Making Connections May 2024

What’s Happening

  • Looking forward to gathering with you on Zoom for CBWC Assembly 2024 on May 16
  • BC and Yukon Pastors and Spouses, join us for a retreat: June 13-14 in White Rock with speaker Mark Hazzard. Register here:
  • From workshops to ice cream socials to keynote Carolyn Arends, BCY Regional Assembly and BC Convention AGM is sure to be a wonderful weekend. Join us June 14-15 in White Rock. Details and sign up info here:
  • Banff Pastors Conference is approaching November 11-14. Find out how you can give to support clergy wellness, or attend the conference, at c

He Makes Me Lie Down

The great irony of Sabbath-keeping is how hard it is for us to say no to people but how with such ease we say no to being at rest with God. — A. J. Swoboda, Subversive Sabbath 

He makes me lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:2). 

 When was the last time you slept like a baby? 

And who came up with that phrase? Because whoever used that metaphor for a good night’s sleep clearly never spent a night with my kids! 

In our home, nighttime was the survival of the fittest. It was quite a production every evening: the bath and the story time, the prayers, the lullabies, the back rubs, and the reassurance that we were right down the hall, not far away. 

Finally, the lights were turned off, and my husband and I would sit down to relax. It was then that round two of the bedtime ritual would begin. Someone was thirsty or had to go to the bathroom. They were too hot or too cold, the blankets weren’t right, or they were lonely. 

Our kids could not bring themselves to surrender to sleep until all their needs were met. Finally, they were so utterly exhausted they couldn’t keep their eyes open any longer. And so were we. 

It was always a challenge to convince our kids that sleep was a good thing. They were tired but restless, unaware of what they really needed. They didn’t understand that while they slept, their bodies were healing, restoring, and growing.  

Our job as parents is to take care of our children and keep them safe. Their job is to trust us and in turn, obey. There is a mutuality to their thriving. 

Trust is the backbone of a healthy relationship. Trust is built over time and needs to be nurtured. For better or for worse, and often unknowingly, we tend to rely on our experiences with others to affirm or deny a person’s trustworthiness. It is difficult to rest in the presence of someone you don’t trust. Sadly, trust is something many of us struggle with when it comes to our relationship with God. I wonder whether the main reason is because we have placed ourselves in the driver’s seat of the relationship, constantly questioning if God is trustworthy enough for us to allow him to take over. 

We cannot rest in God if we do not feel safe. 

Psalm 23 speaks to this through the rich imagery of a shepherd tending his flock of sheep: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” 

The fact that the word makes is used in this verse indicates that we aren’t always willing to heed the Shepherd’s direction by giving ourselves over to rest. It seems that we have reversed the nature of what it means to be in relationship with Jesus. We forget it is God who initiated the relationship, not us. It is His role as our Father in heaven to take care of us and meet our needs. Our job is to respond with trust and, yes—obedience. But like children, we often resist the very thing that will keep us healthy and content. 

W. Phillip Keller is an author who happens to be a shepherd. He explains in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 that sheep don’t always know what they need and what is best for them, so they rely on the shepherd to guide them to a good place to rest.  

They don’t need to know where the green pastures or still waters are. They need only to know where the shepherd is. Because they trust their shepherd, the sheep look to him for guidance, comfort, safety and care. 

With this imagery in mind, we gain a deeper sense of what David is trying to say about his relationship with God. My shepherd provides all my needs. Because in Christ I lack nothing, I can trust Him to watch over me and care for me. When He sees I need rest, I can submit to His direction. I can relax and lie down because I know that all my concerns are safely in His care while I refresh and restore. 

Jesus invites us into this kind of rest-Sabbath rest. God created Sabbath and has given it as a gift for our well-being.  

Our job is to accept the gift.    

This reflection adapted from Deborah Judas’ book Cultivating Shalom is used with her permission and is brought to you by CBWC’s Banff Pastors and Spouses GIVE and GO campaign, a clergy care initiative to help as many pastors as possible to join us at Banff Pastors and Spouses Conference this November. Learn more: 

 Partner Spotlight: Hopehill

Hello From Hopehill in Vancouver. There is an old proverb that states, “Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.”   

It is great advice. There is much darkness to be aware of in life.  One of the dark spots in Canadian life is the “cost of affordable housing.” Every generation faces this challenge, and it seems to be true in almost every province, especially in the larger cities. Vancouver is just “insane” in this matter.

