Vol 6 No. 17 Youth Leadership Team

I have endeavoured to ask Claire McLean a series of questions about her own work as the interim Youth Director of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, the work as it is expressed across the West and to introduce us to her Youth Resource Team Leaders.  I say endeavoured as Claire is from Ulster and a former engineer!  That poses cultural, linguistic, learning and communication style issues that are a challenge.  However, since my dad is from Ulster, I am by nature a Celt and this position has challenged and rightly developed the left part of my brain!  The following newsletter is the result.  P.S.  Claire and her team are completely awesome.  Bless You!


  1. Claire, what were you asked to do (job description) when you were hired and how did that change once you started this work?

I started as the Interim Youth Director in the Fall of 2008.  The purpose of having an Interim Director as opposed to a Permanent Director was to connect with youth ministries in our churches and assess the priorities for the role of the future Youth Director.  Ryan Sato (the previous Youth Director) did a wonderful job of uniting the clans and really covered the work of two if not three people.  It is unfair to expect one person to do more than is humanly possible and therefore one aspect of the Interim’s role was to refine the Youth Director role to a more manageable and attainable job description.  It is also important that Youth Ministry within the denomination is not reliant on one person and that the support system we have in place works to help youth ministry in our churches.  With 170 churches spread across four provinces and two territories, with an anticipated 30 more joining in the next two years it is clear we need to plan for growth.  Ideally the denomination should move to having a Youth Director, an Associate Youth Director and a Part-Time Administrator for Youth Ministries.  This direction remains a dream due to the economic downturn, which has also necessitated the postponement of the appointment of the permanent Youth Director.  The financial situation has caused me to remain longer in the position than initially anticipated in order to facilitate a number of ministries of central importance to Youth Leaders, one of which is SERVE.


  1. Can you give us a flavour and some examples of the diverse things going on in the CBWC family?

Youth Ministry within the CBWC family is diverse to say the least.  Some of our youth ministries are run by volunteers, such as at Neepawa First Baptist where Mike and Debbie Reader invest in the teens.  Other churches have a part-time youth pastor, such as Jo-Ann Enns in Moosomin.  Yet others have an associate pastor who oversees youth ministry.  One of our full-time youth pastors is Graeme Watt at Trinity Baptist in Sherwood Park.  He has recently spearheaded the ‘MAD Challenge’, which is a call for youth to ‘Make A Difference’ by raising money and awareness around issues of social justice.  Our 8 residential camps are increasingly working more closely with our churches, offering retreats (such as ‘Live at the Lake’ at Gull Lake Centre) for church youth groups and leadership training for older students.  Ski trips, seminars to resource parents, missions’ trips, volunteer youth leader training, walking with teens following the suicide of a school mate, administering baptism and raising money for needy causes are just a few of the responsibilities and challengers our youth leaders are currently faced with.  Then there are the youth themselves.  Michael Lum is a 14-yr old from Bowness Baptist in Calgary.  Last year he joined with another youth group in order to attend SERVE (our CBWC mission trip).  The event impacted him and he wants to return this year, but that’s not enough so he’s mobilising his entire youth group to come this time!


  1. What is SERVE?

SERVE is a mission trip with a difference.  It runs annually and provides an opportunity for youth in all of our CBWC churches to join together to serve a rural community in Western Canada.  This year we may be joined by some youth from Canadian Baptist churches in Atlantic Canada.  After the youth have worked all day on their projects (which may be anything from spreading lime to neutralise the acidic soil in Flin Flon to mowing the lawns of seniors in the community), they gather together for worship and teaching.


  1. What happened last year?

SERVE 2009 was in Swift Current, SK.  Joell Haugan (the pastor) and Penny Griesbecht (the administrator) at our CBWC church there provided the vision and planning to make SERVE the success it was.  They contacted the surrounding communities, assessed their needs and recruited church members to feed the kids.  We had approx 150 participants from 14 different churches serving in 9 communities and everyone worked hard.  Community buildings were painted, a curling rink was reroofed, a house demolished, a mini-golf course refurbished, seniors visited and other jobs completed.  Riley Armstrong led worship and spoke to the kids, a number of whom made commitments or shared their testimonies with the group.


