THE NEXT STEP IN THE SEARCH FOR A NEW PASTOR
Pastor Jake Porter declined our call to become our Second Pastor. What do we do now? I would like to encourage us each to respond in three ways.
First, let’s acknowledge the disappointment. For the 93% of Bethelites who voted in favour of Jake’s coming, his saying “no” is a letdown. It has been difficult for the Search Team to work so hard only to be disappointed. It is difficult for all of us to have our hopes for a second pastor dashed. It is okay to feel not okay about this.
Second, I believe we should be hopeful. The search process is, well, just that: a process. We have learned that Jake is not God’s plan for Bethel. That means we are now just a little closer to knowing what God’s plan is. The five members of the search team are fully committed to carrying on. We remain confident that God will lead us to the right person at the right time.
Our team has also decided, with the Governing Elder’s approval, that we will be open to a broader range of people. We began our search saying that we would consider either ordained or unordained individuals, but ordained pastors and recent seminary graduates quickly became our sole focus. Now, we want to be open to God’s surprises. Maybe a fully ordained pastor is still God’s plan for us, but we are not going to close the door on a good candidate who may not yet have that qualification.
Finally, we need to pray. We need to pray for Jake and Kris as they transition to a different part of God’s Kingdom. We need to pray for our church as we continue to search for the right person to serve at Bethel.--Pastor Tom
HAVE A SUCCESSFUL, SPIRITUAL, SUMMER EXPERIENCE
For many of us the summer months will bring a big change of pace. Your children may be around the house, altering the daily routine. You may have plans for a trip, a camping weekend, time at the cabin, or other leisure activities. Work may be busier or less busy depending on your job.
Personally, I’ve always welcomed the summer change of pace. It is slower for me and allows me some get-away time. However, some years ago I noticed something about my summers that I did not like.
I observed that summers often left me physically refreshed, but spiritually disconnected. Because my daily patterns were disrupted, I tended to neglect the disciplines that gave me joy and added to my spiritual vitality during the rest of the year. The solution, I discovered, was to plan ahead for how I would pursue my walk with God, while being flexible enough to embrace the refreshing change that summer brings.
I will often set a summer goal, say, to read a selected portion of the Bible or to memorize particular verses—and I will strategize for my time alone with God. I’ve found, generally, that the best time for quiet time is while others are sleeping in. By taking it then, I don’t disrupt the flow of vacation activities.
At the same time, I am flexible in how I pursue my devotional pattern. My prayers will be less structured and more meditative. I will pray while I am walking on a path or on a beach. I may spend time meditating on God’s creation in the mountains or in a forest.
I encourage you to invest just a small amount of time to pray and plan for your devotional life this summer. You can count on God’s help, because he wants to spend time with you even more than you want to spend time with him!
I hope you will have a summer that is both physically and spiritually refreshing. --Pastor Tom
HOW PEOPLE EXPERIENCED 24/7 PRAYER
We invited participants to tell us about their experience during the 24/7 prayer week. Here is just a small selection of the responses we received:
“My hour flew by as I learned it is good to do nothing but listen and talk with God.”
“These rooms express God’s heart.”
“I could not get enough of the LORD Jesus.”
“[I experienced a] renewing of my mind and perspective on the sovereignty of the Lord, and a newfound sense of true peace with no fear.”
“As soon as I walked into room one, I was overcome by emotion. My family just received an answer to prayer, and I had not made enough time or space to express my gratitude to my heavenly Father.”
“24/7 prayer may have changed how I pray for the rest of my life. It was like the Spirit was here, waiting for me, and eager to lead me in prayer.”
“It was awesome. The rooms are beautiful and inspiring! Please make it a yearly event! Thank you!!! It was my first time to pray for one hour!!!
“[I loved] the experience of sharing with my daughters in prayer, learning to draw close to them and seeing how the Lord Jesus moves through us.”
“As I worshiped, prayed, danced and waved banners in the sanctuary, I sensed God saying over his people—I wave a banner over YOU to let the world know you are mine. And to Bethel, God says, “My banner over you is LOVE” (Song of Songs 2:4).
“Let’s keep praying that next year we will have every room filled with prayer warriors!”
Some common themes we heard from participants were: “I really enjoyed being in God’s presence,” and “the time went by so quickly.”
I will be sharing more of the remarkable results of our 24/7 prayer week during worship on Sunday. If you have anything you would like to share, please contact one of the organizers (Cathy Ferchau, Adrienne Kelsey, Kevin Magnes, or myself).—Pastor Tom
REFLECTING ON OUR WEEK OF 24/7 PRAYER
We dedicated this past week to prayer. For 168 hours—seven days and nights—at least one person has been in the church building praying. Often, there were two or three or even more people praying at the same time. What did we accomplish? Looking back on this week, I think many important things happened. Here are just a few:
We Made God Happy: The apostle Paul says, “Live in order to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:10). I think we pleased God this week. All parents love it when their kids spend time talking with them. God loves it too. Martin Luther said, “Prayer is climbing up into the heart of God.”
