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


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 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:

Making Connections March 2022

Recognizing & Affirming Women in the Church

By Moreen Sharp, Canadian Baptist Women President

I had the privilege of participating in the Baptist International Conference of Theological Education in the Bahamas in July, 2019. It was rich time of gathering together to think through the touchy subject of Women in Ministry. It was a powerful time of hearing five main presenters from five countries, with ten others from nine countries, responding to thoughtful papers and compelling arguments—presented on topics like Bible Translations and How They have Affected Women’s Engagement in Church and Society, The Place of Women in A Baptist Theology of Ministry, Baptist Women in Ministry-Their Unique Contribution, as well as others.

(If you would like to read these informative papers, please see A result of that was a Resolution on Recognizing and Affirming the Calling of Women in the Church, which calls global Baptists to:

REPENT from the teachings and practices through which we have prevented women from flourishing as human beings created in the image of God and full members of the body of Christ;

OPEN OURSELVES to the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, inspire discussion, and provoke transformation in individual lives and communities, affirming the God-given call of women for service in the church, so that their stories may take a rightful place in the wider story of Christ’s body in the world;

LEARN and then use language that is affirming to both women and men in worship, communications, and publications, including Bible translations; and

WORK intentionally to create equal space for women in all leadership roles in the church, Baptist conventions and unions, and in the Baptist World Alliance.

Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 248 conventions and unions in 128 countries. One-hundred people from over 35 countries were at the gathering to vote on this resolution. It was also sent to all General Council members for feedback, if they weren’t present. What was most impactful to me, was to see every one—except two—of the voting members affirm this resolution. It was a deep blessing to me. As an individual who grew up with a theology of women “not being able to be” in ministry, and knowing God had a call on my life, I took much time and study and energy to research this topic. I cannot help but believe that God’s work in the world has been hindered over the centuries through the limitations that have been placed on half of His Body, who are also called to minister to the world—in a very real sense, blessing the curse, instead of living out the redemptive freedom that was accomplished through Christ’s example, death and resurrection.

On International Women’s Day, I am so thankful to be part of a denomination, along with many global Baptists, that recognizes and affirms women’s calls and gifting so that God’s work is strengthened and impacted through the willing work of the “the other half” of His Body.

CBWC is proud to support women in various ministry roles as we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th. Currently, we have 80 females serving in leadership positions in CBWC –– as pastors, chaplains, Camp Directors and CBWC Board members.  

Partner Spotlight: CBM | One Body

As the days get a little bit longer and we enjoy a little more sunshine and warmth, we look forward to the snow melting, trees budding and grass beginning to regrow. With the coming of Spring, we also think of Easter and Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Easter is an exciting and important time in the Christian calendar, but it is also a busy time.

Churches often hold multiple services during Easter weekend to proclaim the good news that He Is Risen! Worship team members arrive early to practice their music, and greeters welcome new and regular faces. With all the energy that goes into planning these services, staff and volunteers and pastors may feel tired and over-extended.

Here at CBM, we wish to provide a reprieve from this planning and effort while also inviting Canadian churches to stand in solidarity with the church in the global South. Solidarity is more than vague pity or compassion. It is a determined commitment to demonstrate the love of God and act for the good of others.

CBM is happy to share that we will be providing another pre-recorded service and inviting churches across Canada to participate on the Sunday following Easter, April 24th. This Solidarity Sunday service is a call for us to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and continues to disproportionally affect people living in poverty in the global South. You will hear updates and prayer requests from our global partners, and we will pray for those in need around the world.

There are multiple ways for your church to participate. You may choose to utilize the entire recorded service including worship, updates from the field, teaching, and prayer. Alternatively, you may use only the recorded sermon or field updates and take time to pray as a congregation. Whichever works best in your context, as Christ’s body, the Church, please join us in prayer and in solidarity with the world’s vulnerable.

All resources will be available to download on on Friday, April 8th.

For any questions regarding the service, please contact Canadian Partnerships Director Adrian Gardner at

 Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

Note from Dennis | New Staff | Retreat Recap

Coming to Peace with Our Pain

6-part Lenten Webinar Series

Aging into your senior years is a privilege, but with this privilege comes an entire set of new challenges that can be daunting. There comes a time when it seems all conversations with friends start to revolve around health and lingering emotional hurts.

Rev. Steve Pike, a pastor for over forty-plus years and CHAT Canada affiliate, has observed that there are two types of people when it comes to dealing with pain. The first are those who become bitter and moan endlessly about their woes; they end up leaving behind a legacy of anger and complaints. 

The second is a person who emanates gratefulness, who has a sense of humour even though their physical health is failing, who keep smiling even though they have endured significant emotional trauma.

When Steve was hit with a new reality of chronic pain from a severe back issue, he started exploring deeper what the Bible says about pain, and studying people who have endured different types of pain. Steve wanted to be like the second type of person. He wanted to learn how to come to peace with his chronic pain and not let it control his life and his attitude.

These reflections have turned into a webinar which Steve, along with Faye Reynolds, is running through CHAT Canada during this season of Lent. Coming to Peace with Our Pain (6-part Lenten Webinar Series), will start on Mar 7th and run weekly until the end of Lent. The description of the webinar is as follows:

Everyone experiences pain to a greater or lesser degree, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. When we are first confronted with some new and acute pain, we naturally fight it any way we can. But is there any redeeming quality in pain? When it becomes chronic, how are we to come to peace with it—or should we? God’s Word has much to say about the subject. It also gives voice for us to express our struggles. The answers to our questions and deep longings may be entirely different from what we expect, or from what society or other believers urge upon us. We can learn from many others who have struggled with the same questions, doubts, and fears. Sharing our stories and learning to walk with others in their pain can bring a measure of acceptance and meaning to our lives so that we eventually come to peace with our own pain. Our hope is that this interactive webinar will become an important part of your journey. It is also a Lenten journey.

Jesus’ passion, His acute suffering—beginning with mental and spiritual and culminating in extreme physical suffering—is a path on which He invites us to join Him when He says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NLT)

Lent is a season of reflection, repentance, and self-denial, leading to the glorious realization of the Resurrection. “For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrew 12:2, NIV)

The One-Hour sessions include:

I. Introduction: Expectations, Theme & Motto (Mar. 7)

II. Faith in the Dark: Job & Jeremiah (Mar. 14)

III. Hope for the Future: Crowning Glory, Eternal Inheritance (Mar. 21)

IV. Gratitude leading to Service: Paul, Peter, James (Mar. 28)

V. Training for Service: Jacob & Joseph (Apr. 4.)

VI. Brokenness: For the Sake Of Others – Following Christ In Suffering and Joy (Apr. 11)

To register, click HERE

Stay in the Story – Church Planting Update

By Rev Shannon Youell

“Stay in the Story”—I heard this phrase a while ago from a guest on a podcast. He was referring to our need, as Christ’s ambassadors who join God in His work, to continually put ourselves back into the larger Story. We must not lose sight of the Big Story of God in the midst of life’s challenges and joys inherent in being humans together.  

It is no coincidence that a story reminding us of the goodness of God in the land of the living can shift our focus from discouragement and weariness back to our raison d’être.

When we tell one another stories, placing each other back into the Big Story of God and humans, we see evidence of God at work all along. Join us as we “Stay in the Story” in this update of God’s work in a few of our newer communities.   

Makarios Evangelical Church – New Westminster, BC

This gathering continues to grow deeper and wider. In the final months of 2021, Makarios welcomed new arrivals from Hong Kong who are relocating to Canada. This is a growing part of their ministry, partnering with ministries in Hong Kong to help newcomers settle into churches and communities here.  

Along with new families comes an increase in children and youth. And along with the recent hire of a part-time English Ministry pastor for the college students ministered to at Douglas College, Makarios will be looking to hire a part-time children’s worker this coming summer. It is with great thanks to CBWC and our churches who support new works that they continue to grow and extend the Good News Story all around them, with a special shout-out to the hospitality shown by Olivet Baptist Church! 

Emmanuel Iranian Church – North Vancouver & Coquitlam BC 

EIC continues to grow despite COVID restrictions. Their main campus is undergoing renovations, and there is a great need for more leaders and for an English-speaking youth worker. Limited finances and health issues are challenges for both pastors. They have rotating services to accommodate both space and health restrictions, but this framework increases the workload for the leaders. In January, 67 new believers were baptized. This brings baptisms up to well over 400 since the fall of 2018!  

They have also recently begun planting a new community in Burnaby out of CBWC’s Royal Oak Ministry Centre. God’s Good Story is compelling for those coming from a Muslim background, whose religion can feel like an oppressive authority. I have had several new believers express to me the great joy they have found in Jesus, and the liberty and grace of being able to explore and express their journey as disciples without fear. 

Please continue to pray for provision for this community, church, pastors and leaders as they continue to boldly and plainly proclaim that Jesus is God. 

Hope Christian Church of Calgary 

In the past you’ve been invited to join us in praying for, and supporting, Hope Christian Church of Calgary, a small Arabic-speaking congregation. Our current situation is that planter and Pastor Mouner Alajji stepped aside last July, sensing a call to the Arabic-speaking mission field in Europe. One of the leaders in the church told me that Mouner was the best pastor he has ever had, and how missed he will be! Sadly, Mouner has also been undergoing serious health complications and is unable to continue currently in the mission work as he undergoes treatment in Calgary. Please remember to pray for Mouner and his family during this time. 

The church has been wrestling with the departure of their pastor, and have really struggled with the COVID restrictions and how they would continue forward. The board of the church prayerfully discerned that they would shift their focus to a home church led by one of the gospel teachers in the congregation, and to officially close the Hope Christian Church of Calgary location.  

While some might see this as a failed church plant, it is most definitely as successful gospel plant. The congregation continues to speak God’s Good News into their lives and into the lives of those they interact with in their places and spaces. What is a church plant after all? It is a gathering of believers who are communicators of God’s justice, love, grace, mercy, salvation, and hope, alive and active in the broken places in our lives and in our world.  

As Gospel Planters in general are seeing movement of the Spirit in micro-churches as an avenue to engage people with God’s Good News, we continue to pray for this home church (one expression of micro-church) in joining God on His mission right where they find themselves. 

Other Gospel Planting Work 

I love how, out of our deepest doubt and questions, God shows up! Well into the pandemic, a lot of conversations were going around the catalyst conversation table: How do new plants happen now? How will new church communities, committed to evangelism, survive? But, surprise! God is still at work and His Spirit is still inviting His people to join Him.  

Not only have several new works actually thrive in various ways, but new gatherings have happened! CBWC Church Planting is working with a new planting in Kelowna, a new Burnaby plant currently in the discernment process, as well as a handful of already-existing church communities looking to become family with CBWC. We will keep you updated as these new works progress!  

You are invited to join too! Please continue in prayer for our existing and future plantings, lifting up the leaders and the congregations that courageously press forward with the Good News of God’s kingdom in our troubling times. They are committed to telling the Story by intersecting the stories of seekers with God’s Good News.   

For that matter, remember to pray for all our churches—each and every one devoted to being salt and light in our communities across Western Canada! 

Want to know how you can be a part of the Story with these and other new communities? Contact us to discover how you can join in: 

Yay for Summer Camp!

After two years of uncertainty, it’s looking very positive for camp season to be able to function close to normal this summer. Many camps are open and taking registrations––and filling up fast! Camp has always been an impactful ministry for kids. Not only do campers form life-long friendships with peers, but they are exposed to the Gospel in a way that many of them have never experienced before. We highly encourage churches to support and promote their local camps. If you have no camp age children to send, then consider volunteering, donating or reaching out to see what practical needs they have. It’s been a challenging two years for our camps, and we are very excited to see them running full summer programs once again!

