Leadership in times of uncertainty and change is demanding. Watching Volodymyr Zelensky the president of the Ukraine rally his fellow Ukrainians in the face of Russian bombardment is evidence in the extreme. Zelensky, it is reported, is being targeted by Putin and his generals who want to silence his voice. “If the leader is eliminated the people will lose heart.”
We are not facing violence in our streets or the destruction of our homes and communities and yet, we as followers of Christ, sense that the church is under increasing pressure. Covid has tested the strength of our devotion to Christ, our commitment to one another. and our ability to live in unity when we differ on matters of conscience.
The passing of Bill C-4 calls the church to be courageous and aware of the spiritual battle that we are in. Our government is sending a message intended to intimidate those who would preach a biblical understanding of sexuality, marriage and gender identity by declaring such an understanding as a “myth that causes harm.” While the constitutionality of this bill has yet to be tested by the courts, as it is currently written those who offer, promote or benefit from any therapy designed to “repress or reduce non heterosexual attraction or behaviour” may be subject to criminal prosecution. This bill, enacted to protect people’s freedom from abusive therapies, also creates a climate of intimidation and hostility toward Christian values concerning sexuality, marriage and identity.
In these challenging times God’s word and Spirit continue to fill us with encouragement and endurance. We recognize that our trials are not unique or even extreme, but they are ours and represent our opportunity to trust God and prove His faithfulness to us.
Throughout this year BCMB has sought to bring encouragement and endurance to pastors and churches using newsletters, podcasts, online prayer gatherings and in person visits. When covid restrictions once more forced us to cancel our pastors and spouses retreats, BCMB pivoted to host summer picnic BBQ events for pastors in the Fraser Valley and on the island. These events were a blessing to us all and especially fun for pastoral families with small children. Here again your BCMB office team was glad to put in many extra hours to make this possible.
The late summer of 2021 held great hope for our pastors as Covid restrictions were eased somewhat and in person worship gatherings were once again permitted. This proved to be short lived and the fall return to masks and restrictions was deeply discouraging for many. Denis Federau BCMBs Director of Resources enjoyed a sabbatical break over the summer but there too plans changed and Denis went into the hospital in August to support his daughter Rebecca by offering her one of his kidneys.
Summer also saw the launch of Praxis church in Kelowna under the leadership of Josh Dool. This new church plant is being supported through Northview church in partnership with Westside church. Despite Covid restrictions and some significant opposition in the community, Praxis church is up and running with two services and attendance of close to 300 people. We are amazed and thankful and pastor Josh confesses he is having the time of his life!
In the Kelowna area, Willow Park has continued to serve the community wherever and however the Lord gives opportunity. During the November floods, Willow Park became a hub for aid distribution to the city of Merit B.C.
Metro Church in downtown Kelowna has also seen major progress in the past year. They continue to serve the marginalized of the city and are experiencing God’s favor in doing so. We rejoice with them as they have begun meeting for worship in their own facilities on Ellis st.
In the North, Westwood church is exploring new ministry models utilizing a “micro church” model in low-income housing units supported by the church. In addition, associate Pastor Ryan Beer is leading a new province wide initiative called “Ascent” that gathers young adults to help them explore their calling in the Lord. Five such groups have been running this year and there is potential for more churches to be involved in the future.
Churches in the Chilliwack area also mobilized to bring flood relief to residents. Arnold church made headlines with its various initiatives and recently was invited to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to those most affected. In so many crises situations, BCMB churches step into the gap and provide care aid. These neighbourly acts win the appreciation and admiration of the community and often serve to draw people who are looking for answers to life’s questions.
We praise God for the many signs of vitality and life in our community over this past year. Churches like North Peace, Northview, Central Community, Willingdon, Praxis, Christ City, and North Langley are all well into plans for multiplication in 2022. Others like Gospel Chapel, Whistler, Broadway, Mainstreet, Church on Five and Richmond Pacific Grace are pushing ahead with new initiatives to reach the community.
It has been a privilege to serve this community of churches who remain committed to Christ’s calling to go and make disciples. I praise God for the amazing servants who make up our boards and committees. We are further blessed by our dedicated partners in Camping ministry and at the College. Our recent AGM and Pastors and Spouses Retreat in Whistler confirmed that BCMB is an amazing and vibrant community of Christ-honoring churches and there is a strong sense that, though our weariness is real, our hope in Jesus is on the rise and we are committed to stand firm. Let us face the days ahead with fortitude in Him.
– Rob Thiessen, Conference Minister