News & Notes Vol 13 No. 20

An Invitation to the Health of the Church

Dear friends,
The Gathering 2017 is happening in one week’s time. We will celebrate our heritage, our present, and our future as Canadian Baptists. Gary Nelson from Tyndale will speak to us on leading in disorienting times. Our own Sam Breakey will encourage us to look to the health and renewal of our churches. We will engage in conversation and voting in areas of our shared ministry including human rights, education, and ministerial protocols. Shaila Visser, director of Alpha Canada, will share an exciting vision of evangelism across Canada. Gifted performer, Deanna Storfie, will weave our imaginations in a story of William Carey. We will welcome our new Executive Minister and new BCY Regional Minister. All this we will do together in prayer and fellowship from May 25-27.

A couple of weeks ago our first Potential Impact event happened.  Shannon Youell writes about it: Potential Impact found more than twenty young adults from Alberta, BC & Saskatchewan, gathered at Gull Lake Camp to challenge the next generation to focus on spiritual direction, an openness to ministry potential, and general calling and leadership in their life. Facilitated by CBWC ministry leaders and pastors, the conference metaphor quickly formed around the charging rhinoceros, who can see only twenty feet in front of itself yet knows that to see the next twenty feet requires stepping into the unseen-ness of the future. Participants commented that, though they “don’t know the exact details of (my) direction, I do know that what I am to do is make the most of where I am.”  Others commented that they had finally accepted the calling that they knew God had been asking of them for a long time.  For others it was confirmation that they were moving in the right direction.
The call to ‘join God where he is at work’, no matter where life leads was dominant in both the presentations and in the small group coaching and peer sessions where participants could wrestle with the presented material and “engage in the topics of identity and call”, with speakers and coaches who “were awesome, encouraging, helpful and practical.”
As a session presenter and coach, I was deeply affected by the passion and honest wrestling of these young adults to hear God and pursue the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ wherever and however that may look.

I would like to close with this. Many have experienced loss over the last year. Several have been mentioned in these newsletters with the recent additions of Tim Kerber and Nora Walker whose fathers have passed in the last 2 weeks. My dad Roy Bell passed away at noon on Thursday amidst family, prayers, tears and some light moments too. He struggled in these last days, but was peaceful in the end, as we his family are as well. My mum is well embraced by her strong faith and a very diverse and supportive family. Roy served at Westlane Baptist (Moncton), Atlantic Baptist College/Crandall, Strathcona Baptist (Edmonton), First Baptist (Calgary and Vancouver).  He also was principal of Carey Theological College and in that role taught at Regent College.  My dad loved this family of churches and more clearly loved Christ’s body, the church. The service is on May 28th at 3pm at First Baptist Church, Vancouver. On a more personal note I have been very touched by the kind notes of support. It has been a great encouragement.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy
 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 19

From Alpha to OEC

Dear friends,
 
You will hear more about this from Shaila Visser (Head of Alpha Canada) at the Assembly later this month. Over 75,000 people took the Alpha course last year, and over 35,000 people made first time commitments or recommitments to a relationship with Christ. A very exciting year. Click on the image to see a great video about Alpha, and then come to hear more at Assembly.

We engage every year in a wonderful process known as Ordination Examining Council.  This has always been a community event. We have representatives from the three regions, staff, and Board.  This year’s council will be held at Westview Baptist Church, in Calgary, AB, on 24 – 25 May 2017, preceeding our biennial Assembly.  Let me introduce you to the folk on this years council:
 
O.E.C. Chair: Steve Simala Grant
O.E.C. Recording Secretary (non-voting): Doug Johnston 
 
CBWC Executive Staff (non-voting members)
Jeremy Bell, Executive Minister (voting)
Dennis Stone, Alberta Regional Minister
Mark Doerksen, Heartland Regional Minister
Rob Ogilvie, BCY Regional Minister
Faye Reynolds, CBWC Director of Ministries
 
CBWC Table Officers (voting members)
Laura Nelson, President
Kayely Rich, VP Planning
Tim Kerber, VP Personnel
Michael Hayes, VP Finance
 
