Heartland Regional Newsletter August 2018

A note from Mark

It’s summer, a time when my schedule slows down some. I’m grateful for such a time. I get to catch up on a bit of reading, which I like to do in the mornings, outside at a lovely spot in front of our house, drinking 454 Horsepower Kicking Horse Coffee. It’s a great way to see some neighbourhood routines; the bus coming at the usual time, some neighbours leaving frantically for work, and saying hello to my neighbour walking his dogs.

In writing this update, I look back at my calendar and recognize that not all seasons are like this one. There is plenty going on in our churches, with different discussions happening with different churches. A familiar one these days is the conversation about calling a pastor. It isn’t an easy time to do so, and this requires time and patience, and I’m happy to work with my colleagues in helping churches find the right pastor for such a time as this.

Looking back on the calendar also reminds me that there is a wide array of issues happening within the Heartland, and some are more difficult than others. In April, I was able to get to Swift Current and spend some time with Joell Haugan, whose cousin had passed away in that horrific bus crash in Humboldt, SK. I was able to attend the ministerial in Saskatoon as well, and am really pleased that I get to attend that on occasion. I’m grateful to Blake and Betty Anderson, who work hard at organizing such meetings.

At the end of April, Carey Hall was the site of the denomination’s New Minister Orientation. This is always a good time, introducing the denomination’s staff and resources to new pastors in our midst. It’s always a reminder, too, that God is at work all over, as most pastors have stories of faith that do not necessarily originate within the CBWC (mine included). I think this is a great resource for pastors in our denomination, and I’m grateful for all the work that goes on to make it happen.

At the beginning of May, I attended the National Staff Meeting of the Canadian Baptists in Guelph, ON. The Executive Staff from our sister denominations get together on occasion to talk about all sorts of interesting topics, ranging from a proposed new worship manual, to steps of accreditation, and church planting. It may be hard to believe, but when you lump all these denominations together, we become the 2nd largest evangelical voice in Canada. I’m happy to report that there are fine people who serve these denominations.

Of course, there have been significant moments in the congregations as well. I was privileged to be part of the farewell service of Dave and Janet Bonney at Neepawa. It sure is good to be part of such a service and to hear the impact that a pastor makes on people in a community. I was able to attend Cornerstone Baptist’s 20th anniversary, and just preached at Filipino Evangelical’s 35th anniversary. There’s lots of good stuff happening there, and it’s always a pleasure to be in that community.

On July 15th, I had the opportunity to be part of service to mark the closing of a church after 92 years of ministry. Hyas Baptist Church has a long and great history, but the time has come for the church to close. This is surely difficult, but not without a sense of God’s faithfulness over these 92 years of witness in that community. I personally would like to thank this congregation for their ministry over the years, and for their support of the denomination. I am grateful to those who helped plan the service, and to those who were able to attend. Please remember these folks in prayer.

I hope you are having a good summer. Mary and I are mainly staying near our home, and we’re hoping to do some day trips to hike some trails at different parts of the province. I look forward to a change of pace, eating lots of watermelon, and spending time with family.

Grace and Peace


Hyas Baptist Church Closes After 92 Years

By: Patricia Kachman

On Sunday, July 15th, the final service of worship and celebration was held at Hyas Baptist Church, culminating ministry in this area for over 100 years.

It was early in the 1900s that recent immigrants from Ukraine and Russia desired to gather together for worship. They were Christians who had experienced persecution in their homelands, and were making a fresh start in Canada where they could practice their faith freely.

It was in 1924 that these believers recognized the need for a church building after meeting in homes for many years. With $200, many donated materials and countless hours of volunteer labour, a church took shape. Services began in 1925 with about 30 people attending.

Through the years, the church grew and that growth necessitated many addition and subsequent renovations. The present church structure dates back to the 1970s. It has been well maintained and continues to be a pleasing presence in the town.

Church members decided in April 2018 that they were not in a position to continue ministry due to declining attendance and varying congregational needs.

The final service took place with mixed emotions and memories awakened. It was attended by many who had been raised in the church and who returned to say farewell. Previous pastors and leaders also came from places near and far. It was a wonderful reunion in many ways.

Rev. Mark Doerksen, of Canadian Baptists of Western Canada presided over the service that included a historical video, greetings from the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Conference of Western Canada and church ministries from the area and beyond and wonderful singing and prayer.

Throughout, it was acknowledged that the church is not a physical space but rather God’s people who love and serve him wherever they are. In that light, we are sure that the ministry of Hyas Baptist Church will continue to be fruitful. 

Not to us O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1

Click through to see some photos of the last service.

Meet Our People: Alisa Powers

One of our favourite parts of this newsletter is introducing you to people in the Heartland region. This month, it’s Alisa Powers, the Outreach and Family Ministries Pastor at Moosomin Baptist church. 

I grew up in a small farming community in Saskatchewan where life was all about 4-H, Sunday drives, hanging out on the farm, music, sports and Jesus! My dad was the service manager/shop foreman for a John Deere company, and my mom works in the community, serving in various meaningful ways. I have one sister, two brothers and five nieces and nephews.