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections February 2022

Kurios Fundraiser

Foundations: Building on Christ

Kurios exists to enable young adults to build their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

February 2022 is our month long fundraising campaign. Throughout the month we will email stories of how God is at work in our community, and invite you to partner with us financially as we seek to raise $85,000 to meet our budget. 

For more information about donating, please visit

Laurel and Jack Fitzsimmons – A Pandemic Love Story

By Jenna Hanger

Fifty years after they first met, Jack and Laurel Fitzsimmons’ whirlwind, social-distanced romance is a moving testimony of God’s care and love for the most intimate parts of our lives.

Jack and Laurel first met as classmates in the BLTS class of 1969. While they were friendly, there was no hint of a romance between them. At the time, Laurel had just met Jim Dixon, the man who would become her husband for 46 years. He was part of a young adult’s group in a church next door to BLTS and would often organize events for the two groups. Laurel and Jim dated for four years before they married. They lived in Calgary, where they both were from, and had one daughter together.

A few years later, while driving the bus for other BLTS groups, Jack met his first wife, Ivy Stark. They were married for 43 years and had three children and five grandchildren. They moved around a bit before settling in Medicine Hat. After Ivy passed away, Jack relocated to Yorkton, SK, to be close family.

Jack and Laurel had virtually zero interactions for the next fifty years. Their first contact came out of the blue––a friend of Laurel’s found an old hymn book she recognized belonging to Jack’s mom. She contacted Laurel to see if she knew how to reach him to return it. Laurel, who was good friends with Jack’s cousin, got his contact info and messaged him on Facebook. They chatted for a little, but it wasn’t until a year after Jim passed away, in January 2020, that they truly connected again. Jack saw a Facebook post Laurel had written on the anniversary of Jim’s passing. He reached out to give his condolences and to let her know he understood what she was going through.

Shortly after that, Laurel received an invitation to attend a BLTS reunion. She thought it would be fun to reconnect with classmates and sent Jack the invitation as well. Jack planned on attending and asked Laurel if she would be interested in going for coffee when he came. Laurel had no thoughts of a relationship and assumed he meant he wanted to get a few classmates together.

After the BLTS reunion was cancelled because of COVID, Jack said he would still come to Calgary since he had a hotel booked, and perhaps they could go for dinner. Laurel finally caught on to his interest. Having not dated for 50 years, it took her a moment to see it, but when Calgary locked down hard, their plans were put on hold.

Both of them were living alone, unable to have friends or family over.

“It was lonely. Everybody was in the same boat, but it was really hard,” Laurel said. “We started talking more and more. Jack and I had been chatting on Messenger. I said to him one evening, ‘Do you know how to use Facetime on this thing?’ and he called me right then.”

“I had it all set up,” Jack quipped.

After they started talking on video, things blossomed fairly quickly.

“We spent hours, literally, talking to each other on Facetime. We essentially had nothing else to do,” Laurel laughed.

One evening, after Laurel took part in a grief program that had moved onto Zoom during the lockdown, she was feeling quite low. She was Facetiming Jack and shared how she was struggling. She asked him to pray for her. Jack began praying right then and as he was, Laurel heard a voice in her head say, “This man is for you.”

Laurel was shocked, certain the Lord just spoke to her. She really hadn’t been thinking relationship at this point, more companionship. Earlier that year, when she had been really struggling––unsure what her next steps were, overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to move and sell her house and being alone––her friends asked if she would consider dating again.

“I said no! I’m not interested in anything like that. If God wants me to have a man, He is going to have to bring him and put him right in my lap. Which He basically did, because I’m on my iPad with this man on the screen on my lap, and God’s saying, ‘This man is for you.’”

Jack, for his part, was already thinking Laurel was the answer to his prayers. A few months before they started talking, Jack had gotten on his knees to pray. He had tried a few Christian dating sites but hadn’t found anyone who shared his same values and beliefs.

“I said, Lord, this isn’t working. If you want me to be single the rest of my life, so be it. I’m okay with that, and that’s where I left it. That was in November. In January we started talking,” Jack said.

After that night, things got more serious. By April, they were eager to meet in person. There was a sense that their relationship was heading for the next level, and Laurel did not want to be proposed to over Facetime.

“We decided if we quarantined ourselves for two weeks––which wasn’t a big stretch, because we were isolated already––we figured we could get together without killing each other,” Laurel said.

Jack arrived in Calgary on May 1st with a ring in his pocket. They spent the day talking, and he ended up proposing. By May 9th, they were married at Crescent Heights Baptist Church with just the pastor and two witnesses––a work friend of Laurel’s and her photographer husband, who agreed to take their picture.

Jack moved to Calgary and became a member of Crescent Heights Baptist. They celebrated their first anniversary by moving into a new condo together.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Laurel shared. “It definitely was God’s plan. We have no question about that. We’ve had amazing experiences since we got married.”

Now, they spend a lot of time with their “bubble friends”—a couple who also lost their spouses of 40+ years and are newlyweds. The support they have in their group has been incredible and encouraging, as they all still process their own grief in the midst of their newfound happiness.

“The loss of someone like that doesn’t go away, even if you find happiness with someone else—you are still grieving the loss of your spouse,” Laurel said.

She added that it’s been a lot of fun, being a newlywed again with that friend group. They are all going through the same things.

“The kids get a huge kick out of it, all of them,” she laughed.

Partner Spotlight: CBWC Foundation

A Season for Serving

We begin 2022 at the Foundation with an air of hopefulness and optimism. Yes , the pandemic is still disrupting all of our lives. And yes, it does not seem that will change any time soon. But even with that reality, the Foundation is looking forward to a fresh season of service to the CBWC family of churches.

The first hopeful development is the renewed relationship between the CBWC Board and the Foundation Board. This past season of corporate restructuring, a new alignment of purpose, and a fresh strategic plan have brought a strong sense of team and a breath of fresh air.

Next, is the potential return of the Church Deposit Program, a popular ministry to churches and individuals which ended abruptly in 2019 due to regulatory changes with the Alberta Securities Commission. Today, we are researching viable options to rebuild the program and are engaging legal counsel to create the required framework.

Just in time! We are currently in discussions with several borrowers, requiring upwards of $6M to support redevelopment projects, infrastructure and ministry expansion plans and will rely on new investors to help meet these capital needs. In 2021, we funded two CBWC churches for strategic acquisition of adjacent property for future expansion. We applaud their vision and pray with them on how the Lord will lead each congregation in the coming years.

It’s a busy time at the Foundation, filled with intention and imagination of a future filled with hope and anticipation. Pray for us to have courage, discernment, vision and energy in this new season.

 BCY Regional Newsletter

Note from Larry Schram – “Clarity, Please”

Jodi Spargur – A Resource for Churches

By Jenna Hanger

Jodi Spargur has been a pastor for 27 years and is the founder of Red Clover—Healing at the Wounding Place. This faith-rooted movement works to bring reconciliation between churches and Indigenous Peoples.

Her convictions about how to be a church and how to be a pastor have always been tied to caring for those most marginalized in the community. She strongly believes the church should be a benefit to our neighbours as much as it’s a benefit to those within our walls.

It was these beliefs that eventually led Jodi into her current work of educating churches about local Indigenous issues, and moving those churches to action in their local communities.

Born in the USA, Jodi spent her early years attending an American Baptist church in Vermont, before moving to Canada to attend Regent College. After looking around for a home church, she found herself drawn to Kitsilano Christian Community Church (aka, “Kits”)—mostly because of their welcoming attitude and acceptance of people from all walks of life. She soon became a lay preacher and sought out ordination in CBWC through Kits.

After 11 years with Kits, in 2009, Jodi became the pastor of a church plant in downtown Vancouver called God’s House of Many Faces. It was formed largely around First Nations families. This was a powerful, life-changing time for Jodi as she began to understand first-hand the reality of systematic racism and the impacts that colonization has had on Indigenous Peoples.

During this time, Jodi was invited to work with the Ecumenical Advocates for Reconciliation as a CBWC rep. This was a group convened by survivors of residential schools. They had a vision of doing local work that brought together faith leaders and residential school survivors to ensure that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations would be worked out on the ground. This work shaped the model that Jodi uses now in her work. The idea that the church absolutely has a role to play in the healing process, but first needs to understand it was a site of wounding, is foundational for Healing at the Wounding Place’s work.

After the TRC closed, Jodi had a conversation with one of the leaders, Chief Robert Joseph, who expressed concern that churches’ interest in the work of reconciliation seemed to be fading, even as it was being embraced by other pockets of society. He said that “if the people who pray aren’t engaged in the process, then reconciliation has no hope.” He then asked if Jodi would work to help people who pray stay in the conversation.

After asking her church to help her discern the next steps, it was decided that God’s House of Many Faces would join Strathcona Vineyard, freeing Jodi up to fully pursue this new calling. She now leads the Red Clover Initiatives, whose main purpose is to create Indigenous-led, local actions for healing and justice. Part of her work is serving as a consultant to churches to help them figure out strategies of engagement. She also offers conferences that connect churches with local Indigenous folks and the things they identify as needs. Jodi is also available to come preach, about Indigenous issues, or justice and mercy issues in general.

If you would like more information on how to get involved, or have any questions check out the Red Clover website here, or contact Jodi at

Toward Indigenous Reconciliation

Rev. Bill Christieson

Our churches have the responsibility to equip our members to faithfully confront the devastating relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Our eyes and hearts are being opened to the concealed colonial history of the oppression and marginalization of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and communities. The 2021 discoveries of the graves of children at Indian Residential School sites has catalyzed a movement toward truth and reconciliation that is long overdue. In a movement toward reconciliation, a group at Westview Baptist Church in Calgary gathered this fall to engage Canadian history, develop a biblical perspective of justice and begin to create an imagination for moving forward.

Among the Calls to Action created by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is a call for churches to educate their congregations with respect to colonization and the oppression of Indigenous peoples (Call #59). While not directly involved in the operation of residential schools, CBWC churches have a role to play in acknowledging the complicity of Christian churches, confronting the legacy of oppressive systems, humbly offering remorse and apology, and committing to the re-flourishing of Indigenous people and communities.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada is an issue of Biblical justice. Chris Marshall’s The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible’s Teachings on Justice gives an excellent framework. In a nutshell, justice is at the heart of who God is and who He calls His people to be. “Biblical justice touches on every aspect of life—the personal and the social, the public and the private, the political and the religious, the human and the nonhuman” (p. 10). In pursuit of the ‘right-ordering’ of the universe, Canadian Christians cannot neglect the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We witness to the reconciliation power of Jesus when we embody reconciliation with our neighbours.

Recognizing the daunting aspiration of reconciliation, the Westview cohort focussed on addressing their own social location within the movement. In their book Decolonizing Evangelicalism, Randy Woodley and Bo Sanders emphasize that non-Indigenous churches must take responsibility for their own (re)education—what they call anti-colonization. The group focussed on understanding their own history, preconceptions, misconceptions, biases and fears. They wanted to do the work that would prepare them to engage Indigenous folks with humility and respect.

To this end, the Westview cohort confronted the reality of racism in Canada, in general, recognizing how the historically dominant, white-European culture has a significant negative impact on all immigrant communities. In particular, these historic perspectives established a polarity between the advanced white-European colonial government of Canada and the primitive “savage Indians.” In the pursuit of colonial expansion, the Indigenous Peoples were seen as a problem to overcome. Under the guise of mutually beneficial treaties, the Canadian government systematically subjugated Indigenous Peoples and worked to eliminate their culture. The Truth and Reconciliation reports state that the efforts of the Canadian government, by any standard, amounted to cultural genocide. The Westview group took the time to try and understand the impact that oppression, generational trauma and government neglect has had—and continues to have—on Indigenous Peoples. And the Westview group worked to create an imagination for what a mutually beneficial and flourishing future might look like. The history is heavy, but our hope points the church toward a future marked by reconciliation.

