Our annual pastors’ and spouses retreat is coming up again. Held in beautiful Banff, the conference is a time for pastors and their spouses to rest and charge up. The theme is life on the vine. Our time together will be restorative and focused on reconnecting with Christ, our source of resurrection and joy. Guest speakers and worship leaders will bring encouragement and inspiration, and the splendid Rocky Mountains will ensconce us in the presence of God.
David Fitch will be leading us in a reflection on faithful presence. David is a strategist for missional church and the planting of missional churches in Western culture. David Fitch teaches evangelical theology and directs the Theology and Mission Masters & Doctoral programs at Northern Seminary in Chicago. He is an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and currently co-pastors with three other pastors in Westmont, Illinois. He writes regularly on culture, politics, political theory, ethics, ecclesiology and mission.
Rob Parker will lead us in practices of life on the vine through Bible studies and prayer times. Rob is the founding director of the National House of Prayer based in Ottawa. NHOP was established in 2005 with the mandate originating from 1Timothy 2: 1-3. Rob’s desire is to mobilize informed, focused and sustained prayer for Canada and its leaders. Rob is gifted in preaching and teaching, and has a pastor’s heart for God’s people.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.
Century II is a fundraising program for church capital projects. It was started in 1980 by a men’s group, and has been raising money for much needed upgrades ever since. Four times a year, a particular CBWC church is chosen and a fundraising campaign is distributed to donors who have pledged regular support to Century II initiatives. This summer a camp was selected for the first time. Gull Lake Centre in Lacombe, Alberta is in need of upgrades, and received some of what they need through generous donations of Century II supporters.
Earlier this year, First Baptist Church in Ponoka, Alberta made an appeal to expand their sanctuary. The existing sanctuary seats about 260 people, but it’s too small to house their church family. While they offer audio and video links in the gym, it is not a long-term solution. “We miss being with each other. Our desire is to have all worshiping together.”
CBWC donors responded, and the crew has been busily working all summer. We received a progress report from someone on the construction team recently, with photos and thank you’s. Have a look at where they’re at! (Note the prayers included in the construction materials.)
The new multi-purpose sanctuary will seat up to 450 people, allowing the congregation to worship together. It will also provide additional ministry space throughout the week. The first service in the new sanctuary will be held September 10th. Visit and celebrate with them if you’re nearby!
“The voice of the asylum seeker … is a voice that’s difficult to hear at times. The asylum seeker’s voice … gets lost in the noise of politicians who shamelessly conflate asylum seekers with risk and terrorism … [and gets] crowded out by our own instinctual fear of the ‘other’.”
— Loren Balisky, executive director of Kinbrace Community Society
Last week Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson awarded $181,220 to five refugee support services, including $5,000 for CBWC-affiliated Kinbrace Community Society.
The money comes as Canada experiences an increase in refugee claimants. British Columbia and Manitoba have both had over 400 refugee claimants in the first three months of 2017 alone, and Alberta has received over 300.
Mayor Robertson spoke out in favour of refugee claimants during the funding announcement, something no other Canadian mayor has yet done.
Immigrant Services Society of BC received $70,220 towards their work in facilitating the myriad logistics of asylum claims. They are heavily relied on by refugees, government and other support agencies to connect refugees with services, housing, work, training and support. The funding is welcome, ISSofBC says, as they work to meet “unprecedented service demands.”
Kinbrace provides transitional housing for 30-40 refugees annually while the refugees wait for their claim to be processed. Kinbrace has a community living model where refugee families and several Kinbrace staff and their families share their lives in the same houses. Kinbrace staff embrace refugees in a community that walks alongside them during the complex and arduous refugee claims process. In addition to providing shelter, Kinbrace provides other essential supports like its very practical READY tours that orient refugees to the refugee claims system and for its advocacy on behalf of refugees.
Kinbrace is one of many community-based ministries associated with Grandview Calvary Baptist Church on the east side of Vancouver. To learn more about Kinbrace and its work with refugees, go to www.kinbrace.ca or contact Loren at email@example.com.