Elected or Appointed Regional Representatives (voting members)
Alberta Regional Representatives:
Greg Butt
Connie Shalagan
Brent Watts
Shelley Utz
BC/Yukon Regional Representatives:
Jodi Spargur
Larry Schram
Moreen Sharp
Gerry Davison
Heartland Regional Representatives:
Paul Matheson
Debra Cwir
Mike Engbers
Francine Vandergucht
 
Mentored Ministry Coordinator (non-voting)
Axel Schoeber, Carey Theological College
 
And let me introduce you to the candidates who are presenting themselves before the Council this year:

Eric Brooks, Edmonton, AB
Darlene Edwards, Sherwood Park, AB
Nathan Friedt, Peace River, BC
Rob Klingbeil, Lacombe, AB
Doug Liao, Surrey, BC
Kayley Sanders, Peace River, BC
Mervin Tippe, Regina, SK
Andrea Tisher, Vancouver, BC
 
The task of the OEC is not to rubber stamp what has been decided by a local church or a regional interview committee, but it is to sincerely discern and enquire of the candidate in an ongoing process.
Finally, let me draw your attention to a simple explanation of ordination and its process; this piece has been worked on over the years by Wayne Larson, Steve Simala Grant, and Laura Nelson in their roles as Chair of the Council.
Ordination and its Processes
 
One of the most serious aspects of our life together as Baptists in Western Canada is the examination of Candidates for ordination to the gospel ministry. Under Baptist polity, and in keeping with our understanding of the nature of the church, the ordination of a Candidate is the prerogative of the local church, while the official recognition of the Candidate is the prerogative of Canadian Baptist. 
 
From the local church the call for ordination is issued; to the local church the recommendations of the Examining Council are returned; on those recommendations the local church acts. The church convenes the Service of Ordination and on its behalf those who have been previously ordained to the gospel ministry join with members of the local church to lay on hands, with prayer, for the plenitude of the Spirit and His gifts in thus setting apart a man or a woman to a life of ministry in the church.  
 
But, although ordination is at the request, under the auspices, and by the authority of the local church, it is the custom in Baptist churches to request the fellowship of sister churches in this solemn act. To this end, sister churches are invited to send representatives to an Examining Council. Previously ordained ministers take part in the ordination service; and the Regional Minister normally conducts the service so that all may see that the universal church has a share in the solemn act of a local church.
 
In Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, by mutual agreement of the churches and areas, and at their request, the denomination convenes a central Examining Council each year. This council is composed of representatives elected by the Regional Executives or Advisory Groups, the elected officers of Assembly (President and Vice-Presidents), up to two representatives from a Candidate’s local church, the Executive Minister and the staff ministers (Regional Ministers and the Director of the Graduate Internship Program) who are non-voting members of the Council.  
 
The Co-Chairs and Secretary of the Council are appointed by the Credentials Committee of Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. The Co-Chairs are responsible to ensure that questions are clear, that the Candidate is not harassed, that communication between both Council and Candidate is open, and that the business is conducted in an impartial and orderly manner.
 
Candidates are invited to the Ordination Examining Council at the request of the local church on the recommendation of the area in which the Candidate serves and by the approval of the Ministerial Credentials Committee when they have satisfied all requirements of the Ministerial Ordination Standards and Procedures (MOS&P). 
 
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy Bell

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 18

New Ways of Listening To God and Each Other

Dear friends,

There was so much to choose from in our life and ministry together this week, that I was challenged to limit it to these 2 wonderful experiences before us.
 
The first is Potential Impact, which we have spoken of before. Several dozen youth have followed the pattern described below. We are very excited about what God will be doing in their lives.
 
