Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter February 2024

Accountability

By Tim Kerber

For me, this past year has been one of stepping back and evaluating much of what—prior to 2023—was just my “everyday normal life.” As I am no longer the pastor of my local church, one of the challenges of this year was determining who is in my core friendship group. When I was in my role as a church leader, everyone in the church was my friend. But I came to realize, as Carey Neuhoff points out in an article he wrote, that many of my friendships were positional and not relational. And to be fair, no one can maintain 180 or so relationships on an ongoing basis. And so, I began to look at my circle, and determine who was there because of the relationship. Which friendships would carry on unhindered despite my no longer having an official role? Which friends would walk alongside me, support me, and continue to pursue a relationship?

I am grateful that as I have done this whittling, I have discovered that I am surrounded by a wonderful group of people with whom I can share life and friendship. In this process, I have found myself reflecting on the importance of accountability. True friendship is not just about sharing interests, but about walking together in different seasons, with the capacity to speak into one another’s lives. There is the sharing of wisdom and experience, and the push and pull of living life together. And as followers of Jesus, this comes with an added significance, as we are brothers and sisters in Christ; part of the same spiritual family! This means that we are in this together, recognizing that our actions and decisions never affect just us. And so, we come back to accountability. For our purpose here, I will define accountability as: relationships that know one another fully and point each other to Christ by mutually loving one another as sufferers, sinners, and saints. This definition is borrowed from the Biblical Counselling Coalition.

Relationships that know one another fully and point each other to Christ by mutually loving one another as sufferers, sinners, and saints.

Often in my Christian life, I have been challenged to address my need for accountability. Is there someone who can ask me the hard questions, someone to whom I can confess my struggles and sins? Through much of my life, accountability has been presented to me as a kind of spiritual discipline. But like my role as a pastor, I would say that most often this was encouraged as a relationship of position. And the problem with this is that with position comes authority and power. The challenge is that when authority and power are involved, we are more reluctant to share all the struggles we face. We can go through the motions, answer the questions, but do we end up with a cup that is clean on the outside, yet inside remains dirty? (Matthew 23:25)

Now, I share this because I am concerned about the challenge of accountability in the world in which we live today. Our world tells us, all the time, that our business is no one’s business. And

in a world where truth is often understood as relative, or personal, it can be very easy to hide or justify sin.

In the role of pastor, which is often solo, or on a small staff team, what does accountability look like? As a Regional Minister, I often work on my own, arrange my own schedule—what does it mean for me to have accountability? Is there a role for positional accountability? Should this be what I do when I connect with pastors? And if so, what does this look like? I certainly do not want pastors dreading a phone call or visit because they fear an interrogation. Yet should this not be part of what we do together in a healthy association?

What does relational accountability look like? Who are my core people? Is this the role of my spouse, and to what extent?

I know…lots of questions, seemingly few answers. So, let me put a few stakes in the ground.

I want to begin by saying that I believe wholeheartedly that all of us need accountability in our lives. In John 8, we are told that Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies. This means that he attempts to lead us off course in an inviting and clever fashion. One degree of separation from the truth is where most trouble starts. Most sin is incubated in our minds long before it gives birth to an action that can devastate someone’s reputation, family, or career.

So, what can we do? I do believe that there is a place for institutional accountability. Many years ago, I remember reading Chuck Colson’s book, The Body, in which he shared 7 questions that he regularly asked the staff in his church. Here are those questions:

1. Have you been with a man/woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?

6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7. Have you just lied to me?

While no list is perfect, there is something helpful and good about knowing that as part of a staff team, or church leadership team, there is regular reflection on our integrity. Without integrity, how does anyone lead? Maybe this is something you could use with a church board. Maybe it is not about going around the circle person by person, but about asking everyone to reflect on these questions, and then offering a place to discuss something if there is awareness of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

What I appreciate is that this takes seriously our calling as leaders of Christ’s church. As 1 Peter 1:16 invites us: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

But alongside simply instituting something regularly in your church context, I want to encourage the importance of building real and honest relationships that grow into places where we are comfortable to share our feelings, thoughts, doubts, and sin. Who are the people in your life who you know will speak the truth because they care about you? Who are the friends who will love you anyways? Who are the people whose wisdom you want to glean? Who loves you, and you love back? Who are your core people? Perhaps my own discernment process, figuring out who is in my core, would be helpful to you. Can you name up to six people whose friendship goes beyond your work at church, or sports, or beyond an affinity for (fill in the blank), or for your kids’ activities?

One of my observations is that in the busyness of our lives, we are sometimes lazy about pursuing these kinds of friendships. We have all said to someone, “We should get together” but then never made any real effort to follow through. We all “know” lots of people, but do we “know” anyone? And who “knows” us? Let me suggest that most people want more significant relationships than they actually have. What about scheduling a coffee once a month with one of these friends? For pastors, local ministerial groups can be one of the places where these kinds of relationships are fostered or begun.

My hope is that you are picking this up; I believe there is a need for both positional and relationship accountability. Discernment needs to come at the level of determining how this is done. Church leaders and staff need to know this is for edification, and not interrogation. Leaders need to lead by example.

So perhaps, for those of us in leadership roles who can institute positional accountability, our task is not only to have regular times in which we ask or reflect on specific questions, but also a times to ask others about their relationships. Do you have significant friendship(s) that give you a place to talk about how you are really doing? When was the last time you got together with one of these people?

John Wesley kept a list of questions that he used with a small group. I find his questions are helpful to me as I reflect on my own life, and that he asks some rather astute questions. Perhaps there is something here for you:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?

10. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward, or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?

20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

As we seek to be God’s people in this broken and needy world, may we walk with honesty and integrity, realizing that we need God’s help, which He often provides in the gift of one another to help us stay the course.

MSR Military Chaplains

Pastor Thomas Henry at One Accord in Edmonton

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter November 2023

Being Changed by Christ

Rev. Tim Kerber

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to participate in a course put on by the Transitional Leadership Network. The course is basic training for those interested in transitional ministry; helping churches to assess their spiritual health and inviting them to address any areas of need prior to the process of inviting a new pastor to permanently join them.

My class was made up of pastors and denominational leaders from all over Western Canada, along with a few classmates from south of the border. I found the course to be insightful, and I appreciated learning new tools that I can add to my toolbox as I walk alongside churches in the settlement process.

But perhaps the greatest takeaway from the course for me was not the useful and pragmatic tools that I was given, but a renewed sense of hopefulness for the church, and the reminder for me to live in faith. HOPE – The church belongs to Jesus, nothing can overcome it, and we can trust Him with it. FAITH – My role is to live into my calling, to use my gifts, to be a good steward, and to invite others to discover life in Jesus, too.

So often in the day-to-day work many of us do in the church, whether as pastors or lay people, we are working on the pragmatic tasks of the church. Who can we ask to lead the care ministry, cut the lawn, or work in the nursery? Is there anyone who has the technical savvy to oversee our livestream, or run our media on Sunday mornings? We need to update our bylaws and ensure our child safety policy is up to date…. And while these things all have their place, and do in fact matter, sometimes, the tail wags the dog.

We forget, or perhaps more accurately, I forget that the most important thing for me as a leader in the church of Jesus Christ, is to be His follower; to be daily looking to Him, listening for His voice, and recognizing my need for Him to change me.

There is no more powerful testimony to the truth of the Gospel, than that we are first being changed by Him. In the church where I was privileged to serve for almost 30 years, our mission statement for many years included the phrase: “Being changed by Christ, to change the world.” The order matters.

In Luke chapter 6, we find the story of Jesus choosing His disciples. In verse 12 of that chapter, it says: One day soon afterward, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and He prayed to God all night. Jesus began this significant task, by spending time in communion with His Father. When I look at the motley crew He chose after praying all night, I can only believe that Jesus was deeply in tune with the will of God. Human wisdom would have led to some vastly different choices.