CBWC member Kim Louise Clark has published a collection of devotionals, called The French Collection. The book follows a walk through Paris and parallels the deeper journey of faith.
Here’s a teaser excerpt from the first chapter. The French Connection can be purchased on Amazon, online at Chapters Indigo and at a few select bookstores in Alberta. A portion of the sale proceeds are being generously donated to the CBWC. Thanks Kim!
My mom used to say that a vacation that started off badly would be a great trip. I never took this seriously, and certainly never purposefully attempted to do something foolish before a trip if nothing bad had yet happened. I also do not remember her saying this after she became a Christian, and not surprisingly, I can’t find any Scripture to substantiate this idea.
It was a few days before I flew to Paris, and my feet were resting comfortably in bubbly, silky warm waters: I had finally used my gift certificate for a pedicure. From the wide selection of colours, I chose a deep pink called ‘Bijou’, which is French for ‘jewel’. My silky smooth feet would soon be strolling around the exotic streets of Paris.
With a sense of enchantment, I stepped back out into the shopping mall but the feeling of specialness quickly began to fade as the tinges of a migraine that had been lurking around the back of my head grew painfully obvious.
I took meds but they proved ineffective and, as I passed a few stores, every movement emphasized the headache’s onset. I began to feel extremely ill. While I made my way over to one of the comfortable chairs clustered throughout the mall, I dug out my cell phone to tell my husband that I didn’t think I could drive home.
How life’s situations can change so quickly. One moment I’m a lady exiting an expensive salon; the next, I’m a crumpled heap in a chair, vomiting into a bag.
I can’t go to Paris. How am I going to manage on my own for six days, when I can’t even get home by myself from the mall? …
On behalf of the CBWC Board, it is my great pleasure to announce the hiring of our next BC/Yukon Regional Minister, Rev. Larry Schram. Larry currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Summerland Baptist Church. For over thirty years, Larry has encouraged local churches and pastors to be healthy, effective and faithful. Larry has been part of the BCY Region for the last 10 years and has already been an asset to Rob Ogilvie in encouraging and assisting the Okanagan churches. Larry rounds out the Executive Staff team well and he is eager to ensure we are prepared for upcoming cultural changes. Larry will begin orientation for this new role on Sept 1, 2017.
Even before Larry begins, you will have the opportunity to welcome Larry to this new position and get to know him a bit better at our upcoming CBWC Gathering May 25-27 (see cbwc.ca/assembly for details of this event).
At The Gathering, we also look forward to thanking Rob Ogilvie for his service as BCY Regional Minister over the last decade and will commission him for his new role as Executive Minister effective July 1, 2017. Please join us in prayer for our BCY churches during this time of transition, for Larry and Erna Schram as they prepare to move to the Lower Mainland, for Rob Ogilvie as he transitions to his new role and for Jeremy Bell as he juggles many details in wrapping up his time as Executive Minister. It has been my privilege to hear each of these people share their heart and passion for advancing God’s Kingdom and I am grateful for their service in our midst. Shalom,
Rev. Kayely Rich
Vice President of Personnel & Programme
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When I grew up, I went to a little Baptist church that had only two liturgical days on the calendar: Christmas and Easter. Even as a child, this seemed strange to me. Suddenly, it would be Easter! We’d dress up, hunt for our Easter baskets, have a bunch of lilies around the cross, sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”, be told that Jesus died to save us from our sins so that we could have eternal life, and then, next week, everything would be back to normal.
Increasingly, I find a wider, deeper meaning by living Easter from within the unfolding story of the liturgical calendar, which mirrors the life of Christ. We prepare for resurrection during Lent, we celebrate resurrection on Easter Sunday, and we practice resurrection during the season of Easter, which extends to Pentecost. Holy Week holds this all together. During Holy Week, we witness and watch the movements of Jesus as he makes his final journey to the cross. His passion reveals the full measure of God’s love, and his resurrection reveals the full measure of God’s power.
