We have been talking about several issues in the last few weeks and wish to update each other on those topics. I will cover some topics in “bullet” form, then the rest of this letter is my 3rd quarter report that forms a basis of my accountability to the Union Board and each Area.
First, the news in brief:
Trevor Greene, Captain in the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada (and a friend of mine) who was injured in an axe attack earlier this month in Afghanistan is seeking private family time to continue his convalescence. His progress is not readily available at this time but continue to pray for him.
There is a statement on the CBM site (http://www.cbmin.org/web/) regarding the Afghan man Abdul Rahman who was on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity. He faces a possible death sentence. The issues are not simply the possible sentence, but freedom of religion, promoting democracy and how we encourage those things as Christians and Canadians.
I want to congratulate Rev. Jo-Ann Matiachuk who has just been called to the new Executive Minister position at First Baptist Vancouver. The team at First with Tom Cowan as senior is indeed gifted. May men and women that the Holy Spirit has gifted find God’s calling fulfilled in their lives.
The following is a report that many of you will see in your own Area Assemblies, Heartland in April, Alberta in May and British Columbia in July. July 1st is the first anniversary of my appointment as Executive Minister.
Report of the Executive Minister
Previous reports to the Heartland Assembly have generally covered a span of 2 years. Since I am new to this position this report covers from July 1 2005 to March 15 2006.
I would like to begin at what is the beginning for all of us by thanking the Lord for this opportunity for serving in this capacity. I would like to thank the previous Board chair, Glen Alexander, and Terry Summach, former Chair of the Baptist Union Personnel Committee for providing the support, transition, and opportunity to be part of this new season in the life of the Baptist Union. I would especially like to thank my predecessor Gerry Fisher, by providing such good foundations for ministry in the Union. I end every conversation that I have with Gerry with these words, “Gerry, you know that a lot of what we are doing is based on foundations established by you and those you’ve worked with.” I would like to thank my wife, Kerry MacFarlane Bell, for her encouragement and support in engaging this new venture and ministry in my life, but also in this new season of our lives.
While I am on the topic of noting peoples contributions and giving thank for others, I would like to start by commending the leadership of Sam Chaise, our president; David Connop, VP of Finance; Beth Millard, VP of Planning; and Marshall Miner, VP of Personnel and Program as they lead the Union Board and encourage us all. Then I would like to thank the other members of the Board, some with a great deal of experience, and some whose influence and input we are just beginning to feel. I would also like to thank and commend to you and the Lord the work of our senior and office staff .
Alice Paradis – Communications & Information Technology 800 820 2479 ext.305
Bill Mains – Church Resourcing & Special Projects Coordinator 800 820 2479 ext. 308
Brian Stelck – President of Carey Theological College 604 224 4308
Cam Yates – VP Administrative Services, Registrar Carey Theological College 604 224 4308
Dan Watt – Director of Church Planting 604 888 7646; 800 596 7772
Dana Cupples – Executive Assistant, Information Systems & Promotional Services at Carey Theological College 604 224 4308
David Carlson – VP Operations, Carey Theological College 604 224 4308
David Holten – Director of Administration & Finance 800 820 2479 ext. 313
Dawn Johannesson – Area Administrator for BC and Yukon Area 604 888 7646; 800 596 7772
Dennis Shierman – Global Discipleship Manager for CBM Western Canada 800 820 2479 ext 323
Donna Grant – casual office staff, BUWC
Faye Reynolds – Women in Focus Coordinator 403 381 2925
Jo-Anne Cosier – casual office staff, BUWC
John Burgess – Administrative Assistant – Financial Services 800 820 2479 ext. 319
John Prociuk – Director of Ministries 800 820 2479 ext. 321
Judith Arends – Heartland Area Administrator 306 789 2900; 866 789 2940
Judy Hoefling – Area Administrator for Alberta Area 780 462 2176; 800 474 6018
Kathy Spate – Administrative Assistant – Pastor Services 800 820 2479 ext. 309
Ken Theissen – Heartland Area Minister 306 789 2900; 866 789 2940
Linda Kilburn – Executive Assistant to the Executive Minister 800 820 2479 ext. 312
Pam Stevenson – Administrative Assistant – Reception & Church Services 800 820 2479
Paul Pearce – BC and Yukon Area Minister 604 888 7646; 800 596 7772
Ryan Sato – Youth Director 403 668 9235
Sam Breakey – Alberta Area Minister 780 462 2176; 800 474 6018
Shelby Gregg – Assistant to the Executive Minister, Vancouver office Support 604 225 5903
Jack Borchert – Executive Director, BUDF
Calgary 1-800-820-2479 ex 322; Summerland 1-250-494-8997
Angie Patterson – Treasurer, BUDF
Calgary 1-800-820-2479 ext 314
Rose-Marie Goodwin – Director of Planned Giving and Development, BUDF
Calgary 1-800-820-2479; Vancouver 1-604-922-6250; Direct Line 1-888-999-6250
Sherry Hull – Administrative Assistant, BUDF
Stu Dinsmore – Administrator , BUDF
Calgary 1-800-820-2479 ex 315
I list them here not only that we might know their names and give thanks for them, but so that we might be reminded how to contact them and continue to be partners in ministry together. As you know the Baptist Union Development Foundation (BUDF) is an organization distinct from the Union but in joint ministry with us. The same is true for Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM). Thanks also to retiring BUDF President, David Watt, for his work. I would like to thank those who work in our Baptist Union camps and encourage you to visit our website (http://buwc.ca/) and click on the camping section to see all those who work in this ministry with us.
