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.
When I was young, my mother would awaken me and my other siblings on Easter mornings at the crack of dawn. We would walk together to the local park where we would mount a hill so we could get an unobstructed view of the sunrise. This yearly activity had no particular spiritual significance for me. I knew it was something special that we did on Easter, but I was never told that it related in any way to Jesus and His resurrection.
Much later in life I had a personal encounter with Jesus. Alone in my bedroom, I gave my life to Him and experienced, firsthand, His resurrection power. Then I started to pray for the salvation of my family members. One by one, my seven brothers and sisters and my mother came to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
This week I found myself thinking about those early morning trips to the park on Easter Sundays. I didn’t know then that by greeting the sun on Easter my family was mimicking the earliest disciples of Jesus who, at sunrise, discovered the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Now, in retrospect, I can find real meaning in those walks to the park. All of the family members who shared those walks, now share a love for the Saviour. We have discovered the real reason for Easter: the Son rose! In my mind’s eye, I see the sun cresting over the horizon, and I praise God for the life-giving power He continues to display in the world today.
That is what we are celebrating today—not an empty tradition but a risen Saviour. He is what makes Easter a day worth celebrating! May you experience His presence and love this weekend, and may you be filled with hope. One day all who trust in Him will share in the final resurrection and will live with Him forever!
A WEEK OF 24/7 PRAYER
Did you take part in last year’s 24/7 prayer week? If so, you will be excited to learn that we are planning the second annual week of nonstop prayer. It will run from Sunday June 2 to the following Sunday, June 9 (Pentecost).
Last year’s event startled and delighted many of us. The idea of dedicating a whole week to prayer, with at least one church member praying every hour during the day and night was new to many. It seemed like an impossibly large undertaking at first, but then people began to sign up to spend an hour (or two or three) in prayer. Soon the calendar filled up.
As it turned out, there were often multiple people in the building praying during the same hour. When the week was over it seemed that the time had been too short. Many people who did not normally spend a full hour in prayer, were surprised at how easily their time was filled.
Over the course of the year I have seen God answer our prayers in many, many ways. Since that very special week we have seen the groundwork laid for a new church plant. We have deepened our partnership with our church’s local community leaders as we have discussed with them how we can bless Bannerman with the excess funds from the church-plant drive. We have seen numerous people come to Christ this year. (Be looking for baptisms on the horizon). And these are just a few of the ways God has demonstrated his power among us.
These kinds of things happen when God’s people acknowledge God’s bigness and align themselves with His plans. I think we have only seen the beginning of what God has in store for us as we continue to depend on Him through prayer. So, mark your calendars, and plan to take part in this year’s week of 24/7 prayer!
LOVING OUR COMMUNITY
It all started as a hopeful idea. I envisioned a day in the spring on which neighbours would get out of their homes to help one another and invest in improving their community. I thought a day like that would add value to the Bannerman neighbourhood, and that it would be a great opportunity for Bethel to show that we are not just a building on the corner. We are people who care about our community.
I believed God birthed the idea in my heart, so I proposed it to Bannerman’s community leaders when they met at Bethel for our monthly Bannerman Partners meeting. Would they like the idea or find it impractical or even impossible? I didn’t know.
As it turned out, they loved the idea. Life was given to an event that has come to be called: Bannerman in Action. We set the date for May 11. Bethel Church and the local Community League are partnering together to hold “a day for Doin’ good in the Hood.”
Our planning team’s excitement peaked this week when we saw just how big the scope of this effort has become. Volunteers are stepping forward and numerous requests for assistance have come in. The day promises to be a fun: a day for individuals, as well as parents and their children, to invest in serving others. I believe this is an amazing opportunity for us as a church to show our love for Bannerman and to get to know our neighbours.
The day will start at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast. Beginning at 9:00 a.m., volunteers will spend three hours building garden beds, painting door frames, washing windows, picking up litter, and doing a host of other relationship-building events. At noon, a barbeque lunch will be served for all the volunteers and any members of the local community who want to join in.
You can sign up for the event by filling out a card which will you find on the desk on the back of the sanctuary and depositing it in the box you find there. The sooner you sign up, the better. Since the scope of the event is proving to be large, organizers ask me to encourage our members to have their cards in by April so we can gauge the number of jobs against the number of volunteers.
I encourage you to sign up in the next two weeks. Let’s show the community we care!
Come here for news on what is happening in Bethel Church from our Pastors.