And so, my question for us all today is: how are we being changed by Christ? What is God doing in your life right now? What area of your life do you know needs addressing? Most of our sins happen in our hearts and minds, and no one around us sees it. We have idols, not made with wood and stone, but secrets, compulsions, deals we have made with ourselves, stories we tell ourselves, that keep us from living in freedom.

In our churches, we share testimonies about how we came to know Jesus. Rarely are these uninspirational stories. But if you were asked to share your testimony today, what would you share about the shaping work God has done in your life over the last year, the last few years? Could you talk

about how your life is continuing to be shaped through the power of God, as you live in relationship with Him? How are you changing in the present, so that you might have an impact on the world?

As a father to young adults, one of my continuous prayers is that my kids will see change in me. That they will look back on our life together and remember how dad used to have a much quicker temper. That they will recall how dad’s critical spirit doesn’t show its ugly head nearly as often anymore. That they will recognize how I love others in a way that doesn’t seem rational. My prayer is that they will see the work Jesus is doing in me, and that this testimony will inspire them to want to know Jesus more.

If we want to see revival and change in our churches, I believe that it will need to begin with us.

One of the great blessings of serving as the regional minister has been that I recognize daily my deep need for Jesus. It drives me to prayer, and to reliance upon God. I want to be changed, so that I can join with you in experiencing the powerful life changing work of God in our churches.

What a great place to be.

Living in the Smoke

The Evacuation of Yellowknife in the Summer of 2023

Randy Loewen and his wife, Kim, and their three teenage children have been pastoring at Calvary Community Church in Yellowknife for 7 years. This church of 80 attendees was among the 20,000 residents of the capital city of the Northwest Territories that were called to evacuate their homes in the summer of 2023.

This year the summer seemed to start early with unusually warm temperatures earlier and lasting longer than previous years. The summer started with three forest fires around Yellowknife that had the potential to close in on the city. The air was full of smoke all summer, which was challenging for everyone’s wellbeing, especially physically. Those who had respiratory issues were greatly challenged.

As the summer started, one of the Indigenous communities nearby was evacuated and then for 3 weeks the only road in and out of Yellowknife was periodically closed. Randy and his family left Yellowknife on August 6th for a preplanned family vacation with their RV. The city of Yellowknife was given an evacuation order on August 16th. The fire was coming dangerously close to the city.

As people were evacuated the city, members of Calvary Community Church were spread out across Alberta and one flight out was even sent to Winnipeg. Those who flew out did not know where they were going until the plane was ready to take off and the pilot made an announcement with the destination. The church family was able to stay connected through a closed Facebook group. They could check in with each other and be encouraged. Randy worked on contacting anyone who was not on Facebook to make sure they were okay and had the help they needed.

During the evacuation, many of the pastors, churches, and staff of the CBWC reached out and were a great encouragement to Randy and the church.

On September 6th, Yellowknife residents were finally cleared to go home. Randy and his family returned on September 8th after having originally planned to be home from their vacation on August 26th. Randy described the drive back to Yellowknife as sobering as they drove past the destruction on the side of the highway. There were kilometers of burnt forest leading up to the bridge that crosses the Mackenzie River. Everything was a complete wasteland. The fires had come within 15km of the city of Yellowknife.

Getting back into town was a mix of excitement and feeling of “What is going to happen now?” It was quieter than usual and there was a sense of relief that everything was still there.

However, that relief was tempered by the sobering drive back to the city where they had seen all the destruction.

As people started to come back home, opportunities to serve became known. Kim, Randy’s wife, is great at connecting with people through social media. She made sure that everyone had what they needed. Kim connected with a single mom working at the school next to the church and found out that while the teachers and staff were preparing at the school for classes to start there was no childcare available to them. Daycare and day homes were not yet open, so Kim and her kids opened the doors of the church and invited any staff from the school who needed childcare until classes started. Fourteen kids came and spent those days at the church. After this offer of service, Kim has continued these new friendships with school staff and has had opportunities to share her faith and pray with them.

There have also been other opportunities in the community for connection. On the first weekend back, Randy and Kim had a date night at a local restaurant and were able to share stories and encouragement with the waitress who served them. People have been open to talking about their stories of this experience. It has become clear that the mental and emotional toll of this experience weighed heavy on many people.

Coming out of this experience, Yellowknife also seems to have a stronger sense of community. Some relationships have been mended. The story has been told of rival construction companies coming together to build fire breaks to stop the spread of the fires.

There are also some people in the city who have mixed emotions and are making decisions about whether to stay in the city or move. Some of the homeless population that was in Yellowknife are still lost in Edmonton and Calgary and efforts are being made to find them and bring them back.

This whole experience has also come with some searching questions. What is our place as the church? The community and government supports in place are helping people with the practical realities of the evacuation and coming back. Where does the church fit in the midst of that? We are there to fill the spiritual needs of people. We need to be intentional in stepping into the place of spiritual support. Going forward, it will be figuring out how to stay connected with the community.

The lesson learned through all of this is that every situation is in God’s hands. We need to trust that he is in control.

Making Connections LIVE—Calgary & Edmonton

On October 11th and 12th, Crescent Heights Baptist, Calgary, AB, and Strathcona Baptist, Edmonton, AB, hosted Making Connections LIVE. It was a great time to connect and share in discussions! 

Click the arrows to view each slide below. 

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter July 2023

Shaped by People and Places

MSR Regional Minister, Tim Kerber

Many years ago, I came across a small book called, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. It was written by Kathleen Norris, a journalist, who after forging a career in New York city had moved to a small town in south Dakota to wind up the estate of her late grandmother. What was intended to be a short sabbatical ended up becoming permanently home. In her book, she shares how the geography of the plains began to shape her, and even inform her faith.

Over the past number of months, I have had the opportunity to get into my car and begin discovering the places in Alberta/BC where we have CBWC churches. I have found something of a similar experience to what I read about in that book. As I cover hundreds of kilometers, and drive into new communities, I can begin to see how people and churches have been shaped by the places they live. I am given a sense of how each one of these congregations has been shaped by where they are and has developed their own personality. It is fascinating to see how churches are impacting their communities in unique ways with the power of the Gospel.

When I drove into the Peace Country, there was a sense of the vastness of space, a reminder of how big God is, a sense of His immense majesty. There are rolling hills, and vast stretches of forest, deep river canyons, and beautiful lakes. And there you find churches–sometimes in cities, sometimes in rural or small-town locations–addressing the needs of their communities. Some are ministering to the poor in their location, reaching out with offers of practical help and care. Some have begun ministering to newcomers, creating a welcome space to care for those calling this their new home. Others have thriving ministries to kids, inviting them to come and learn about Jesus. “Up there,” I find a sense of adventure among the people, a recognition of needing one another, juxtaposed with some rugged independence.

When I drove into the southern part of the province, there was the wide-open swaths of prairie, allowing you to see for “miles and miles.” As you drive past open ranges full of cattle, and fields being planted with crops, you get a sense of this being the breadbasket where so much of what we enjoy comes from. And all of this is happening with the breathtaking background of the Rocky Mountains. Here you find churches engaging with their communities, making spaces for the broken and lost to find hope. There are books clubs, Bible studies, and intentional efforts to engage their communities. There is a warmth here; people genuinely welcome you. And while there is great value placed in a good day’s work, there is also an easiness and openness to sitting down for a visit with a cup of coffee. We have country churches, and urban churches, small town churches, and big city churches. We have historic congregations and brand-new ones. We have ethnic churches from around the world. It has been a privilege for me in only such a short time to have the chance to join Caribbean, Chinese, Filipino, and Korean congregations in times of worship and celebration. And with each experience, I discover that there are things I have yet to learn about how God is at work in these beautifully different contexts. While there are still many places to see and to visit in person, (If this is you, I’m going to come!) I am recognizing that one of the most important things I can do is to listen and be attentive to where God is taking me each week. Where is God at work? What is He doing here? How is He speaking to these folks in this time?

But what is also amazing, is that for all the immense diversity I see as I travel the province, the Gospel of Jesus, and His hope remain relevant and alive in each and every location. As churches are faithful to their calling, God is using them to uniquely reach those who He has put in their paths.