We could curse the darkness, or we could light a candle. We choose the second. Hopehill is building 250 new, affordable, low-cost housing units for low-income seniors over the next 5 years. Our target audience is people, over 60, who are living on less than $50K per year. We know how stressful it is to find an affordable place if you don’t have one, and how stressful it is to maintain a place as costs keep rising. Once done, Hopehill will be home to 600 residents living in a vibrant, village-like community in Vancouver.

As of April 2024, we are halfway to completing our first of 3 residences. 64 units will be available in February 2025. Would you like to come join us? We clearly identify as a faith-based campus, but two-thirds of our residents profess no faith, or an alternative worldview. We believe we are on a mission at Hopehill! If you are interested, please contact us at We will begin taking applications in August of this year.

Jesus once talked about the value of “a cup of cold water in His Name.” If He were to contextualize it to today, would He also say “an affordable place to call ‘home’ in His Name?”

Mountain Standard Regional Newsletter

May 2024

Lessons from Motherhood

By Jenna Hanger

I remember last Mother’s Day, watching a cute video at church that listed all these adjectives for mothers. Endless patience, kindness, and understanding. Gentle as a lamb, strong as a giant. An angelic voice when singing lullabies, but loud as a foghorn when calling for dinner. There was even mention of mending and sewing clothes. These lovely words were accompanied by a mother smiling and whirling her children around. Energetically cleaning the house, which already looked suspiciously pristine and cradling her new baby serenely.

I sat there thinking, goodness, that is not me at all. I do not have endless patience, kindness, or understanding.

I have limits that I seem to hit daily. I am not as gentle as a lamb. I have a terrible singing voice. I cannot sew, and I am not serenely doing anything. I am maddeningly tidying the house, which never seems to stay clean, or I am sitting at my computer trying to get work done as chaos swirls around me. (Case in point, it has taken me a couple days to write this article because of the constant interruptions.) It seems I am constantly apologizing for talking too harshly to my girls and feeling overstimulated. Most moms I know are pulled in a thousand directions—trying to work like we don’t have kids and raise kids like we don’t work.

I watched this video, which we seem to see a different version of every year and thought, Why can’t they show something realistic? A haggard mom flopping on her bed with a to-do list that seems barely touched or shouting at her kids to stop fighting. The narrator could say, “Here is a mom, at the end of her rope. She’s given up on finishing the laundry, is exhausted from work, and has a pounding headache from the noisy household. This Mother’s Day, why don’t you go for a nice long walk and give your mom some well-needed peace and quiet?” Immediately, of course, I felt guilty. Because on Mother’s Day I should want to be with my children, not craving some alone time—though, alone time is very much needed now and again. It’s the never-ending emotional swirl of motherhood—the guilt, enjoyment, and genuine longing to be home again when we get a break—all mixed together.

I was beginning to feel resentful of these picture-perfect moms presented to us on Mother’s Day, but then I thought back to memories of my mom growing up. My mother raised five daughters while helping on the ranch, speaking at various youth events and pursuing her many interests. I remember my mom sometimes struggling. But mostly, oddly, I remember scenes like the idyllic video shows. I remember her having an impressive amount of patience in our chaotic house. I remember fun family moments, quiet snuggles on the couch, and family dinners around the table. Even the times when we all weren’t at our best are now funny to reminisce about. All these little moments—which I am sure weren’t always easy for my mom—are built up in my head as a happy childhood. My mom is still one of my favourite people on this planet. Celebrating her every May is easy for me. I count myself very lucky to have the mom that I do. Interestingly, she still says those days of us being young and demanding were some of her favourite times. It made me wonder if perhaps I am not doing too bad myself, and if my kids see things differently than I do.

This reflecting has made me thankful for three things; grace, forgiveness, and love without conditions. These traits are what my children give me so freely, what the Lord gives me daily, and what can turn even the bad days into good days. It amazes me how quickly my kids can forgive my shortcomings and move on to the next thing, or how they come to me for hugs and kisses even after I have lost my temper.

Even though it feels like I am the one always giving to my kids, the truth is they give some incredible gifts and life lessons to me. Though physically and mentally I can feel drained, spiritually speaking, I think they teach me and fill me up more than I can even recognize right now in the thick of it.

I see traits from the Lord, and reflections of my relationship with Him through both my relationships as a daughter and as a mother. Coming to Him for comfort, counsel and nurturing, He plays a significant maternal role in my life. Him forgiving me an endless number of times and loving me regardless of my shortcomings is akin to how my children bounce back to me, no matter what kind of day we have.

