Bishops Notes – September 15, 2008

September 15, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

This past weekend has been a celebration of 100 years of ministry for the First Free Methodist Church in New Westminster, B.C. Bishop Emeritus Donald Bastian, a former pastor of the congregation, was on hand for the event and spoke in the Saturday evening gathering. Donna and I are visiting the BC churches these days and we were glad to join in the Sunday morning worship service.

Recently I was telling one of our younger pastors about the 100th anniversary and was touched by his comment: “One hundred years. That’s awesome. It really takes something for a congregation to make it to 100 years of ministry.” He’s right and the longer I live and observe the church in its various forms and locations, the more convinced I am that local congregations that are engaged with their neighborhoods (and adapting as they change) are God’s ongoing agents for making His influence tangible in the lives of the people of their neighbourhoods.

This past week, the Network Leaders and Mentors met in Niagara Falls to take the “Culture and the Missional Church“course taught by Dan Sheffield and Jared Siebert (with a guest lecture by Dr. Howard Snyder). It was the first time that this course has been offered and I believe that as more leaders are able to receive this instruction, the Lord is going to use it in a substantial way to help us with navigating the period of “discontinuous” (rapid, unanticipated, unpredictable) change that we are living in. There were no quick “fix-it” programs offered, but rather a solid theology of mission with practical tools to help congregations discern their responses to two key questions:

What is God doing in the world?

How does He want us to be involved with what He is doing?

While we were together, I took the opportunity to present Garry Castle (pastor at Next Church, Kingston) with his Ministerial Candidate credentials. There are pictures of both these events in the Photo Gallery this week.

Several have been asking about what relief is being sent to Haiti and India to respond to the hardships that are being experienced in those countries. Because of your support of World Relief Sunday and the funds that are made available to the Bishop’s Famine and Relief Fund, $15,000 has been sent to help our friends – Haiti $10,000 and India $5,000..

You may recall that at General Conference we voted that the 2009 Ministers Retreats be focused on the theme of “Generosity”. Planning is under way (and please note that we’re talking about 2009) and put the following dates in your calendars:

Western Retreat – September 29 – Oct. 1, 2009 at the FCJ Retreat Centre, Calgary

Eastern Retreat – October 20 – 22 at Wesley Acres

There are two appointment announcements this week. Darrin Lindsay has been appointed to Kingsview FMC and Bob Snider has been granted a Leave of Absence.

May you know Jesus’ deep joy as you serve in His name.

Blessings,
Bishop Keith