Hope has been the product of the Westview group’s engagement this fall. The group has developed an appreciation for an Indigenous spirit oriented around relationship—with one another and with the land. An essential principle for the Southern Alberta Treaty 7 region is “We are all Treaty people.” The spirit and intent of treaties was to create a mutually beneficial relationship between Indigenous Peoples and settlers. Recovering this spirit and intent, we would be equipped to move into the future together. Likewise, the Indigenous relationship to the land is a model for sustainability and mutual benefit. Indigenous Peoples recognize they are intimately connected to—related to—creation. What happens to creation always has a significant impact on people and communities. As those who have been called by God to steward creation, we ought to resonate deeply with this perspective. When we move from seeing creation as merely a commodity, toward embracing our relationship to creation, we foster the motivation to act with discernment. The church has the opportunity to come alongside our Indigenous neighbours, begin to make reparations for the harm they have experienced and imagine together a future of mutual flourishing for all.

The Westview Baptist Church group has taken a first step. It is a first step that is accessible to other church groups. Support and equip those in your CBWC congregation who can champion and facilitate a learning cohort. Begin by learning the history of your region. Who were the original inhabitants of the land where your church is located? Learn about their enduring communities. Be interested in the lives of your neighbours. Be sure to listen to the history according to Indigenous Peoples. There are many stark contrasts to the lessons many of us learned in history class.

  • The CBWC Justice and Mercy Network can direct you toward resources and support church groups. Connect with JMN here:
  • Jodi Spargur helps JMN and CBWC foster attentiveness to issues and initiatives related to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Through Healing at the Wounding Place, Jodi is developing resources, services and events to equip churches to engage relationships well. Connect with Jodi here:
  • The Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada have created a free course: Walking in a Good Way with Our Indigenous Neighbours. This course engages Indigenous voices and gives a good overview of history. The course is available here:
  • The University of Alberta offers a free online Indigenous history course. “From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.” The course is available here:
  • Finally, Common Word Bookstore and Resource Centre curates an extensive list of resources on Indigenous-settler relations. Many of the resources are free. Access these resources here:

We acknowledge Westview Baptist Church is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Piikani and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Stoney-Nakoda peoples (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley First Nations). This is also home of Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. As residents of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, we ought to seek to live, work and play in ways that honour and respect the spirit of the treaty and the lives of our Indigenous neighbours.

Planting the Gospel

By Shannon Youell

 At the recent Church Planting Canada Congress, Missiologist Alan Hirsch spoke this word to planters and catalysts across the country: “Plant the Gospel, not churches.”  

You may be wondering, “Aren’t they the same thing?” Not necessarily. At CBWC Church Planting, we’ve long advocated that church planting is the making of disciples who make disciples. From that increase of disciples comes new communities of gathering: churches. Jesus sent us to make disciples; He didn’t say “Go and make churches of all people.” Churches are a result of disciple making. Maybe this seems like a bit of a chicken-or-egg conversation. Does it really matter which came first? 

We think it does.  

It all comes down to fruit. Which is the intended fruit of the Gospel? An organization, or the disciple who is committed to the work of the Spirit in transforming them to reflect God’s love and character into the world and make more disciples? This is the outworking of discipleship. Thus, the clarification from Hirsch, “Plant the Gospel, not churches.”  

Measuring by this metric also shapes the dynamic of how we view success and failure. If the Church, beyond the period of the Epistles and Letters, were to view success and failure the same way we do now, mass discouragement would have probably wiped out the establishing of new faith communities. Paul and others planted churches in communities throughout the diaspora that are no longer in place. Does that mean those planters, those churches, failed? 

What if instead we would ask, “Where do we see ongoing evidence of the Gospel planted in Ephesus, in Europe, in my city?” We could point out evidence of the Story of God and His people, of Jesus as the Son of God who ushered in God’s kingdom dynamic, of people pursuing lives as God’s image bearers and ambassadors, as being still active and present. Thus, the Gospel was successfully planted. Even if the number of believers in a specific location have diminished, they are the fruit of the seed long-ago planted, nurtured and going through life cycles.  

How we measure, or by what metric we use to deem success or failure, will vary greatly on what we determine the goal is. If the evidence of a successful church plant is ownership of a building, the number of folks engaged with the ministry of that church, and financial stability, then it is a natural progression to see the decline of people, funds and ability to hold on to a building as a “failed” church plant. 

But if the metric is planting the Gospel, then a plant dying to the ground and scattering seeds with the Gospel DNA embedded would still be success. People came to faith in Christ, grew and flourished in a particular community and then scattered to plant Gospel wherever they find themselves. Thus, the church plant is a successful Gospel Plant! 

In our world today, and even in our own church communities, we are experiencing a decline in church attendance, and some churches have just aged out. But does that make them failures? Can we celebrate what has been planted and scattered, even if the particular location of gathering is no longer on the geographical map? 

Isaiah’s beautiful recounting of God’s words in chapter 55 reminds us of the invitation for people to come to the well of God’s goodness. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

A no-longer-gathering worship location does not return void. There is seed that has been and is still being scattered. It has accomplished far more than we understand with our human limitations. Perhaps we see closed churches as fails because we have been planting churches—when we were meant all along to plant seeds of the Gospel in our gathering and our scattering. Perhaps we view this as just a nuance of the same thing, but what if it isn’t? 

Can we ask ourselves these, and questions like them, without feeling like we’ve somehow failed? I don’t think we have failed. I think we may need to simply, in a variety of ways, realign ourselves with the reality that any planting at all is “…for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.” 

Life Together | Assembly 2022

Theme Verse:Ephesian 1:17-19a
Date: May 26-28, 2022
Location: Best Western Premier Calgary Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre, Calgary AB
Registration: Online Registration opens February 1, 2022

The purpose of assembly is two-fold:  To foster deeper and meaningful connection with other affiliated churches and people of the CBWC, and to do the business of the CBWC. After a long season of gathering restrictions, we look forward with hope to being able to meet in-person to encourage one another in our life together!

Decisions on policy, new church affiliation, board member elections, and budgets are made at assemblies made up of delegates from our churches. The CBWC Volunteer Board of elected representatives bring to these meetings the motions to be discussed and voted on. The decisions made at Assembly then guide the staff and board in the implementation. In addition to doing the business of CBWC, we look forward to learning together with our keynote speaker Dr. Gordon Smith, participating in amazing worship, engaging with resources and in conversations, and exploring vendor booths of various ministries associated with CBWC.

Every church may send one (1) pastor and two (2) delegates to vote, plus one delegate for every 50 members above 100 members. All CBWC members and visitors are welcome as non-voting guests. For a legal quorum we need 35 churches represented with 100 delegates present. 

 We look forward to welcoming you!

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Heartland Regional Newsletter January 2022

Trusting God as We Look Ahead

By Mark Doerksen

We’ve just come through the Christmas season, a season that has a lot of spiritual significance, but also a lot of cultural significance. A book that I have returned to on occasion when considering Christmas is Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, as he examines the cultural realities of that time in history in that geography, and in so doing, exposes some current Christmas practices as less than accurate or ideal.

Bailey’s approach reminds me a little of someone I’ve discovered lately, a fellow by the name of Michael Heiser. He’s not for everyone, but I find his detailed study of the Scriptures to be quite interesting and thorough. He’s also been a contributor to the Bible Project, and the small group I am a part of are enjoying those resources. Heiser is quite interested in parts of the Bible that perhaps are not as well travelled as others; he covers themes like the heavenly council, Genesis 6, and Revelation. He works to remind Christians of the supernatural worldview of the Bible.

I am writing about Heiser because, as we begin a new year, I think about the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, and specifically the book of Job—complete with its reference to the heavenly court in Job 1. It’s a fascinating passage to me, as the Accuser is allowed to come and interrupt the meeting of the heavenly court and suggest that the moral equation of the day was skewed; Job only followed God because he was prosperous. That equation needed testing, according to the Accuser, and twice an agreement is reached between the Accuser and the Lord to press the issue concerning Job. The Accuser says things like, “Take away the hedge, and Job’s blessing will turn to cursing. Job is put through unimaginable pain and loss as the Accuser animates the testing against him.

The Accuser turned out to be wrong. The end of chapter 1 tells us that Job did not turn to blame God for his misfortune. In chapter 2 we see another response from Job as he says, “Should we only accept good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Turns out that Job trusted in God no matter the circumstances in life, no matter how difficult the testing he had to endure.

As we look ahead to 2022, we look forward with anticipation to the new year. There are delightful opportunities and experiences waiting for us, as individuals and families, within our workplaces and as churches. Yet there might also be experiences that will be serious enough to shake us to the core; job loss, a serious diagnosis, a shattered relationship. Is your faith ready for those times of adversity? Is mine? Can we, like Job, manage to trust God even when it feels like the adversity is too much, and that all that we have known unravels before us?

I hope so. I hope that our faith is rooted deeply enough that we can withstand the good and the bad, times of difficulty, times of excitement. And I hope that our churches, families, and friends, can be present with us in all that life brings as well. Most of all, may you sense God’s presence in all of life in this upcoming year.

Gratefully & hopefully,

Mark Doerksen

Scott Elger, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Moose Jaw, SK

I am finding this “bio” very difficult to write. My wife, Elsie, and I have been fellowshipping with First Baptist Church for five years. I served 8 years at Riverside Mission, an emergency men’s shelter and soup kitchen here in Moose Jaw, SK. I enjoyed my time with this ministry and could see how the Lord was working in my life as He taught me to serve others. After two years at FBC, I was asked to consider becoming the pastor.

Due to a change in direction and management at the Mission, my position was coming to an end. First Baptist’s invitation was the realization of a life-long desire and I accepted. I started on January 1, 2019. Needless to say, much of my service to First Baptist Church has been under COVID conditions. I had never been a pastor before and ponder at times what I might have to offer as a pastor. The following are some examples of how the Lord has been working in my life to equip me for His service.

In the fall of 1970, shortly before my 14th birthday, my brothers and I were placed in a children’s home run by a local Christian Church. Though some have passed away, I maintain a relationship with many of the staff to this day. For 51 years, I have not known what it is like not to be loved, not to be prayed for, not to be encouraged and not to be included. I have had a very clear example of Christian discipleship lived out before me.

In the fall of 2007, Elsie and I moved to Caronport, SK so that I might attend the seminary. Through my studies and interactions with other students I learned to hear and respect the positions of those who understood differently than I did. I also learned the value of intense study of the Word so that I might come to the clearest understanding of God’s Word that I can.

My experience at Riverside Mission taught me to serve without judgement, to love the people as they come to us and to give of myself without knowing what the return might be. My experience also taught me to be patient with people and to wait upon the Lord in prayer. Many a time we rejoiced at seeing how the Lord answered our prayers.

My service as pastor is simply living out what the Lord has taught me throughout my life. I strive to study well, that I may faithfully teach the Word of God. I aim to partake in an atmosphere of love and acceptance where all of us feel safe and included, where we can experience the Father’s love for us. I want people to experience what I experienced from my time in the children’s home, to know that they are always loved, prayed for, included and encouraged. This is not brought about just by me as pastor, but by each of us in our fellowship. My job is to continue modelling and encouraging it.

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:

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter December 2021

A Better Take on “Remember Me”

It was my privilege to share a devotional at the Banff Ministers and Spouses Conference this year. Many of you were not there, so I’ll share an emphasis I have thought about since.