POTENTIAL IMPACT: CALLING THE NEXT GENERATION OF CHRISTIAN LEADERS

Every generation needs to encounter Jesus, rise up and put faith into action. That action might be as a waitress, a carpenter, a pastor, a children’s church leader, a board member, a musician, a youth leader, and the list could go on and on. I Corinthians 10:31 states, “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
 
We come to an age where bigger questions are being asked about our place in the world and the plan God might have for our lives. Every believer faces these challenges, but no one stares them in the face as much as those us of between grade 11 and age 24. This retreat is intentionally wired for those who are taking these questions seriously.
Potential Impact is not about someone telling people what they should do. Potential Impact will be asking questions: “What is God calling you to do?” “How do we help you prepare for that challenge?”
You will be joined by peers and coaches who are committed to helping you explore your future – your “potential impact.” They will help you hear and clarify the call of Jesus in your life.
Join us from Thursday evening April 27th, 2017, at Gull Lake Centre until Sunday, April 30, at noon. Early bird cost is $160, regular registration $175.
 
This retreat is the first of its kind among the churches of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. If you are a church leader, determine who among your church will profit from this experience and do everything in your power to see they come. If you are a dedicated young person, now is the time to seek God and say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
 
 
Secondly, the New Ministers Orientation is of critical importance to building relationship, collegiality, cross-resourcing and a sense of family beyond our backgrounds, geography, and the many miles we travel in Western Canada. These are the folks who are attending this year.
 
Eric Brooks, Strathcona Baptist, Edmonton, AB
Troy Dennis (Chaplain, Canadian Forces), Shiloh, Edmonton, AB
Aaron Hansen, FBC Cranbrook, BC
Brian Louw, White Rock Baptist, BC
Kevin Corbett, Hope Farm (Mustard Seed), Duncan, BC
Hannah Juras, Southwest Community Baptist, Kamloops, BC
Ella Cho, West Point Grey Baptist, Vancouver, BC
Alisa Powers, Moosomin Baptist, SK
Kevin Dyck, Moosomin Baptist, SK
Troy Taylor, FBC Lethbridge, AB
Norm Derkson, FBC Calgary, AB
Nixon Solomon, Sonrise Community Baptist, Calgary, AB
Heather Hiebert, Community Baptist, Cold Lake, AB
Terry Coe, FBC Dawson Creek, AB
Samuel Kim, Bonavista Baptist, Calgary, AB
Lee Young, Summerland Baptist, BC
Everett Budd, FBC Peace River, AB
Gabriel Alalade, Northmount Baptist, Calgary, AB
Anna Braun (Chaplain), FBC Lethbridge, AB 
Ryan Friesen, Keats Camps, Keats Island, BC
Isaac Godwin, Kitsilano Christian Community, Vancouver, BC
Jerry Wang, CBWC Staff, Calgary, AB
 
Please be in prayer for these events as they have unfolded, and I will update you with news of God’s faithfulness in them and around us.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 17

New BCY Regional Minister

Dear friends,
As I did with Kayely Rich’s announcement regarding Rob Ogilvie’s appointment as the new Executive Minister of the CBWC I leave it for her to offer her new announcement regarding the appointment of the new Regional Minister for the BCY Region.  Many of you in BC will be familiar with Larry Schram’s pastoral skills, gifted speaking, and personal warmth.  I commend both Larry, his wife Erna, and all the hard work that Kayely Rich has accomplished in yet another successful search.  Many thanks for your attention to this matter.
 
New BCY Regional Minister Announced
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
 
Finally, please remember The Gathering’s theme of Creating Stronger Tomorrows.  Pray for those who are organizing and those speaking.  Also, please pray for the host church, Westview Baptist Church. I encourage people to register for this important event in our life together.
Also, this weekend our first Potential Impact event is happening.  Calling the next generation of Christian leaders in our churches, this weekend of discernment, mentoring, coaching, and fellowship will assist our young people (between grade 11 and age 24) to hear and clarify the call of God in their lives. Please pray for all involved.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 16