Love proves stronger than hate, mercy stronger than judgement, forgiveness stronger than vengeance. The worst agency of the Evil One, death, becomes the agent of redemption. In this eucatastrophe, this sudden turning from sorrow to joy, there is room for the full breadth of my story.
Growing up, my sister was chronically ill. As I watched her suffer, I was comforted by this image of who God suffers with us on the cross. But, thankfully, the story does not end there.
In Tolkein’s essay, On Fairy Stories, he uses the word “eucatastrophe”. It’s a term he coined to describe a sudden turning from what looks like imminent failure to joy breaking in from nowhere, changing everything. When I first heard of eucatastrophe, I thought, “That’s Easter!” This turning began with the incarnation as Jesus entered fully into our humanity and became well acquainted with the grief that wounds and breaks us. The full manifestation of this solidarity happens on the cross. Yet into that suffering broke the resurrection. Joy pierced suffering, seemingly out of nowhere. Eucatastrophe.
As my sorrow is drawn into Jesus’ sorrow, I find comfort and belonging. As Jesus draws my life into his resurrected life, I find healing and life. Christ shares in my suffering, and I share in his resurrected life. Living the Easter story means embracing this tension between the suffering Christ and the victorious Christ. A year ago, just after Easter, two members of our church family died. So this year as we remember, I’m grateful for this story which holds both joy and sorrow, death and resurrection, yet is, at its heart, a story of eucatastrophe.
The sudden turn
The Gospels contain a series of resurrection accounts where Jesus appears to a variety of folk. People are surprised, of course, but more importantly Jesus’ appearance shifts their story. They don’t know yet that he’s alive. They’re in despair, grief, confusion, and crippling doubt. They’re puzzling about how it ended up so wrong when it had seemed so right. Then Jesus appears to them – eucatastrophe, the sudden turning! Thomas turns from skepticism to faith, Mary’s grief is instantly changed to joy, and on the road to Emmaus the disciple’s confusion becomes clarity. I love this. I find great hope in this unique dynamic of Easter morning.
These “turnings” are very powerful for me, both as a person, and as a pastor. Jesus draws near when we are in the worst straights, when our storyline has been blown to pieces. He joins us in our pain, picks up our shattered story, and begins to walk us in a new direction.
As a pastor, I’ve seen many people go through turns like these. Things are going well, we feel God’s presence, we are full of faith. And then dramatically, it changes. Some circumstance changes that shakes all of life. We feel how I imagine the disciples were feeling: confusion and despair, thinking, did we get duped by this guy who we thought was the Messiah? Where is God? Is God real? Into this darkness, Jesus somehow appears, pulling us into a new storyline. It might not be the same direction, but it’s a redeemed story that continues on.
Easter in community
At Southpoint, our celebration of Easter really begins on Palm Sunday. I get up early and cut cedar branches from the trees on Kingfisher Farm. Later, as folk gather outside, we pass out cedar branches, wooden blocks for banging, and long ribbons on sticks. We process into the sanctuary together, singing songs, beating blocks, waving our branches—we make a ruckus to celebrate the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem!
Then on Good Friday, we lay out a path of sorrow at Kingfisher Farm. The stations of the cross are tucked away in the forest and farmland, so folk walk the stations of the cross surrounded by cedar trees. There is a meditative space to sit and reflect on images of the crucifixion. In the room is a large cross, and all who gather are invited to place a hand print in red on the cross before leaving, symbolizing our own betrayal of Christ, as well as our fellowship with him in his suffering.
On Easter morning, we gather again for worship. The service begins as we cry out together, “Christ is Risen!! He is Risen Indeed!!!’ We begin to sing, and as we sing, children and adults bring the flowers and greens they have picked from gardens to the wire bound cross at the front of the church. We fill the cross to overflowing with flowers and greens. It is a messy, gorgeous display of abundance springing forth from the scarcity of the cross. We sing songs, proclaim the story, sing more songs, share communion – the broken body of Christ which has become the feast of resurrection life.