The Bible verse that comes to my mind as I consider this is Acts 1:8: 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Everywhere I go, I meet witnesses. It has been a joy and a blessing. And I have no doubt, that as I go, God is shaping me, forming me, as I humbly listen and join with others, in offering the hope of Jesus to the world.

CBWC Mountain Standard Region Camps

Gull Lake Camp

Camp is happening! 

At Gull Lake Centre we are currently in the middle of our Leadership Training and Discipleship (LTD) week. We have 79 leadership students in class this week learning about the Kingdom of God and how to run camp. Our LTD students make a three-year commitment and get to learn about identity in Christ, critical thinking, communication, practical leadership, Christian practice, and biblical literacy. These 79 students will be our junior leaders for the summer and are accompanied by our 53 summer staff who will guide, mentor, and care for our 1100+ campers that we will serve in the next two months.

Please pray for our leaders that they would serve well with humble hearts as they grow in their skills and confidence, as they grow in their relationships with others, and most importantly as they grow in intimacy with the Lord.

Please pray for our campers that they would encounter Jesus in a way that changes their life forever, just like I did when I came to camp as a 15-year-old camper.

I cannot describe how much your prayers mean to us.  Thank you for caring and interceding on our behalf.

Grace and Peace,
Steve Roadhouse
Director

Camp Wapiti 

Camp is going really well at the moment. We celebrated Camp Wapiti’s 60th anniversary a little while ago by holding a dinner fundraiser event, which was a great boost for the camp. We also have held a couple of volunteer workbees that have helped prepare the camp for this upcoming season! Set-up and prep mode for the camp is in full swing, which has been very busy, but also very good. It has been a blessing to see the many different ways the Lord has provided for us through funding, staff applications, volunteer support, and camper registration in the past few months. We have over 200 camper registrations already, and have multiple of our camps full, so praise the Lord for that! We also have already hired the majority of our paid staff that we need for the summer, which is almost unheard of to have this early for us!

Please pray for Camp Wapiti to receive volunteers. Currently we are short on a lot of volunteer positions, which will be needed during the summer. Please pray for wisdom for our staff team to lead this summer. Please also pray for the campers that come this summer, that their lives would be changed forever, and that they would encounter God in new and meaningful ways!

Sincerely,
Austin Wooden
Director @ Camp Wapiti

Mill Creek Baptist Camp

As summer nears we have been doing many work projects including some demolition with the help of volunteers. We have also had a few unexpected and major financial costs/repairs happening, and so would appreciate prayer for the finance side of camps. However, we are happy to say that all of our staff positions are filled and we are excited to welcome campers very soon!

Please pray for our staff as they minister to campers this summer, and for the campers that they would encounter the love of God in a meaningful way that would stick with them.

Cara Horwood
Director
Mill Creek Baptist Camp

Ministerials: The Connections Point for Pastors and Chaplains

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

In the CBWC, the support of our ministers is a top priority. Often times being in ministry can feel isolating and lonely. Pastors and Chaplains need support, community and connection with other ministers. One of ways CBWC provides this is through Ministerial meetings as part of the Investing in Relationship initiative.

In the Mountain Standard Region, there are 5 Ministerial areas: Peace Country, Edmonton, Central, Calgary and the South. Pastors and Chaplains have the opportunity to meet with the Tim Kerber, the Regional Minister, and other ministers regularly. With ministers spread out over a wide area in the Peace Country, these meetings are held through Zoom and there is an in-person gathering at least once a year.

The Central, Calgary and South Ministerials meet every season at various locations. These meetings are often followed by a lunch shared together. The Edmonton Ministerial meets for coffee and treats once a month, with a break for the summer, at one of the area churches.

During these Ministerial meetings there are times of teaching, sharing experiences of how God is working in lives and churches, and encouragement through prayer times. We encourage all ministers to join in the Ministerial meetings of their area. Contact the Regional office to find out when the next meeting is.

Pictures from around the Region

CCBC Anniversary

Greenhills Calgary

Southgate Baptist

Evangelical Edmonton

Fort Saskatchewan

Charlie Lake

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter April 2023

This is officially my first article as Regional Minister for the Mountain Standard area. It has been a whirlwind of learning and getting to know the constituency, and I have really enjoyed it!

As I have met with pastors, elders’ boards, and cluster groups, I find myself humbled by the faithful and diligent people who are working and volunteering,

giving their time and talents, and using their spiritual gifts in service to their churches and communities.

I am grateful for the work of Dennis Stone, with whom I was able to overlap during the month of January. Dennis provided me with a good foundation, and an understanding of the region and its unique place in our union. Dennis’ friendship and experience will be missed. I am also thankful to the executive staff team who have provided their wisdom and support to me as I learn the ropes. 

On one of our final days together, Dennis told me he had one more place he wanted to take me. On a cold sunny afternoon, we drove into Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Edmonton where we trudged through the snow to find the grave of Gospel Pioneer Alexander McDonald. Dennis wanted me to know where we came from. In the late 1800’s, McDonald arrived in Winnipeg with a passion to bring the Gospel to the western region of the newly united Canada. In his time, he would plant 10 churches, and see the beginnings of the BUWC, among other things.

I have spent some time thinking about our visit to the graveside that day. Here are a few of my observations:

I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me. Long before I ever was born, there have been godly men and women who have in faith been leading our churches and bringing the hope of Christ to our communities. This places on me a responsibility: to honor their work, to learn from their contributions, and to continue the work. Sometimes, in arrogance, I have believed the world as I know it is my creation—as though the church is solely dependent upon my leadership. I forget that this is God’s church, and He has been and is at work. And repeatedly, He has worked through others, in their strengths and weaknesses, to bring His purposes to pass.

The wonderful church in Leduc that I pastored for the last 28 years, was born, grown, and formed by the hand of God under the leadership of those who preceded me. Leduc was never “my church.” I was simply the steward of Christ’s church for that season, and my responsibility was to be faithful to His call. Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 3 come to mind: I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.

Our calling has not changed. Like Pioneer McDonald, we are still living in a world that needs to know the life changing message of Jesus. While the west isn’t “wild” like we imagine it to have been back then, the realities of living in our complex and fast changing world, continue to present opportunities for great faith. People are no less in need of the power of the Gospel than they ever were. The challenges certainly look different, but the brokenness of humanity remains the same, and people are still desperate for a foundation on which to build their lives. 2 Corinthians 5 reminds us: 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Finally, I am struck by the fact that the game isn’t over. At our winter retreat at Gull Lake, Wil Rogan, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Carey, asked a question in conversation during one of our sessions. “What if we are still the early church?” I’ve reflected on that a lot. What is my role, my calling, in this time, in the middle of the game? I don’t say game to be trite, but I realize that I’m on a team, in the middle of a game, working towards a goal. And my role, is to do my part, and to use my gifts. There is a time to pass the ball and a time to take the shot. I must also encourage my teammates and recognize when to take a turn on the bench. Great teams not only have good players on the floor, but a deep bench to draw from. The game is not over, we are still in it.  Faith is inviting us not to give up, but to work together, and show the world that the Gospel is real. Jesus prayed in John 17,

18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.

20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Baptists, I recommend the following books:

  • The Baptist Union of Western Canada:  A Centennial History 1873-1973,  J.E. Harris, 1976
  • Pioneering in Western Canada: A Story of the Baptists,  Rev. C.C. McLaurin D.D.  1939.  

In my few short months as a regional minister, I have had the chance to talk with a number of our pastors about either their experience on sabbatical, or their desire to take one. As I thought about this, it seemed like sharing some sabbatical experiences might be insightful, and instructive to others. There is certainly value in planning and preparation, but also the need to be flexible when things don’t go as planned. So, I have invited some of our colleagues to share their experience of sabbatical with us. The two experiences you will read are very different, and remind us that even on sabbatical, life happens.