Nothing for Granted

Dear friends
Many of us have experienced an absolutely marvelous, moving, and profound Easter time.
I don’t know about you but for some of us it is easy to take the experience of Easter for granted. There is however nothing to take for granted in the Easter story. Christ’s triumph over death is not simply a wrinkle in history but that which changes all of history and changes me. I often think of the story of Jesus and the healing of the lepers (Luke 17:11-19). Many of us are so relieved that Christ in his resurrection has given us freedom from death that we fail to savor it fully. There is an amazing scene in the film version of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles and the first book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It is a scene just before the great battle where the great White Witch announces to her followers the following words, “Take no prisoners. Kill them all.” There is lots of evidence in the natural world where the biological destiny of every living organism is to die. It’s a term which is called entropy: all that which is alive must die. All that resists death can only struggle to the extent that it prolongs life but never defers forever the ultimate destination of all who are living. To produce a play on the words of the White Witch there is a sense in which Christ seeks by his Spirit to take us all captive; Indeed make us prisoners to himself in that wonderful powerful way of what it is to be at home in Christ. There is also that wonderful sense… that powerful sense… that he seeks that all that choose him might live… May we ever be reminded that to allow ourselves to be captured by Jesus is to be made free indeed.
There are some exciting things stirring in Western Canada. Spring is starting to come upon us. As I look out my Calgary office window I see the evidence, to some degree, of more frequently repositioning of potash and green cars moving from western ports to those 100’s of towns and hamlets where good things are grown for ourselves and the world (incidentally Canada is the largest producer of lentils in the world by almost twice its nearest competitor. Mark Doerksen and I were told by a grain terminal broker in Chaplin, SK, that the market for lentils grows by 100 million people per year.) Part of Spring is the preparation for summer camps many of whom are completing their interviews for summer staff. Please pray for them in this process. I’m sure many reading this newsletter would feel uncomfortable complaining that so many of the street ministries we speak of are in larger cities when small town and rural poverty is probably more acute because it is under resourced. Let me draw your attention to 1 of our chaplains, Chuck Harper and the ministry out of First Baptist Vernon but also to pause and note together at the memorial to those homeless who have died.
In conclusion, prayers for us all that we remember the gift of Easter as we celebrate the gift of new life every day.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 15

Easter Week

Dear friends,
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!
I am excited about this Easter Sunday. There are 3 things I want to mention in this newsletter. They are under the titles of “suffering of the son”, “evil for good”, and “the bodily resurrection in its completeness”.
The first is a brief synopsis of a story I told 10 years ago and an experience I had on St Stephen’s Ave in Calgary early one Summer evening. I came across a young man who looked remarkably like my son: tall, lean, nicely turned out. He was hanging out with friends. I thought to myself, “That is just like Andrew.” Not half an hour later I was returning to the place where I had seen this young man but saw him instead through the windows of a dimly lit police prison wagon, handcuffed, sobbing and howling in despair, and banging his head inconsolably against the steel wall of the van.
Someone’s son… Someone else’s son… Looked just like my own son…
And like the Father to Christ on the cross I wanted to save that son… the one who looked like mine and felt like mine… who for all intents and purposes was kith and kin to me.
I was 51 years old when this happened. It had taken most of my life to fully apprehend on an emotional level even a small pale reflection of what the Father must have felt in the suffering of the Son on Good Friday.
I realise now that Christ’s abandonment was so viscerally painful because the Father could not bear to look on the suffering of the Son. Christ was understandably distraught as his Father did just that.
The second theme this Lenten Easter week is an oft-sighted piece of a note attached to a dead child in the Nazi concentration camp of Ravensbruck. It is almost obscenely in error to try to identify with the suffering that happened in that place; a death camp solely for women and children. However, if the feeling cannot be fully mined then at least the intention, most especially in this Passion prelude to Easter Sunday, must be mined for me to be fully in Christ. It is as follows:

O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us:
Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering—our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. 
When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

Over a dozen years ago Jonathan Wilson introduced me to that famous piece by John Updike entitled “Seven Stanzas at Easter”. In all the syncretistic nonsense of our day and age to revel and celebrate that poetically powerful declaration of the bodily resurrection is something that profoundly thrills me every day of my life. Here is that poem:

Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

This Easter has at its powerful, churning centre the bodily resurrection of Jesus where the living Lord is plucked out of the chaos of suffering and death. He has made me new though that is indeed the reason he has also made me glad.
Christ is risen this day and even forevermore. Amen.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 14

