculty to match or exceed their donation of $500.00, to go toward a new Gap Year Experience known as Kurios, which the CBWC will launch in Sept 2020.

Kurios (pronounced koo’-ree-os) is the English transliteration of the Greek word for “Lord,” which means master and ruler. One of the biggest decisions adolescents must make is who or what will be Lord in their life.  As this program is aimed at those who are already Christians, they will be challenged to make Jesus Lord of every area of their lives. This is a lifelong pursuit.    

What we expect each participant to take away from the experience is:

Identity: Participants will first and foremost understand that their shared identity is centred in being created in the image of God and being “in Christ.” 

Biblical Engagement: Participants will develop a love for Scripture through reading/memorization/study and gain an understanding of its overall story and themes, while being able to contextualize it for today. 

Prayer: Participants will explore the fullness of what it means to communicate with God and will grow to embrace prayer as a way of living, rather than a task to be carried out.

Autonomy and Responsibility: Participants will mature toward adulthood as they experience guided opportunities for independence and freedom in conjunction with given responsibility. 

Holistic Ecclesiology: Participants will wrestle with what it means to be the “bride of Christ” globally, locally, and individually; developing an ecclesiology that is centered on what they have to give as well as what they can receive from God. 

Christian Leadership: Participants will gain the tools they need to lead like Jesus through intentional training and leadership opportunities.

Praxis: Participants will learn that faith is meant to be lived out in every area of life. They will gain a deeper understanding of what it means to follow Jesus and will be given opportunities to live it out in practical ways.

Evangelism: Participants will yearn to proclaim the Gospel freely to everyone, so that everyone would declare Jesus their Saviour and Lord. 

Authentic Relationship: Participants will be challenged and equipped to develop deep and meaningful relationships with those they encounter during the program.

Kurios is set to launch in September 2020.  kurios.ca

Side bar: Thank you to everyone who bought one of the floral centrepieces lovingly created by Roselyn Shakotko and Sharon Loewen of Lethbridge, AB. We raised $670 for our new Kurios Gap Year Experience!

Executive Minister Address

Before the Business began on Friday morning, Rob used the Executive Minister’s address to set the stage for the table talk discussions which were about to take place that afternoon. He challenged the Assembly that it’s important to talk to each other, not about each other; that we should be striving toward unity, not uniformity; and to never forget that in so many areas- including the Trinity, the death, resurrection and return of Jesus, the Great Commandment, the Great Commission and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus- we all agree.

Rob also reminded people how, through an intentional period of prayer and discernment, we have created the new CBWC Priorities of Cultivating Leadership, Investing in Relationship and Engaging in Mission.

Learning Together

Table Talk

On Friday afternoon, those in attendance were invited to learn together and engage in healthy dialogue on Ministry and the LGBTQ Community. Renée Embree, from Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada, led us through a workshop that challenged our thinking and inspired us to live out the Gospel in new ways. It was a time to practice talking about difficult things together, in ways that uphold the best of the Kingdom of God, including striving for peace and unity even though holding differing views. Friday afternoon offered a safe space to dialogue about this relevant issue in our culture and society and the local church context.

Keynote

On Friday evening Dr. Tim Schroeder spoke on how resilience is a biproduct of how well we connect the dots in our life. He referenced Exodus 31, where God called ordinary people for His extraordinary plans. We were challenged to take a look at our own life to see whether we had a clear sense that what we do matters. We learned three ways to recognize a call on our life: 1) When we connect the dots between what we do and what God is doing, 2) When we acknowledge that God is the source of our talents and abilities and we connect them to His agenda, and 3) When we become aware of the far-reaching impact of our actions and its ripple effect on the world. What an amazing privilege to know that God uses our stories to minister to others!

Youth Rally 

On Friday evening, we welcomed teens from 6 different youth groups to come together and worship with the broader CBWC family, which was then followed by keynote speaker, Randy Carter. Despite the torrential downpour, indoor dodgeball and other wide games as well as pizza were enjoyed by all!

Randy Carter’s challenge to the kids was to stand up for God rather than hide in the shadows, using Daniel and his friends as examples.

One of the participants, Ryley, says, “Randy’s message was engaging and helped bring me into the story of guys who had their names changed to represent their position in society rather than who they were. The games in the gym were fun and I liked finishing the night with pizza!”

Nathan Graftaas from Crescent Heights Baptist Church in Calgary said, “It was a great experience filled with fun and an engaging speaker challenging us to stand up for what we believe about God.”