Jeff Gullacher (Lead Pastor -Trinity Baptist, Sherwood Park)
I had the privilege of taking a sabbatical from June – September 2022. It was structured around four major themes: rest, spiritual renewal, re-tooling for ministry, and wise re-entry into my role. Each one of those themes had a desired outcome and multiple activities to work at. I had not yet had a sabbatical, so I consulted with trusted people to craft a good plan for ministry coverage and sabbatical activities. When June arrived, I did not set an alarm clock for four months. What a treat! Though my days varied considerably, I often spent the morning hours in reading or courses, the afternoon in recreation, and evenings with family. As I reflect upon my sabbatical, a few blessings and benefits stand out. It was a timely reset from crisis-management mode that typified the pandemic, into a more sustainable mode of pastoring. Secondly, I seized an unexpected opportunity to chaperone my daughter’s handball team to a tournament in Denmark. There are so many cherished memories from that trip! Another blessing was being an online attendee of the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference, which was a preaching conference by black preachers, primarily for black preachers. In one word: wow! Lastly, an audio course on various prayer practices gave me tools and a desire to refresh my prayer life going forward. I am so grateful that our church gave me this four-month time of rest and refreshment. If you have been considering a sabbatical, let me suggest a few things. Encourage your church board to nurture a culture of sabbath-taking. Encourage them to develop sabbatical policy for the sake of its pastors present and future. Strategically prepare your congregation for your sabbatical by challenging your lay people into significant leadership. For example, we developed a preaching lab of lay people who did most of the preaching in my absence. They did an amazing job! Lastly, make a good and wise sabbatical plan, but hold it with loose hands. It is more important to get rest and refreshment than to justify (self-justify?) your sabbatical by accomplishing a large list of activities.

Peter Ma (Lead Pastor – McLaurin Baptist, Grand Prairie)
What do you think about when I say sabbatical? Rest? Renewal? Recreation? Learning? Yes, and Amen. That was my plan in the fall of 2022. McLaurin graciously give me a four-month rest. I had planned retreats, some learning objectives, and a whole lot of rest. The goal was a reset—physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was very tired and very much looking forward to the time. In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. I am not sure the passage applies, but the sabbatical was anything but what I had planned. The sabbatical began with an MRI that led to an urgent cervical spinal fusion surgery (6-8 week recovery). Just when I was beginning to feel better, my brother called me to inform me that our mother had passed away. Now, the light at the end of the tunnel was a family trip to Hawaii during Christmas, a trip that we had been planning for the entire year—a once in a lifetime thing. On the day that we were to fly, we were informed that our flight was cancelled (thanks to the Vancouver snowstorm), and the chance of getting another flight was zero! FURTHER…we learned that we would not get fully refunded for the trip… somehow that just did not come as a surprise after all that had happened! A fitting end to the Sabbatical?

What can I say? Nothing we planned turn out. Instead, I learned and gained a much deeper understanding of disappointment and struggle. Psalm 46 has been my anthem (or any of the Psalms of David); Be still and know that I am God. The psalmist says “be still” to himself and over himself because the world around him is not still—there is war and enemies and strife and natural calamities and sickness. More often than not, we do not find God on the mountain tops but rather in the trenches. For that I am thankful and glad. He is with me in all circumstances. When January rolled around, I wanted a sabbatical from my sabbatical, but the truth is God is meeting me where I am at, as I am still in the process of resetting some things in my life. It is a slower process than I had hoped for, but everything in God’s timing.

If you have any questions, please contact me or to speak to your regional minister. I would be happy to provide you with some direction, and samples of sabbatical policies if your church doesn’t have one already. You can also feel free to contact those whose stories you will read. I’m sure they would be happy to chat further.

Tim Kerber, Mountain Standard Regional Minister

2023 Mountain Standard Regional Retreat

After two years of not being able to gather for the annual Mountain Standard Regional Retreat, it was refreshing to be at Gull Lake Centre again. For three days in February, 33 Pastors, Chaplains and CBWC Staff from the Mountains Standard Region gathered for times of worship, teaching, reflection, fellowship, and great food.

The retreat started out with a Spiritual Reflection Workshop lead by Peter Anderson, CBWC Director of Next Generation Ministries. Peter invited participants to take part in Experiential Worship Stations. Some of the stations included opportunities for confessions, focused prayer, listening for God’s voice, thanksgiving, admiring creation, and contemplation. Each station was interactive, and all of the senses were engaged. This was a great way to start our time together.

Dr. Wil Rogan from Carey Theological College was the retreat speaker this year. He came from sunny California to the cold of winter at Gull Lake. Wil used repetitive scripture reading, discussion and reflection time to bring those present to the question of “Jesus, Where Are You Staying?” Through the Gospel of John’s stories of Nathanael, the Samaritan Woman, the Man Born Blind, and Mary, retreat guests were challenged to examine how Jesus met with them and how he meets with us today.

The retreat also provided times of rest, refreshment and, of course, floor hockey and archery tag. Awards were given to Matthew Hirch for the “Loudest Elimination in Archery Tag,” to Tyler Graftaas for the “Best Floor Hockey Player That Wasn’t Tim Kerber,” and to Randy Loewen for the “Best Player Wearing an Oilers Jersey.”

Gull Lake Centre is one of the camps associated with CBWC, and it was great to be in the beautiful setting and facilities there. We are blessed to have camps that we can support and promote.

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal recipient Pam Richards

On March 14, 2023, one of our long-serving CBWC pastors was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal. Pam Richards served as Co-Lead Pastor at Strathcona Baptist Church for 18 years. She has also spent the last 12 years as the CBWC representative on the Edmonton Interfaith Housing Society.

Rachel Notley, who presented Pam with the award, said, “Her efforts have improved the lives of countless vulnerable Edmontonians, providing them with shelter, resources, and hope for a better and brighter future.”

“Pam’s leadership and dedication serve as an inspiration to others, showing how one person’s commitment to making a difference; can have a very powerful ripple effect.”

Pam encourages everyone around her to see the needs of others and work to help and encourage them. Congratulations on this award, Pam. Thank you for being an example of Christ’s love to our neighbours and to us.

Photos From Our Region

Zion Baptist

Strathcona Baptist

Southgate Baptist

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter January 2023

Your New Regional Minister: Tim Kerber

Tim starts as the Mountain Standard Regional Minister on January 1, 2023. Many across our Mountain Standard Region do not need an introduction of him, but I will mention a few things for which I think of as somewhat unique to him. My quick notes on Tim are as follows:

  • He has won numerous awards over the years at the annual Mountain Standard Gull Lake Minister’s Retreat for excellent play on the floor hockey court. (This guy is athletic.)
  • He and his wife, Rachelle, have participated in cross-country races that involve going through mud pits.
  • He has been at his church for 29 years, starting first as a youth pastor while in seminary.
  • He has been a valued participant on the CBWC Board and on the Board of Gull Lake Centre.
  • He is not lazy and has not always taken the easy route. He has raised pigeons, developed an acreage, built a home, and led a multiple-staff, team ministry.
  • He is an avid Edmonton Oiler fan and has watchds them practice in Leduc before the team loads onto the plane.
  • He does not fit the image of recent Regional Ministers in that he is not 6’0” and has a good head of hair.
  • He is approachable and able to think outside of the box when needed. Our churches and pastors will benefit from what Tim has to offer going forward.

My January will be spent with Tim as needed, helping him understand the ‘ropes’ and learning how the Mountain Standard Regional Minister has functioned up to this date, as well as orienting him to the role of CBWC Settlement Coordinator. There is a bit to learn, but this guy is a quick study from what I can tell.

Join me in wishing Tim a positive experience in this new role for the years ahead. Do be in touch and treat him well!

Your co-worker, 

Dennis Stone

My Farewell/Thanksgiving Statement Given at Banff Ministers Conference 2022

—Dennis Stone

“It is an understatement to say it has been a privilege to serve our CBWC churches as a Regional Minister.  Many of the stories I have witnessed, whether involving great joy or great sorrow, will never be spoken due to time frame of this given moment.  For me the greatest joy has been to see God work in the hearts among those with whom we mingle.  Out of that has come deep friendships with so many of you present here, but also many not among this company.  There have been pastors, chaplains, and church leaders in the CBWC and beyond with various titles and responsibilities.