We Changed the Future: The request, “Your Kingdom come your will be done,” implies that both God and we play a role in bringing about God’s preferred future. It is a partnership in which God is the directing partner. I have no doubt that God will do “more than all we can ask or imagine,” through the prayers we have prayed. I’m keeping my eyes open for what he has in store for us.
We Changed: You can’t pray from the heart and not be changed in the process. In prayer, we open ourselves up to God, and that opens us up to new possibilities. Over the course of time, prayer will bring about incremental changes in the person who prays, as well as in the community that prays. This week we welcomed God to make us more like the people he wants us to be.
We Deepened our Unity: Psalm 133 says: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity! …For there the Lord commands the blessing, life forevermore.” Through our shared time of prayer, we humbled ourselves, together, before God. People, so unified, welcome God’s blessing.
This is just tiniest tip of the iceberg of what, I believe, God has done through this week. We serve a wonderful, wonder-performing God. It is impossible to enumerate all of the gifts he gives to the people who earnestly seek him.—Pastor Tom
LIFE IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD
How is it going in your neighbourhood? In the last couple of Pastor’s Corners I’ve written about the important work we are doing together in our church’s neighbourhood. Today I am wondering about your neighbourhood. What is God doing in your “hood”? God has uniquely placed each of us where we live so that we can shine the light of Jesus there.
I have been praying for my own neighbourhood for years. Each Thursday morning I kneel at a desk that overlooks our cul-de-sac. I bring before the Lord each individual and family using the B.L.E.S.S. prayer, which reminds me to pray for the Body, Labour, Emotions, Social relationships, and Spiritual needs of my neighbours.
Over the years I have seen meaningful changes taking place. It is now common for Janet and me, when we are out walking, to stop to chat with people we have come to know. Other neighbours are getting to know one another better, as well.
Some of our neighbours have become good friends of ours, and some of those friendships have resulted in spiritual conversations. We cherish these opportunities to talk about Jesus. One neighbour couple asked if they could visit our church this summer. They don’t normally attend church, but they know we do. They want to learn more about the faith that is so meaningful to us.
Our second annual block party is scheduled for late June. We hope it will be bigger and better than last year. It has been easier to plan this year’s event because friends I met at last year’s block party are helping me to plan it.
In the Lord’s Prayer we ask: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That prayer is our mandate for our neighbourhoods. We want “down here” (on our block or in our apartment building or condominium) to be a little more like “up there”. --Pastor Tom
WHY “DOING GOOD IN THE ‘HOOD” IS SO VITAL
By participating in Bannerman in Action, on May 11, Bethel improved our church’s community and helped out a lot of people. However, I believe Bethel‘s efforts accomplished much, much more. Let me explain.
First, in a small way, we helped to change the atmosphere in Bannerman toward one of mutual caring. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “Thy Kingdom come” which, as one person puts it, is asking God to make “down here” more like “up there.” Now, Bannerman is just a little bit more like “up there”.
Second, we sent a powerful message to the community leaders who had been planning this event for months. We demonstrated, in perhaps the biggest way to date, that we care about our community. One community leader recently described Bethel as a caring church that “by its very presence is making our community better.”
Third, we helped to pave the way for credible witness. Through efforts like this we “adorn the Gospel” (Titus 2:10). I have seen strong evidence that we are making an impact. Our actions have opened the door for personal Gospel conversations and led people to visit our church.
Let’s continue to shine the light of Christ in the Bannerman community and in our own community wherever we may reside! —Pastor Tom
WE DID A LOT OF GOOD IN THE ‘HOOD
About 86 volunteers showed up for “Bannerman in Action” on Saturday, May 11. We had a great time serving our church’s community and neighbours. Bethel did some real “good in the ‘hood”. Here are just some of the highlights from that day:
We left the river valley a lot cleaner, removed graffiti from buildings, and freed the community field of shattered glass.
Volunteers cleaned the fridge of a single mom. Then they went above and beyond the call of duty by washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen and washing walls. When the volunteers left, the woman said she was going to carry on washing walls. Obviously the team’s visit was both encouraging and motivating for her!
A Community League member said, “The community gardens have never looked better. People just figured out the task, grabbed the tools and worked their magic.” Another exclaimed, “I can’t believe all the work that got done today! Normally, just one other person and I work for weeks to get that garden ready.”
A woman with ovarian cancer expressed to a volunteer that she needs to have her lawn mowed during the summer. She is going to be linked with neighbours who can help.
Adults and children worked together: the adults were able to delight in the joy and enthusiasm of the children, while the kids learned that they play a significant role in the church and community.
Several people said that they were just learning about the event, thought it was a great idea, and would like to participate next year.
