We have had so many things to talk about in these last weeks that we have not got around to sharing about the outstanding “Listening to God, Listening to Each Other” sessions that occurred in October of 2006. I found the whole experience profoundly moving on a relational, emotional and spiritual level. I want to thank Ken Thiessen for being the catalyst for drawing the Saskatchewan churches together. Out of 21 churches in Saskatchewan, 19 came together and 16 signed covenants. I invite you to reflect on Ken’s comments below and to read the requests / commitments made between individual churches and the family of churches called the Baptist Union. I want to qualify one of Ken’s comments regarding his lack of faith. If Ken was indeed squeamish about this initiative, he was neither negative nor discouraging to those of us who felt called to it. I deeply appreciate that about Ken. He is faithful, even in the midst of caution… I find that helpful to learn from. Shelby very much wanted to include the picture that Ken and Judith were sent, a beautiful image. By the way, Ken refers to a candle lighting ceremony – we have taken the image of the Christ candle in an advent wreath and that all good things that we do are drawn in the strength of God, therefore we light our candles symbolic of our commitments from the Christ candle. I am very clear, as we all are, that the Lord Jesus Christ is our personal and collective “beginning and our end, Alpha and Omega”. Each individual church held a candle lit from the Christ candle to reinforce and remember that our strength comes from the Lord. Thanks Ken for this piece.
As much as I embraced the vision that brought the listening sessions to reality, I was somewhat apprehensive as to what the response would be! I knew the listening sessions had the potential to provide a more meaningful and effective way of connecting with our area churches and of also telling God’s story as it is being written in EACH of our churches. My apprehensions proved to be unfounded (perhaps a sign of my own limited faith – not even as big as a mustard seed). There are several things that really impacted me about the Regina listening sessions. First was the number of churches and church leaders who made the sacrifice to be a part of this event. Many had to drive up to 2 hours (one way) on a Friday evening. This meant leaving at 4:30 and not arriving back home until almost midnight! 10 out of 11 churches invited sent representatives (many of them sent more than one representative). As each of these churches shared the story of God’s working in their life together, my gratitude grew exponentially. I am indeed blessed to be a part of the Baptist Union, serving in the Heartland, seeing God’s story continue to unfold before my very eyes! The second thing that impacted me was the response of a group from Carlyle, Saskatchewan. We have been involved in dialogue with them about having them join the Baptist Union. In an effort to give them a snapshot of who we are, meet some of our key denominational leaders, and connect with some of our Southern Saskatchewan churches, we extended the invitation to them to join us for this listening session. The week following the listening session, we received a voice mail message at the Heartland Area office from them expressing their deep appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of the listening session and the growing sense of affirmation that they have indeed heard God’s call to join with us as a denomination. The third thing that really impacted me was the exchange of covenants with the individual churches at the end of the evening including a candle lighting ceremony.
This impact of this was even more meaningful when I received an email entitled “”So We Won’t Forget…” with a picture attached. The picture speaks for itself. Many thanks to the people of Westhill Park Baptist Church who did a marvelous job hosting the Regina listening sessions!
Assiniboia– provide resources to help us grow our church in numbers, unity and financials
Regina, First Baptist– support as we establish a Burmese refugee ministry, specifically for pastoral staff
Moose Jaw– help us to hire a full-time associate with special gifts in evangelism
Moosomin– give insight, help, wisdom to put together plans that can be presented to the congregation for the potential construction of a privately run seniors complex or nursing home
Ormiston– locate a pastoring couple who feels called to our church and is willing to be involved in children’s, youth, and adult ministries
Swift Current – staffing for growth – youth/family and outlying area outreach
Regina, Westhill Park– help us with missional clarity – resources/tools to lead us through a strategic planning process
Weyburn– pray for young families who will help build our Sunday school and youth work
Yorkton– to explore the opportunity of getting a low interest loan to help our church become fully wheel-chair accessible so that we might be able to minister in a more complete way to all senior citizens