First is a discussion with Tammy Klassen and national youth leaders at their gathering this week in Niagara Falls: The story of youth and beginning well in Christ.
The Canadian Baptist Youth and Family Forum is taking place April 25-28 in Niagara Falls. This is an invitational forum comprised of 50 influential Canadian Baptist youth leaders from across Canada, including 9 from Western Canada, where we are looking at what unites us as Canadian Baptists and what the church needs to address moving forward to ensure the ongoing healthy investment in the next generation. It is a time to learn, connect, wrestle, voice opinions, and pray as we are united in the goal of advancing the kingdom of God among the youth of Canada. We also enjoyed a night celebrating what is happening among Canadian Baptists across Canada and looking at our identity. We have been blessed by amazing speakers, Dave Overholt, Dr. Anna Robbins, Dr. Steve Brown, and Dr. Gary Nelson, who have challenged us and paved the way for our cluster group discussions. The full content of what is being discussed in our groups will be compiled into a report that we hope will go out to all our Canadian Baptist churches. This has also been an opportunity for most of our CBWC Youth Leadership Team to connect and share ideas. We will be closing Thursday morning with communion and will leave with new ideas, renewed passion for youth ministry, and new friends.
Second is the story of the passing of Judy Hoefling and some comments from her colleague Sam Breakey, former Regional Minister and current Church Health Strategist. His comments are followed by Judy’s successor in the CBWC Administrative position, Sharon Onciul.
Sam Breakey, April 20, 2016
Most of you may recall the name and service of Judy Hoefling, who served as CBWC Administrative Assistant for Alberta from 2002-2009. I had the privilege of being served generously by her during my season as Alberta Regional Minister. Last week I attempted to put together a list of words that might describe our friend:
Keeper of promises
Confident in God’s promises
Anchoring mother and wife
Carrier of burdens
Holder of secrets
Judy has been in a lengthy battle with cancer and just this weekend received confirmation that the cancer had spread significantly. The family has been told that she probably has about a month to live. I would ask that you would pray for her at this time – for freedom to breathe without discomfort and for peace of spirit.
Please also remember her husband Ron, there three daughters and one son at this time. Judy’s oldest daughter, Amber, is married to Rob Low.
Sam Breakey, April 26, 2016
We have just received word that Judy Hoefling passed away this morning.
In Sharon Onciul’s words:
“Judy passed away into the arms of Jesus very peacefully & comfortably at 5 am this morning. Ron opened the windows for her & the robins were singing as she passed. All the family were with her surrounding her with their love. Ron wanted me to let all of you know as soon as I could since he knows that we love her too. In his words the family is dealing with the shock and finality of it all but are comfortable knowing she is in heaven now. The service will be sometime next week. Details will follow at a later date.”
I am thankful to have been called to visit with her early Sunday afternoon, after she received word from the doctor that it would just be a matter of days, rather than weeks. We laughed, and reminisced and prayed together. Her smile was as big as ever and her trust in God was deep. She thankfully was at peace with her circumstances and with each member of her family.
We will pass on the details of a future service when we have them. Jeff Gullacher, the pastor of Trinity Baptist, will officiate. Judy has asked me to speak of her work among us.
If you wish to send a note to the family, you can address it to
Ron Hoefling, 671 Village Drive, Sherwood Park, AN T8A 4N2
One last comment about beginning, living, and ending well comes from Angus Reid, well-known Canadian pollster and person of faith. In his presentation at the BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast he talked about the value of teaching children to pray and its central importance for prayer later in life:
[The] third thing I’ve learned about prayer in Canada is that the single most important factor which determines whether an adult will pray or not is their experience as a child. When I first looked at the data on this I admit to being awestruck – maybe it’s because one of my favourite hymns is “Faith of our Fathers” – but the cross generational transmission of prayerfulness is massive. If you prayed frequently as a child the chance that you would be a non prayer today is 7%. If you didn’t pray as a child the odds that you would be a frequent prayer today is 6%. On the other hand if you prayed as a child the odds that you will pray as an adult are 93%. No matter how I looked at the data I was left with the inescapable conclusion that the actions taken in childhood – with parents, caregivers and yes, schools; place an indelible mark of faith which lasts a lifetime.