Making Connections April 2018

We’re simplifying!

Introducing new newsletter nodes for noteworthy narratives

It is our joy to share stories from among our CBWC family through our regular newsletters. We hope you are at turns inspired, encouraged and challenged to see the work of God in your own context.

Over the years, we’ve found a lot of stories to tell, and so it’s developed that we also send a lot of different emails to you. So we’re trying a new thing. From now on, all our newsletters will be gathered together and sent out once a month.

  • Making Connections, the monthly storytelling newsletter for the whole denomination. (Not to be confused with Connections, a less frequent printed brochure that helps with fundraising. No judgement if you’re confused, we were too, it’s why we’re simplifying.)
  • Alberta’s regional newsletter, a quarterly newsletter about goings on in the Alberta/NWT region, distributed to Alberta churches by Sue Hunter and Dennis Stone.
  • BCY’s regional newsletter, a semi-regular newsletter about goings on in the BCY region, distributed to BCY churches by Dawn Johannesson and Larry Schram (and of course, formerly Rob Ogilvie)
  • Heartland’s regional newsletter, a bi-annual newsletter about goings on in the Heartland, distributed to Heartland churches by Cindy Emmons and Mark Doerksen.

You’ll still hear from the regional offices directly about regular operational things, and updates from the regional ministers. It’s just the stories & events that will be here.

In the new Making Connections format, each month we’ll still feature articles from around the denomination, and in addition each issue will include one region’s local newsletter. This month it’s Alberta, and you’ll find their newsletter here.

We’ve also updated the way the stories are hosted on our website. Instead of clicking on each article separately from the email, all the articles will be accessible from one link. Just scroll down for the rest.

As with all new ideas, we’re eager to hear your feedback. Does this format work for you? Do you like it? Does it make you mad? (If it does make you mad, you can certainly unsubscribe, but we’d really like a chance to talk about it first.) Let us know. Email me at

Welcome to the new Making Connections!

— Zoë Ducklow, on behalf of the CBWC Communications team

Click here for the Alberta regional newsletter

A note from Dennis | Gull Lake Retreat | New church joining CBWC | Changes & updates from the region | April settlements

“Language is the window to culture”

An Alberta couple is studying Cree to get to know their neighbours

When their ministry as the pastors at Battle Lake Church ended last summer, Erwin and Coral Buchholz turned their attention to learning Cree. They had been spending more and more time with their Cree neighbours, and wanted to get to know them more.

“Language is the window to culture. That was our primary motivation, to help us understand the Cree worldview,” Erwin says. They now know some simple phrases and pronunciations, and they have a song and a prayer memorized.

“The fact that we’re learning Cree makes them feel like we’re more interested in them, I think,” Coral adds. “It’s a way of building relationships and communicating that we’re interested in their culture, their ways, and understanding who they are.”

While still pastoring at Battle Lake, Erwin and Coral met several people from the nearby reserves, and noticed a stark divide between the Cree people and the non-indigenous neighbours.

“At Highway 13, you could say there’s an invisible wall—and more than a little antipathy on both sides,” Erwin says. “People on either side don’t really have much to do with each other.”

This seemed, to Erwin and Coral, like something that wasn’t right. So they started spending more time on the reserve, nurturing the friendships they’d started and meeting more people. They’re invited to the regular Thursday community lunches and special events on the reserve.

Pigeon Lake reserve is an extension of the main Maskwacis reserve where four Cree bands have their administration offices. The two communities are nearly an hour apart, separated by acres of farmland and the Queen Elizabeth Highway that runs between Calgary and Edmonton. Pigeon Lake was formerly a fishing community, but when the walleye fish was introduced, the native whitefish species declined so sharply that the commercial fishing industry collapsed. The rise and fall of revenues from oil leases also adversely affect the community. Life on the reserve today is marked with poverty, high unemployment, a lack of literacy and numeracy skills and lack of transportation, Erwin says. The community of 600 often feels isolated and cut off from Maskwacis.

For Erwin and Coral, the Pigeon Lake connection really began when they met an elderly Cree woman in Maskwacis. Miriam had been recovering from a recent illness and was unable to attend church, but still wanted to take communion. Erwin and Coral visited her at home to worship, pray and take communion. Thus began a friendship where the three became prayer partners, praying about bringing hope and healing to the reserves. They still visit each month to take communion and worship together.