Transitions

Dear friends,
I have an experience I would like to share with you today. Last Sunday evening I attended the installation of Callum Jones. Callum was formerly from First Baptist Penticton and is moving to Trinity Baptist Church in Vancouver. This was an event which took place at 7 PM in the evening which I would like to commend to you as an ideal time for people from a variety of local churches to attend such an event as this. Trinity Baptist Church is a multicultural congregation amid a very multicultural city. The event was a celebration of the city and the breadth of the kingdom of God. It was also a celebration of the excitement of 2 churches participating in the affirmation of a new season and calling for Callum and his wife, Catherine. I mention 2 churches because First Baptist Church in Penticton sent a delegation to give (as it were) Callum and Catherine to the congregation at Trinity Baptist in Vancouver. It was a lovely experience to see this occur. The exchange brought greetings and prayers from both churches and a dear friend of Callum’s (and a fellow colleague and minister from Summerland) Larry Schram, gave the message.
I would encourage each of us to think more carefully about timing these kinds of services so that more people can be involved in having a sense of exchange, of collegiality, of back and forth, of giving and receiving, as people move between churches. It was Rob Ogilvie’s last installation or induction (depending on the term you prefer) of a pastor in the BCY region. He did this as the BCY Regional Minister and he does these things so very well. This is the last of those kinds of events for him because he is about to assume the Executive Minister’s position on June 30. Pray for Rob and Bonnie as they prepare for the change in their lives.
One more thing about Callum’s induction…  Larry introduced a very non-transcribable word which nonetheless was rendered as a phrase “steadfast love”. I think it is important to know the steadfast love the Lord has for us even as we are called, as Larry did, to offer steadfast love to all.
This is a week of transition and changes. It will be my last Board meeting with the CBWC and I am very grateful for this season of life. Even if that season doesn’t actually end for another 10 weeks it is significant to be saying goodbye to the last gathering of those I report to and my colleagues. Please pray for Laura Nelson as she leads her last Board meeting for the CBWC, and the nominations committee under Greg Anderson as he suggests to the Board the new slate for the next 2 years.
Many thanks to all for your prayers.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 13

Of Prayer and Many Other Things

Dear friends,
I had two very exciting experiences of public prayer in the last two weeks.  They were so poignant and meaningful to me that I thought I would share them.
The first was at the Provincial Leadership Prayer Breakfast in British Columbia.  I have experienced several Prayer Breakfasts in the past; the first at the age of 20 at the American National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.  I’ve been to Ottawa at the National Prayer Breakfast in Canada and in Calgary at that Prayer Breakfast and this one in Vancouver.  The quite unplanned and seemingly spontaneous or spirit prompted (which might be more appropriate) theme of the Provincial Prayer Breakfast in Vancouver was that of hope and hopefulness. Many of the speakers spoke of being in desperate need to call out to God in times of personal need or comfort.  The theme was quite powerfully engaged.  It ran the gamut of people speaking of their conversion story of coming to Christ for the first time, and also of praying for the sick and the wounded, or the faraway, or just in moments, vocationally or personally, in which they were extremely anxious and worried.
There is a particular prayer that is used at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa, and at other Breakfasts including the recent one in Vancouver.  It speaks of the “spirit of Jesus” but is not explicitly, or in a way I would prefer, clearly Christian yet, it is placed in the spirit of Jesus and the context of the Christian faith.  Regardless of that it is a powerful prayer in so many ways.  As a Christian I, both at the beginning and end of it, silently pray to myself these things in Christ’s name.  The first is that prayer.
The second prayer is one that was spoken by a young woman at Southwest Community Church in Kamloops which I found particularly gripping, relevant, and personally encouraging.  I thank Libby for her willingness to allow me to share this with you.
The final prayer is taken out of the “Gathering for Worship” book.  It talks about Christ coming to make things new.  I pray that as we continue in the Lenten series and season and as we pray for those who do not yet know Christ we will in fact be called to see that Christ is making all things new.
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy
 
