Dear Friends,

Many times we don’t get to hear news of different regions, nor do we get to hear it in such a clear and concise form as the bi-annual BC Yukon Regional church capsules provide.  I thought the best way to capture some of the things happening in BC and Whitehorse is to pass onto you the good work in praise of God’s faithfulness that has been written up by our friends and colleagues in many of the regions churches.  You will see them as part of this letter. 

But I want to do four simple things before I do that.  I want to thank Nora Walker who was BC Yukon regional moderator for this Assembly;  Dawn Johannesson, Rob Ogilvie and the local arrangement committee. 

I want to ask Nora to share a couple of lines of her impressions of the time.  I’ve also asked Callum Jones, the pastor of the host church, to do the same.  And finally, in providing the capsules, I want to remind us that newsletters and times like this are windows on a world that we often don’t get to see nor take the time to read, nor have the opportunity to pray about. 

The church in Penticton was so amazing in their hospitality and their attitude towards service. It seemed like no trouble at all anything we would ask for but mostly they anticipated everything ahead of time. Everything they did was for God and they were the epitome of having a servant’s heart. They even made a wheelchair accessible bathroom for me that took 40 hours of work.  The paint was still drying when I took my first go at it. I had an audience of several to watch the initiation of the washroom and received accolades for my fine performance. Lol… I was so blessed by my time in Penticton from Mark Buchanan to Callum Jones and Catherine to Ground Swell to the amazing worship team at FBC Penticton to Val Fenn and Heather to Bryan to Clark to Erica Kenny, to Glenn and Louise to Nina who led us in an exquisitely simple and beautiful communion service…. and I’ve only mentioned a few….it was all so precious…. It truly was a gathering of the tribe that exceeded all our expectations in every way. All of what happened seemed so effortless and I know that is because of the exceptional planning and teamwork on the part of First Baptist Penticton. The gifts of time and energy and pure love touched our hearts completely.

Nora Walker

“Your Church is Too Safe”. This was the theme of the BCY Assembly, hosted at First Baptist Penticton, BC, early in July. Over 150 delegates and visitors revelled in spectacular scenery, perfect weather, outstanding hospitality, and engaging teaching from our keynote speaker, Mark Buchanan!

The weekend began, as all BCY Assemblies held outside the biennial CBWC Assemblies begin, with a Thursday evening/Friday morning pastor and spouse retreat in a local hotel/conference centre. Music at the retreat was provided by an excellent group of musicians from Summerland Baptist Church: Groundswell. Engaging and honest, their songs invited all of us to a place of rest, reflection, and worship. Mark Buchanan, back among the CBWC “tribe”, addressed the theme “The Rest of God”. The call to rest seems not only counter-productive but counter-intuitive in our work-centered society, yet for pastors and their spouses to flourish, serve effectively, and grow in their relationship with God, rest is vital. Mark brought this home with honesty about his own struggles and how, over the years, he has cultivated a more wholesome approach. His words were apposite and inviting.

The Assembly officially began on Friday, late morning, with the Women In Focus luncheon at First Baptist. Erica Kenny (CBM Guardians of Hope) spoke. Meanwhile, other delegates and assembly visitors enjoyed an afternoon’s break on Penticton’s beaches, at various tourist attractions around town, at pre-registration hospitality in First Baptist’s Ark Youth Centre, organized by Laurie and Gail Mackay from Vernon, or in our first BCY Assembly “Best Ball” golf competition at one of the top, local courses. It seemed some, who shall remain nameless, came prepared for this last event, sporting golfing attire and a bag full of sticks (I mean clubs – I follow Mark Twain’s lead: “Golf is a good walk ruined”). I’m afraid I have no idea who won; you’ll have to ask our esteemed Regional Minister, Rob Ogilvie.

Dawn Johannesson, our beloved BCY administrative assistant, accompanied by several friends, welcomed registering delegates and visitors in her inimitable fashion: smiles and hugs. Dinner followed registration. In true summer style a catered barbecue meal was offered. But far more enjoyable than the food, which was excellent, were the fellowship and friendship. What a delight to meet up with so many from across the region. This, for me, is always a highlight.

