About once every 3 months I write a letter about concerns for prayer in regards to events that have already recently passed, those that are current or those that are longer-term considerations.
Part of the reason for sharing these concerns, apart from the obvious ones, is so you might pray for these items. The secondary reason is to give you a sense of some of the things that are going on and that is hopeful as well.
To begin: As you read this, the Heartland Regional Pastors and Spouses Retreat in Russell, Manitoba is just concluding. Devin Seghers and Gayle Meyer organized this event. As I visited with them for part of Tuesday, I was deeply appreciated of their careful organization and warm hospitality. Tom Lavigne spoke, amongst many other activities that were part of the retreat, using as a stepping off point for their discussions, the book by Darrell Johnson called Experiencing the Trinity.
The Board of Canadian Baptists of Western Canada is meeting next week (January 20-21). Before that occurs on Wednesday/Thursday there will be an Executive Staff meeting and Thursday night Glenn Rabuka and Jan Paasuke will work with a planning group for the Assembly in 2013. There are a myriad of concerns and issues to be addressed at this next Board meeting; we have been encouraged by the generosity and faithfulness of so many in regards to their willingness to serve and their financial contributions. As churches finalize their books for 2011 and make their final contributions to the CBWC, we will close our books at the end of this month. Finances therefore will be one of the topics for discussion at the Board. Sam Chaise will also be sharing with us the work of CBM, and of particular interests to those of us out West, Wayne and Maureen Morgan of Prince George, have landed in Kenya in the past couple of weeks. The names of those that serve us with the CBWC Board are: Jan Paasuke, Greg Anderson, Glenn Rabuka, Carol Mager, Mary Stuber Doerksen, Michael Cantlon, Joshua Goetz, Betty Smith, Donna Orr, Pat Schoenberger, Al Grochowski, Mary Dyk and Paul Stade.
There is a Celebration Dinner at New Life Community Church in Duncan on January 24th. We are very thankful to Mark Buchanan for his willingness to host this event, as well as for the wonderful order and energy that is brought to the event by all the speakers, but most especially Heather Thompson and Bob Webber.
In early February, the Alberta Pastor’s Retreat will be held at Gull Lake. Jason Johnson from Brownfield Church, Regional Minister, Dennis Stone, the organizational assistance of Sharon Onciul, along with others, will be all part of this gathering. Please pray for an encouraging and quality time; please also pray for safety in the coming and going from far and wide that is a part of these events.
There have been some challenging, difficult days at Carey Centre. There have been many loses amongst those who are on staff and faculty. Myrna Sears, Vice President Carey Institute lost her mom, Elizabeth, in New Brunswick just before the New Year. Caryn Stelck’s mother, Mary also passed away at Sechelt. Many of you will remember Barbara Mutch’s husband, Paul, from a variety of contexts; he passed away just before Christmas.
On an easier and maybe even lighter note as I conclude, some of you will remember and maybe even wince at the ridicule I pour on the Globe and Mail each January when they fail to wish people a Merry Christmas or make any other reference to a holiday held sacred or made significant by over 70% of Canadians. This year by some miracle or maybe the advice of a demographer or marketing manager, they managed to cough up a Merry Christmas. I was stunned, amused, and disproportionally happy about this event. Enough said; I will simply get myself into more trouble if I continue, and I’m trying to live by a gentler creed this year. Part of that gentler creed was summed up very movingly when Barbara Mutch rose to speak at Paul’s service in late December. She read two verses of a poem from Mary Oliver. They are as follows:
I know a man of such
mildness and kindness it’s trying to
change my life. He does not
preach, teach, but simply is. It is
astonishing, for he is Christ’s ambassador
truly, by rule and act. But, more,
He is kind with the sort of kindness that shines
out, but is resolute, not fooled. He has
eaten the dark hours and could also, I think,
soldier for God, riding out
under the storm clouds, against the world’s pride and unkindness
with both unassailable sweetness, and consoling word.
These are not words that could be applied to me at this stage in my life, yet they are words that reflect very much the fruit of the Sprit as described in Galatians 5:23. The words are an encouragement, a challenge and an invitation.
Happy New Year in the midst of this season of Epiphany, may we be wise and worshipful.