Bishop’s Notes – October 6, 2008

This past weekend, I was with our friends at the Assyrian Gospel Church in Mississauga on Saturday night to celebrate the first anniversary of ministry in the building that they have purchased. It was an evening of talented singing by people from all ages groups, a very entertaining full-length drama with a clear discipleship challenge and, of course, lots of good food. It was real blessing to see their joy and optimism for the future. Joseph and Martha Gilyana pastor this congregation of Assyrian- and Persian-speaking people from the Middle East who have immigrated to Canada primarily from Iraq.The FMCIC works with this congregation (and others) as an agent of the Canadian government to sponsor refugees. Several that I met have arrived within the last few months and one couple within the last week.

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of opening God’s word at New Hope FMC in Bracebridge, Ont. It was moving experience to hear these seniors praying for their community during the worship service and their testimonies of how they are moving out of their comfort zones to minister to people. FMC history tells us that C.H. Sage had ministry in Bracebridge as early as 1879, and it was from this congregation that W.H. Wilson was sent (with a good meeting tent, folding chairs and personal tent for his family) to plant churches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It’s good to pause and celebrate that the witness of this congregation continues up to this day in this community. Speaking of history, it was fun to be part of a birthday surprise for Pastor Hilkka Aavasalmi.

There are pictures from both of these events in the Photo Gallery this week.

We offer our congratulations to Paul Carew (The FreeWay, Oshawa, ON) and Christine Li (Richmond Hill (ON) FMC), who have been approved as Ministerial Candidates by the Board of Administration.

Since General Conference, a lot of work has been done to clarify the job descriptions of the Network Leader Mentors and the Network Leaders. These job descriptions were approved recently by NMEGaP and are attached so that you can understand the role that these leaders play in our movement

At the September Network Leaders meeting at Mount Carmel, we determined that the web-based quarterly check-in approach is not working. It seems to be sterile and institutional, and so it was decided to move toward a network-based relational approach.

Here is what we came up with: In January, April, July and October, each Network Leader will send an email with informal check-in questions to his/her network (see questions below). The idea is that each pastor will answer the questions in the check-in and hit “reply all” so that it goes to his/her network. In this way everyone in the network will have a sense of how their network colleagues are doing. So stay tuned; you’ll be getting these questions from your Network Leader sometime this month.

In the weeks between the email check-ins, the Network Leaders are planning to be in touch with their pastors at least once every 4-6 weeks.

We hope that this will be a means of strengthening network relationships and encouraging conversation within the network.

Here are the questions:

Questions for “reply all” quarterly email check-ins with the whole network

Name:

How many folks are in your service on Sundays?

Have you done any baptisms lately?

(0=hell 9=heaven)

(0-9) Generally, the past little while has been…

(0-9) The worship life, of our church is…
As evidenced by:

(0-9) Our church is really connecting with the surrounding community…
As evidenced by:

(0-9) People in our church are feeling meaningfully involved in serving in
the church community and beyond…

As evidenced by:

(0-9) I have been teaching, preaching, celebrating and modeling generosity and we are seeing real signs of generosity…
As evidenced by:

(0-9) There are fresh signs of people moving toward some spiritual depth…
As evidenced by:

(0-9)What about your Values? Are you doing what you said your church is supposed to be doing?

What have you done to “play” recently(to help you get your thoughts off church from time to time)?

How have you invested in your family recently?

What are you doing to maintain physical fitness?

When did you last have a meaningful meeting with your accountability partner?

As Donna and I will be on vacation this week, celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families and your congregations God’s best at this Thanksgiving season. We have many reasons to praise God for his goodness and I trust that your celebrations next week will be filled with joy.

Blessings,

Bishop Keith