I am deeply thankful to the whole of our CBWC staff who have been my confidants and prayer warriors, undertaking various tasks to make my role manageable, and broadcasting an appearance of competency that is far beyond the scope of any one person.  All of us are unique and have our idiosyncrasies, which are packaged with both strengths and weaknesses.  No one pastor is completely like another, and no CBWC staff person is the clone of another either, but together we have faced challenges and have wrestled with what will best help the Church of Jesus going forward.

As I have mentioned before I was not a Baptist until they paid me to be one.  I was not a Canadian Baptist until one of our churches placed a measure of trust in me that at the time may have been seen as fool-hearty.

Now I am officially one of the old guys.  I remember the Canadian Baptist Federation, Dr Phil Collins, Dr Sam Mikolaski, CBOMB, and assemblies that met every year and travelled from province to province in Western Canada.  I remember many of our Banff Pastors Conferences that I have attended since 1986.  One year with only three days notice due to Howard Hendricks needing hospital care, our own Dr Paul Stevens gave us, in my opinion, one of our best gatherings ever.  Most of you were not there.  I do pray that your future gatherings will be as rewarding and as impactful as my years at these events have been.

So, the time has come for me to lay aside the title I have been privileged to carry and let someone younger, and with other gifts than I possess, fill this role and take it forward into this new time with its new challenges.

Thank you all for the grace extended to me over these past 157 months.  God bless you all, and God bless the CBWC!”

Observations From My 39 Years in Ministry

—Dennis Stone

If I include my years as a Regional Minister, I have been a pastor for 39 years.  That includes 20 years as a senior pastor and 13 years as Regional Minister.

Here are some observations about ministry I deem important that I have gleaned over these years:

  1. I’d choose character over skill every time.
  2. Few people really practice ‘love your enemy’.  (We prefer to demonize those we do not get along with.)
  3. Live your life not caring who gets the credit for achievements. 
  4. The amount of effort we put into our ministry does not necessarily translate into comparable outcomes.
  5. Talking to people about Jesus is easy; evangelism is hard.
  6. The key ministry of the church is likely to its children.
  7. Negative experiences are fodder and helpful opportunities for upcoming challenges.
  8. Doing right is more important than being right.
  9. Food brings people together.  (Remember the gift of the table.)
  10. We talk about community and caring, but there is a world and a church full of lonely people.
  11. We all have our limits relating to time, energy, and skill sets.
  12. Volunteers rise up from momentum, vision, and passion.
  13. Bitterness destroys families, churches, and the harbouring individual.
  14. Important communication cannot be done in just one way, but requires using multiple formats.
  15. Churches currently tend to hold on to their own rather than preparing to send them away (into mission).
  16. Pastors are sometimes limited by their family dynamics.
  17. Geography has become a major hurdle to expanding mission/ministry.
  18. Many of our pastors make pastor-centered churches, and it hinders the development of leaders.
  19. Formal church vision setting can get in the way of God.  
  20. Building expectations can lead to disappointments.

Photos From Our Region

Edmonton Ministerial Meeting

Calgary Ministerial Meeting

Pastor Jeff Gullacher speaking at Trinity Baptist, Sherwood Park

Pastor Kevin Dick Installation Service at Sonrise Community Baptist

Banff Pastors Conference

Pastor La Wom Gumling (Edmonton Kachin Baptist Church), Rev Dennis Stone (Regional Minister) and Rev Kent Dixon (Braemar Baptist Church)

Worship time together at Banff Pastors Conference

Dennis shares is Farewell and Thanks at Banff Pastors Conference

CBWC gave Dennis the gift of a fishing hat for his retirement

New Pastors at Laurier Heights Baptist Church

Pastor Carol Henders

Pastor Jim Hall

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter September 2022

The Rumour is True! 

Yep, I am taking steps toward retirement from the CBWC role of Mountain Standard Regional Minister. I’ll be carrying duties well into January, but someone else will likely take up the mantle at that point. After that time, I expect to be more available to assist with the needs of our kids and grandkids, and hopefully have a bit more time for travel and fishing as well.

This is written months ahead of my departure date, but the CBWC Board needs time for some due process. Even if the Board makes a hire at their September meeting, the chosen individual likely needs to give three months’ notice, then I’ll need some crossover time with them for orientation. Guaranteed is the fact that the next person will bring a different personality and do some things differently… just as in pastoral ministry no two people are identical in how they fulfil their role. Pray for the individual to be chosen!

Looking back over thirteen years, I have to say that most activities of my duties have amounted to wonderful privileges. I’ve always enjoyed travel and meeting with people and providing resources. There are/were only a few areas where I could speak with a sense of “This is what you have to do.” Usually, all I could do is advise from my perspective, show options, assist in the direction a church or pastor has already chosen, all the while showing support within Scriptural and CBWC guidelines.

We have some wonderful and fantastic pastors, board members and laypeople. I wish all could see how, when I visit churches of various types, God shows up. Everyone and every church is truly unique. The most common phrase I have heard over the years is “We are not a normal Baptist church” which, I must say, is both common and normal. Our ability to be unique within our own context is likely the greatest strength of being Canadian Baptist.

I am sure I will miss parts of being in this role, but I am sure God has someone else who can venture into areas I have not, taking our church family into an even healthier level of ministry together.

Thank you all for the grace shown me over the years. May God continue to lead going forward!

Your co-worker, Dennis

Creative Life, Happy Life Retreat!

Art is the lens through which I experience the world. Art is the medium to present the human condition… love, fear, bewilderment, pleasure, distaste, brotherhood and all the subtleties that we all know… 

— Alton Tobey

We often talk about God as Savior, God as King, God as Love. What is less explored is God as Creator and what that means for us. Those simple words “In the Beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth”(Genesis 1:1) cannot cover the vastness—the absolute, breathtaking magnitude of what it means that God is Creator. He is the original Artist—creating creatures, nature, galaxies and intelligent species in such detail and beauty that our minds simply cannot comprehend it.

We, as humankind made in His image, have in us this desire to create. Whether you are drawn to painting, writing, quilting, photography or some other avenue, all of these things stem from the Great Creator Himself. It is an incredible tool He has given us. Not only as a form of self-expression, but as a way to express truth, to challenge that status quo, and to explore what it really means to be human. Whether you write worship songs or secular songs, paint scenes from your backyard, design cards, knit a scarf, or take photos of weddings––all art is a form of honouring the Lord.

Lynn Cole, from Brownfield Baptist Church, and her family are hosting a retreat at Gull Lake Centre this October to explore this very thing. The Creative Life, Happy Life retreat is for anyone who is creative, or wants to be. Over the course of the weekend, folks will have time to work on individual projects, listen to Lynn speak, take part in some group activities and share about their work. Whether you have a project you are working on, want to start something, or just want to relax and learn, this is the weekend for you.

Lynn has been the speaker at many functions—including multiple camps and leadership training weeks at Gull Lake Camp, SERVE in 2010, Women’s Retreats (including the 2017 CBWC Women’s Retreat) and various youth events. 

Over recent years, Lynn has discovered the joy and importance of creating art through her work as a painter. She is currently being certified as an Art Therapist. 

“For me, creating art is a form of therapy. It gives me a sense of connection to my emotions and an outlet to express deep things that can’t be put into words. Plus, it’s just out right fun!” Lynn said.

Art is also one of the most effective ways to reach people, to relate to them and convey a message. Just think how a song has the ability to sweep an entire crowd of people away, how a book can capture millions of people’s time and attention, how a painting can evoke feelings in generations of audiences. Art is one of the most powerful communicators that the Lord has given us. 

The Creative Life, Happy Life Retreat is meant to encourage those in the church to celebrate and explore their creative urges. It will also be a time to learn how to use your art to further God’s Kingdom and why the arts are so important and needed in this day and age.

“The world needs our voices through the arts because often—at our best—our voices are the voice of the God that lives within us,” Lynn said. 