It’s interesting to view motherhood like this, like a reflection of our relationship with the Lord. We often reflect on God the Father, but there are verses about God being like a mother as well.

Isaiah 66:13 says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

In Luke 13:34,  Jesus says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

If you are like me, wrapped up in the thick of motherhood and feeling the weight of everything you aren’t, I hope that you can cut yourself some slack and realize you are doing better than you think you are. I also hope you can see the beauty in the chaos and see the Lord’s love reflecting at you throughout it all.

And if you aren’t a mother, but have one, go give her a hug and maybe some flowers. A little goes a long way!

Giving Room for Grief

By Jenna Hanger

Leanne Friesen was no stranger to the process of dying. In fact, she was somewhat of an expert on it. Having become a pastor at twenty-seven years old, completed courses on bereavement, led funerals, supported grievers in their loss, and sat beside deathbeds, she felt well familiar with the area.

But, when her sister passed away after an eight-year battle with cancer, Leanne was humbled to realize she did not understand grief at all. She found her journey with grief to be confusing, difficult, and surprising in ways she hadn’t expected.

“In the years that went from there, I came out with this term “Grieving Room.” I spent the next few years realizing that what grief needs is space. There’s always this desire to fix it, to come up with some big solution, but I started realizing I just really need my grief to be heard and seen and allowed to be. I needed to give myself that room,” Leanne said.

The lessons she was learning evolved into a blog, which eventually during the COVID lockdowns led to writing her book; Grieving Room: Making Space for All the Hard Things after Death and Loss—which was eventually published this past February. Throughout that time, she also built up an Instagram following of 30,000 followers who engage with her posts and discussions on grieving.

“Collectively this ministry just grew and grew and grew, so now I call it my weird hobby,” Leanne laughed, adding it isn’t the most ideal hobby when working full-time as Executive Minister of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ). Most of her time is taken up with her job, but when she can, she is writing posts and participating on podcasts, supporting people walking through grief, and promoting her new book.

Grieving Room has touched many people of all walks of life and faith journeys. A mix of memoir and how-to’s, Leanne shares her real-life experience losing her sister and advises both those walking through grief and those trying to support grievers.

“It goes from when I found out that she was sick, and all the type of room that was needed as she was dying, and then the early days of her death, and then as I grieve. So, it starts from ‘Room to be Uncertain.’ I talk about this fear when I hear she is dying, that I must have enough faith to save her. I’ve come to understand that there is room for uncertain faith as Christians,” Leanne said.

The book then moves into ‘Room for Dying’, and the cultural struggles that we have to make space for someone who is passing.

“We put a lot of pressure on dying people, and we don’t realize it,” Leanne said, sharing a story about a well-meaning person who told her not to say her sister was dying because that was giving up “hope.”

“It’s so interesting, as Christians, that the only [acceptable] version of hope is saying ‘they aren’t going to die’, which isn’t even scriptural. Scripture doesn’t say ‘don’t grieve.’ It says we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. Somehow, we have taken that to mean we don’t grieve at all, or we just pretend that everything is going to go in one particular direction, and our only version of hope is that things are going to get better in this life.”

“My hope is that if we live, we live unto the Lord, and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live or die, we belong unto the Lord. That was my hope in that moment [when my sister was passing]. My hope wasn’t that she was going to suddenly get better, my hope was this isn’t the end. We are going to get through this, and God is with her.”

Leanne shared that, although there is space for miracles to occur, there also needs to be recognition for things to be exactly as they are. There needs to be room for the reality that sometimes people will die, and we can’t push that truth away because it is awkward or difficult.

The book continues on to cover a vast majority of topics: covering how goodbyes are never like the movies portray, and that is okay; how Leanne walked through her own grief, making room for the rollercoaster of grief––and learning to live with it, not just move on.

“One thing that is really normal is that it lasts so much longer than people think. It’s normal that a few years later, the grief is still hitting you. We have this belief that a couple months in, and you should be in a better place. After a year, it should be done. And none of that is true.”

Another aspect of grief that Leanne discusses is that it is both profoundly personal, and profoundly universal—which is what makes it such a special experience.

“It’s so shocking and overwhelming, and each person’s grief is so unique, which is why it’s tricky to say to someone. ‘I know how you feel.’ We don’t know how anyone feels. Even if we lost the same person, we grieve for them differently. We lose different things when we lose a person because we all had different relationships with that person.”

