Vol 2 No. 30 A Recent Road Trip

I was in the Okanagan for the weekend of June 3rd and 4th and would like to share some experiences with you.

The weekend was preceded by Planning and Priorities and followed by an Executive Staff retreat. I’ll profile both of these events in other newsletters but want to take you through my visits to three remarkable churches that I had an opportunity to visit.

I began my day at First Baptist Church Penticton. I know a fair number of people at First and feel quite at home there. It was Pentecost Sunday and while Callum Jones was speaking through a service which that Sunday included “The Bible, is it Reliable?”. Pentecost was well-explained and clearly marked. As Pentecost is often considered the birthday (beginning) of the church, there was birthday cake afterwards. I was struck by the “seamlessness” of the teaching and how the meaning of Pentecost was explained. While Callum preached  the youth pastor, contributed a 5-7 minute piece in the middle of the sermon. The two other things that struck me were the use of PowerPoint (seriously folks I have a profound appreciation for many who use {and some who mis-use} this teaching aid but Callum should teach courses on it – I’ve already asked him). The second thing that impressed me was the constant references to information on the church’s website. It would be good to hear from those of you who “cache” sermon notes for future reference. If you do, send them to Shelby Gregg at sgregg@buwc.ca.

The second service I attended was Connie Cristall’s ordination at First Baptist Kelowna. Ward Cowie (until later this summer) is the senior pastor at FBC Kelowna and is someone whose work, gifts and conversational range I deeply admire. Connie’s ordination was a celebration. She is clearly loved by those in the church that she serves and takes this calling to ordination as part of being a good steward of the gifts God has entrusted her with. Connie had been mentored by Ward; a great study in persona; and professional spiritual formation. FBC Kelowna also marked Pentecost and Paul Pearce led us through the conventional language between the congregation, the Lord, the candidate and the Ordination Examining Council of The Baptist Union of Western Canada. Paul is present for dozens of these kind of events in a year and brings to each service a sense of God’s presence and a personal sense of attentiveness that honours God and those he serves.

The third and final church I visited was in Summerland. The occasion was  the farewell service for Gary Swabey, his wife Denise, and their daughters. The service was led by Del Reimer and was an evening of joy and thanksgiving for the Swabey’s life amongst their community and church. The Swabey’s are going to Co. Cork in Ireland.

The evening had a men’s choir, soloists, and even a dance along Irish themes. There was a whole series of testimonials from far and wide and a greeting, prayer, and “blessing” from all of us in the Baptist Union. Pray for the Summerland Church in its transitions. To have had such gifted (yet different) senior pastors in Jack Borchert and Gary is a testimony to a gifted congregation as well as skilled leadership.

So that was Sunday, June 4th 2006 in the life of your Executive Minister. What variety, what wonderful worship in all three churches. What gifted congregations and leaders. What an awesome God who is honoured and worshipped in such churches He calls His own. It is these very same churches that I am reminded of that June Sunday are my community, friends and family in Christ in this larger body called the Baptist Union.



In Christ

Jeremy Bell