A big “thank you” to everyone who participated this year. (Save your T-shirt, everyone, you will need it next spring! –Pastor Tom
YOUR CHANCE TO MEET OUR PROSPECTIVE PASTOR
I told you last week that we have selected Jake Porter of Hamilton Michigan as our pastor candidate. You may be wondering when you will get a chance to meet this person who may very possibly become our second pastor.
We have invited Jake and his wife Kris to come to Bethel on the weekend of Sunday, May 26. Jake will preach at both Sunday services. There will be time for you to connect with him over coffee or tea after both the 9 and 11 a.m. service.
While they are here, Jake and Kris will be invited to eat a meal with the Search Team, enjoy a barbeque with all of Bethel’s office bearers, talk with the staff, and meet with representatives from the Governing Elders, Shepherding Elders, and Deacons. There will also be opportunity for them to explore Edmonton.
The Search Team has provided you with information about his life, faith, education, and ministry experience. On Sunday June 2, you will be asked to vote on whether you believe God is leading us to call Jake as our new second pastor.
Should we vote to call Jake, he will then have a decision to make. He will have up to three weeks to give us a final decision.
As we consider who should serve as our new second pastor, it is vital that we approach this process with prayerful discernment. A document containing a copy of Jake’s resume and a summary of his ministerial profile has been placed in each mail slot so you can get to know Jake better.
Let’s pray that God will give both our congregation, and Jake, the wisdom to know if He wants him to be our next second pastor.—Pastor Tom
WE HAVE A SECOND PASTOR CANDIDATE
After narrowing the field down to two people, Bethel’s Search Team spent last Sunday afternoon interviewing both candidates for the second pastor position. We then selected a candidate who was subsequently endorsed by the Governing Elders. I am happy to be able to introduce you to our prospective second pastor: Jake Porter.
Jake is a graduate of Western Theological Seminary. He is currently the pastor of Hamilton Christian Reformed Church where he has served for six years (two years as their youth pastor and four years as their lead pastor). He is married to Kris. They home school their two children Dean (aged 8) and Ben (aged 5).
Though his father became a pastor when Jake was a child, he never thought that he would follow in dad’s footsteps. He was surprised, during his college years to sense the Lord was calling Him into ministry.
Jake has a very broad faith background. He grew up in a revivalist tradition, but served as an associate pastor in a charismatic church for several years before attending a Reformed seminary. He feels that this breadth of experience has helped him to be a better pastor.
Preaching and teaching are Jake’s primary passion, but he is clearly a people person, as well. (One of his great joys is to have a group of people over and cook them a meal.) He is passionate about outreach.
Jake’s years of experience as a pastor give him a strong foundation for ministry. That experience, along with his strong people-skills, have led our Search Team to believe he will make a good second pastor for Bethel Church.
Jake and his wife will be coming to Edmonton over the weekend of May 26. He will preach for us on that Sunday. In the next weeks the Search Team will provide you with more detailed information about Jake so you can get to know him better.
INVESTING IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Our church has made a commitment to invest tens of thousands of dollars in our local community. How do we plan to spend that money?
The Governing Elders appointed a “Bless Bannerman” Team to figure that out. In turn, that team held two in-depth meetings with various representatives of our local community to explore options.
In the course of those meetings, the Bannerman Afterschool Program emerged as the leading candidate for support. The Bannerman Community League cooperated with Bannerman residents and other community partners to create this program. They value it deeply. It gives kids who would otherwise be unsupervised after school a constructive outlet, and it has proven to be an important asset for the school.
Our team felt that we should apply the money where our community wanted it most; so, we proposed to the Governing Elders that Bethel Church match the Community League’s support for this program of $5,000 per year for five years. The Governing Elders endorsed that proposal.
However Bethel’s Bless Bannerman Team had even bigger dreams and the Community League agreed to partner with us in them. Together we are pursuing grants that will allow us to hire someone full time to serve our community. Our goal is that this person will serve Bannerman’s most under-resourced members, linking them to government resources as well as programs already being offered by the various community partners (like Bethel’s “Make Tax Time Pay”, Bethel’s summer sports offerings, the E4C’s Mom and Tot’s group, the Community League’s annual activities, and many more).
Amazingly, within a week of our conceiving the idea, two different local nonprofit organizations responded. They said (independently of each other) that they liked the idea so much they would seriously consider giving a half time staff person for the project. If our efforts are successful, it is possible that the remaining “Bless Bannerman” funds from Bethel will be used to fund efforts initiated by the this community worker.
The amazing story continues. One of the half-time staff who will likely be assigned to this project turns out to be a Christian. He joined us this week at our Wednesday morning prayer meeting!
All of these plans assume, of course, that pledges from the All-In campaign will be honoured—and we are fully confident that Bethel will do so. (Donors have till August 31 to get pledges in.) We will have a full discussion of our plans for the Bless Bannerman funds at our upcoming congregational meeting on June 6.
Come here for news on what is happening in Bethel Church from our Pastors.