A Prayer for the Province (BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast):
Almighty God, we once before you in prayer, in the spirit of Jesus, for the leadership of British Columbia and Canada.  We declare our need of you and pause this morning to give you thanks.
We thank you for blessing us with a free country, a rich diversity of people, abundant natural resources and a beautiful environment.  We pray that as leaders we will be wise managers and good stewards of all that your hands have provided.
We pray for our nation and our world.  Lord, where there is division, conflict, bitterness and hatred, both in this country and abroad, may you bring your wisdom, justice and healing.  Where we have been party to this division, conflict, bitterness, and hatred, we ask for your forgiveness and reconciliation.
We pray that you might give wisdom and discernment to all those who govern and administer our country, our province, our towns and cities.  Give wisdom and discernment also to those who are in Opposition.  We pray that all may be men and women who, themselves, are led by you; who do not seek prestige but service, and set the good of the community above the good of any individual or group.
We pray for all people who work, study or volunteer in this province.  We pray that we might use our faith, skills and resources to correct iniquities, bring hope, and work toward justice and righteousness.
Help us to be worthy of the inheritance that we have received from you through our First Nations and ancestors.  May we protect all that we share, so that we may pass on an even finer province to those who will inherit it from us.
May we lay aside all private interests and prejudices.  Unite us in all our diversity under your sovereign rule, to love you and to love others.  May all who are called to serve as leaders throughout British Columbia have the courage to lead us in truth, peace, and humility.  Strengthen us all, we pray in the name of our Blessed Creator, Provider, and Sustainer.  Amen.
 
This is the prayer spoken at Southwest Community Church Sunday morning service on March 26th:
Beloved Lord and Saviour,
We bow our hearts to you, the one who is seated far above the rest, you are worthy of the praises we sing today and for the rest of eternity. Messiah, we want your kingdom come, we pray in earnest that your rule would be over all situations around the world. We lift up the attacks in the UK, may your peace be a healing and soothing balm over the many wounds, may your sovereignty reign in all forms of government and leadership, and may your sense of justice prevail over our own. It’s easy to see where your reign is necessary around the world, yet in our own hearts, we find it difficult to relinquish power, claiming we do a good enough job as leader of our lives. We have a prepared list of reasons why we’re good at being in control. We can be like the Israelites, wanting to go back to Egypt even after witnessing your divine guidance through the Red Sea. Father, you have shown us your worthiness, may we put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature since we have taken off the old self with its practices and put on a new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. Jesus, you are described as the one who fulfills everything in everyway, and may we honour you as such, may we obey your teachings, and love our brothers and sisters. May we hold our control in open and joyful hands. We invite your will to be done, and we do so with hopeful hearts, knowing that you are the Good Shepard and will not lead us astray. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
 
Gathering for Worship: Opening Sentences for the Lord’s Supper:
 
Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
In the private house,
in the public place,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgement hall,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the hidden might be seen,
Christ is coming to make all things new.
 
Within us, without us,
behind us, before us,
in this place, in every place,
for this time, for all time,
Christ is coming to make all things new.

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 12

Transitions & Thankfulness.

Dear friends,
In the first newsletter of this month I outlined some major changes that were unfolding at the CBWC.  What I was not free to speak to at that time was that Bob Webber will be transitioning out of his role as Director of Ministries.  Bob and his wife Faye have been active and involved in Baptist family life for years.  Bob grew up in First Baptist Calgary, AB.  His first job after university was as Director of Gull lake Camp in Alberta.  I have worked with Bob for over 8 years and found him to be so committed to his Lord, his church, his family, and this larger CBWC family that he has given his energy, time, wisdom, and great good laughter as gifts to us all.  Personally, I am very appreciative of Bob’s commitment to the local church and the enrichment and energy he brought to the Executive Staff, the Camp Committee, the CBWC Foundation, the Finance Committee, and the CBWC Board.  Thank you, Bob, very much for your deep commitment and long service which will continue in a variety of forms for many years to come.
Related to the theme of roles, every 2 or 3 years we publish a set of Organizational Charts which help people put names to faces in the work we do together.  The leadership of the denomination is clearly from the Executive of our Board (shown below).