For those who are helping someone through grief, Leanne gives two key pieces of advice. The first being that you don’t need to fix it. The second being you should not ignore it. These two things go a long way to help grievers have room to process their grief.

“First of all, anything with ‘at least’ you just don’t need to say, ever. Because you don’t feel ‘at least’ when you are grieving (at least they didn’t suffer, at least they had a long life, etc.)”

Leanne said, adding that you should take the lead from the person you are trying to comfort––agree with them and let them know you are sad with them.

“The other thing that really hurts grievers, so much more than someone saying something less than ideal, is when people say nothing. Or do nothing. I can tell you that in my many, many years of talking to people who have had loss, they all have a story–– every single one—of the friend who wasn’t there for them,” Leanne said.

To learn more about Leanne’s grief ministry, check out her Instagram account HERE, and her book on Amazon HERE. Or go to your local Indigo Bookstore to purchase a copy.

You can also hear more of her thoughts on grief by listening to the following podcasts:

· Grief and Light Podcast (March 2024):

· “The Story We Tell Ourselves” (February 2024):

A 45 minute discussion, digging especially into theology and faith issues like why we suffer, and how we process loss as people of faith: · “Faith and Grief” Podcast:

Leanne discusses “Grieving Room” and why we need to talk about grief and loss, as we consider why our world is grief avoidant and what would help grievers who need space for grief.

· “The Power of Love” Podcast (February 2024):

In this episode of Power and Love, Leanne talks to founders Taj and TJ about the themes of her book and why she hopes to help grievers give grief room.

Healthy Leadership Cultures

A Conversation with Nate Collins, Hillside Church

As we dive into our series on Healthy Church Leadership Cultures, we hope to hear from many CBWC churches about the way you do leadership and where you see health happening in your congregation. We begin with a conversation with Rev. Nate Collins, Co-Pastor at Hillside Church, North Vancouver.  

CHURCH PLANTING: How would you describe the leadership structure at your church? Tell us about the makeup of the leadership and staff teams, Elders’ Board etc.  

NATE: We have three co-pastors, a youth pastor, an administrator (who is also director of children’s ministries), a building manager, and often an intern or two. The three co-pastors share the responsibility of leading the church as a whole (along with our board of elders). We divvy up tasks based on gifting and available time. Decisions (at least big ones) are usually made in consultation with each other. 

On paper, we are an elder-led church. Jeff, Pauline and I are not technically pastors from the church’s perspective, though we use the term plenty conversationally. Technically we are paid elders. We have 5 non-paid elders, too. Of course, we need some paid elders because non-paid elders don’t have time to run a church. The idea is that we are all equals on the elder board in terms of authority and influence.  

In practice, though, it doesn’t quite work that way. Most of the elders do perform an important function: One oversees our tech team and leads worship a lot. One is an intern and on our preaching team. One spearheads our efforts toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples along with her husband. One oversees our finances. I don’t want to minimize that, because it’s really important and good. At the same time, I usually feel like it’s up to the pastors to make most stuff happen, whether it’s calling elders meetings, setting the agenda, leading vision casting for the year, planning what events we’ll do, etc. That’s not what I would imagine if I were to hear about an elder-led church with paid and non-paid elders who are all equal. I’m not complaining, but I think it’s important to be honest about both what we’re supposedly aiming at and how we actually function! 

CP: How do people join the leadership team? What’s the relationship between congregation and leadership?  

NATE: Basically, our elder board has a brainstorming session about who we think might make a good elder. Elders have a 3-year term, which can be renewed for a total of 6 years as an elder before a mandatory year off of being an elder. That means we’re usually looking for a new elder or two each year. When we think of someone who would be a good candidate, we ask (and sometimes beg) them. If they agree, then the congregation votes at our AGM on whether they should be an elder. People could ask to be an elder and people could nominate someone to be an elder, but I’ve only seen that once.  

As for the relationship between elders, staff, and the congregation, it’s pretty open. We get some people in the congregation who like to see mainly the pastors as on a separate level from them, but that’s definitely not something we are trying to communicate at Hillside. Oddly, Pauline rarely gets put on a pedestal the way Jeff and I do. Lots of times people don’t feel like it counts as a pastor contacting them if Pauline does it. It drives her up the wall, as I’m sure you can imagine! In general, we try to foster an atmosphere of equality and accessibility.  


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Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.