Big Voice, Little Voice, No Voice, One Voice?
If you are a Christian then you are a part of universal Body of Christ which includes all other believers across time and space. You are not a benchwarmer on the God-team, or an extra in the God-movie, or the crew member in an original Star Trek episode wearing a red uniform (it meant that you were going to die in that episode!), or any other metaphor that does not reflect Paul the Apostle’s words, “now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Paul has much to say about what it means for us to be this kind of valuable and connected, but for today I’d like to remind you of your voice locally, nationally and internationally.
“When one part suffers, we all suffer” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Is this true? Do I actually “suffer” with the hurt of my brothers in sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith right now? Do I agonize with those starving? Is “suffering” the word, or anything close to it, for my experience in hearing about human trafficking, unclean water on reservations, suicide on reservations, refugee camps, systemic racism in my own community or the like? Am I suggesting that a Christian is someone who should live in a perpetual mental, or perhaps even existential, state of dread or “suffering”? Can you imagine a church sign, “Come to Christ, and join His followers in their calling to be cosmically depressed because of the state of this world!”
I am suggesting that a Christian is someone who can live in a perpetual state of hope for the world, and is highly motivated to use all the gifts and skills God has entrusted with them in order for them to make a difference. Others’ suffering should ignite hope, and hope is an action word requiring my full participation.
We make ourselves small, or less than God created us to be, when the only suffering I experience is my own, or only what touches those close to me. For instance, many of our churches are not near a First Nations reservation. Does this mean that our current FMCIC initiative to develop friendship with the First Nations people in order for FMCIC to be healing agents between people groups, is not relevant to our churches who are not in close proximity to a reservation? Or does this mean that the Church in “Rural town” (and you name the province) needn’t concern themselves with racism because their town is demographically relatively homogeneous and far removed from Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver issues? Is your voice confined to your own town? Is that how big a Christian voice is?
“When one part suffers, we all suffer”
Let me remind you FMCIC that you are not only a local congregation, but you belong to a national church family, which also belongs to an international church, which also belongs to the universal body of Christ. If only the few churches near reservations speak up, then isn’t that a lesser voice than if we all spoke up?! If only those churches in larger centres where protesters peacefully, passionately are calling for reform, join the fight against injustice, then isn’t our voice less as a church?! Emphatically yes!
What am I asking, in this already busy ministry season? I am asking these 3 things at this time:
- PRAY: for your community, Canada and beyond; pray for Christian ministries that are taking up these social justice causes; pray for reform, reconciliation, hope; pray about your involvement – “Lord would you have me do more?” Pray also for our Intercultural Engagement Team as they ask God to help FMCIC move forward; finally pray for our newest task force (which will work under IET) that will address racism in Canada and FMCIC’s righteous response. FMCIC PRAY.
- LEARN: Healthy churches are learning churches – they learn about God’s Word, each other, their community (local, national and international). I’ll say more about “learning” at another time. Already there is a First Nations learning opportunity for your church that I highly recommend to you (speak with Adam Kline our Intercultural Engagement Team Leader); read, and listen to stories from those who have lived the injustices (recently I have been significantly impacted by stories from my non-white friends about their experiences); watch for learning initiatives from IET by getting on their Facebook page or regular mailouts. Learn so to help create a shared narrative about our history and future; learn in order to talk about it. (Theological note: racism, tribalism, oppression and injustice are not new! In the first pages of humanity’s history, immediately following our choice to separate from God, we violently and selfishly separated from one another. That means that the ‘cure’ is first of all in Christ, however, Christ is clear that sometimes before we can introduce reconciliation with God to someone, we must first feed, offer drink, shelter, safety, peace, love to that someone. We are to be both ministers of reconciliation (us and God) and peacemakers (us with each other). Church should be LEARNERS.
- RESPOND: Letters to your MP and Prime Minister asking how they are responding to systemic racism – be brave and ask them how they feel the Church could help them in this season; raise support and awareness for IET initiatives with craft sales, bracelets, art, music events, food, garage sales, etc! For sure I do not want you to put up a sign that reads anything like, “all money raised will support missionary work in Global South” or “Cookies $5 – to support the Free Methodist Church”! But I bet that if you had a concert in support of “Set Free Movement” or Jonathan Maracle’s work on reservations in northern Canada, or for a Tearfund or ICCM project, your neighbours may feel inclined to help (and remember awareness events can be free too!). In the very least they would respect your efforts to make a difference. Response could also be in the form of letters of encouragement to those on the front line in this battle for reform; mobilize your church family into action with a “learning group”. Granted, we are not called to do everything, but I can be aware and supportive of a lot more than I do now, and the Free Methodist church foundationally is a holiness movement church which is supposed to mean, driven to seek justice for all.