Nehemiah’s time in Jerusalem did not seem to end well. In Chapter 13 of his book, we see him beating people up and literally pulling out people’s hair. All of this ends with the prayer:

“Remember me with favor, my God” (NIV), which could well be a statement like “I tried my best” (and you do not have to agree with that assessment). It is the last words from the Old Testament, chronologically speaking, until after the 400 silent years end. The people were settled back in Jerusalem, but there was no evidence of glory for the newly-rebuilt temple, and there was lots of intermarriage which gave a complicated social setting for rebuilding ministry in Jerusalem. At Banff, I shared my opinion that a spirit of anti-climax may well have settled over the people of Judah for those 400 years.

Then there are the events of the coming of John the Baptist and of Jesus Himself, which brings us into the coming season of Advent. It seems to me that one could say that the church age ends at the Last Supper with the institution of what we call the Lord’s Supper; a new ceremony for the Church which seems to begin with a different turn on the phrase, ‘Remember me’.

I am not getting into much eschatology here, but this turns my mind toward what will be the end of the church age. Revealing my cards here, I think Jesus could return at any moment, in any fashion He chooses. I am imagining—and this may not be how it happens—but I perceive the possibility of the trumpet blast, then Jesus descending as He said, then Him saying, “Hey, remember Me?”

Without question, I have certainly taken liberties here, but it is a progressing thought traveling through my brain at the moment. To top this off, one might watch the Casting Crowns music video on Youtube of ‘Only Jesus’. The legacy for our work is to have people remember Jesus. Let’s take our rightful place and honour Him to that end.

Your co-worker, Dennis

Ministry Opportunities within the CBWC

Please refer to our Careers section on our website for more detailed information for these positions:

· Youth & Young Adults Pastor – Trinity Baptist Church, Sherwood Park
· Pastor – Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria, BC
· Pastor – Longview Bible Fellowship, Longview, AB
· Solo Pastor – Sonrise Community Baptist Church, Calgary, AB
· Solo Pastor – Faith Community Baptist Church, Souris, MB
· Minister of Music – First Baptist Church, Regina, SK
· Senior Pastor – Thompson First Baptist Church, Thompson, MB
· Associate Pastor – Clive Baptist Church, Clive, AB
· Children’s Ministry Coordinator – Olivet Baptist Church, New Westminster, BC
· Associate Pastor for Youth & Young Adults – First Baptist Church, Peace River, AB
· Lead Pastor – Willowlake Baptist Church, Winnipeg, MB
· Youth & Young Adults Associate Pastor – Westhill Park Baptist Church, Regina, SK
· Solo Pastor – Webster Community Church, Sexsmith, AB
· Pastoral Staff (Cantonese speaking) – Westside Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC
· Pastoral Staff (English speaking) – Westside Baptist Church, Vancouver, BC
· Young Life Associate & Church Youth Worker – Young Life/West Vancouver Baptist, Vancouver, BC


Aaron Hanson Ordination Oct 17

CBWC Exec Staff Retreat

Southern AB Cluster Fall 2021

Edmonton Cluster Fall 2021

Found chasing the MSR vehicle

Jeremy Bell crashes Exec Staff meeting

Two captions give visual metaphors for the season of ministry we find ourselves in as we struggle through Covid restrictions and the changing environment of ministry at this time:

– A dark tunnel wondering what is at the end.
– Driving into the fog bank.

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:

Making Connections July 2021

A Journey to Healing & Understanding

By Michelle Casavant

I raise my hands in honour of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc, Cowessess First Nation, and the many more Nations that will continue to uncover the remains of innocent children in unmarked and mass graves.

The determination to find the children that Canada left lost and unaccounted for. The strength to share this tragic news with our country, and the world.

The grace to witness an international response of surprise and shock to the realities that Indigenous communities have been recounting and living with the devastation of for too many years.

In 2016, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report acknowledged the tragic experiences suffered by children who were forced to attend our country’s Indian Residential Schools between 1831 and 1996, speaking to the likelihood of mass, unmarked graves at the sites. On May 27, 2021, the small bodies of 215 of those missing children were found, buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School. Every week, more have been found, and with the astonishing numbers, like at Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. More will be found… with determination, strength, and grace.

These horrific discoveries, in their indisputable physicality, have finally triggered long overdue action to commence the work it will take to address the myriad of intangible forces that have suffocated so many Indigenous people. In a morbid, yet necessary, offering of reconciliation, some engineering firms across Canada are providing their ground-penetrating technology, pro bono, to help First Nations locate and recover the ones who are still missing.

It has reignited outrage and cries for justice.

We knew these little ones were missing.

They were never forgotten.

For me, right now, the intersectionalities of the identities that I was born into—and have walked into—are breaking. My heart, soul, mind and body ache in ways I haven’t known before.

I am a Cree Métis woman. I was raised in rural Saskatchewan; however, my Métis grandmother completely denied our Indigeneity. Withdrawing from ceremonies to evade racism, my ancestors may have feared their children would also be taken. They felt it necessary to deny their history in an attempt to protect their future—and succumbed to the colonizer. When discoveries are made near my home, it hurts even more deeply.

I am a mother. It shatters me to imagine what it was like for the mothers, grandmothers, and communities to witness Indian Agents and RCMP destroy families. Children stolen. It overwhelms me to think of small, rural towns without children laughing and playing. It devastates me to consider the mothers of the missing and murdered being lied to, dismissively informed that their children had simply ran away from school. As if that could be enough for any mother. Subsequently, countless families have been searching for these lost souls for decades. The heartache I have for these generations that were lost…for the knowledge keepers, mothers, fathers, siblings, that were callously denied their life’s purpose.

I am a lawyer with the Government of Canada. For six years, on behalf of Canada, I witnessed the confidential, individual hearings with the Survivors of Canada’s Indian Residential School system. The Survivors bravely attended, forced to describe frightening experiences in exchange for a financial ‘compensation’, calculated via an objective spreadsheet that will never make anything equal. The trajectories of so many lives diverted and devastated and perpetuated through generational trauma. Almost ten years later, the memories of those hearings continue to occupy my thoughts.

I am a Christian. I cannot reconcile the actions that were committed in the name of Jesus. I want to scream from the rooftops that this is not Christianity. Jesus is calling those little ones to Him now, “Come to Me. You belong in the kingdom of heaven, all ye who are hurting, and I will give you rest.” Christ is the one that is bringing me peace during this time of deep sorrow and grief. Yet some of those who suffered these great injustices do not know His peace because they were violated by those who held positions of power in the church.

I am a Christian Indigenous person. I know Creator is the one true God. My current struggle is that despite requests, precedents and reasoning, the leaders of my home church will not incorporate an acknowledgement of the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory that the church is located on into our practices. Simultaneously, there are Indigenous communities in Canada that don’t have access to clean drinking water, and yet, our churches are sending enormous amounts of money to remote countries. I’m hurt and confused by the perceived hypocrisy of my church’s resistance to engagement with acts of reconciliation.

I am human. I am heartbroken by the reality of adults, in a faith-based position of trust, systematically harming vulnerable children. I am confused by the reality that virtually no one has been held accountable for these crimes. Trusting children—instruments of pure love—led into physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural abuse. These are crimes against humanity that have gone unpunished. If these found remains were of Caucasian descent, the culprits would have been held to account.

These days, my sorrow changes as it unfolds. I am working to be present to the feelings, so that I can heal. I do not want to be resilient anymore; I am fatigued, I am weary and I am weak. Yet, I know that I need to heal so my children can have a better life. As communities, we need to heal so our offspring will have better lives. As each of these discoveries is unearthed, the open, gaping wound in my soul is covered with salt again.

I know that Jesus can and will restore all things…with determination, strength, and grace.

All my relations.

-Michelle Casavant

If you would like to contact Michelle, she would be happy to hear from you at 

Honouring Our Responsibilities

By Jodi Spargur

Memorials have popped up all over the country. Flags fly at half mast, our attention captured we don an orange t-shirt or an Every Child Matters frame on our profile photo, we try to find the words to pray for the 215 children now 751 now… What now? 

Let your heart feel this hurt in the hopes that we might find the strength for change. “Listen hard to the stories you are told (by Indigenous Peoples) so that your heart can begin to be changed. Without a changed heart you have no capacity for changed action.” Dr. Ray Aldred

Dr. Cheryl Bear and Brian Doerksen have written a new song called 215.
215 Indigenous children
who can’t come home.
215, how many more missing?
Indigenous children
who can’t come home.

Why did it take so long?
Revealing this ancient wrong
When mothers cried
through countless nights alone.

The church and the government
Complicit in violence
How could such savagery
Stay unconfessed?

How do we allow those questions to move us to action rather than indifference and silence?

Let the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples help us recover the image of God in our neighbour.

Article 7
ii. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom,
peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to
any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly
removing children of the group to another group.

In May 2017, the CBWC voted to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. What does that mean for us? A number of things:

  1. That when the atrocities of genocide as articulated in Article 7 above are revealed, as people of faith committed to these principles we cannot turn away and say, “That wasn’t us.” That, in essence, is an “Am I my brother’s keeper?” question, and the answer is, Yes.
  2. Like Zacchaeus—who, when convicted that he had been benefitting from harm done to others, set about to repay his debts and more—we too must commit to setting wrongs right. This is a long process and not one we fix overnight, but we must commit ourselves to this path.
  3. We need now, more than ever, to commit ourselves to prayer. We need all kinds of prayer, repentance, lament, prayers for healing, prayers for conviction and for courage to act. But I would encourage us to pray with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at this time to help us see what perhaps we have been unable or unwilling to see before now.

Let justice be our part in setting the stage for healing and conciliation.
Aubrey Bosak, in speaking about reconciliation as a black South African says, “If one expects forgiveness from the victim, why can we not expect justice from the perpetrators and beneficiaries? If the name of Jesus is invoked regarding forgiveness, His name must also be invoked to call for justice.” (Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism). For Settler Christians, our place in the journey of healing and reconciliation is one of seeking justice as those who have benefitted from the perpetuation of injustice whether it happened by our hand or not. This is a spiritual call and spiritual work that can only be sustained by faith as we walk with our neighbours in self-giving love.

Three next steps:

1. Pray with this resource
2. Learn. There are many places to start. Check out this resource for a next step that is appropriate to where you and your community are.
3. Act. Contact Jodi Spargur to explore how your church community might begin engaging locally in your context.

CBM Spotlight | Get Moving for Education: Active in Mission

Most of us, in the past year, have had the chance to recognize what a privilege it is to physically go to school, that even the struggles of online learning are worth persevering through—rather than to go without education. Perhaps our perspective has shifted as we have witnessed our own children’s formal learning threatened, and we can understand how important it is to try to help our global neighbours resolve the issues that keep kids out of school. In many places, families face school fees they can’t afford, or need their children to help support the family by working.

At the height of the pandemic, schools were closed for over 90% of learners.  While schools shifted to remote learning such as radio, television, and online, an estimated 500 million students are being left behind due to lack of equipment needed for at-home learning, remote learning policies, and access to the internet. Add to that, the 258 million students who were already out of school before the COVID-19 crisis. There has been much loss because of the pandemic; we cannot let the virus take the futures of millions of children as well.

Thankfully, through CBM’s partners and local churches, many of those students will not be left behind. It’s in the margins—the places that are overlooked—where the church is present and caring for those often pushed to the sidelines. 

In 2021, Active in Mission is back! From July 18-25, 2021, we will be walking, biking, and running to raise funds to support education for kids. Education is a powerful tool to fight generational poverty, and you can get active this year to bring children around the world the education they deserve. 

Just as we help our kids get out the door to walk or bus, or out of bed and onto their online class, we can partner together with communities to help solve their barriers to education.   

Will you help these children along a path to a brighter future today?

Let’s say YES and get Active in Mission together!