Observing Easter is inherently communal. It’s hard for me to conceive of it any other way. I feel like something intrinsic to the Gospel gets left out when we are too individualistic. Especially Easter. It was a social thing. It was instantly spread and shared and wrestled with, together. Mary immediately ran to tell the disciples, and they ran back and told people—it just feels that there needs to be a spilling over into one another’s lives to contain it, because it’s too big to be kept individual.
Together we are remembering the story, we are reliving the story. It is the story that unites us as Christians. So to tell it, live it, remember it, celebrate it together, with Christians of different stripes all over the world… That is powerful.
We proclaim this not just as a story from the past, but as the story of our present reality, and the story of our future hope. The story of redemption that holds all creation. Living it out as an individual is all good and well, but Easter was and always shall be a communal reality, not an individual affair. To celebrate as a people deepens the practice of resurrection.
“Last month, a middle-aged Mexican woman came to the door. I knew immediately there was something different about her; she was definitely in need of TLC, you know… just some loving care.” Dennis Kirkley says. He’s the lead chaplain at Vancouver Airport Chaplaincy; he’s also a CBWC church member. “I felt the Lord whisper to me, ‘care for this person’. So that’s what we did.”
He quickly learned why. Polly* was transgender, and had been recently disowned by her family after years and years of being unaccepted. Her mother died a few years ago, and her father finally told her to leave his house.
“She’d been living with her father for years because no one in her city would hire her. She had a degree—she showed me the paper. She could teach, but had never been able to get a job,” Dennis says. With no options left, a friend offered to buy a flight to Vancouver where they hoped Polly would have better luck. She arrived with no contacts, no plan, no job, and was noticed by Customs who directed her to the Chapel. Dennis and his team connected her with agencies who helped her prepare for the Refugee Claimant hearing, find accommodation, and complete paperwork to settle in Canada.
“When she returned the next day, refreshed for her final Customs interview, she told us, ‘You’re the first place that has cared for me.’” Dennis recalls. “That gave me opportunity to tell Polly how much God cared for her and has blessed our land, where all God’s people are treated with dignity and respect. When she left for her interview, she had a smile on her face and, I believe, hope in her heart!”
This is just one example of the work Dennis and his team do at the Chapel. Talk with him for any amount of time, you’ll hear story after story spill out, as he sketches a picture of the incredible range of human need they encounter. As an inter-faith ministry, the YVR Chaplaincy has met this need with spiritual and emotional support for 30+ years in International Arrivals.
“One thing about this job is, you have to be ready for anything. You have to be spiritually and emotionally ready. We get everything under the sun walking in the door, from people just popping by to say hello, to heavy, heavy situations,” Dennis says.
“We get women who are leaving an abusive relationship, people being deported, people who are grieving, carrying ashes of a loved one. There are people struggling with mental health,” Dennis says. “Just last week we had a guy who was trying to go home, but he was so disruptive that he got kicked off a flight. They were already taxiing to the runway, but he was so belligerent they had to turn around and kick him off. Then, of course they brought him to us!”
YVR is supportive of their work and recently decided to expand the current Chapel facility in 2018 and provide a second chapel past the security gates in 2020. That’s where most people in the airport are, so it’s a great answer to prayer. The current Chapel gets over 1,000 visitors monthly, and operates with a team of 35 volunteers, 10 chaplains, and 5 board members. Currently all the volunteers are Christians, though all faith groups are welcome to participate in this ministry.
The Chapel is also there to serve YVR staff. “We’re not trying to be a church or a mosque or anything,” Dennis says, “but it just so happens that there are a number of Roman Catholic Filipinos working at the airport on Sundays who want to attend mass. So for 7 years there’s a priest who comes down on Sunday afternoon at 4pm to hold a mass. And there are a lot of Muslim employees who come on Fridays to pray.”
