People have been asking: what is happening in Bethel’s new wing now that we have invested over a million dollars to build it? People have also been asking: what is going to happen with the old wing, now that the staff no longer use those rooms as their offices? I am dedicating this and next week’s Pastor’s Corner to answering those two questions. Today I will focus on the new wing.
Initially, we had some challenges as we settled into our new offices. The inevitable post-construction fixes to the building, combined with the pains of getting a completely new computer system, sometimes tested the staff’s patience to the limit. I am happy to say that those “birth pains” are almost completely behind us now.
The upper level of the new wing (or the “west wing” as we sometimes call it) has become both a comfortable work place and a dynamic work environment for the staff. Each staff now has adequate work space to do what they have been called to do--for Wendy and Val who shared an office, divided by a temporary wall, that has been an especially welcome change.
For me, the most exciting benefit of this move is the dynamism that has resulted from having our offices so close together and having a beautiful, common meeting place just one step away. Studies have shown that the interaction that results from this kind of proximity increases creativity and motivation, and I am seeing that happen each day that I come to church.
So when will coffee be served after Sunday services in the new wing? Good news! That is coming soon. Our plan is to have refreshments in the new wing after church on Sundays throughout the month of May. The new wing is smaller than the area in back of the sanctuary, so we will have to experiment to see how everyone likes this arrangement.
One last thing has to be said about the new wing. As much is happening downstairs as upstairs. The lower level is home to our youth program (teens and young adults) as well as to the Oasis woman’s ministry. It is really a beehive of activity.
If you visit the new wing, you’ll see that a few touches still need to be made, but things are coming along. Sit on one of the new couches. Envision tables for four with chairs scattered around the upstairs foyer area—which is part of the plan for the not-too-far future.
Thank you Bethel, for your vision and courage in taking the step to expand the building for the sake of ministry!--Pastor Tom
Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that “All things work together for the good of those who love God.” Last month's youth retreat is evidence that Paul knew what he was talking about!
After months of planning, the annual Alberta-Wide Inspire Conference for Grade 9-12 was cancelled at the last moment. Melanie and I were very disappointed, and so were all the students who had signed up. Not wanting to let down the students who signed up we decided to throw together a last minute retreat weekend.
We ended up with the group of youth in downtown Calgary. As a group we prayed together before we headed out. Everyone was encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit “Where do you want us to go and what do you want us to do for you?” First, one of the leaders was led to buy coffee for a couple of guys walking by us. Then one of the students suggested we buy coffee and donuts for a crowd of people. After seeking and praying for a while, one girl felt like we should walk towards the LRT tracks. There we met a man named Steve. We greeted him and he began to pour out his heart. Students laid hands on him and prayed. We bought him lunch. He told us that he was an alcoholic and had lost his wife because of poor choices. He confessed that he felt absolutely hopeless and wanted to die. He told us he was going to jump in front of the LRT but then he saw us walking intently towards him. God, he described, had sent us to him to save his life and give him hope that there is love out there. We were all stunned.
As we prayed for him a second time in a huddle on a street corner, two girls walked up and asked if they could be prayed for too. A hungover Steve uttered prayers for all of us. The presence of the Holy Spirit felt thick among us and we were so thankful to be used by God. One student remarked: “Why can't life be like this everyday?” Perhaps it should be :) .
We have added a new member to the staff team: Sonny Rise. (That final “e” is pronounced like the good old Canadian “eh”.) Sonny will be serving as the Children’s Ministry Assistant while Christie Thomas is on maternity leave. We believe Sonny is the perfect person for the role she will be taking on. Let me tell you a little bit about her.
Sonny moved to Edmonton from British Columbia, and has been attending Bethel for almost a year now. She is an experienced teacher who served in the public school system for over 20 years in BC, teaching at a variety of elementary age levels. She has many skills ranging from music (piano and guitar) to drama, dance, and athletics (coaching and personal fitness) as well as sewing and knitting. She is passionate about her faith in Jesus Christ, cares deeply about children, and is active in a number of community volunteer activities. Sonny is the mother of two adult children—Dawn in Calgary and Curtis in Edmonton. (Curtis and fiancé Anya Kisseleva both attend Bethel).
Sonny already started work this past week, “learning the ropes” from Christie. We are grateful to have her on board!
This is Christie’s last Sunday on staff. While Christie is laying down her role as Director of Early Childhood Ministries for a while, we are really not saying “goodbye.” She, Jonathon, and family will remain very much a part of the Bethel Community. Her due date is March 27—the secret’s out, it’s a boy! She hopes to return by March of next year.
Be sure to warmly greet Sonny and to keep Christie, new baby, and family, in your prayers.
Starting this Sunday, we are embarking on a very special journey. It is the journey toward Good Friday and Easter (referred to in the Christian calendar as the season of Lent). It is a time in which many Christians focus in a special way on the cross of Christ and on the call of discipleship that Jesus described when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
We will be guided in this journey by the book of Mark through a new series of messages called The Subversive Kingdom. Jesus came to establish a Kingdom; however, His Kingdom, though very real, is unlike any other. It is only as we understand Jesus’ teaching about that Kingdom that we can know what it is to be His follower.
Jesus’ earliest disciples were constantly being surprised by what Jesus’ taught about His Kingdom and they had to make significant changes to adjust their lives to it. We will have to do the same.
In each of the next six Sundays, and on Good Friday, we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as a way of helping us to focus on Jesus’s Kingdom and on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that made it all possible.
I look forward to launching out on this adventure with you! --Pastor Tom
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