How to Take Action:

1. Go to and register your fundraising campaign page, either as a group or as an individual.

2. Get social! Follow us and tag us on Instagram @readytobesent #ActiveinMission

3. Between July 18-25, 2021, get moving! Whether you’re kayaking, rollerblading, walking, or biking, anything goes–as long as you’re active.

4. Let your donors see the progress your fundraiser is making in real-time on your campaign page.

 BCY Regional Newsletter

Starting What Can’t Be Finished

Newest Board Members 2021-2023

The CBWC wants to extend a warm welcome and thanks to the newest Board Members for 2021-2023, with a special acknowledgement of our new President, Loralyn Lind. For a complete list of Board Members, click here.

Loralyn Lind pastors in Dauphin, MB. She is married to Cordell, and together they own a Bed & Breakfast and train Cordell’s hunting dog, George. Loralyn and Cordell have served in all three regions of the CBWC and attended the Banff Conference with determined consistency for 30 years. Loralyn loves to read and discover new insights into how God is bringing us all closer to Himself as we daily experience His presence.

Tim Kerber pastors at Leduc Community Baptist Church in Leduc, AB and has done so for the past 26 years. He is married to Rachelle, and they have two teenage children. Tim loves God, his family, his work and his community. He loves to preach and plan and create and dream. It is his desire that people find freedom and hope in Christ which invades their daily lives and changes the world. Tim enjoys being active and challenged. He enjoys road biking, triathlon and adventure races. He loves to garden, work with wood, and read. He also loves burgers, pigeons, hockey and hot tubs.

Richard Currie lives in Duncan British Columbia, is a member of New Life Church, and does some volunteer work in his community.

Before retiring in 2018, Richard was Vice President of Finance and Operations at Concordia University of Edmonton for nine years. Most of his career has been with operation management of non-profit organizations, having held senior administrative positions in health care administration as well as with advanced education institutions. In addition, he has worked cross-culturally for three years as administrator of a busy rural mission hospital in far-west Nepal, and later as administrator at the office of TEAM of Canada. He also has done volunteer work assisting with settlement of Bhutanese and Syrian refugees in Canada. He currently volunteers as vice-chair of Cowichan Valley Basket Society (Food Bank), treasurer of the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival Association, and treasurer of Stonewood Village Strata Association. He holds a CPA (Alberta) designation and a Master of Health Services Administration degree from University of Alberta.

Grant Hill, with his wife Becky and their two daughters, has been a part of the Elk Lake Baptist Church community in Victoria, BC since 2016. Born in Kelowna, Grant completed his Bachelor of Music at UVic in 2003 and his Master of Divinity at Regent College in 2007. He served as an Associate Pastor at Mississauga Chinese Baptist and Olivet Baptist (New Westminster) before his call to serve at ELB. He enjoys people, good conversation, playing guitar and being outdoors.

Gladys Tsang came to Canada and studied in Ontario when she was a youth. Gladys returned to Hong Kong upon graduation from U of Toronto but returned again to Canada to study at Regent College in the 80’s. Gladys was called by our denomination to plant an ethnic church in Vancouver in the 90’s which resulted in founding the church called Westside Baptist Church in Richmond, BC. She has been serving as the senior pastor at Westside since its beginnings. Gladys is married to Anders Tsang who is also an ordained minister with CBWC.

Laurel Auch “I’m a farmer’s wife, a mother of three, and a gramma of 2. My husband and I became Christians in 2002 and were baptized together at Faith Community Baptist Church in Claresholm. I was a Chartered Accountant until I decided to stay home with my children (one of whom has autism), and help with the management of the farm. I’ve used my training to serve as the church bookkeeper for many years and have also taught Sunday school and helped in other ministry areas. I don’t consider myself to be a leader, but I enjoy working collaboratively with other people to enact a common goal or vision, so I’m very much looking forward to being part of the CBWC Board.”

David Vandergucht lives in Regina with his wife Katherine and four young children. He and Katherine are members at Argyle Road Baptist Church, and David has previously served on the church board there. He works as a lake ecologist for the provincial government.

Flexible Existentialists 

By Kevin Vincent, Director of the Centre for New Congregations Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada

Recently, I heard Simon Sinek explain his philosophy of “existential flexibility.” He said, “Existential flexibility is the capacity of a leader or an organization to shift 180 degrees and begin to plan and behave in an entirely new way, given an entirely new reality and environment. It’s the capacity to make a 180-degree shift to advance your cause.” 

In addressing that specifically for churches, he said that as the church moves past the COVID-19 chapter, many faith leaders are simply moving back to the way it was, to what they know and to what they have always done. He said, “They know they can’t do what they used to do, but they don’t know what to do!”  

Perhaps you can relate. As it relates to your church, you would say, “I know we can’t go back now! But I don’t know where to go now!” Let’s be “flexible existentialists” for the next few minutes. Let me prompt your thinking by heading down what would be a 180-degree shift for most churches moving forward, and let’s begin with a radical question. Here it is. 

Is it time for your church to cancel your Sunday morning worship service? Is it time to say that the current model of how most of us “do church” has run its course? Is it time to embrace the reality that the culture has shifted, people have little interest in weekly, larger, group gatherings and post-COVID, it’s not coming back? Is it time to abandon a tired old model of church? 

If I’ve already said enough to tick you off, stick with me because I’m much more hopeful than I’m sounding. 

A recent survey in the United States by the UNSTUCK group reported that churches that have re-opened have seen about 36% of people return. 

Now, I know those are American statistics. Hold your fire! But, at least anecdotally, even if we don’t have Canadian survey results that are as clear, a lot of pastors are experiencing the same and are wondering, “Who’s coming back?  When will they come back?  Who’s not coming back?”  

Let’s just imagine that we’re twice as good as the Americans (Canadians like to think that!).  Let’s imagine that we get 70% of people back! Are we OK with that? Is 70% good enough? Perhaps we should just conclude that those that don’t return are simply the hard soil, the rocky and thorny ground, of Jesus’ parable. They’re a good excuse to clean up our membership list. 

Even more shocking is that the American survey discovered that only 40% of those under the age of 36 prefer larger in-person gatherings. That means that 6 in 10 church-goers under the age of 36 aren’t sure that they care about your Sunday morning worship service anymore and aren’t looking to return. So, should you cancel Sunday? 

I believe the answer is No!  But let me suggest an “existentially flexible” new way forward that was true pre-pandemic and has been dramatically accelerated as we move toward becoming a post-pandemic Church. Here it is. 

The future of the church in Canada will not be grounded in a single-site expression but in a multiplicity of congregational gatherings, meeting at different times, in different places, with different people. 

Single site. Single gathering. Single location. Single time. “See you Sunday at 10:30” is not the future. 

What could that look like for your church, if you adopted that type of a posture? Is there still a place for a Sunday morning worship gathering? Of course! There are many who love that expression of church. In fact, 70% of the church-going Boomers surveyed want to go back to that traditional Sunday gathering. It’s still meaningful. It’s what they know and love. We can’t steal that. Moving forward, it needs to be a piece of the reimagined church. 

But the great majority of younger generations don’t share that conviction. They’re finding connection in the digital church. They’re enjoying a house church that has emerged with 4 other families. They’re creating dinner church experiences with a dozen friends on a Thursday night. They’re a Sunday morning “huddle church.” Some are creating their own “worship gathering and liturgy.” Others are joining together for a “watch party” of their church’s online service. 

What would it look like for your church to consider a multiplied model? What would it look like to embrace a true hybrid expression of church that still celebrates the traditional Sunday gathering but also cheerleads and celebrates multiple, smaller congregations meeting during the week, in various locations, at various times, with many groups of people?  

I think I can already hear some push-back. “Yeah but we’re a little church! We’re only small! We can’t multiply anything! That’s a big church model!”  

No, it’s not!! Don’t take your “existentially flexible” hat off yet!  What if there were 31 people meeting on Sunday at 10:30am in your church facility? Perhaps there’s another group of 14 on Thursday night, over dinner? And another group of 23 on Tuesday night over coffee in a café? And what if fellowship happened? What if care happened? What if teaching happened? What if you started serving together? Could that, in fact, be a true congregation by New Testament standards? Could that simply be another expression of your church, another congregation, at a different time, in a different place, reaching different people, tethered together as multiple congregations and still ONE church? 

Could THAT be a new way forward? Could that be the answer that your church needs to consider? As Simon Sinek asks, “Do you have the capacity to make that 180-degree shift to advance your cause?” We must! It’s a new day for the Church!  Jesus is still building His Church, and His cause is too great not to try! 

Kevin Vincent is the Director for the Centre of Congregational Development with CBAC. He is part of Canadian Baptist National Cohort along with Cid Latty from CBOQ and Shannon Youell from CBWC. Together we dream and vision and work towards sharing resources and imagination for our churches as they join God in extending the Good News into multiple communities in which the folk in our churches live, work, play and pray. And we laugh a lot. 

Banff Registration is Open!

Those in pastoral leadership know that restful rhythms do not just happen – space must be created for rest and renewal. It has been a privilege to provide such space to our pastors and spouses for the past 44 years in one of the most picturesque locales in the world! November 2021 will be our 45th year to gather together in Banff for restoration of mind, body, soul and spirit. We hope you can join us this year at the Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference!

Registration for Banff 2021 opens on July 1, 2021.
Early bird registration: August 30, 2021.
Regular registration deadline: September 30, 2021.
Dates: November 1 – 4, 2021

Click Here to Register!

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Heartland Regional Newsletter March 2021

Reflections on Reconciliation

By Mark Doerksen

In February, most of Canada celebrated Family Day, but in Manitoba, this holiday is called Louis Riel Day. We experienced the Polar Vortex on the prairies this past week and a half, which is another phrase for “unbearably cold”—combined with the restrictions of COVID-19 , it meant that our family did very little to celebrate Louis Riel Day. Keeping warm was the main objective of the holiday this year.

Louis Riel can be a polarizing figure for some, and his history is—at the very least—important and interesting. Our house is located not too far from his birthplace, and if you drive the streets of Winnipeg, you’ll see names of some of the folks that were important for the founding of Manitoba and who had interactions with Riel. This is the birthplace of the Metis nation, and Winnipeg is located on Treaty 1 land.

Part of my work includes participation and leadership on the Justice and Mercy Network of the CBWC. This committee gets together to talk about ways to animate churches on justice topics, should churches so desire. One of the topics that we’ve spoken about, and that we continue to pay attention to, is that of Indigenous issues. To that end, I have enrolled in a free, online course through our sister denomination, the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada. The course is called Walking in a Good Way with Our Indigenous Neighbours, and you can access it here. The course takes about 20 hours to complete. You can do so at your leisure, as it is always accessible, and it is free of charge. I travel less due to COVID-19, and I have happily been able to insert courses like this into my calendar.

I have not completed the course, but it is quite clear that much harm has been done to Indigenous people in our country, and some of this harm has come by way of the church. It’s easy to say that Canadian Baptists were not as involved as other denominations in residential schooling for instance, but relationships between Canadian Baptists and Indigenous people have not always been what they ought to be. For example, according to an article by David R. Elliot, William Henry Prince worked alongside Alexander Grant, stationed at First Baptist Winnipeg, for some time in the 1890s. Unfortunately, this work amongst Indigenous people in Manitoba all but ceased by the time of the First World War. Prince was the first missionary to the Indigenous people of the region. Jodi Spargur has also written a paper on this called Baptists and First People’s of Canada 1846-1976: A History. If you would like to hear the latest update on this, you can contact Jodi at I am also sure that if you want to fund her doctorate so she can write a book on this topic, she would be happy to connect.

I understand that this history can be difficult to hear, and difficult to know what to do with. Yet I also understand that I have a lot to learn when it comes to understanding the history of Indigenous people in Canada, and how I can be a part of reconciliation moving forward. I wish to do so within a biblical and theological framework, and this course helps me with that. So, if you’ve got a bit more time on your hands and you wish to know more about this topic, please consider enrolling.