When I was two or three, my aunt found me dancing in a circle in our kitchen. “Who are you dancing with?” she asked. “I am dancing with the angels,” I told her without hesitation. That’s my first memory of life with Jesus. I don’t remember a life before I had Jesus in my heart. I’ve always loved him.

In my senior year of high school, a good friend of mine was murdered. This devastated me and changed my life forever, setting the course for my life in ministry. I studied youth care work at a small bible college, and then moved to Regina to go to Canadian Bible College. It was there that a ministry called Youth Advantage Inner City Outreach Project was born. I wanted to, in some way, honour my deceased friend and to help others find freedom from their addictions, dead-end lifestyles and poverty.

When I first moved to Regina I met some amazing people with the same passion for the lost that I had. Together, we started a bus ministry called LOVE LIVES HERE – REGINA. The bus—still on the streets today—is a travelling coffee house which offers prayer, counselling, emergency care and food to the people on the street: the homeless, prostitutes, gang members, pimps, johns and street kids.

After serving on the street bus for a few years, I became discouraged seeing so many youth growing up with little change in their life circumstances. They had no hope for the future outside of drugs, crime, gangs and prostitution. I remember crying out to God in anguish, “God there is so much more out there for them.”

It was that night the Youth Advantage Inner City Outreach Project was born. I was 19 years old, had grown up in a farming community and knew very little about this lifestyle I was seeing every day. But God used me anyways. Over the years our ministry developed rapidly. We had safe houses, a drop-in centre, mentorship program, youth group, bus ministries, counselling and emergency care.

Over the years we had 500+ children and youth stay in our homes, 13 of them long term, and I was blessed to raise five of them until they were old enough to be on their own. My children were the ones that Social Services did not know what to do with. I was their last hope. They were often labeled as “throw away” kids by their social workers. Raising my kids were the hardest years of my life but it transformed me into the person I am today. They brought out the very best in me. I loved them like a mom, and they knew it.

In the summer of 2017 one of my daughters was killed by the lifestyle she had been taken out of. She was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It saddened me beyond anything I had experienced before. I felt lost in my own sadness, but God took me closer and deeper into his love than I’d ever experienced. What a privilege it is to be allowed closer and deeper into his presence.

After many years working in various inner cities—Detroit, Los Angeles, Toronto, Winnipeg, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina—I was tired. I decided to take a six-month sabbatical and stay with a family friend in Carnduff. Well, God had different plans for me. As I was resting, I noticed that the people I’d put in place in Regina to serve in my absence were full of passion and had the energy I was lacking. With my ministry in good hands, and a new life in a small town, I decided to stay. Eventually I moved to Redvers, about half an hour outside of Moosomin. On one Sunday drive, I found myself at Moosomin Baptist Church when their service was about to start, so I went in. It reminded me so much of my country church back home and I loved it.

After two years of attending the Moosomin Baptist Church I joined their staff as an Associate Pastor. In the almost two years that I have been here God has blown away all my expectations. Our children and youth programs have grown so rapidly that we barely have enough room for them all. Our church is alive and a very exciting place to be right now. I have appreciated so much the opportunity that I have to serve here at Moosomin Baptist Church and look forward to what God will continue to do in my ministry.

Summer BBQ Meet and Greets

Last summer, as Rob Ogilvie took on the role of Executive Minister, we decided to have some BBQs with our ministerial groups so ministry leaders could meet Rob and get to know him a little. This June we arranged those BBQs again, and this time we upped the ante by adding Colin Godwin, President of Carey Theological College, to the events. Rob and Colin were kind enough to join me and the rest of the ministerial in Saskatoon, hosted by Paul and Lindsay Matheson. There was a great turnout, though shortly after Rob got up to speak, a thunder and lightning storm ensued. In the days of Moses, that really meant something. In our day, it only meant that we packed up fairly rapidly.

The next day we met with the ministerial in Regina, and we did so at Ryan and Cindy Emmons’ house. We had extra help that day as two wonderful kids named Cody and Evelyn Emmons helped serve beverages.

It was good to connect with folks in this way, and next year, should we do it again, we may choose to have the event in the evening so that more might be able to attend.

The final BBQ happened in Winnipeg the following week. Because the Westman has fewer pastors at this time, we decided to try to have just the one BBQ in Winnipeg. It was good to see folks attend that event, and my wife Mary and I were able to host. We always enjoy having this group to our home, and this year was no different. I do believe these events are important; there is no formal agenda other than to eat together and have conversations. This, too, I think is fruitful.

I am grateful to the hosts of these events, to Rob and Colin for their travel, and to those who attended. I’m also grateful to Cindy for her organization of these events.

Enjoy the photos below! (Click to open the slideshow)

Settlement Report

New Hires
  • Kevin Trembley, First Baptist Church (Portage la Prairie), Pastor
  • Tash Ingram, Westview Baptist Church (Calgary), Youth and Young Adults Pastor
  • Dawn Stiles-Oldring, First Baptist Church (Edmonton), Children and Family Minister
  • Clinton Pigeau, Trinity Baptist Church (Sherwood Park), Youth Pastor
Moving On
  • Steve Simala Grant, Laurier Heights Baptist Church (Edmonton), Family Ministries
  • Neil van Heerden, First Baptist Church (Victoria), Pastor