To register for the event, CLICK HERE. Any questions? Feel free to email jenna.cole93@gmail.com

Assembly Made Changes to Credentialling Categories

With our newly approved CBWC Ministerial Protocol Manual, if you were a ‘licensed minister,’ you now have a new title as ‘credentialled minister.’ Those just hired with a CBWC church or ministry are automatically ‘registered ministers.’ Anyone who is hired by a CBWC church or ministry is accountable to the standards of the MPM. The new delineation of categories is found in the MPM located on the Careers page.

Many had thought that a ‘licensed minister’ had a ‘license to marry,’ but the truth is that a ‘licensed minister’ only had a license to minister within a CBWC context. Marriage licenses are distributed differently by the Ministerial Credentials Committee and that process is described in the MPM.

The CBWC will no longer have a category entitled ‘Accredited Ministers’ but will annually produce a copy of our ‘credentialled ministers list.’

The ‘credentialled ministers list’ should then include only those active in paid CBWC ministry contexts.

You can also find in the new MPM a copy of the new CBWC Identity Statement in the MPM Appendix.

Photos From Our Community

This picture is from the CBWC Assembly 2022 held in Calgary May 26-28. At these meetings, the Identity Statement and changes to the CBWC Ministry Protocol Manual was approved.

From June 6 to 8, the CBWC Executive Staff was in Calgary meeting with our newer ministers at our New Ministers Orientation. This meeting had been delayed two years due to Covid. The meeting was a bit larger than most years, but this time of orientation is important to those new to the CBWC.

On June 5th, after a couple year delay due to Covid, Brightview Church held an ordination service for their lead pastor, Chris Maclure. The church has had a very healthy season under Chris’s leadership. Chris has been intentional about leadership development and discipleship, and growth in this rural context is evident by just walking through the door. There is a good and positive spirit in the church, and a hunger for God is evident.

Our Northern Cluster of the Mountain Standard Region often meets on Zoom each month. This provides those in more isolated communities to join and have some collegial support. These people meet faithfully and are an encouragement to each other.

At a recent Southern Cluster of the Mountain Standard Region, a few of us were able to meet afterwards over a meal and enjoy being comrades together.

Our Edmonton cluster met together after Assembly to share together on two questions: what conclusions can we accurately draw from Assembly, and what are not conclusions to draw from Assembly. The interaction was quite healthy in this gathering.

Our Calgary Korean Baptist Church held an anniversary service on June 19th and had that event coincide with the ordination of one of their own, Hanseung (Henry) Kim. This event included some of Henry’s family from South Korea as well individuals from other Korean churches across Calgary. For me, it was a wonderful privilege to share in this experience. This community shows a healthy amount of generosity and truly committed to the cause of Christ.

Note the organized and youthful choir that shared at Calgary Korean Baptist Church on the day of the church’s anniversary and the ordination of Hanseaung Kim.

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter June 2022

Landmarks

The view of Square Butte was the landmark I saw every morning as a child.  The living room picture window faced the mountain in the photo. In an area of Montana known more for its bald prairie, this butte stands out for miles in every direction. Growing up we never needed to know which way was North, South, East or West, it was just ‘Where is Square Butte?’

As my children approach their mid-thirties, it is interesting to see how family is a landmark for them. This was not as apparent when they were young, but now they are interested in their family heritage and connections. One of my sons went to Ellis Island on a search, and even in Minnesota found headstones of past family unheralded for decades. The phonecalls my wife and I receive now are different, as it seems we—in a way—are their familiar landmark whereby they set their bearings.

Every believer can point to certain individuals as landmarks—those individuals who helped us set our bearings spiritually. That may be a parent, friends from a youth group, a Christian friend, a pastor, a childhood friend, or even a neighbour. God placed us within families and communities where relationships affect us and we affect others.  

The serpent raised in the wilderness is a symbol of how we need to look to God, look to Jesus as our landmark. Of course, I am speaking metaphorically, but in relationship with Him we set our life, our bearings. This is true for us individually, but also for the whole of God’s Church. In the words of Paul, “In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you, too, are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Eph. 2:21-22)

I am at an age where there is more looking back than looking forward. Time passes by for all of us, and the next generation eventually takes over. At some point, they will look back at the landmarks, at the history that brought the present. In the future as others look at me, at us, at the Church, I want people to see foremost in their eyes that God lived in us by His Spirit. The story here transcends the words. It is not in the black and white. It is the Life of Christ in us that needs to show forth.

Your co-worker, Dennis Stone

Small Church – Significant Ministry

I was raised in a small church. It was about 35 attendees when I started. I was new to Christ, but this group of older individuals shared lovingly with me and my friends, which started a whole new movement for the church that continues to this day. It was quality over quantity.

Many larger churches are staffed by those who grew up in one of those smaller churches. Smaller churches give opportunities for service, gift development, and early leadership openings. Here in Alberta I’ve seen the richness of ministry in Brownfield, Claresholm, Webster, and other places in both rural and urban settings. The smaller church is often a singular family unit that loves their community and the people that come together to worship and minister together.  

The ministry of a small church might show gaps in their outreach, but there are gaps in the larger church too. One example of a gap is that during the Covid experience, smaller churches showed more resilience than the larger churches did. Few, if any, of our smaller churches had to lessen their pastoral staff to meet payroll.

This newsletter has a couple pictures attached. One image is of our church in Webster, Alberta worshipping together.  Brian Burkart was the guest speaker. Years before he intentionally left ministry in Grande Prairie to start this little church at the crossroad of a couple gravel roads North of Sexsmith. Today by the picture you can see the number of young people and positive attendance at this location.  

In another picture you will see the children’s moment at One Accord Bible Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton. This church has struggled with low attendance for years, but now is seeing growth while working within a multi-lingual context (English, Spanish and French) from various backgrounds, including many new Canadians. Their building is a historical CBWC church, now with over an 100-year history, showing significant progress to younger families in their neighbourhood.

Gull Lake Centre Celebrates 100th Anniversary! 

We (finally) get to celebrate our 100 (and 2nd) anniversary on June 11, 2022!  This is going to be a slightly more laid-back version of the previous plans.  The event will be from 11am to 5pm, and the mood is going to be based on an ol’ timey county fair.  There will be food, there will be music, there will be some games, there will be tons of old pictures from all of the generations, and there will be heaps of camp friends ready to reminisce with.  A good time for sure. 

Please RSVP at https://gulllakecentre.ca/100th-celebration/

New Pastors in the Mountain Standard Region

Meet Josh Dory, the new pastor at Webster Community Church.  Josh is recently from New Brunswick but has found a home for his family in what locals call ‘the Peace Country’.  To his wife Jessica and their family, we want to extend a warm welcome to the Peace Cluster of pastors, and to the collective of ministers of the Mountain Standard Region and the whole of the CBWC!!

Meet Kevin Dick, the new pastor at Sonrise Baptist in NE Calgary.  He lives in the area close to the church and was attending for a few months before asked to be pastor.  He comes to this position as his first pastoral role, but he is a student of Scripture and eager to learn more about leading the church and preaching/teaching.

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

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter March 2022

How many times did God have to start over? Adam and Eve had a rough start, and God had to reset and restructure their lives to move forward. Under Noah, God dealt with a corrupt society, and He started anew with our physical world. Under Abraham, He created a new covenant relationship. After enslavement in Egypt, a new nation was built. After the time of the judges came the kings, after which came captivity, after which came restoration of Jerusalem. All of this preceded Jesus, through whom came life and rebirth through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling––changing people from within. It was something completely new that was beyond expected structures of what was before.

So, we stand at this point in our world history wondering: Is Covid over? Can we make plans again? Is there going to be a ‘new normal’ or can we just go back to our old sense of what was normal? Can we really start over with any level of confidence that our world will not be thrown into chaos yet again?

Starting over is difficult. I work with church search committees that have worked and prayed to discern who should be their candidate of choice. Sometimes a candidate is chosen by the committee, only to be turned down by the candidate, or by another level of authority within the church’s structure. Reassembling a search committee, after a season when they thought their work was done, is difficult. Momentum levels are hard to rebuild after such disappointment. Some may want to just settle on a ‘someone’ rather than taking the time to discern a true calling to this particular ministry.