Noelle Graftaas (same church) said, “Kurios sounds interesting” and is anticipating the opportunity when she graduates in a couple of years.

Saturday

Workshops

On Saturday morning, delegates, pastors and visitors were invited to engage in important dialogue and reflection by attending their choice of 5 workshop options:

Developing Spiritual Resilience: Using Tools From The EQ Toolkit | Dr. Paul Spate

Staying is the New Going: Abundant Life Together On Mission | Rev. Shannon Youell and Cailey Morgan

Resiliency In Our Global Sisters | Rev. Faye Reynolds

The Design and Implementation of a Personal Resilience Plan | Dr. Tim Schroeder

Resilience: The Transformative Power of Radical Generosity | Victor Ku and Louanne Haugan

Communion

Our time together concluded with worship led by a High River Baptist Church team as well as a time of communion led by Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie and served by CBWC’s three Regional Ministers and their Assistants. 

Business

An important part of our work together as a family of churches is to receive reports from our CBWC Board and partners in ministry and to make decisions that guide our day to day work together. We received 2018 Year End Reports, approved the 2019-2021 budgets, and received reports from our Partners in Ministry: Carey, CBM, and CBWC Foundation. Peter Anderson did a presentation on the Gap Year Program, Faye Reynolds informed us about an important resource available for pastors and home groups to assist in exploring the Good News of the Gospel, and Jodi Spargur brought an update on how our CBWC churches have engaged meaningfully with UNDRIP. Steve Simala Grant explained proposed changes to the CBWC Bylaws as well as the CBWC Ministerial Protocol Manual. Josh Goetz brought forward the names nominated for the CBWC Board, Representatives of CBWC to the CBM Board, as well as the Carey Hall Board of Administration. Callum Jones verbally honored Kayely Rich for her leadership as President of the CBWC and she in turn welcomed the incoming CBWC President, Sam Breakey, and led us in a prayer of dedication over the new board.

New CBWC Board:

President- Sam Breakey
VP Planning- Loralyn Lind
VP of Personnel and Prog- Nora Walker
VP of Finance- Herb Ziegler
BCY Rep- Kevin Green
BCY Rep- Callum Jones
BCY Rep- Fay Puddicombe

MSR Rep- Randy Loewen
MSR Rep- Sandra Goetz
MSR Rep- Brad Penner

HRT Rep- Tim MacKinnon
HRT Rep- Ravi George
HRT Rep- Brendon Gibson

Review 2018 by click on this Annual Report Link: https://www.flipsnack.com/cbwcflipbook/cbwc-annual-report-2018.html

Thank you to Zoe

We wish to thank Zoë Ducklow, our senior writer for the past 4 years, for her excellent work in capturing the voice of our church family and penning it to paper so eloquently. While Zoë will no longer be writing for the CBWC, she continues to work as a freelance journalist and serves on our Justice & Mercy Network team. Thank you, Zoë!

Making Connections will be taking a break for the summer. We look forward to reconnecting with you all in the Fall. Have a safe, fun-filled summer, everyone!

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

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. 

Making Connections May 2019

Goodbye, Sam!

At the end of March, Sam Breakey completed his role as the Church Health Director for the CBWC. Over the last several years, Sam has walked with many churches through challenges, transitions, visioning and so much more. His ability to listen, discern and then speak the truth in love, even when difficult to hear, are things that people greatly appreciate about Sam. That, and the fact that if you ever need a realtor, a lawyer, a roofer… Sam always “has a guy!” Sam has played an important role as a key member of the Executive Staff team, a trusted soul who is appreciated by all. 

Sam may be “retiring”, but even in that he will continue to use his gifts, talents and experience as he serves churches as an independent consultant. If your congregation is looking for a helpful outside perspective as to how to discern God’s leading for your ministry, I would highly recommend you contact Sam about a possible consultation. And perhaps with a little coaxing, we can also keep him engaged in the broader ministry of the CBWC!

It has been a real privilege to serve alongside Sam. He is a wise person from whom I’ve learned much. Sam, we are most grateful for the gift you have been as a teacher, leader, confidant, pastor and friend to so many throughout the CBWC over the years. We pray God’s blessing upon you, Nancy and your family, as you enter this next season. Oh yeah, and have fun being grandpa!!