To all CBWC churches, Dennis wants you to know they’re here to serve you. The Chapel is available for groups to gather and pray before a trip, or for goodbyes. They offer tours of their own space and the terminal—a few parking passes can be procured if you carpool.
“We hope churches will be more aware of us being here, so they can know what God is doing at YVR and they can pray for us. We will be in need of new volunteers as our facilities expand in the future, and we also need the support of area churches because we must raise all our own operating expenses.” Dennis is available as a guest speaker, with either a message or a mission report. “Ultimately we’d like to have churches aware of this marketplace ministry right in their midst.”
*Polly’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Deanna Storfie stars in a one-woman play about the legendary missionary, William Carey.
“His story is tragedy. It’s hardship. But it’s also a story of how the gospel can change lives and transform cultures,” Deanna says of William Carey’s mission in India. The play has grown out of her extensive research, and was commissioned by The Gathering’s organizing committee for this year’s meeting.
“It wasn’t an easy road to hold. There were entrenched superstitions and teachings that oppressed the people of India, especially women. So to come in with the Gospel with an understanding that God loves creation and people, no matter what our skin colour or gender, because we’re made in the image of God… was revolutionary.”
Bringing this gospel message of freedom didn’t come free for Carey’s family. The first number of years, Carey worked in isolation from other Christians. Even the British community in India isolated them, fearing the economic implications of his work against the caste system.
“That was detrimental to his wife,” Deanna says. “No support, being in a foreign country, having child after child. She really suffered from depression, and mental illness completely. Imagine how hard it would be, going on a mission like that, when it’s your husband that feels called, and you’re going to support, but don’t feel called.”
Carey saw very little fruit in the early years. He worked hard, preached to hundreds, but had no converts. “He often wondered, did he really hear God’s call? Should he be there?” Deanna says.
“His wife is going slowly insane, and his boys are running around with no parental supervision because he’s busy doing missionary work.” It wasn’t until another group of missionaries came to join him that things started to take off.
Ironically, given the personal cost his wife faced, women’s rights was a seminal accomplishment for Carey and his team, in partnership with Indian allies. At that time, the custom was for widows to burn alive on their husband’s funeral pyres, a practice known as Sati. Carey et al campaigned hard to make this practice illegal, and to convince women to reach out for help if their husband’s died.
“Husband is god. If your husband is sad you are sad, if your husband is happy you are happy. If your husband is dead, you must die,” Deanna says of the belief at the time. In her research for the play, she that learned it probably had more to do with economic burden than anything. In-laws had already paid the dowry, and didn’t want to pay more. This noble sacrifice for a husband’s honour was just a guise.
“To tell of Jesus who sacrificed himself for them, was so poignant,” she says.
Whose perspective will Deanna use to tell the story in her one-woman play? You’ll have to come to The Gathering to find out!
June will be a month of many changes: the strawberries will start to ripen, the days will begin to shorten again, Jeremy Bell shall retire as Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie will become our new Executive Minister and some lucky duck will become the new BC & Yukon Regional Minister.
A search committee is in the process now of reviewing a good number of strong applicants, and will begin the first round of interviews in early April.
“We really appreciated the amount and quality of applications,” says Kayely Rich chair of the search committee. The committee has received nearly a dozen serious applications. “They’re quality people who have great ministry and life experience. They’re names we know because we’ve seen them in other contexts.”
It’s encouraging for the committee to see such a strong number of applications from within the denomination. “It really shows that we have a group of people who care about our denomination and want to be part of the future. It’s a great sign of health, to have people who have been part of our tribe want to be part of leadership,” Kayely says.
The regional minister position is a first responder for churches. They’re the first contact for everything from serious crises to the more mundane resourcing needs, so it’s important to have someone with the interpersonal skills to respond to whatever comes up.
“It’s a lot about trying to find a right fit, rounding out the rest of the leadership team.”
First interviews take place over a video conference, and second interviews will be conducted in person. The committee is aiming to have a decision made by mid-April.
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