The evening session commenced in the church sanctuary with official welcome, sung worship led by First Baptist’s musicians and singers, and the introduction of new pastors and churches by Rob Ogilvie. Mark Buchanan gave the first of his two talks on the assembly theme. Drawing from a wealth of biblical texts, pertinent stories and anecdotes, and engaging humour, he encouraged us to be open to the leading of God’s Spirit. The first evening of the assembly closed with a dessert reception hosted by Beulah Garden Homes Society and introduced by Adrian Dar Santos, Beulah’s CEO. Adrian spoke of prospective developments by Beulah and the amazing impact the Society has upon the lives of its residents for Jesus.

A continental breakfast welcomed delegates and visitors Saturday morning, followed by sung worship and an update on the CBWC from Rob. In session two of his talks Mark held up a book from the church library, Tales of Baptist Daring, an older publication lauding the courage and witness of Baptists from bygone years. He challenged us to re-write a new, up-to-date version, telling of the courage and witness of CBWC Baptists in the 21st century. The morning concluded with our annual BC Convention meeting, chaired most ably by our retiring BC Convention President, Nora Walker, of First Baptist Victoria. Included on the agenda were reports from Beulah, Keats Camp, and Carey. Mary Dyck from Olivet took over responsibility as President of the Convention and, for some bizarre reason, the Convention agreed that I become the next Vice-President. Lord, help us! A sandwich lunch followed.

Two workshops and one tour were arranged for the afternoon. The tour, organized by Glenn Rabuka of First Baptist Penticton, visited the Okanagan Gleaners, a non-denominational organization that takes excess vegetables and fruit from farms and orchards, dries them, and packages them into soup mixes for transportation around the globe to the hungry. The first workshop, led by CBWC Director of Administration and Finance, Victor Ku, and David Holten, CBWC Church Resources Consultant, provided insights and assistance to church treasurers navigating the ever-complex world of church finance, charity regulations, and Canada Revenue Agency requirements. The second workshop, hosted by Rob Ogilvie, brought together Mark Buchanan, Shannon Youell (CBWC Church Planting Director), and myself on a panel to answer questions arising from Mark’s talks and assembly theme. Questions included what it means to be relevant today, how to handle complex social and moral issues, how to assess the impact and influence of the emerging church, and how to manage change in the local church.

For the evening the assembly moved venue to the large gazebo on parkland by Skaha Lake beach. Concessions and a local food truck provided food. A youth band from Kelowna, Joyful Door, performed in the gazebo. The evening was somewhat overcast and temperatures remained in the mid-20s. Thankfully, no rain! Conversations sparked around picnic tables and youth en route to Serve 2014 stopped by. Afterwards, several people took advantage of the wide selection of ice cream served at Tickleberries in Okanagan Falls (revealing photos of cones teetering under the weight of exotic flavours have been posted on various social media sites – I shall say no more!).

First Baptist enjoyed a packed service on Sunday morning. Colin Godwin, President of Carey, preached. Colin had come to faith at First Baptist in the 1980s and returning to the church was a moving experience for him – and all of us. His sermon, available on the church’s website, concluded with a call to commitment. Several responded. Hallelujah! The morning concluded with communion, led by a recent Carey M.Div graduate, Nyaw “Nina” Simon, a Karen Baptist who until recently worked as admin-receptionist at First Baptist Penticton and who, in a few months, will return to the refugee camp in Thailand in which she spent most of her life in order to teach theology. The assembly closed with Mark Altrogge’s 2011 worship song, “As you go”.

For the congregation at First Baptist the opportunity to host this assembly was a great privilege. The church pulled together magnificently. Prior to the weekend many in the church had offered their time to repaint the gym, renovate a disabled-access washroom, set up tables and chairs, prepare food, practise songs, create an assembly banner, arrange decorations, complete minor building repairs, etc. A small team offered child care during the pastor and spouse retreat and during assembly sessions. Everyone chipped in. Since the weekend we have received many affirming comments, particularly about the food and decorations (we have an outstanding crew of people who oversee these – and, no, you can’t have them!). By the same token, the BCY Regional Advisory Team put in an enormous amount of preparatory work. My thanks go as much to them as to the fabulous congregation and fellow staff at First Baptist that I have the privilege of serving as Senior Pastor.

Grace and peace,

Callum Jones

Senior Pastor, First Baptist Penticton


In Christ,