A Journey to Life in Ministry

By Pastor Mandi Hecht

My name is Mandi Hecht, and I am currently serving as the Pastor of First Baptist Church in Saskatoon, SK. I have lived nearly all of my life in Saskatchewan; and most of that was spent in the city of Prince Albert, where I grew up. It was there, while I was about 14 years old, that I felt the call to vocational ministry. Still, life is full of surprises, and it was not a straight line for me from call to ministry.

Following high school, I went to Baptist Leadership Training School. In fact, I was a member of the last class to attend that denominational institution! It is also there that I met my husband, Ian. After a year in Calgary at BLTS, I moved to Regina and studied Social Work at the University of Regina. Ian and I were married in 2000. When Ian finished his degree in education, we moved to Prince Albert as he took up his first teaching post.

Shortly after the birth of our first child, Caleb, I began to study with Carey Theological College in hopes of further pursing the pull I felt towards ministry. In 2004, I began with Carey a program called “Diploma of Ministry.” A few years later, I switched to a new program that they were offering, the “Master of Pastoral Ministry.” I took classes by distance where possible, and in person where I could get to them. In this way I studied while at home with Caleb, as well as his sister, Grace, who came into the world in 2005. As I studied and volunteered at our church in Prince Albert, the CBWC became interested in offering support for churches to enhance ministry to children and families. I came on staff with the denomination during this time as the Coordinator for Children and Family Ministry in the Heartland area.

I had nearly completed the Master of Pastoral Ministry when Carey was approved to offer a “Master of Divinity” degree, and so I joined that program. Only 4 classes shy of earning the MDiv, I discovered I was pregnant with our third child! So, I completed the last 2 classes of that degree with an infant in tow. The birth of Noelle also meant that I gave up my position with the denomination to care for my growing family.

I graduated with my MDiv (finally!) in 2011. That June, I started as a part-time pastor of Faith Community Church in Wakaw. With a pastoral role and an MDiv in hand, I spent a couple of years balancing work and looking after my young family. I was ordained by the CBWC in 2013. However, in 2014 an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up! I was accepted into a Doctor of Ministry program at Northern Seminary, which enabled me to study with New Testament scholar and author Scot McKnight. I began classes there in 2014 and graduated in 2018. A highlight of this program was a trip to Israel with my classmates, professors, and any family and friends who wanted to come along.

A new chapter in our lives kicked off when I received and accepted the call to the role of Pastor of First Baptist Church Saskatoon in the summer of 2020. The transition to a new city has been

stretched out over time for us. I am working in Saskatoon, my husband continues to teach in Prince Albert until the end of the school year 2021, and our kids are at three different schools in two different cities. While we had planned on a bit of chaos in this season of change, we have had some unplanned difficulty as well. Our son, Caleb, began to feel sick this fall, and this led to a two-week hospital stay around Christmas. Fortunately, he is no longer in the hospital, but unfortunately, he continues to have the same symptoms, and a diagnosis (up until this point) has proven elusive. One of the beautiful things about bride of Jesus Christ, however, is how we care for one another. I am very thankful for my church family at First Baptist Saskatoon, who have both accepted the care that I have offered them, and who have stepped up to “pastor” their pastor as my family goes through this season of challenge and transition.

Although the road to and through ministry (and through life) has not ever been the straight line that I expected it might be, I am grateful every day to the Lord for walking with me through the highs and lows of this journey, and for allowing me to walk alongside God’s people as an under-shepherd of the Great Shepherd!

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:

Making Connections March 2021

Kurios Recruitment and Campaign Celebration

Jesus Christ is Lord!

I am overwhelmed by the response to our Pulling Together: Raising Tomorrow’s Leaders Now fundraising campaign. Throughout February we’ve been telling stories, building our communications, and asking for financial support (see for details). The outflowing of generous support is humbling, and exciting!  We raised $96,407! We are so amazed that we came that close to our goal of $100,000, and while the campaign has ended of course we will gladly continue to accept donations. Those funds will help us continue to offer this experience, bridge us to our next group of students, and provide safe and reliable transportation!

I am so encouraged by the response, and feel so blessed to part of this community! Thank you, deeply and sincerely, to all of you who support Kurios financially, in prayer, and by pointing young adults towards Kurios.

Kurios: A CBWC Gap Year Experience is designed to walk alongside young adults in their pursuit of Jesus as Kurios (Lord). We are actively looking for the next group of young adults to join our experience this coming September, for 28 weeks of seeking Jesus together and pursuing Him as Lord of all.

Can you help pass the word along? A great opportunity to find out more is at our Virtual Open House, coming soon, including live guests from Guatemala!

Spotlight: CBM | Reflections of God at Work in 2020

Adrian Gardner – Director, Canadian Partnerships

On the evening of March 11, 2020 news of a novel coronavirus broke out. Within a week, our church had moved online, the SENT program was placed on hold, the Canada-US border was closed, and non-essential businesses were shuttered.

Looking back, I am overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God and the generosity of His people. In a time of difficulty, when it could have been easy to focus on our own hardship and need, Canadian Baptists continued to proclaim and demonstrate the love of God for the most vulnerable around the world.

I think of CBM Calling, a daily livestream we launched to tell the story of COVID-19 and how it was affecting our partners.

I remember our first Solidarity Sunday livestream where we joined our partners virtually. Over 200 people joined live and thousands watched later. Participants heard updates and prayer requests from our global partners, and we prayed for those in need.

Through Active in Mission, our first virtual run/walk/bike-a-thon, we worked with churches to provide composting latrines and clean water in rural El Salvador.

At Christmas, over 70 churches launched online campaigns, practicing generosity and demonstrating God’s love throughout the season.

The world has changed radically since March 11, 2020. I am choosing to focus on the story of the church being the Church, embracing the truth that we are not defined by our buildings but by our love, for God and for others.

Untying the Bonds of Oppression: An Interview with David, Arturo, and Yola Nacho

By: Jodi Spargur- Submitted on Behalf of the Justice and Mercy Network (JMN)

In a recent conversation about Jubilee and some modern examples of living into this biblical principle, I encountered the experience of Arturo and Yola Nacho and their own story of liberation through land reform in Bolivia. I wanted to learn more.

A few historical details will help you follow the conversation. Until 1953, most Indigenous peoples in Bolivia were subjected to a life of indentured servitude. Also, it was against the law to teach Indigenous Bolivians to read or write. In the 1920s, an ecumenical group came into ownership of a large farm in the village of Huatajata (on Lake Titicaca) which was home to 48 households and 275 serfs. In the 1930s, this project was turned over to Canadian Baptist Mission. The following is my conversation with Arturo and Yola Nacho and their son, David, about this project and its impacts.

Arturo: My name is Arturo Nacho Laura. I was born on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I attended a mission school because there was no government education until after the revolution in 1952. I worked for around 37 years as a pastor and in literacy and education.

Jodi: Arturo, what is your first language?

Arturo: The Amara language.

Yola: My name is Yola Vargas. I was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and my background is Indigenous. I grew up not being very happy to have Indigenous roots. When I grew up going to school, there was a lot of discrimination. I think many people like me don’t show their background. I was one of them. But Arturo was different. He was proud of who he was and helped me be proud, too.

Jodi: I want to talk about the farm at Huatajata. Were you born on the farm, Arturo?

Arturo: No. My community is called Llamacachi, a free community, nearby. Huatajata was not a free community.

Jodi: Were both of your grandparents from a free community?

Arturo: No, my Dad was a serf from the hacienda. My mother was from a free community, though.

Jodi: How did land reform and education bring the gospel in a meaningful way to your community?

Yola: It really was a very significant start for indigenous people. Even though in the past, 100 years ago, some Indigenous peoples fought and gave their lives for the rights of Indigenous peoples, still they could not gain this (these rights). There was a CBM missionary (Merrick) who argued that slavery was a conspiracy against the gospel and must end.

Jodi: So, originally, missionaries ran the hacienda in Huatajata like all the other haciendas around were run, with slaves. But they decided that this needed to be changed for the sake of the gospel. The action taken then was the liberation of the Amara and the title for the land being turned over to them?

Yola: Yes, and this was the model for the revolution of 1952. With that revolution, the other communities around—all the land of Bolivia—benefitted (from the) land reform.

David: When there is empowerment, or recognition of the value of another’s culture, and their right to live freely, there are good things—missiologically— that happen. The farm is one example of that.

Yola: Also, I think that any community needs its own leaders. What these missionaries did well was to develop, support and raise up and prepare the leadership in the rural area. As well as in Bolivia, in general.

Jodi: I am struck by the fact that the actions on this farm become the model for nation-wide agrarian reform. Are there ways that the church in Canada is being called to bold action around the return of land?

Yola: I think that people in Huatajata were empowered by this return of the land. For people like us who live in the city, maybe not as important. But for them, yes, it was very important. But it is not possible to return land everywhere. We know around the world that there are those who have lost their land and other people occupy it. And it cannot be returned.

Jodi: Let me push back on that. In Canada, 89% of the land is owned by the Crown, very little is occupied. Is there not room here to return some land, even just the land agreed to in the treaties?

Yola: Then, if this is the case, we must fight to get this land back. We must support people to get that right! Also, as a church, I think we must be committed to the empowerment of Indigenous People, and we can push a bit, politically.

David: I think there is a link here. By giving the people the deed/title for the land, you acknowledge them as responsible for it. Not in a paternalistic way, but in a way that calls all the others to restore the respect that was not there.

Maybe there is a lack of awareness in urban centers about how important this issue of land is for those who live on it, steward and take care of the land. The blindness of urban dwellers to the importance and significance of the land makes it harder to understand.

Arturo: I want to say what the Bolivian government is doing right now in Bolivia. They are working with internships because Indigenous peoples need to be included in every level of leadership. They do not just need to be hugged and told they are loved; they need to be included in government and leadership at every level. The Canadian government needs to do this, too.

Yola: I am very hopeful. It is very good for my spirit to see young people trying to live in a good way. There is something about the work they are doing in Bolivia. We need Indigenous youth as much as they need us. This is a dream, maybe, that we can share.

The CBWC’s Justice & Mercy Network seeks to inspire and equip churches in their theological vision of the kingdom of God so that we all pursue right relationships with God, with self, with others, and with the world. We seek to provide a thoughtful and wise social analysis of injustice, and to offer various resources that help inform decisions about justice. For more information about JMN please visit:

 Heartland Regional Newsletter

Reflections on Reconciliation | A Journey to Life in Ministry by Mandi Hecht 

Betty (Milne) Anderson – A Life in Ministry

Submitted for March’s Church Planting blog-Originally published as a Humans of CBWC story on Facebook

God blessed me at the very beginning of my life by giving me Christian parents. At a very young age, I decided to be a nurse. After I accepted the Lord as my Saviour at age eleven at Christopher Lake Baptist Camp, my life goal was to become a Missionary Nurse.  Everything I did worked towards that goal; I obtained my BSN at the U of S because I knew Public Health training was essential, attended BLTS because I would need Bible and Christian Education knowledge, and did Midwifery training because I knew I would be delivering babies. I had a few years of nursing experience with the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) and was in communication with the Baptist Overseas Mission Board. I was ready and waiting for God to call. But He didn’t.

My thoughts turned more towards nursing in the North, so I investigated nursing in the NWT. There was a position available in Frobisher Bay! But there was also an exciting VON nursing position in Nova Scotia. I was torn in my decision until one night, God very clearly called me to N.S. I wondered why until I became involved in a church which really stretched my faith and where I matured spiritually. I also had the privilege of going to Bolivia for a six-week Mission trip. I was sure that God would call me back to Bolivia, but He never did.