Church Health Thursdays – Be a Big Influence: https://www.fmcic.ca/22282/
News & Stories Blog – Speaking Words of Comfort – https://www.fmcic.ca/speaking-words-of-comfort/
the conneXion – a Free Methodist theology blog: 3 Minute Theology 2.5: Knowing the Bible Inside Out: https://www.fmcic.ca/3-minute-theology-2-5-knowing-the-bible-inside-out/
New Leaf Network: The 2019 New Leaf Advent Reader – : https://www.newleafnetwindork.ca/podcast/
FM VIDEOS: https://www.fmcic.ca/category/fm-video-blog/
The Amazing Race – Virtual Family Camp
Come join us the week of Aug 16-21 on Facebook for inspiring music, challenging messages and activities for the whole family!
- Special Speaker, Bishop Cliff Fletcher
- Worship & Prayer with Maple Grove Camp
- Youth with Natalie Frisk, The Meeting House
- Kids’ Korner with Christina Catling, Barrie FM Church
- Coffee & Devos hosted by Pastor Jenn Wagar, Barrie FM Church
- fun activities and daily challenges that you can do at home with your family or friends
- videos and testimonials to help you facilitate learning and discussion in your home
- interactive discussion, devotionals, sharing thoughts, questions
- inspiring and encouraging evening worship services
All Are Welcome!
None at this time
ORDINATION AND COMMISSIONING SERVICES
Leonard Bruce – Warkworth, ON – ordination service date TBA
Dani Harris – The Corner Church, Oshawa, ON – ordination service date TBA
Douglas Smith – Fellowship of Joy, St. Williams, ON – ordination service date TBA
FOUNDATIONAL COURSES https://www.fmcic.ca/foundational-courses/
Register online through the link above
Lay Ministers tracking for credentialed ministry and those transferring ordination credentials into the FMCIC need to take the following two courses for full credit – and if possible, the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology.
Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
November 6-8, 2020 – location TBA*
November 6-8, 2020 – Ontario location TBA*
(also available online through FMC-USA: http://fmcusa.org/leadership/courses/)
Ministerial Candidates tracking for Commissioned or Ordained Minister are required to take the following two courses for full credit. Those who are already commissioned or ordained are required to either audit these two courses for 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) each or take the two courses and complete the assignments for 3 CEUs each.
Culture and the Missional Church:
Course starts October 13 (deadline to register – October 5)
Part One: Oct 13-Nov 5 – advance online engagement
Part Two: Nov 6-7 – two-day in-person class – Trulls Road FMC, Courtice, ON
Personal and Church Stewardship: (NOTE: TUITION WAIVED FOR THIS ONLINE COURSE)
5-week online course (ENGLISH) – Fall 2020-date TBA – Please register to be put on the waiting list. If we receive enough registrations, we will run this course online again this fall.
(* These course locations are selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early! Note: Tuition payment is not required when registering for a course. Payment is due 10 days before the course begins.)
2020 SCHOLARSHIPS https://www.fmcic.ca/scholarships/
October 15 is the deadline to apply for the Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) for any courses taken during the summer and/or fall semesters of 2020. The 2020 application forms and instructions are now available to download from the link above.
October 15 is the deadline to apply for the annual Special Scholarships for courses taken during 2020 – apply online from the link above.
CONTINUING EDUCATION UNITS (CEUs) https://www.fmcic.ca/introduction-to-continuing-education/
Ordained and Commissioned Ministers (except retirees) are to annually report Continuing Education Units (CEUs) acquired during each year. Check the link above for information on CEUs, the report form and a list of examples of many different types of life-long learning that can be applied as CEUs.
Note: For those who attend the fall Minister’s Conferences or the spring Regional Gatherings, add 6 hours of CEU credit for each event when you send in your annual CEU report.
CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
Lakeland Community Church, Spiritwood, SK
Church Profiles available
Contact Davika Dotson in the Leadership Development Office to request a church profile – [email protected] or 416-240-7845 (deadline to apply in brackets)
None available at this time
(If you are interested in seeing the profile for any of these churches, please contact Davika in the Leadership Development Office [see above] and the profile will be emailed to you as soon as it becomes available.)
Campbellford FMC, Campbellford, ON
Cedar Street Community Church, Simcoe, ON
Cornerstone FMC, Prince Albert, SK
Dunnville FMC, Dunnville, ON
First FM Church, New Westminster, BC (Rev. Vern Frudd – Transition Pastor)
New Hope FMC, Bracebridge, ON
Pineview FMC, Cloyne, ON
Richmond Hill Chinese & English FM Churches, Richmond Hill, ON (Rev. Louis Leung – Interim Pastor)
Trinity Christian Centre, Dresden, ON
Whitby FMC, Whitby, ON (Rev. Vic Stonehouse-Transition Pastor)
Youth and Worship Pastor – Weyburn FM Church
Associate Pastor: Youth, Young Adults & Social Media – Barrie Free Methodist Church
Office Administrator – Westdale Park FM Church
Ministry Intern – Maple Grove Christian Retreat