  1. Where is SERVE this year, what’s the hope, how can we pray?

SERVE 2010 is in Flin Flon (northern Manitoba) from 11th-17th July.  We’re expecting in the range of 220-250 participants this year.  This is going to cause some logistical challenges, but it is a very nice problem to have!  The population of Flin Flon is around 6,000 so we are going to make quite an impact.  Each year we seek to meet the needs of the community we are serving and this year we will be mostly staying in Flin Flon.  Whereas the focus last year was on community projects, this year there will be many more tasks that benefit individuals, such as repairing unsafe steps or fences and carrying out yard work for elderly residents who are no longer able to maintain their property.  With such a large number of young people it is important to pray for safety.  It is also important to have clear instructions for the willing hands to carry out, therefore wisdom for the organisers is key – that we prioritise well and assign each young person to tasks within their capabilities.  Pray for Kurt and Lynn Cole, our speakers from Brownfield, AB as well as our worship team, which is led by Fraser Campbell from Victoria.  Pray that the community of Flin Flon would see beyond the work to Jesus and that the members of First Baptist Church would be equal to the daunting task of feeding the SERVE team.


  1. You are in a ministry cluster with some other folk.  Who are they, what do you do?

The Intergenerational Ministry Cluster (IMC) is led by Faye Reynolds.  Faye sits on CBWC Executive Staff, is the Director of Women In Focus and within our Cluster provides support to young leaders within the denomination.  In addition to Faye, the Cluster consists of leaders from 5 ministries: Rod Olson (Urban Camping), Nadia Vanderkuip (Short Term Ministries), Calley Erickson (Residential Camping), myself (Youth Ministry) and a representative from Children and Families Ministries (CFam).  Sherry Bennett is currently representing CFam in the Cluster while Mandi Hecht is on maternity leave.  The Cluster provides an opportunity for members to support one another and build into one another’s ministry.   The ministries are interrelated and the shared wisdom of the Cluster benefits all.  One project of the IMC involves writing curriculum around ‘Rites of Passage’ for use in our churches for specific age groups.  Our most recent curriculum has focused on teaching children about baptism, from a Baptist perspective.  It is not intended to prepare a child for baptism, but to familiarise children with the meaning and practice of baptism, so it does not seem strange to them.  The curriculum should be available shortly through the website.


  1. What is the YLT?

YLT stands for ‘Youth Leadership Team’ and is comprised of the Youth Director and 13 Youth Leaders.  The youth leaders represent the churches in their region and volunteer their time to serve on the YLT.  Each of the 13 Youth Leaders are actively involved in ministry in their local church and act as a connection between the denomination and local churches, passing information from one to the other and back again.  The regions are broken down by number of churches and geography.


Tammy Klassen from New Life in Duncan represents the Vancouver Island churches.  Tammy has been serving the youth at New Life for 20 years now and her experience in Youth Ministry is appreciated by the Team.

Mark Watt is a recent addition to our Team.  Mark works for Keats Camps and connects with most of the churches in the Lower Mainland.  Mark is an accomplished musician and worship leader.

Myron Sinnen covers the churches not on Mark’s list in the Lower Mainland, as well as those in the Fraser Valley.  He is the Youth Pastor at Broadmoor Baptist in Richmond.  Myron is intentional about investing in his volunteer leaders.

Pat MacDonald represents the churches in Northern BC and the Yukon.  He is on staff at First Baptist, Prince George and has faithfully served on the YLT for a number of years.

Clark Taylor, from First Baptist Penticton represents the churches in the Okanagan.  The latest addition to his family arrived in December, so he currently has his hands full.

Southern Alberta is currently without a YLT rep.

Jared Patterson, from Bonavista Baptist Church is our Calgary representative.  He has been instrumental in helping other groups get to SERVE.

Andy Moffat is another member who has been a faithful servant of the YLT.  Based in First Baptist, Olds, Andy represents the churches in central Alberta.

Graeme Watt (brother of Mark) is also a recent addition to our team.  Graeme works at Trinity Baptist, Sherwood Park and serves the churches in Edmonton.  Graeme is the brains behind the MAD Challenge.

Chris Millington from Peace Community Church in Taylor represents our churches in the Peace River region.  A reliable member of the YLT, he’s been on the team for about the same length of time as I have.

Byron Toth from Westhill Park in Regina represents our churches in southern Saskatchewan though he currently covers all of Saskatchewan, as the north is without a rep.  Though Byron will always be known for his Mad Skillz at SERVE he has a heart to support other pastors.

Sandra Sabourin ministers to youth at Cornerstone Baptist in Winnipeg.  She connects with all our churches in Manitoba and for the past two years has organised the Manitoba Youth Retreat, which has been a major blessing to CBWC Youth groups that have attended.


Thanks so much Claire,

Thanks to all who serve in this area.

Thanks be to God,



In Christ,