I was back home in Saskatchewan working with the VON in Regina when God did two wonderful things. First, He brought Joyce Oxnard into my life. At first, she was my boss, but then she became my best friend, mentor, supporter, prayer warrior and colleague. Second, He provided opportunities to learn an Evangelical approach to Christian witnessing. While there, a nursing position became available in Yellowknife to establish a Home Care Program. Joyce and I accepted and moved there together. It was during this time that God prepared both Joyce and myself to eventually move further north. The CBWC shared in great detail with us a desire to begin a new church plant in Inuvik. I waited on the Lord to call me further north. And finally, He did! It took twenty years to prepare me for that calling, but now I was finally ready.

It was very uncommon for two women to head up a church planting mission back then. Women in ministry and church planting were in their infancy almost 50 years ago.

Our Executive and Area Ministers took us to the Edmonton Airport, gave us a filmstrip projector and told us to go and “do our thing.” What a lot there was to learn!

During the next four years, we tried not to do “our thing”, but “God’s thing”. That was the only way we could survive. Our congregation started with a few people of Baptist-like backgrounds and gradually increased. The adult ministry was mainly to the white population, but the children and teens were Inuit and Dene. We were blessed with gifts and prayers from across the country. The Alberta area provided a lovely van sent up on the barge. There were no roads into Inuvik in those days. There was wonderful support from the Yellowknife church and especially from the Pastor, Alan MacPhedran. As Inuvik was the Triennial Project of 1976-79, money was raised to erect a building, which was built by volunteers from the south and our own people. It took three months and three days, much to the astonishment of the town! This and so much more was the excitement of that beginning work. But there was also the day to day work, the demands, disappointments, tears and doubts and wondering why everything didn’t happen as we hoped and planned. But there was also the constant reminder that God had called us. He was there with us. He would provide. And He did!

Those four years were the beginning of a variety of ministries: Interim in Fort McMurray serving a hurting new church plant suffering from an early split in the congregation. A wonderful five years in Grand Centre, leaving a strong congregation but no church building! Encouraging a discouraged, despondent church and Pastor in Medicine Hat. Surveying and attempting a church plant in Edmonton without a Mother Church. Re-establishing a closed church in Swift Current. Interim ministry at Argyle Road Baptist Church whose pastor had to resign because of ill health. Pastoring in Yorkton, called “as a last resort” when it seemed no one wanted to follow a 24-year pastorate! Return to Inuvik to a very small congregation who had been without leadership for some time. No one suitable became available, so the church was closed and the building sold. We would have stayed longer, but Joyce’s asthma was a severe health problem. So, we were there at the beginning and at the end of that ministry. Joyce retired at that time, but I spent five more years as half-time Associate at FBC in Saskatoon.

What we learned during almost 30 years of ministry is that what you experience in one place, what you read in books or are told by someone else or what you think might work, is not always the answer. What is essential is a strong sense that you are exactly where God wants you to be. That His timing and His ways are perfect and are not always your ways and timing. It is His work and He will accomplish His purposes, sometimes despite you. What a blessing to know the Lord is the one in charge.

After retirement, there were significant changes for us. Joyce gradually lost her sight until she was legally blind, although she still served as best she could in our local church. Alzheimers was diagnosed in 2016 and she spent the last two years of her life in Long Term Care. The Lord called her home on October 19, 2020 with rejoicing in Heaven but great loss here on earth.

Within a year of retirement, I married a wonderful man, a friend and colleague, Blake Anderson. He was also retired but serving part-time at Wakaw and is still involved in ministry, so we are serving together in various ways. Becoming a wife, a stepmother and grandmother all at once is exciting and I love every minute of it. Along with eight grandchildren, we now have five great-grandchildren with two more expected this year and 5 foster great/grandchildren. Never a dull moment! We regret not being able to see more of them these last months.

What a wonderful God we have! How thankful I am for His salvation and constant presence and provision!

Easter Preaching Series 2021

As we continue to live within the reality of a global pandemic, we collectively lament various layers of loss while searching for glimpses of hope. The fullness of lament involves honest emotion and eventually a turning toward a hope that is based on the promises of a God who delivered Israel from captivity, delivered us from the curse of sin and death, delivered Jesus from the grave, and will one day return to make all things whole. As followers of Christ, we are reminded that God meets us in our most overwhelming loss with a message of life, newness, and durable hope.

CBWC Staff have created a video-based Easter preaching series entitled “Durable Hope” to help lead your congregation through Holy Week – from Palm Sunday through to Celebration Sunday. You are welcome to use one or all of the pieces provided in the series:

Palm Sunday: Sermon by Peter Anderson
Maundy Thursday: Written reflection by Faye Reynolds
Good Friday: Sermon by Rob Ogilvie | “Lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” – Mark 15: 16-39, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Easter Sunday: Sermon by Shannon Youell 

Watch for it HERE and on all CBWC social media platforms in early March!

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Making Connections February 2021

In this edition:

*Correction: The email that was sent out for this month’s Making Connections had incorrect dates. The OPW event will take place February 8-11, 2021.

Kurios – Month Long Fundraising Campaign

Kurios: A CBWC Gap Year Experience began in 2020 with a vision of young adults seeking Jesus together and pursuing Him as Lord (Kurios) of all. Last night we celebrated the goodness of God in the first class of Kurios participants! Thanks to all who joined us! 

The CBWC is committed to cultivating leadership. 

Our 8-month experience includes teaching that grounds us in living out Scripture, community to foster healthy relationships, service to explore our place in God’s Kingdom, spiritual rhythms of morning and evening prayer, and 6 weeks in Guatemala in partnership with Canadian Baptist Ministries.

We are excitedly planning for our full Kurios experience in September 2021!  And we need your support. 

We need your prayers.
We need help inviting students.
We need financial support.

Kurios is excited to launch a month-long fundraising campaign, “Pulling together to raise today’s leaders now”. We will be sending regular email updates, including testimonies and stories, throughout February as we progress towards our goal of $100,000. Great news – we already have $45,000 in matching funds committed! Please join our Kurios email list so we can continue to share what God is doing.

Join the Kurios community!

Spotlight: CBWC Foundation

On December 28, 2019, CNN published “20 things to look forward to in 2020” some of which included the Tokyo summer Olympics, release of the new James Bond movie, the world Expo in Dubai, historical anniversaries and a bustling Broadway scene in New York. As it turns out, 2020 headlines unfolded very differently than predicted, including instead Australian bushfires, Black Lives Matter protests, impeachment of the US President, the stock market crash, an invasion of murder hornets and last but not least, the global pandemic claiming two million lives worldwide. Woe is the grief of disrupted plans.

In 2021, numbers continue to be influenced by the rising stock prices of Zoom and Amazon, unemployment, infections rates and urban office vacancies, coupled with declines in GDP, concert attendance and recreational travel. The truth is, numbers reflect more than the number itself. Numbers represent people, and we’ve all been impacted in some way, positively or negatively by events outside our control.

At the Foundation, we too reflect numbers behind people. Math behind ministry. And although 2020 didn’t lend itself to a myriad of feel-good stories, we do know that amidst uncertainty, we assisted 14 pastors with funding for theological education, facilitated $100,000 in donations to CBWC churches, funded over $600,000 in grants to CBWC and managed a $13 million loan portfolio supporting Christian ministries. We walked alongside churches requesting payment flexibility, and continued to show up every day despite significant organizational change.

As we enter a new season, there is no easy antidote. The truth is, the global landscape is forever altered, as is the fabric of the CBWC Foundation. So how then do we nurture a posture of possibilities? Perhaps we choose to view 2021 through the eyes of British World War II veteran Capt. Tom Moore who raised more than $40 million for health care workers by walking 100 laps in his garden in the weeks leading up to his hundredth birthday. His resources? Determination, passion and service. And to each of you demonstrating courage in the midst of ambiguity, thank you. Let us not grow weary. It is a new day.

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

 Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

The Fear of Fear | New Pastors | Zoom Meetings

Common Expression: An Updated Pastoral Resource

Over the past several years, staff from across our four Canadian Baptist families have met periodically, according to their ministry assignments, for the purpose of collaborating on common practices. The group that oversees clergy services such as ordination, settlement, ministerial credentials and clergy well-being felt that it might be time to update the Ministerial Manual that is shared across Canada. This resource has been used by Canadian Baptists for decades to assist in the planning of worship services, weddings and funerals, child dedications and other key events in the life of the local church. Much of its material continues to be invaluable for pastors today, but the last update was in 1998 and though the basic content continues to be solid clergy practice, there were a few sections of more dated practices that could be removed. The primary driver however, was the need for an electronic version, as more and more pastors move to tablets for officiating services. 

The team divided the manual into sections to review and offer suggestions for changes and edit. We then recruited the help of Paul Matheson, from Saskatoon, to be our primary editor to finalize the product. Once the team was happy with the content, CBM, the owners of the Ministerial Manual contracted out the formatting of our final electronic version: Common Expressions: A Canadian Baptist Manual for Worship and Service. We trust that this updated version and format will continue be an indispensable tool for Baptist clergy from sea to sea.

What are some of the new changes?

  1. Most Scripture references are now quoted in the New Living Translation, unless specifically noted. This translation continues to grow in usage as it more easily communicates the message to listeners of all ages.
  2. Updated language for some of the liturgies and worship guides
  3. Some additional new material for sample prayers, calls to worship and removal of less useful material
  4. Easy “cut and paste” format that allows you to extract pieces you want to put into your own documents, phones or tablets
  5. New low price of $10.00!

*Click here to purchase your copy. 

*Please note: You will be taken to the CBWC’s event registration portal to make this purchase. The event is listed as Common Expressions. Please fill out all necessary fields to proceed to payment section. Once payment is received, a confirmation email will be sent to you with the downloadable link.

God is Always at His Work

By: Shannon Youell, Director of Church Planting

Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.”- John 5:17

No one has been unaffected by the events of the past eleven months. No one. Individuals, families, businesses, governments, weddings, funerals and places of worship. All have experienced the affects that a pandemic can have in our world.

Our churches have shifted and responded from no-gathered meetings, to partially-gathered meetings and back to no-gathered meetings. Through all of this, we have been prayerfully asking God to reveal Himself at work around us so that we are encouraged to continue being missionally and faithfully present in our neighbourhoods and in encouraging and discipling our churches.

We are all hearing stories of churches both adapting to the challenges and struggling with the challenges and changes. And some of those stories are surprises–we can’t always assume which churches will be struggling and which will find new ways to thrive and flourish. Some of those stories are within our current new churches/plants. Here are some of their stories.

Greenhills Christian Fellowship-Winnipeg-East

GCFWE is our newest plant launched from GCFW. This faithful and passionate group of Filipino church planters began training and discipling their core group in 2019. When COVID-19 hit, they were just ready to officially launch and had begun to gain some traction in their target area.

If you have the pleasure of hanging out with Filipino people, you will know how they evangelize–they eat together, have parties, BBQ’s in the park. With the Code Red restrictions in Winnipeg, it became very challenging to build neighbourhood relationships and do evangelism.

Yet, this past summer they celebrated baptism of new believers and as Pastor Arnold Mercado notes, in terms of people studying the Bible and learning the deeper truths of God, they’ve had more opportunities and people are growing in their faith. He reports that the best way to describe their planting community right now is in how God is building them, noting that ten months ago they hardly knew one another and now are growing together deeper in their relationships with Christ and with one another. They feel better prepared to saturate their neighbourhood with the Gospel, once restrictions are eased.

This past fall, they had their official launch from their sending church. Where God is at work and His people join Him, even a pandemic cannot stop the work of the Spirit among the people!