Apart from myself, there have been other new additions to staff in the last year. John Prociuk joined us as Director of Ministry for a one year term and is engaged in clergy listening sessions, office restructuring and staff reviews with great effectiveness. Ken Thiessen became the Heartland Area Minister in October of 2005. Judith Arends joined Ken as the Area Administrator for the Heartland. Ryan Sato, of Lethbridge is our new Youth Director for the Union and is well known to many of you already. Apart from the help I receive from the Calgary office, I am particularly grateful for Shelby Gregg who was the interim Heartland Area Administrator from January to October 2005, transferred to Vancouver and helps out in the office part time. Including myself, those of us that are new to staff would like to thank those of you who are helping us transition into our new work.
I was called to this particular task as Executive Minister on the promise that I would find God’s story amongst us and tell that story. The direct result of telling God’s story amongst us not only honours God but creates an expectation that He will continue to be present and active amongst us. The other consequence of telling God’s story in our midst is to build community in ministry and fellowship together. Many of these things have begun to take root in the union over the last 6 months and are continuing to have an influence in our midst. Following are those projects.
- We have launched a new website (http://buwc.ca/), maintained by Steve Fisher and Alice Paradis. This new site contains not only information about the Baptist Union and our work, but a weekly newsletter and daily video clips.
- Pam Stevenson is working on building a larger resource library out of Calgary that will allow those in the Baptist Union to borrow materials such as books, CD’s and DVD’s to facilitate our various ministries. We’d love to have your suggestions and recommendations on materials that have been important in your life with God.
- Daily video clips on the website allow us to see the people and hear the stories of God and His great work throughout those who attend our churches, work with our ministries and are touched by God to follow Him. Andrew Miller, Steve Fisher and Shelby Gregg have been working hard to put these together and bring them to you. I look forward to hearing many more great stories and bringing them to you as I travel throughout the provinces.
- John Prociuk has done and continues to do work on lectionaries (guides to daily bible reading), which you can access on the Baptist Union website.
- You may also have received my weekly newsletters, a chance for me to share with you the things have touched my life and the stories I have come across in ministry. Back issues are available on the website as well.
Having begun to tell God’s story in our midst, and experienced the community building that comes from that, we look to some new initiatives over the next year.
We are concerned with the denomination that all our staff are properly evaluated and encouraged in their own professional development and best practices. We are engaged in employee evaluations. John Prociuk will be implementing, on approval of the board, the recommendations of the Clergy Care listening sessions. We are particularly concerned that we address the filling up of our residential camps (which only hold between 3600 and 4200 each year) by offering urban and non-residential camping experiences to the over 2 million children in this age group in Western Canada. We look forward to more effective staffing and resourcing in the area of Children and Family ministries. We are excited about a new appointment in Church Health and Planting to encourage healthy churches to plant churches. I am anxious to establish three new affinity groups within the denomination, those of evangelism, the arts, and social justice. The William Carey Institute will be providing opportunities for a whole range of creative and non-credentialed educational experience.
I am particularly excited about the visits to church clusters within the 14 regions of the union that we will undertake in the fall. We intend to bring a range of resources to each area and ask people to reflect on four simple questions:
- What has God called you to as a church?
- What resources has he given you for that call?
- What resources do you still need to meet the call God has given you?
- What outcomes and goals do we covenant together as churches over this next year?
This by its very nature (my newness on the job) is a preliminary report. It is also preliminary because we are learning day by day what God might have for us. And so I leave you with the verse, the prayer, the hope of I Corinthians. 2:9 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Our two weekly Lenten / Easter Readings
I was dreaming that I was treading the streets of the
Holy City, pottering about like a tourist. In my
wandering I came upon the museum of that city of
our dream. I went in, and a courteous attendant
conducted me round. There was some old armour
there, much bruised with battle. Many things were
conspicuous by their absence. I saw nothing of
Alexander’s nor of Napoleon’s. There was no Pope’s
ring, nor even the ink-bottle that Luther is said to
have thrown at the devil, nor Wesley’s seal and keys.
I saw a widow’s mite and the feather of a little bird.
I saw some swaddling clothes, a hammer, and three
Nails, and a few thorns. I saw a bit of a fishing-net
And the broken oar of a boat. I saw a sponge that had
Once been dipped in vinegar, and a small piece of
Silver. But I cannot enumerate all I saw, nor describe
All I felt. Whilst I was turning over a common
drinking cup which has a very honourable place, I
whispered to the attendant, “Have you not got a towel
and basin among your collection?” ‘No,’ he said, ‘ not
here; you see they are in constant use.’ Then I knew I
was in Heaven, in the Holy City, and amid
the redeemed society.
Knowing that He came from God and went to God
…Jesus took a towel and basin.
A.E. Whitham from Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community
Good Friday: The Third Nocturn
Alone to sacrifice thou goest, Lord,
Giving thyself to death whom thou hast slain.
For us thy wretched folk is any word,
Who know that for our sins this is thy pain?
For they are ours, O Lord, our deed, our deeds,
Why must thou suffer torture for our sin?
Let our hearts suffer for thy passion, Lord,
That sheer compassion may thy mercy win.
This is that night of tears, the three days’ space,
Sorrow abiding of the eventide,
Until the day break with the risen Christ,
And hearts that sorrowed shall be satisfied.
So may our hearts have pity on thee, Lord,
That they may sharers of thy glory be;
Heavy with weeping may the three day pass,
To win the laughter of thine Easter Day.
Peter Abelard – taken from the Lion Christian Poetry Collection