Peace,

Rob Ogilvie

Heartland Regional Newsletter

Generosity | A book for the rural church | Message from Tabernacle Baptist, Winnipeg   

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Most Learned, Most Judgemental | Rural Light Ministries | Happenings | Settlement Update   

Praying with our Churches

Victor Ku approached me a few weeks ago with a request to contact our CBWC churches individually, inviting them to share any prayer requests with our team at the Calgary office. We meet for a time of devotions and prayer on Tuesday morning of each week. If I must say so myself, I think we have a few great prayer warriors in our group, and we have seen many of our petitions to God being answered.

I am a closet introvert, and so it was with some personal discomfort, that I began phoning churches. I have spoken directly to one of the pastors at almost every church that I have reached so far, and my call has always been positively received. (Just in case anyone is feeling left out, I am beginning with the “A” churches, and making my way through the alphabet!)

I have been nothing but blessed, excited and sometimes burdened each time I call churches. Yes, some of them are facing challenging times. Our seniors are aging, becoming ill, and some of them are passing away. These dear stalwarts of the church have been both prayerfully and financially faithful, and the love and concern by their pastors was so evident in our discussions. Younger parishioners are also facing life threatening health concerns. Some of our pastors are facing illness or other stressful situations. We must hold them up in prayer.

I am the official “labeller” of most of the church mailouts from our office. I have seen many church names, but what do I really know about our CBWC churches? Well, I am beginning to have glimpses into each one, as conversations are shared over the phone. This is where the excitement comes into play. I have seen themes emerging – prayer for membership classes, baptisms, upcoming ordinations, Lent and Easter preparations and annual general meetings. Weekday programs that minister to small children and their parents or nannies, yearn to reach these people for Christ. Several churches are opening their doors to new Canadians, offering opportunities to learn English. Their prayer is to invite them into church life, giving them an opportunity to know the Saviour. Some churches are also offering their facilities for the purpose of planting new congregations in their own language. Our pastors are asking for God’s guidance for discernment, wisdom and resources – and to do what they do well. With changing demographics in our society, churches are praying for creative and successful ways to engage newcomers and build connections, eventually bringing more souls to Christ.

At the end of the day, as I drive home, the conversations that I had that day with the pastors of the churches I reached come to mind. My vehicle becomes a prayer room, as I hold up the requests to God. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to speak with someone on the other end of the phone, and sometimes at that moment – to pray with them.

– Ruth Longhurst

Meet William Dmytrow, a Quest alumnus

If I can tell you one thing about my passion and faith in Jesus Christ, it is that it would not have been the same without camp ministry. I want to give back to how I have been blessed and poured into. For me, it gives me chills that God has allowed me to follow this calling. May this be an encouragement- that our work in ministry traces back to children, which we all have been at some point.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home; my Mom and Dad are loving and kind parents and I’m grateful for how abundant their love has been in my life. But it wasn’t until I went to summer camp at Quest at Christopher Lake as a 10-year-old that I learned about Jesus. Four summers later, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour. This was the most important event in my life. The camp director, Sean Cruickshank, helped influence me to learn what it means to follow Jesus, to be a child of God and to create disciples who create disciples. But unfortunately, when I went home after these summers, I slipped away from God.

But that fall, I found myself not living out my faith in any amount. A series of unfortunate events took a hard toll on my family. I felt like I had God to blame for this mess. But the real reason was that I was starting to lose hope. I became somebody I didn’t recognize. When I hit what felt like rock bottom, I decided I had to do something about it.

I prayed, and God clearly responded, saying “youth group.” I met my youth pastor Joel Povey, who has guided me in my walk with God and this community that has kept me close to Jesus—and hope itself. I became on fire for Jesus. I started attending Sunday services, inviting my camp friends and other individuals as well. I found myself leading a bible study with my camp friends who had the same struggles as me, and we made a community. Joel has been so influential and has helped lead me to be the person I am today.

When I went back to camp that summer, I really felt on fire for Jesus. I was privileged to serve there and lead people to Christ. I was becoming someone I thought people could look up to as I put God first in my life. This carried onto grade 12 when I became a youth leader, and a volunteer for an organization that helps youth with permanent disabilities learn how to be active. I worked for Quest as a fundraising coordinator. All my peers at my public high school saw this fire I had for Jesus, and they started coming to me with questions.

At the same time, this past summer was a little different than the others. Quest was having trouble raising money; the odds we were going to even have camp that summer were slim. We were $20,000 short. In a meeting with the camp director, I was told camp might not be happening. There seemed only one way to save the camp: raise $20,000 in eight days. At that moment I felt like I had the camp resting in my hands. I trusted God and put it into His hands. I was determined to go through with it. And, well- in short, we raised over $100,000 by God’s grace!