Hope Church of Calgary

Pastor Mouner and this community of Arabic speaking believers are finding the challenges of COVID-19, well—challenging.  Like all of us, they are deeply missing the opportunities to gather and be together.  One thing I’ve learned about people from the Middle East countries is how excellent they are in hospitality. We may consider ourselves a nation of warm friendliness, but compared to our Middle Eastern friends we are really not that great in the area of hospitality!

Everything they do is around food and tea and visiting. Take those out of the equation and our brothers and sisters at Hope are discouraged and not adapting well to the online meeting applications. But even in the midst of these challenges, God is still at work.

Pastor Mouner faithfully delivers to each congregant’s home the elements of bread and cup for shared, online Communion. An important element of Communion for them is the actual shared loaf of bread. It gives him an opportunity to have a safely-distanced, non-virtual conversation with his congregants.

A new preacher among the congregation is being raised up—a blessing for the Pastor and congregation. Mouner has also begun an online connection with other Syrian ministers around the world and the testimonies from other places are exciting and encouraging. There are many testimonies of an amazing revival among Iranians and Kurdish peoples.

Even in the challenges and struggles, Mouner and Hope Church see God at work amid the chaos of COVID-19.

Makarios Evangelical Church

Pastor Jessica of MEC is an innovator. Like the rest of us, she has had to pivot and adapt multiple times in the past eleven months. This new plant, launched in 2018 has been very intentional in both the spiritual formation of the community of believers who gather at MEC and in their mission field of international students who are housed and schooled right across the street from their church building location.

Using social media, apps, zoom and other creative vehicles they are staying connected on a daily basis with one another and the students. This is vital for the students, already isolated from home, culture and family, and now isolated from activities and relationships they were beginning to build in this foreign land. Meeting with the students online can be challenging, as they are already online for all their classes, yet Makarios has found places that resonate with the students. One of the practices the church has been doing all along is to cook dinner together with the students and then eat, fellowship and talk about life, school, family and faith. Most of these students would be eating alone, and this has been a very popular event for them.

Now restricted to their dorms, they eat alone, so the church is now ‘eating’ with them via zoom. Now that’s looking at your context, at the needs of your neighbourhood and finding a way to engage in spite of Covid!

Emmanuel Iranian Church

With Pastor Arash and Pastor Ali leading this growing, thriving community of Iranian people, discipleship is a key focus. A large percentage of the congregation are new converts to Christ and with hundreds of baptisms since they launched in 2018, there is a LOT of discipleship happening every day (and night!).

With Pastor Arash and Pastor Ali leading this growing, thriving community of Iranian people, discipleship is a key focus. A large percentage of the congregation are new converts to Christ and with hundreds of baptisms since they launched in 2018, there is a LOT of discipleship happening every day (and night!).

We’ve been celebrating the stories of new believers and baptisms since then. One might wonder how this can continue during a time of gathering restrictions, yet Pastor Ali reports that lives are being transformed on a weekly basis. 

Many of us are experiencing congregants weary of zoom meetings (if they liked them at all) and disengaging with an online version of community. Certainly, EIC has struggled with that as well, yet Pastor Arash said that, lately, more people are getting used to this new way of meeting and it’s now become ‘real’ to people. In a recent evening prayer time, people reported, for the first time, experiencing the presence of the Spirit virtually connecting the participants spiritually and emotionally together! There are even people coming to Christ on their zoom meetings, so new people are engaging with the community, sense the presence of the one true God and raise their hands to commit to Christ. 

EIC is currently praying and discerning another plant in the Surrey area of the lower mainland. Many new immigrants settle there and their desire is to serve in that community in a multi-cultural context with both Farsi and English-speaking services to serve and train 2nd and 3rd generation young people. 

Pray for and Celebrate Together

These are incredible testimonies and a reminder that God is certainly at work amongst His churches despite any restrictions placed upon public gatherings. We can choose to riff on all the barriers to ministry we are trying to navigate through, or we can allow our thinking and creativity to forge us into finding new rhythms and ways of being the people of God, called to be both salt to one another and light to those struggling in dark places. Yes, there are challenges and some of us are really struggling to find our way. Let our stories of God-at-work among us shed some light into our own darkness and grant us encouragement to persevere through our trials.

Pray for each other. Pray for these new churches and for the churches in your area. Pray for light to break through in the least expected of places. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and though it may seem like it some days, He has not done either but rather is stirring us up to join Him in HHs work of bringing his kingdom come here on earth, as it is (already) in heaven.

Joyce & Dave Insley: A CBWC Love Story

Joyce and Dave Insley have been married for nearly 66 years—a beautiful, impressive milestone that they (with a bit of a laugh) call a miracle. From their love for each other, came four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

It all started in Coquitlam, B.C, when Dave was nineteen and Joyce was twenty-one. They worked at a neighbourhood department store together. Joyce was a cashier, and Dave worked in the warehouse.

They had a foundation of friendship already as they shared many of the same social circles. Dave said one of the things that drew him to Joyce was how smart she was. (She was in school to become a teacher at the time). One Saturday when they were both working, Dave asked Joyce to accompany him to the movies. It became a bit of a habit after that, and soon they were a couple.

They got along well with each other’s families, despite some major differences. Dave had six brothers and sisters, Joyce was an only child. She greatly enjoyed joining in with a larger family though. Dave appreciated her family as well, her parents often had them over for Sunday supper and encouraged the two of them when it was time to get married.

They wed in 1955 and rented a house for the first five years or so until they paid-off their $2,500 building lot. They then applied for a special federal mortgage-build loan for $12,800 and with family labour help, they built a modest, three-bedroom home. While married, they started attending the local United Church, but later joined Olivet Baptist Church in New Westminster.

Exactly one mile away from their house was the school where Joyce worked as a teacher. She took a ten-year break to raise her young kids, then went back to teaching from 1970 to 1995. Dave held various roles in sales and product support for a multi-national equipment firm for 33 years. He then held various other jobs over the next 12 years, including being a realtor and helping run a DQ franchise for two years. He also had a very busy volunteer life.

After living in the same place for 50 years, they decided to sell their home and move to Kelowna, B.C. to be closer to family. They now live there and have been members of the Kelowna First Baptist Church for the past nine years.

When asked what advice they would give to young, married couples today, they both agreed that being patient with each other was vital for a healthy marriage. Life is long with many difficulties. In order to have a partnership last you must have grace and patience for one another. Their marriage allowed each to maintain some sense of independence and growth, while staying committed to each other and the family.

SERVE+ | July 8-11, 2021

SERVE+ (SERVE “Plus”) is a brand-new experience coming to your local community from July 8-11, 2021.  SERVE+ will feature the core of the familiar SERVE experience while adding in a few new elements, allowing the event to proceed safely as the pandemic recovery continues.  Each day (Thursday-Saturday) during SERVE+, youth from across Western Canada will bless their hometowns through active service in the name of Jesus.  Each night, hundreds of youth from BC, YT, AB, NWT, SK, and MB will gather online for an interactive livestream worship celebration.  Then on Sunday, each youth group will have the opportunity to bring their SERVE+ experience back to their local church family.  Register on the SERVE page.

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

Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter February 2021

The Fear of Fear

By CBWC Mountain Standard Regional Minister, Dennis Stone

All of us are aware of what ‘fear’ is. We learn it as a child. At first it might have kept us close to our mothers. After experiencing pain in a few different ways, we learned to stay away from hot stoves, snarling dogs, dark spaces, or situations that would offend siblings. Overall, it might be safe to say that the emotion of fear has helped us, taught us, and protected us, so it is not in itself a bad emotion.

There is another level, however. In 2015 an article appeared in ‘Psychology Today’ by Gregg Henriques entitled, “Fear and the Fear of Fear.” The short article goes on to express how this can possibly be measured on an ‘anxiety sensitivity index’ (ASI). Further down in the article, it speaks of ‘affect phobia’, or the fear of negative feelings.

A question for church ministry coming out of this is, Does our preaching and teaching feed those who fall easily into the ‘fear of fear’? Do we cater more toward comfort and protectionism than toward faith in the face of adversity? It is much easier to cleave to what feels safe than to put ourselves into a place of the unknown, a place where fear might entangle us.

My grandparents came from Sweden in the early 1900s. This meant leaving family behind, knowing they would never return, crossing a country that spoke a foreign language, and setting up house in a culture largely unfamiliar to them. They knew no one and had to develop relationships from the ground up. It took courage and hope in a future that promised to be more exciting than their past.

The fear of fear can (and has) set back the ‘church’ quite severely. Where is the preaching on ‘go into all the world’? In our Western world church of today, we are far less likely as a whole to cross the street, to make friends in new places, to give out of resources that might pad our retirement, to leave our comfortable surroundings, or to welcome immigrants whose culture we do not understand. If we are waiting for society around us to welcome Christian truth openly, allowing us to feel safe in sharing… that time is not likely to come before Jesus does. The fear that holds us back from being or doing whatever the Lord wants us to be and do is paralyzing.

Scripture points out the ‘love casts out fear.’ We need to be more enveloped by Jesus’ love and have Him as our firm foundation. If fear is our foundation, or the fear of fear, we might be stuck for good…like in the concrete out of which many foundations are made. Let us break out of the mold that holds us back.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” – 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT.

Your co-worker,

Dennis Stone

CBWC Mountain Standard Regional Minister

New Pastors

Hiring of pastors across the CBWC during COVID-19 restrictions has slowed down quite dramatically. Without face-to-face meetings by churches and their committees, it has been difficult to continue proper process of assessing candidates or helping a whole church come to consensus. Even with these challenges, a few churches in the Mountain Standard Region have been able to call new Senior Pastors.

Mark Duesling is the new pastor at Zion Baptist Church.  He and his wife Doris and their two children have moved into their new home in NW Edmonton. Mark studied at Ontario Bible College and at Trinity Seminary in Indiana. He has some missionary and inter-cultural experience. He served as pastor in a few churches within the Canadian Baptists of Ontario Quebec, gaining his ordination with the CBOQ in 2011. We welcome Mark to his new calling in NW Edmonton and look forward to having this new colleague in our midst.

Troy Ellison is the new pastor at Evangelical Baptist Church. He comes from Ontario, having studied in Kitchener, Ontario at Emmanuel Bible College, associated closely with the Evangelical Missionary Church. Troy has musical gifts as well that he has used in previous ministries. To quote from his resume’: “As pastor, leaders and church council, we will work together to make the church relevant to today’s world without compromising the message of the cross. My focus is teamwork in ministry as I believe it is crucial to our success.” The Edmonton CBWC ministerial cluster are ready to warmly welcome this new pastor among his supportive co-workers.

George McGregor is the new pastor at Sonrise Baptist Church in Calgary. Originally from Montreal and a widower since 2016, he has been part of the Sonrise church before becoming its pastor. He has three children and two grandchildren. His experience as a computer programmer has been a great help to the church during COVID-19 restrictions. He has done some training at Alberta Bible College and has been involved in various ministries in the Calgary area for quite some time. He is currently the chair of NextStep Ministries, a ministry to help women exit from the sex trade. Welcome George to the CBWC and to ministry among your colleagues here in Western Canada!

Zoom Meetings Dominate

During these COVID-19 restrictions, so many have become familiar with Zoom, a program they may not have been exposed to before. For myself, as many others, I have attended board meetings, executive staff meetings, church business meetings, candidating interviews, conflict resolution discussions, a moral failure redemptive/restoration committee, ministerial, constitutional review committee meetings, processing future changes to the CBWC Protocol Manual with a team, and even time with my administrative associate, who is the only one in the regional office space at Taylor Seminary. Even the upcoming annual Mountain Standard Region Gull Lake Ministry Retreat will be on Zoom this year on February 9th. We can get screen fatigue, but at least we can connect in a meaningful way and help the Kingdom grow.

Screenshot of a CBWC Edmonton ministerial.

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: