As you read this, you will be aware that the 2015 Gathering is taking place at Westview Baptist Church in Calgary. Thanks so much to Dayle Medgett and Westview for their hospitality and many small and large kindnesses.
We engage every year in a wonderful process known as Ordination Examining Council. Let me draw your attention to a simple explanation of ordination and its process; this piece has been worked on over the years by Wayne Larson, Steve Simala Grant, and Laura Nelson in their roles as Chair of the Council.
Ordination and its Processes
One of the most serious aspects of our life together as Baptists in Western Canada is the examination of Candidates for ordination to the gospel ministry. Under Baptist polity, and in keeping with our understanding of the nature of the church, the ordination of a Candidate is the prerogative of the local church, while the official recognition of the Candidate is the prerogative of Canadian Baptist.
From the local church the call for ordination is issued; to the local church the recommendations of the Examining Council are returned; on those recommendations the local church acts. The church convenes the Service of Ordination and on its behalf those who have been previously ordained to the gospel ministry join with members of the local church to lay on hands, with prayer, for the plenitude of the Spirit and His gifts in thus setting apart a man or a woman to a life of ministry in the church.
But, although ordination is at the request, under the auspices, and by the authority of the local church, it is the custom in Baptist churches to request the fellowship of sister churches in this solemn act. To this end, sister churches are invited to send representatives to an Examining Council. Previously ordained ministers take part in the ordination service; and the Regional Minister normally conducts the service so that all may see that the universal church has a share in the solemn act of a local church.
In Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, by mutual agreement of the churches and areas, and at their request, the denomination convenes a central Examining Council each year. This council is composed of representatives elected by the Regional Executives or Advisory Groups, the elected officers of Assembly (President and Vice-Presidents), up to two representatives from a Candidate’s local church, the Executive Minister and the staff ministers (Regional Ministers and the Director of the Graduate Internship Program) who are non-voting members of the Council.
The Co-Chairs and Secretary of the Council are appointed by the Credentials Committee of Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. The Co-Chairs are responsible to ensure that questions are clear, that the Candidate is not harassed, that communication between both Council and Candidate is open, and that the business is conducted in an impartial and orderly manner.
Candidates are invited to the Ordination Examining Council at the request of the local church on the recommendation of the area in which the Candidate serves and by the approval of the Ministerial Credentials Committee when they have satisfied all requirements of the Ministerial Ordination Standards and Procedures (MOS&P).
This has always been a community event. We have representatives from the three regions, staff, and Board. This year’s council has been broken into two; we held the first one a few weeks ago at Carey Centre in Vancouver, BC. Today and tomorrow, we will be holding OEC at Westview in Calgary, AB. Let me introduce you to the folk on this council:
O.E.C. Co-Chairpersons: Rev. Laura Nelson and Rev. Steve Simala Grant
O.E.C. Recording Secretary (non-voting) Mrs. Sharon Onciul
CBWC Executive Staff (non-voting members)
Rev. Jeremy Bell, Executive Minister (voting)
Rev. Dennis Stone, Alberta Regional Minister
Rev. Mark Doerksen, Heartland Regional Minister (co-interim)
Rev. Rob Ogilvie, BCY Regional Minister
Graduate Internship Process Coordinator (non-voting)
Rev. Axel Schoeber, Carey Theological College
CBWC Table Officers (voting members)
Rev. Michael Hayes, Vice-President of Finance
Dr. Greg Anderson, President
Elected or Appointed Regional Representatives (voting members)
Alberta Regional Representatives:
BC/Yukon Regional Representatives:
Heartland Regional Representatives:
And let me introduce you to the candidates who are presenting themselves before the Council this week:
Kevin Ewaskow, First Baptist Church, Cranbrook, BC
Joshua Goetz, Asquith Baptist Church, SK
Jane Christensten, Laurier Heights Baptist Church, Edmonton, AB
Bill Christieson, Awaken, Calgary, AB
Jason Burtt, West Vancouver Baptist Church, BC
Leighton Gust, Westhill Park Baptist Church, Regina, SK
Angela Wood, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Victoria, BC
The task of the OEC is not to rubber stamp what has been decided by a local church or a regional interview committee, but it is to sincerely discern and enquire of the candidate in an ongoing process. Again, let me quote the Ordination Process document from our chairs.
The Task of the Ordination Examining Council is to determine the general suitability of a Candidate both as to his/her beliefs and as to his/her interpersonal abilities for the gospel ministry and to make a free decision regarding approval for ordination, under the leadership of the Spirit. The OEC will, after a vote, make one of the following recommendations for each Candidate:
- It commends the Candidate in question to the local church for ordination to the Gospel Ministry;
- It recommends to the local church a program of additional study or experience for the Candidate before proceeding with ordination;
- It does not recommend that the local church proceed with ordination.
The Co-Chair and/or Secretary of the Council shall report the recommendations to the Assembly (or to the CBWC Board in the year when Assembly is not held), for approval. On approval, the Secretary will advise the local church that Ordination is recommended and that it may proceed to ordain the Candidate in question.
On another note, our Children and Families (CFam) Ministry in the CBWC is launching an important campaign this weekend. This ministry is excellent and honoured in our midst; please watch this video clip in support.
Janet Alexander and Faye Reynolds have quite rightly drawn my attention to how the Women in Focus budget figure not only represents the work Faye does on behalf of Women in Focus, but also represents a fairly high component of CBWC work that Faye does, which includes leading the intergenerational staff, exit interviews with those leaving a church and being present on Executive Staff. We thank Women in Focus as a group for their generosity in sharing Faye with the entire CBWC family.
One last thing; the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the right of the Saguenay, QB city council to conduct prayer at their weekly meetings (this applied to the Quebec Charter). How sad; how thoroughly narrow and unimaginative from a court who should have at least been more creative and inclusive in its judgement. The funny part in this is that of 33 cities in Canada who were surveyed around happiness and contentment, Saguenay with their “misguided, judgemental prayers” were the happiest city in Canada… just saying…For the inquisitive, number eleven was Saskatoon (the first Western Canadian city); Toronto and Vancouver were second last (32) and last (33) – how just! Just saying… but just kidding too…