Starting over is actually something I do every day when I roll out of bed. I admit it is easier with the sun coming up sooner every day this time of year. Every day includes some Scripture, some prayer, some encouragement of others, some questioning of philosophical positions…and life goes on. On very few days, there is a big success story to tell—though they do come occasionally.

This all reminds me of the text: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).

So, let’s pick up our cross again and follow. Faithfulness is sure to be rewarded.

May God help all of us with our ‘restarts.’

Your co-worker, Dennis

Introducing:

Sherisse White, The New Mountain Standard Regional Administrative Associate

Sherisse lives in Edmonton with her husband, Terry, and their two kids. She has been involved in volunteering at church her whole life. She spent 10 years as a volunteer leader and teacher in church preschool children’s programs. After spending many years as a stay-at-home-mom with her kids, she rejoined the working world in administrative positions with her community league and in the mortgage industry. Sherisse is excited to part of the team at CBWC and the Mountain Standard Region.

1. What’s your job title? Administrative Associate, CBWC Mountain Standard Region

2. Who inspires you? My Family

3. Do you like traveling? I love to travel with my family. We are thinking about a beach vacation and a trip to Germany and Europe in the future.

4. What’s the best place you’ve traveled to? I loved my time serving at an orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania.

5. Do you like reading? If so, what genre of books do you like? I have always been a bookworm. When I have the time to read, I enjoy mysteries and personal development books, and anything by Robin Jones Gunn.

6. What’s the most exciting part of your job? Working with amazing people

7. Where did you work before this position? Since going back to work after being a stay-at-home-mom with my kids, I have worked in administration positions with my community league and, most recently, for a mortgage broker.

8. What’s your most-used productivity hack? Moving passed thinking about the task and just do it. The task will take less time than I think and often is easier than what I am making it by overthinking it.

9. What’s something you’re proud of? The independence I am seeing my kids

10. What’s your favorite food? Anything

11. Do you have any pets? Luna is our Sheltie/Collie family dog.

12. Are you a sports fan? Who are your favorite teams? I love watching the Olympics.

13. Are you a morning person or a night owl? I am more of a late-morning/early afternoon type of person.

14. Are you a coffee or tea person? Both

15. What’s one thing you’re really bad at? I lack sports and artistic talent.

16. What’s one thing you’re really good at? Driving my kids to school and activities

17. What’s a skill you’d like to improve on? Adding more movement and exercise into my daily life

18. What’s your favorite memory? Marrying the love of my life

19. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A nurse. I did achieve this, as I was a registered nurse before I had kids.

20. What’s your least favorite chore around the house? Anything I can get my kids to do

21. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends? Sleep in and enjoy a whole cup of coffee before it gets cold

22. What’s your favorite holiday? Any of them that I can spend with my family

23. Can you speak more than one language? I can speak German.

24. What was your favorite subject in school? Sciences

25. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Introvert

26. Do you like roller coasters? Some, as long as they do not go upside down.

27. Do you have any phobias? Falling from tall heights

28. If you could play an instrument, what would it be? I can play a bit of piano but would love to be better at it.

29. Which historical figure would you most like to meet? Jesus

30. What’s your favorite season? Spring and Summer

Sherisse is in our Edmonton office regularly from Tuesday through Friday from 9am-1pm. Skip the answering machine and call between these hours as needed… hear a human voice! Her contact information is msregion@cbwc.ca or 780-462-2176.

The Mountain Standard Region Virtual Retreat – February 8, 2022

In lieu of meeting at Gull Lake this year, a virtual retreat was held together with ministers across the Mountain Standard Region of the CBWC.

This year, we were privileged to have Dr. David Williams, president of Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, lead us in some thoughts on ministry ethics. There were close to 40 attendees on Zoom—a good number for this opportunity. Our presenter pulled some interesting topics from After Virtue by Alasdair McIntyre.

If someone asked me about the main piece I pulled from our morning on February 8th, I would answer that I was intrigued by the need to choose virtue over power. One quote I wrote down was, “Those in power do not listen well.” It made me think that in ministry, we can easily sacrifice positive Christlike character traits and yield to seeking power over what we perceive to be an obstacle.

The retreat was interactive in that we shared in ‘breakout’ rooms in smaller groups to discuss three themes relating to the topic: ‘narrative, practice, and/or virtue.’ These groups discussed

some applications of ethics as it related to these three tactics. After this experience there was some time for Q&A, after which we went back to our groups for a time of prayer.

The retreat was positive, but we look forward to meeting again in person next year at Gull Lake!

Community News

Aziz Aslami who has moved to Calgary and is working with Northmount Baptist Church to set up ministries to Afgani refugees.

Zion Baptist Church Edmonton has done renovations to extend the auditorium into part of a former foyer, relocating the sound system, allowing more room for congregants.

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter August 2021

The Desire to Win

By Mountain Standard Regional Minister, Dennis Stone

Originally posted on February 5th, 2021

Okay, I just tweeted, “The desire to win gets in the way of healthy dialogue.” That is a paraphrase from the book: “Crucial Conversation Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High”. Out of all the thoughts I’ve seen, heard or read this month, this one has struck a cord with me.

In my work I deal with policy writing, conflicted individuals, politicized debate, stereotypes, and conversations with various levels of potential conflict. The tensions or potential tensions continue into relationships with family, neighbours and friends. Fear is behind all of this.

We will never see an end to tension. I think some believe that somewhere in the past or somewhere in the future, even before Jesus returns, that there will be a time of no stress, no conflict, and no infighting. That kind of self-talk will drive us bonkers. At some point we need to realize and accept that conflict will always be with us …‘until death do us part’.

If we are only observers of others in a squabble, it may be easier to see through to the individuals’ motivations. That is not always the case. We become experts at hiding our real motivations …the outcome we really want. It is this desire to come out on top and win that complicates us in a battle. When we ourselves are in an argument, we usually convey only aspects that help our side. Our own desired ends may even be hidden to ourselves. Perhaps we just want validation, affirmation, or an action that will help us get to another goal we have for ourselves.

Scripture says that ‘the heart is deceitful’. Perhaps we should acknowledge this more readily. We are often blind to what is stirring the pot, what is making us agitated, or what gets us riled up. Looking back each one of us can see the plots where we were on the wrong side of a discussion. That would be several times over for me personally.

May God help us to see more clearly where we need to repent, apologize, calm down, grant grace, and start from scratch. God says we are to love our enemies. If we could even get a small slice of that in our hearts in conflicted situations, we could likely come out honouring God more and living with outcomes more easily.

Your co-worker in the conflict,

Dennis

Update on Adventure Day Camps

By Pastor Ashley Winke

For the last 22 years Adventure Day Camps has been ministering to children from Sherwood Park Trinity Baptist church and our surrounding community of Strathcona County. Though it has taken on different forms throughout the years, it has always provided campers with week-long day camp experiences that include a wide variety of fun activities and meaningful ministry time with worship time and interactive Bible lessons. Every year we see children and their families impacted by the relationships they form at camp and by the truth of God’s word that is planted in their hearts.

In 2021, we have smaller numbers of campers due to Covid-19, but we’ve taken the opportunity to re-structure camps to allow for more weeks of camp to run throughout the summer, and we’ve included a week of camp for preschoolers and kindergartners. Also, we’ve looked for ways to maximize every opportunity to pour into our youth leaders who come to serve in Adventure Day Camps to maximize their leadership growth. Later this summer, we plan to do pop-up camp activities at playgrounds around Sherwood Park to minister to kids in our surrounding neighbourhoods. In these ways Adventure Day Camps continues to serve the vision of cultivating leadership, investing in relationships and engaging in mission in our community. We are excited for all that God has in store for the next 20 years and more!

Trinity Preschool has now been serving the families of Strathcona County and Trinity Baptist Church for over 20 years. We have a fully-licensed, thriving program that runs from September to May for 3 and 4-year-olds that engages them in ima play and learning and instills truths of God’s word and love for each child in their hearts.