I give lots of gratitude and thanks to those who were deeply involved with this campaign. There was so much that went on with it. I worked as the head cabin leader and took on responsibilities by supervising the other cabin leaders. God kept me moving, and I’m so grateful for the experiences.

At that time, I was supposed to be going to Lethbridge College to study policing. But I felt such a call to camp ministry that I decided not to go. Mid-summer, God encountered me and led me to the point of where I knew I had to drop all my life plans. Everything I had in Lethbridge: student loans, deposits, signed forms and scholarships. I dropped this all to follow my call to camp ministry at Briercrest College.

God really has shown Himself to me at Briercrest so far in my theological training. I give many thank you’s to those not mentioned here today — so many individuals have helped shape me into who I am today. I am very fortunate to know them. I have learned that there’s a huge difference between what I want and what God wants. I have found many opportunities to volunteer and glorify God. I am very thankful for what God has done in me and I am truly blessed. I have to thank the CBWC in the work that they have done in helping me with many different resources, such as the camp. I am looking forward to my future in camp and church ministry. Camp is so much more than a job to me. When God spoke “youth group” to me, I believe this was much more than just attending youth group, but to lead youth a step closer to Christ. This translates to my life mission; “To create disciples of Jesus Christ who go on to create disciples of Jesus Christ.” I am beyond excited to see the plan God has in store for me, as God has greater plans to give a future and a hope. But what most sticks with me is John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I am beyond grateful for Jesus Christ, and that he shed His blood for us. It fills me with joy to know it’s my responsibility to spread such a powerful message that saved me.

Baby Announcement 

 

Congratulations Lydia Webber, our illustrious web manager, and her husband Brandon, on the birth of their newest son, Heath Lewis Webber, born March 15 at 8lb 1oz.

Welcome to the world, Heath!

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

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

Making Connections March 2019

Engaging in Mission

BCY Regional Newsletter

Note from Larry | Passing of the torch at Summerland Baptist | A note from Beulah Gardens |  Baptist Union Ministerial Luncheon  |  Settlement Report

Meet Emmanuel Iranian Church! 

By Shannon Youell

I’d like to introduce you to Emmanuel Iranian Church and their pastor, Arash Azad.

The church was planted around five years ago. At the time that the Church Planting Team met with Arash in the summer of 2018, the congregation had grown to 150. They continue to grow and are currently at about 200 people.

A few weeks ago, 29 people were baptized and there are already over 20 people in the next baptism class. Arash tells us that not only have they grown in number but also in rootedness of the knowledge of God and in love.

The congregation is Farsi-speaking and primarily composed of new immigrants, including many Muslim converts to Christianity. The church meets in North Vancouver, BC, at Sutherland Church near Hillside Baptist Church. Arash and the congregation quickly grew in the hearts of the staff and congregants during their time renting at Hillside, and though it was logistically necessary to find another space to meet in, Hillside and EIC continue to be connected. Hillside staff are walking with Arash in mentorship, accountability and relationship.

Arash was born and raised an atheist. His parents were political prisoners in Iran. In the course of his growing-up years he was influenced by an aunt who had moved to Great Britain, and had become a Christian. In his telling, he decided to prove her wrong by researching major religions of the world to prove religion itself was unnecessary in the 20th century. In his search for truth, one night his aunt invited him to just pray with her.

“My aunt suggested me to join her in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit reveal the Truth to me. The presence and vision I saw in the summer night of 1998 melted my heart and humbled me before the Lord,” Arash says.

Since that time, Arash has had a strong calling to share the Good News of the kingdom of God to all who will hear. Every time we speak with him, he conveys the privilege of joining God at work among the Farsi-speaking community and how patience and perseverance has brought forth many people of Muslim background to faith. He expresses how much joy and happiness swells in his heart as Iranians, many of whom have suspicion towards the Christian faith, discover God’s presence and give their hearts to the Lord.

Praise God for His work in the Iranian community through Pastor Arash!

Originally published in the CBWC Church Planting Blog.

Fast, Pray, and Call your Senator

Bill C-262 is an “Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” It’s a simple bill, simply legislating that the government will actually begin and be held to the work to start implementing UNDRIP.

CBWC voted at our 2017 Gathering to support UNDRIP. Working to get Bill C-262 passed is one way we can follow through on our commitment. For a reminder of what Bill C-262 is, read our previous article here.

