Bishop Notes – June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I came away from the North Channel Network meeting at Blind River, Ontario on Wednesday afternoon last week with a deep appreciation for the power of our movement’s concept of networking pastors together for mutual support, encouragement, accountability and learning together. Network Leader Gary Landers invited me in my role as his Network Mentor to come and teach the LifePlan.

Here is a group of pastors who are committed to doing life together though some of their churches are more that 4 hours apart in distance. We arrived Monday afternoon and after getting settled in, the accountability check-in was done in a group walk – an excellent way for a small group to talk openly together about personal and ministry issues without being self-conscious (i.e. everyone staring at you.) This continued after supper and it was very evident that a deep level of trust exists among them. Then it was time to relax with a video.

The next day had a nice blend of devotional and prayer time, instruction, recreation in the gym and time for rest and solitude or one-on-one walks and talks. Table talk at meals was always engaging. The day ended with conversation and a video. On Wednesday we left after lunch having spent the morning in one more unit of instruction, devotional time and ending with Holy Communion and each declaring what ministry goals (written down) that they are going to focus on between now and the next meeting. I wish that every network could experience the level of mutuality that these pastors have, but I think that they would say that it takes effort, a willingness to be transparent, a commitment to keep being present physically and emotionally for the whole retreat and an openness to others speaking into your life.

They’re doing it and my hunch is that there’s nothing that they wouldn’t do to be there for each other. Liz Downs (Sault Ste. Marie’s intern) was part of the group and I thought about the healthy modeling she received as a person exploring ministry as she listened and participated in the various experiences. It was a healthy slice of church as Jesus intends it. They have been meeting 3 times a year for over five years and though there have been pastoral changes, this strong relational bond has been passed on as new members have bought in to investing in the lives of other pastors.

On Thursday, the NLT and Network Leader Mentors met in Mississauga for the day to talk about how to continue to clarify the role of the networks and to strengthen their effectiveness in light of discussions and conversations from General Conference.

Yesterday, I worshipped at Northview Community Church in Regina, SK in the morning. This is an energetic, engaged congregation that is concerned about life within and in the neighbourhood. When people in the neighbourhood vandalized the back wall of the church, they got an artist to transform the graffiti into a mural with a redemptive message. (You’ll see this in the pics.)

In the afternoon, I drove with Regina friends to Weyburn for a special service where Stephen An was presented with credentials formalizing his transfer from the Korean Evangelical Church into the FMCiC as an ordained minister and Jody Pfeifer was set apart as a Commissioned Minister specializing in Worship Ministries.

It was a great week and there are pics in the Photo Gallery from each of these events. There is also one announcement this week – Gloria Reimer, a Commissioned Minister at Lakeview is transitioning into retirement later this summer.

Have a great week serving Jesus.
Bishop Keith