Welcome to Two New Pastors in MS Region

Garry Koop is the new lead pastor at Westview Baptist Church.  His wife’s name is Kimberley and they have two adult daughters. For the last 20 years, Garry has been actively involved in ministries within the Evangelical Mennonite Conference and with the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. He comes to Calgary from Steinbach, Manitoba. Garry has his Doctorate in Ministry from Northern Baptist Seminary and also studied at Tyndale College, University and Seminary. Garry has been a featured guest speaker at Bible camps, retreats and conferences.

We welcome Garry to his new calling in Calgary and look forward to having this new colleague in our midst.

Hanneke Boersema is the new Children and Families Minister at Westview Baptist Church. She is joined by her husband Ryan and children Keira and Naomi. Hanneke received her Bachelor in Applied Theology in Belgium and a Master of Educational Science while living in the Netherlands. She brings over 20 years of experience as a Child and Education Specialist, Religious Teacher and Pastor of Families and Children. We warmly welcome Hanneke to the CBWC!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter May 2021

The One, True Superhero

I like watching superhero movies. Whether it is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Ironman or the like, something draws me to them. I love the imagination it has taken first to write the script. Then again, I marvel at the technology and photographic instrumentation it takes to bring to life that which was in the author’s mind. Truthfully, some of it is the mental escape these films provide, the privilege of getting lost in a world that does not really exist. (By the way, I can be a sucker for the average ‘chick flick’ as well.)

The annual season recognizing the Resurrection of Jesus has just passed at the time of this writing. In that story, it seems to me that all the traits of superheroes are lacking when compared to Jesus. He appears in a room while not coming through a doorway. He ascends into heaven. He transfigures while with Peter, James and John. He passes through crowds without being touched. He expels demons. He makes bread and fish multiply. He is able to kill a tree by talking to it. He knows what people are thinking, even when at a distance. Superhero myths might copy some of these abilities, but they cannot match Jesus. Even if those myths have a superhero come back to life, it is obvious they will have to die yet again. Truthfully, imaginative superheroes cannot compete with omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence.

Movie writers usually miscast representatives of the Church. They will show the plot where the villain is a vain tele-evangelist wrongfully raking in monies for themselves. They often mock the average Christian or church attender (Homer Simpson’s neighbour comes to mind). Then they will borrow some concepts from Scripture and bend them in a manner that is quite unbiblical (angels do not get their wings when a bell rings).

With our Saviour so supreme over human imagination, how is it the efforts of the Church seem so common and less dynamic in the minds of most people around us? How is it that the mystery of the Creator of the universe living within us, is not the story noticed and told most often? The message of God’s great love, pardon and mercy does not yet seem to resonate as profoundly as it deserves within the average resident on earth.

What happened to the passion I had when I/we first believed? Is it the distractions? Is it the schedule? Is it a divided loyalty? Can I—can we—become what our neighbourhoods need at this time of uncertainty? Will I/we care enough? Will I/we make sacrifices as God might lead? I think for us to regain the ‘superhero’ quality within us, which should be shining, it will require us to ask these important questions and take them seriously.

Our theology is lacking if we only go for what we can find in popular psychology. If Jesus made a difference in us, then we should allow Him to make us different. We do not believe in an unrecognizable ‘higher power’ but in Jesus, the Saviour of the World. Isn’t this Superhero enough for us, for the world? Of course He is!

-Your co-worker, Dennis

Weathering the COVID Virus

We have been more than a year under COVID-19 restrictions. To my knowledge, there have been infections in some members at Zion Baptist, at Bonavista Baptist, and at Shiloh Baptist to name but a few. The Roadhouse family at Gull Lake Centre has also encountered this infectious disease. Beyond these few stories, there are numerous individuals who came in contact with a potential link, therefore needing to isolate themselves for the required number of days.

Rumours persist that restrictions in Alberta will be lifted at the end of July. That is not a sure date, as many factors will need to be assessed. The number of people taking the vaccine is the greatest measure by which governments will make judgments as to when we can circulate freely.

This has been a tough season for congregations, pastors, church boards or even denominations in the process through the middle of this health crisis. I have heard from several pastors who are facing the stress from congregants pushing one agenda or another. There are the maskers and the anti-maskers. There are the vaccinators and the non-vaccinators. There are the ‘Come as you are’ and the ‘Don’t worry about the regulations’, versus the larger majority that wish for the church to follow the regulations as much as possible. It is tough to be a leader and a procedure manager within these settings. What makes it more difficult is the lack of ability to share, in-person, the reason behind decisions in a more present manner. Emails and signage only go so far and do not express the agony and level of thought process that church boards and pastors have gone through to make decisions. Those decisions relate to what to do currently, and then again, how to plan going forward.

Everyone is looking for this season to end. Everyone is hopeful for a return to what we saw as normal. There have been victims during this epidemic. Some have lost jobs, lost investments, lost meaningful friendships, and lost privileges. Others have benefitted financially. Others have made gains through increased time and attention to marriage and family. Others have taken stock of their goals and priorities.

No one knows where we will be a year from now. There could be more calamity or very little. There could be prosperity or a challenge to the financial markets. There could be a rush to re-enter church sanctuaries, or quite the opposite. Whatever is to come, we need to remember that our God will never leave or forsake us. He is always present and everywhere present.

May God give you wisdom in your own setting!

-Your co-worker, Dennis

Dayle and Dawn Medgett from Westview Baptist Heading into Retirement

On April 8th the Calgary cluster of CBWC Ministers were invited to join a Zoom conference to hear from and celebrate with Dayle and Dawn Medgett, who are retiring from Westview Baptist in Calgary after a couple decades of ministry. Dawn noted that she will miss ‘doing life with people’, which means sharing in the joys and challenges of the church family. Dayle referred to the ups and downs of his tenure at Westview, but that he felt he was leaving the church in a positive space. He was pleased to leave the church where they have connected more strongly with their community, where they became more multicultural, and where they have reached a place where their debts have been paid. God has blessed both them and the church during their time at Westview. The couple are moving to Campbell River, BC to be closer to grandkids and to sailing.

Coming to Westview in June as the new Senior Pastor will be Garry Koop from Steinbach, Manitoba. Also coming in June is Hanneke Boersema to take up the mantle that was held by Dawn Medgett in Children and Family Ministries.

Spring is Here!

While Covid restrictions have locked us up at home more often, it is good to notice what is right around us. This beautiful photo of a chickadee in flight was taken by my daughter Cara in our backyard recently. For our family, winter seemed longer than usual, partly because of Cara’s chemo and radiation treatments. Her prognosis is very good and her attitude amid the challenge has been exceptional, especially with her friends and faith intact. God has been so good. May all of us see the good around us, even when the challenges are also great.

-Dennis

Calvary Community Church Yellowknife

When the pandemic hit, plans were already in place at Calvary Community Church Yellowknife to upgrade our facilities so that those with mobility issues could access our building. We had already completed phase one—installing a ramp, rails and power doors. Phase two was to install the elevator lift that could go from the basement, to the foyer and sanctuary. Phase three was to reconstruct the washrooms in the basement so we could have an accessible washroom. The accessibility project was due to the ongoing generosity of churchgoers and the work of our property coordinator, Vicky Johnston, who oversaw the work of contractors and applied for federal funding from the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Overall, this project cost about $250,000 with $150,000 granted through the federal government.

So, when we could not access our building in the early months of the pandemic, construction was taking place inside of the church in order that, in due time, others would have access. We also thought it was an opportune time to replace our large 45plus-year-old windows with ones that are more energy efficient and that also qualified for an energy rebate.

Many community groups utilize the church, and it is great that in the future no one needs to be left out without access to the building. Church services, events, fellowship gatherings in the basement around food, piano recitals and other events are now accessible. We look forward to gathering together again soon—restriction free!

This regional newsletter is published quarterly within the CBWC’s monthly newsletter, Making Connections. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email our senior writer, Jenna Hanger: jhanger@cbwc.ca