Tabled by MP Romeo Saganash, the Bill passed through the requisite three readings in Parliament, thanks to a remarkable push from Canadians. Now it’s in the Senate, waiting for their confirmation.

The Senate needs to send the bill to committee, where committee members will research, analyze, review and consider all aspects of the bill before reporting back to the Senate for a final reading and vote.

It is urgent that the Senate send Bill C-262 to committee so it can be dealt with before the session adjourns for the summer. If it doesn’t get into committee by the end of March 2019, there’s a serious risk the bill will expire on the floor.

The Canadian Council of Churches, CBWC, Mennonite Church Canada, Kairos have joined to invite their members to fast, pray and write to senators to get this bill to committee by the end of March. Join in! Here’s a guide from Kairos for getting in touch with Senators.

CBWC’s representative at the Canadian Council of Churches, Jodi Spargur shared this reflection before starting her fast:

I fast as a practice of prayer. I pray as an act of faith in God in the face of a political landscape in which I have no faith. I will ask for a miracle, that Bill C-262 will make it thru the Senate, and then begin to loose the bonds of oppression that are in the fabric of this country and have benefitted me. I will hunger and thirst and allow my body to teach my heart and mind to hunger and thirst for justice and right relationship.

The Senate has spent an hour or so over five meetings discussing the bill. Many senators have spoken in support of the bill, and a few have asked questions.

The primary concern from Senators asking questions seems to be whether the Bill will automatically give Indigenous Peoples veto power. It’s a concern related to the phrase ‘free prior and informed consent’ in the Declaration.

Senators answering questions about this have said no- it won’t automatically award veto power- and no- the Declaration will not automatically become law. They also reiterate that these questions are the sort that would be researched in depth in committee, so let’s send it to committee for thorough analysis and consideration. The motion to send to committee has not yet been made.

To stay up to date on the bill, here’s its official page: Bill C-262 Status

Find the senators from your province here: https://sencanada.ca/en/senators/

Lent

The season of Lent began March 6 with Ash Wednesday. It carries us through six weeks to Holy Week, Good Friday and glorious Easter, when we celebrate the risen Christ. Here are a collection of resources, ideas and images to support your own Lenten practice.

Not sure how to meaningfully practice Lent? Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

  • Go green! Turn the heat down and don an extra layer. Give up plastic bags or other single-use items.
  • Give up listening to radio / music in the car, to give more time for silence, reflection and prayer.
  • Don’t buy anything except for food (or otherwise strictly necessary), to refocus spending habits on what’s needed instead of what’s wanted.
  • Give away one thing that you own every day during Lent, to cultivate generosity and a refocusing on attitudes and behaviours toward material possessions.
  • Give up a certain food, or collection of foods, and use the cravings as a trigger to reflect on sacrifice, provision of God, the waiting for salvation, the hoping for redemption.
  • Fast and pray.
  • Give up social media, dedicate your time to something God has been inviting you to.
  • Give up the traditional sugar, meat, eggs, dairy and alcohol – then you can celebrate with all of them when Christ is risen!

Readings and other resources:

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

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

Making Connections February 2019

Engaging in Mission

Cross Cultural Cuisine at West Point Grey Baptist

How to make sushi rice: 1. Rinse rice several times until cold water runs clear. 2. Using a 1:1 ratio, steam rice with water in a rice cooker. (For stovetop: cover rice and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, keeping the lid on). 3. While the rice is resting in the covered pot, make the sugar and vinegar mixture. The sauce ratio: Use about 1½ tsp rice vinegar, 2¼ tsp sugar, and ¾ tsp kosher salt per cup of (dry) rice. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Make sure not to let the mixture boil. When the sugar and salt are dissolved, turn off the heat.

This is the kind of thing you might learn on a Friday morning at West Point Grey Baptist Church in Vancouver. At Cross Cultural Cuisine, between thirty and fifty people come to learn each other’s cuisine two Fridays a month.

It started about five years ago with a connection between the church and the Chinese Parent Advisory Committee at the nearby Lord Byng High School. The idea was to give people a social connection over a common denominator: food!

There are a lot of Chinese mothers in the neighbourhood who had moved here with one or two children for school, while their partner stayed in China to work. Many of them had left careers as engineers, doctors or entrepreneurs, and due to the language barrier it’s a struggle to build satisfying work here.

Cross Cultural Cuisine has provided one place to make friends, learn new foods and find a community. It started with Canadians teaching their foods – bread, soup, pie, cakes – and before long it turned into an exchange of food from different cultures. Sushi was a particularly popular week.

What began as a food-focused social event quickly developed into a safe space to talk about the challenges of raising teenagers in a different culture.

“There is a disconnect between generations,” says Myrnal Hawes, a West Point Grey member who has been involved in CCC from the beginning, along with her husband David.

“They come here to learn English, but so many of their classmates speak Mandarin. They’re used to stresses and pressures of the Chinese school system, but coming here they see Canadian kids who don’t face those pressures and yet they still get into universities. They become almost unreachable by both cultures. They’re displaced from China, and yet don’t quite fit in as Canadians.”

It’s an added challenge for the parents, who are already dealing with the challenges of raising teenagers. In a foreign country. Without their partners. So a little support goes a long way.

Consequently, they started adding talks to the cooking lessons.

“[The talks are] about what we want for their kids, and what values we have. We try to be respectful about where they may be at with spirituality,” Myrnal says.

A bond has formed between the Chinese parent community and West Point Grey. “They’re coming to our church as a ‘thank you’ on Sunday and they’re going to make dumplings for Chinese New Year,” Myrnal says. “So many people come; they had to cut it off at 300 people.”

Heartland Regional Newsletter

Note from Mark | Meet Pastor Calvin Nickel from Nipawin First Baptist | Settlement Report |

Building relationships with the neighbours we’d never met

For this blog entry, Bruce Martin, a long-time member of CBWC’s Justice and Mercy Network, interviewed Mark Archibald, Pastor of Spiritual Formation at First Baptist Lethbridge. Over the past six or seven years, the church has offered an annual week-long day camp in Stand Off, a community on the Blood Reserve 40 minutes out of the city.

Bruce Martin: Why did you start a day camp program in Stand Off?

Mark Archibald: We made some enquiries about things happening on the reserve and were invited to partner with Lighthouse Gospel Community Church in Stand Off. We felt that a one-week day camp was something manageable that we could do for kids once a year. We keep going back because the same kids, and more, keep coming back. It’s a really good resource for the church we are serving.

I’ve asked our summer students, “If we were to stop doing one of the two day camps, the one at our church or the one in Stand Off, which one should we stop doing?” They’ve said the one in Lethbridge. There are lots of day camps at lots of churches in Lethbridge, but there aren’t as many opportunities in Stand Off. Many of the people who live in Stand Off may one day end up in Lethbridge. Maybe us having that previous connection with them will help them plug into a community here.

What have been some of the blessings for Stand Off?

We’ve built relationships. There’s a lot of kids who look forward to us coming every year. There’s a lot of kids who have come since they were preschoolers and are now older, elementary school kids. Some parents help out more frequently too. They look forward to it every year; it’s a highlight for them.

It’s a chance for kids to try some new things. Things they really gravitate to are when we’ve done special themes. For example, we’ve done science themes and they’ve really gotten into it.   

What have been some of blessings for First Baptist Lethbridge?

More and more people from the church are going to help out. As we started doing more things in our church regarding First Nations, hosted a teaching time with Cheryl Bear, and became more aware of Indigenous needs and history, people have been more open to learning, serving, going and being present in our First Nations communities. When people do go, they get to know what our First Nations are like more in their own context, seeing them in a very different light than previously.

One of the people who has come out to help has lived in Lethbridge his whole life, probably close to 60 years. This summer was the first time he’d ever been in Stand Off. It’s good for us to be in places that, for whatever reason, people have found intimidating or felt no connection with before.

What do you see as legacy of this ministry?

The consistency of doing it every year is really important, making sure relationships are kept strong. I think there’s a lot of times when things have been promised to a First Nations community or even communities with a bit more poverty and need, but then the people offering a programme don’t follow through. We don’t want to do that.

With some of the kids who are getting older, we really need to look at ways to help them be more involved in leadership of the event. We have kids who have been here since elementary school, and are now in junior high. They still like to be part of it and they still like to be around the activities but there’s a chance for them to help lead the event.

What broad biblical or theological issues does this ministry address?

One of the visons in Revelation is “every tongue and tribe and nation” worshipping and following Christ. We have many people who identify with tribes within our country, but they often don’t have any connection to our churches. We don’t have a strong First Nations connection in our city when it comes to church attendance or involvement, but First Nations people make up a very significant percentage of our city. This is an attempt to break through some of those barriers.