“She is a wonderful prayer warrior. She’s connected us with people, and helped us understand the history,” Erwin says. On the reserve, he says, it’s not like David Livingston taking the gospel to the heart of Africa. “They have heard the gospel, but there has not been continuity in shepherding.”

Missionaries have visited, churches have been planted, and to some extent the work has continued. But there is no church at Pigeon Lake reserve. Nearby pastors have taken interest at times, and several people have made faith commitments as a result. But when those pastors moved on, the thread was snapped, and the relationships came to an end.

“They have sort of a half-forgotten Christian faith,” Erwin says. “One person told me there was a time when a bunch of them gave their hearts to God in the late 1990s. But something happened, there’s been a disconnect. They’re no longer part of a worshipping community.”

The fact that Erwin and Coral have started learning Cree is a big deal. It says they’re planning to stick around. (Who would learn a language of place you’re itching to leave?) And, it says they hold Cree culture in high esteem.  

Considering the vehement efforts to suppress Cree language, culture and dignity historically—often in the name of Christianity—and the inconsistent attention Pigeon Lake reserve has had from churches, Erwin and Coral’s approach represents a new way to build relationship.

Where will they go from here? The Buchholz’s have no firm agenda. “When people say, Oh you have a heart for the Native people, I really get uncomfortable with that, because that turns people into projects” Erwin says. “I have a heart for people, and these people happen to be my neighbours.”

Sure, they’d like to see a church at Pigeon Lake. But what could it look like, Erwin wonders? “Do we need a pulpit? Maybe we don’t need benches, maybe we don’t need hymnbooks. But somewhere along the line, I think there needs to be a place where God’s people can come together and worship and be taught, and grow together and be real together.”

They’re not in a big rush to plant one, though. “We need a Native partner,” Coral says.

Along with a posture of respect, is a disinclination to take charge. Whatever Christian community looks like at Pigeon Lake, it’s got to be led by the Cree people. Like at the church they’ve built a friendship on the Maskwacis reserve, pastored by Mario Swampy.

“Mario can say things that we cannot say, because he is Cree,” says Coral. “For us to say, You need to do this or that, is just more of the white guy telling the Natives what to do. So partnership is really important.”

Through their involvement with the Cree people and learning the language, Erwin and Coral are hopeful that they will be able to do their part.


Potential Impact

The deadline to register is April 10, 2018. The Potential Impact conference will be at beautiful Keats Camp, B.C. this year, from April 26-29, 2018. Registration is $200. Register here or click here for more details about the conference.

Hear from some of last year’s conference goers participants.

New Ministers Orientation

April 29-May 2, 2018 in Vancouver B.C. “Why did we become a CBWC church?” “Where do I find help with ministry?” “Who else is in this family of churches?” These questions are answered at New Ministers Orientation (NMO), a 3.5-day seminar for all ministers joining the CBWC, held at the beautiful Carey Centre in Vancouver. At NMO, you will meet new people and learn about the all resources available through the denomination. Contact Dawn Johannesson at for details. Download the modules here.


Online, May 24, 2018 at 5:30 pm PST (6:30 MT, 7:30 CT) Each year, we gather either in person or online for an annual meeting. The CBWC holds itself accountable to local churches, presents audited financial statements and special motions, and proposes budgets for future years. This year the 60-90 minute meeting will primarily include a financial report and updates on CBWC initiatives. We hope you will join us!

Download a printable poster here. | FAQ

Don’t forget, we’re making a greeting video, and we need your submissions by April 24, 2018. Submission guidelines | Add videos to Dropbox


July 1-7, 2018, Kamloops B.C. Early bird registration deadline is May 15. Register here, click here for more information, or see our recent article about SERVE here .

BCY Pastors & Spouses Retreat

July 5-6, 2018 in Victoria, B.C. with guest speakers Rob and Sarah Patterson. Email Dawn Johannesson for more details and to register

Copyright ©  2018 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.

Making Connections is the Monthly Newsletter of the CBWC. The senior editor is Zoë Ducklow, who works under the executive editorial direction of Rob Ogilvie and the Communications & Stewardship committee. Have a story idea? Want to tell us how great we’re doing? Or how terribly? Email Zoë at