A final comment… I have heard some comment that yet again an Executive Minister is located on the West Coast  or “Left Coast” (unflatteringly and inaccurately called, given our Provincial Government).  I have heard a comment that the majority of staff are in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia.  5 out of 8 Executive Staff are in Alberta; 2 (including our new Executive Minister, Rob Ogilvie) are in British Columbia; and 1 (Mark Doerksen) is in the Heartland.  There is a considerable balance of influence and engagement given that the CBWC Foundation is based in Calgary as well as the Ambrose Undergraduate Initiative, and 2 of our camps.  All these things suggest a broad dispersal of resources and personnel.. We are striving to be very conscious that our governance, staff, and ministries are cognizant of geographic diversity and ministry experience.

Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

News from the Family: Please pray for Louanne Haugan as we shift to a new benefits system and join with the other Canadian Baptist denominations in caring for our staff.

Quote of the Week: From a poem by August Wilson:
When the sins of our fathers visit us
We do not have to play host.
We can banish them with forgiveness
As God, in His Largeness and Laws.

 

News & Notes Vol 13 No. 11

Balancing Between Extremes

Dear friends,
Today’s newsletter is a devotional and reflection on contrasting choices we are faced with I trust that it is helpful and meaningful. It tends not to be a newsy newsletter but a more reflective and indeed theological and practical newsletter this week. Thanks for your patience. God be with you.

I am constantly being surprised and perplexed by the “either/or” thinking that is used to discuss complicated topics. Take for example the simple notions about evangelism. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once remarked that he was a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. That is to say he prayed God’s will in desiring that God would turn people’s hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet while he was preaching he believed that with passion he could persuade that the spirit had one part of the conversion narrative to accomplish and that his own willingness to share had the other part. What Spurgeon was practicing was not commonly referred to as a balanced approach but indeed holding two very different yet complementary things in tension. Life is very much like that. Jesus often spoke in metaphor and indeed hyperbole. His own disciples were often confused as to what his message or point was; particularly in the parables.

Charles Simeon, an Anglican Evangelical from the 19th century, was famous for his comment that the truth of any topic was not in the middle of two extremes but in fact in both extremes. That sounds awkward but it’s not. Think back to the comment we just made about Charles Haddon Spurgeon: a Calvinist on his knees and an Armenian on his feet. Simeon is right in far more areas of life that we would like to think. The practice of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the advice of Charles Simeon, and in fact our wisdom from the ages and from elders must give us pause to think. They are thinking. Indeed, the behavior that followed their thinking if you read their history and ministry has a great deal of application today: from the areas of church life, personal prayer, and devotional life to the public realm in good governance and to the political battles that are waged in all parts of the world.

Since we are so near the time of the inauguration in the United States it is interesting to note how Harry Truman chose scriptures from two parts of the Bible for his inauguration. He had in fact 2 Bibles open to him and laid his hands on each; 1 was open to the 10 Commandments and the other was open to the Beatitudes. I think it’s obvious on 1 level the contrast between those 2 passages. Yet there is this complementary nature of what God expects of us and how he also in his call to holiness and piety from the 10 Commandments calls us to that deeper meaning of life, compassion, and humility in the Beatitudes. I would draw us and our attention to that wonderful sermon in the final verses of the Beatitudes:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16
(And the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20:1-17)
 
We are all called to be salt and light. You know the depth and meaning of those phrases.  I indeed find that to be a prophetic and passionate call from Jesus to be that which preserves and gives flavor. Furthermore, without salt there is no long-term viability of life. In addition, without light, not simply in the natural order of things (the photosynthesis of the sun which gives us the basic building blocks for life itself) but in Jesus this gift of life and light that comes to us… without him there is indeed no life.

“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:3-9
 
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7
 
Warmly,
In Christ,
Jeremy

Quote of the Week:  Martin Luther King Jr: “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk then by all means start moving.”

News from the Family: Please pray for Sam Breakey and team in the church health and renewal work, and for the renewal that they are seeking in the life of our churches. For those churches currently being encouraged by this process, pray especially that the Holy Spirit would help people discern where the church is presently at and what future steps they should be undertaking in the power of the Spirit to see new things happen and God’s powerful presence in their lives flourish.