I also think about the incarnational ministry of Jesus; of meeting people where they’re at and where they live, instead of expecting them to come to us and abide by the way we do things. When we do our day camp in Lethbridge it’s in the morning- it’s very structured, to the minute. It has to be for the kids that are here. That would not work in Stand Off. We tried running it in the morning, but no kids showed up. We began offering it in afternoons, beginning with lunch at the host church, and the kids came. It’s very unstructured. We’ll do art and crafts a lot longer there because the kids engage with them longer. We’ll do Bible stories a little bit shorter, because that’s a whole different way of learning.

I also think about ministry to marginalized people: those are the people Jesus seemed to enjoy spending the most time with and they seemed to enjoy his company the most. Quite often our First Nations communities have been pushed to the margins. Being a positive voice and presence for those kids and families is a good thing. They’re seen, known, loved, cared for, and fully accepted for who they are.

If another church wanted to do something similar, what advice would you have for them?

It really helps to know someone who is already involved in some way. We had someone on site who is well-respected so we partnered with them. Ask people in your church who have different connections in different places. It’s always surprising the connections that people have. 

Plan to do something more than one time. If you’re only going to do something just one time be clear in communicating that. You never, ever want to overpromise something. That would probably be even more disappointing than doing nothing at all.

Be very flexible, but well-prepared to go- however, don’t necessarily expect people to abide by whatever schedule you have. Do lots of preparation. Have lots of backup activities and ideas. But be prepared to be very casual or very structured, depending on the needs of your community.

Musings on Love – Mary Oliver

Beloved poet, Mary Oliver passed away in January. In thanks to her, and on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, here are some love poems.

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,

thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting

whether active or not. Sometimes

it was all but ephemeral, maybe only

an afternoon, but not less real for that.

They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,

or anyway beautiful people to me, of which

there are so many. You, and you, and you

whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe

missed. Love, love, love, it was the

core of my life, from which, of course, comes

the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned

that some of them were men and some were women

and some – now carry my revelation with you –

were trees. Or places. Or music flying above

the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun

which was the first, and the best, the most

loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into

my eyes, every morning. So I imagine

such love of the world – its fervency, its shining, its

innocence and hunger to give of itself – I imagine

this is how it began.

-Mary Oliver

How Do I Love You?

How do I love you?

Oh, this way and that way.

Oh, happily. Perhaps

I may elaborate by

demonstration? Like

this, and

like this and

no more words now

-Mary Oliver

Camps

It’s time to start planning summer activities, including sleep-away camp. CBWC partners with a bunch of camps. Here’s a list of all of them with links to their summer calendars. Move quickly because they fill up fast. Enjoy!

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

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

Making Connections January 2019

Investing in Relationship

Happy New Year, folks! We trust you’re feeling rejuvenated to plow through the winter, buoyed by festive memories and plenty of food. Now is the time to take stock of our investments. Not just financial, but time, energy and relational. What do you need to do this year? What ought you to stop doing? Where do you want to invest your life? Blessings to you as you consider these things at the turn of the year. – ZD

Accessible Calvary

Calvary Community Church is further north than any of the CBWC churches, but it’s accessible as any of them, thanks to a new wheelchair ramp and electric front doors.

Last year Calvary received a $50,000 federal accessibility grant to build the ramp and electrify the front doors. Inside the foyer, they also built a temporary ramp to assist people up the few steps into the sanctuary.

“We didn’t want anyone to be unable to be part of things going on here because they couldn’t physically get here,” says Pastor Randy Loewen. The congregation has three or four members who have difficulty with stairs, and the church gets heavy use from community groups. “We really wanted to be able to be accessible for all.”

Next year they hope to install an elevator to the basement (which will also replace the temporary ramp to the foyer). Another grant will make that possible.

“We often host Sandwich Sundays in the basement,” Randy says. “It’s hard for some members to make it down those stairs. It’s an ache in our heart and a sadness that they sometimes can’t participate.”

But not for long. Sandwiches, get in formation. We’re coming for ya!

Calvary was one of four Yellowknife facilities to receive a grant as you can read in this CBC article.

FEARLESS: A guide for small groups

Anna Robbins

When I was with you for your assembly back in 2013, and with the pastors and spouses in Banff in 2016, I engaged with people on some of the basics of relating faith and culture in today’s world. I have given similar workshops with regularly-updated material in many places before and since, and the MacRae Centre for Christian Faith and Culture at Acadia Divinity College has decided to produce this as a six-week small group resource, complete with teaching sessions and leader’s guide with discussion questions and bible studies.

We are so deeply committed to the contemporary church in Canada, that we want to share this educational resource with your leaders for free. We have already given out over 100 copies to pastors and churches in Atlantic Canada, and we would like to offer it free to the wider Canadian Baptist family as well. 

The world is changing so rapidly; we find it difficult to understand what’s happening to our churches, or where our faith fits. We can lock the doors and hide in fear, or we can engage our mission to the world with courage! Fearless is a new resource designed for small groups to tackle what it means to live out the Christian faith in an ever-changing culture. Lively introductions by Lennett Anderson, and clear teaching by Anna Robbins, together with a leader’s study guide, will equip your group to understand the relationship between faith and culture, so that they can live courageously as Christians in the world today.

CBWC churches and leaders use the CODE: CBWC-Fearless at checkout for free access. 

The six sessions include the following topics

  • What is culture?
  • How do faith and culture relate?
  • How does culture influence faith?
  • What does it mean to be in the world and not of the world?
  • How does faith influence culture?
  • How do we live out Fearless faith today?

Being Truthtellers and Peacemakers

in the Heart of the City

Justice & Mercy Network Blog
By Chuck Harper

When I was asked to write a blog for our denomination’s Justice and Mercy Network, I felt a bit intimidated by it all. My peers in the network and in our denomination do such an awesome job in so many areas. Our churches continue to reach out in so many varying ways in our communities, country and world. A ‘well done’ needs to be said.

When I think of the one, burning question in my heart, the one thing I wish I could bring to people’s attention, something that crosses all beliefs and lifestyles, that one thing is this: men and women in our marginalized communities continue to die at an alarming rate.

In October we held our 5th annual homeless memorial in Vernon. In the past 5 years we have lost more than an estimated 100 men and women. This is not including those who were weekend partiers who died from overdoses. The frustrating part for me as I continue to perform memorials, try and research the causes and the numbers of people we lose, is the political minefield of trying to respect privacy, organizations and governmental policies. It is hard to get the right info out there so that we can do more about stemming the tide of homeless-related deaths.

In 2006 there was a census done, and in BC the province was spending $55,000 per year per person to keep someone sheltered. That same person could be housed for something like $37,000 a year. There are few statistics out there that can count the cost of these deaths, complicated by the Freedom of Information Act.

As of the date I spoke at the memorial this year, there were 87 people who had passed away that I could verify. I shared that if 87 people died at an intersection, you could guarantee something would be done about it. There would be a cry that people couldn’t ignore. Well, so many people are dying in our country from addiction, poverty, compromised health, violence and accident. We need to do more to stem the tide. As a man of faith, my heart cries when I think of the number of men and women who are dying without knowing our risen Saviour. The cost of poverty, homelessness, addiction is far too high. We as Christ followers need to stand up and be counted. The next homeless death or overdose death may be someone you know and love.

God Bless

Chuck

The Justice and Mercy Network is a network of pastors, leaders, and CBWC staff that exists with a mission to further out denominational response in areas of justice and mercy. Stay tuned for an updated page on this site with resources and information. In the meantime if you’re interested to learn more, get in touch with the JMN chairperson, Pastor Tim Dickau at tim (at) gcbchurch.ca 

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Staff changes | Prayer items | Recent issues | Canada Summer Jobs Program | Settlement Report |

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

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

Making Connections December 2018

Cultivating Leadership

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

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

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

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

From Intern to Director: A True Story of Leadership Development

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

But that’s leadership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click through the gallery of photos:

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

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

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

Interested to know more, partner, donate, pray or to go on a trip? Alexis would love to talk with you. http://www.zaoministries.org/ourpeople/

BC-Y Regional Newsletter

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

Glorious God, Embodied in

the Mess of Humanity

 

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

(Click below to expand)

Birth: wonder… astonishment… adoration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

This is the irrational season

When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason

There’d have been no room for the child.

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advent Resources

Found yourself reusing the same advent readings year after year? Check out our library of advent readings and service guides. https://cbwc.ca/resources/church-life/advent/

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

Highlights from the 2018 Banff Pastor’s and Spouses Conference

Baptists in the News

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

You can watch the documentary here: https://vimeo.com/257364347.

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

Events Coming Up

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

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

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

Making Connections November 2018

Heartland Regional Newsletter

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

Zion Baptist Solar Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meal for a Meal in Leduc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting Theologically with the Hungry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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