We held a meeting on Thursday of this week that brought us one step closer to realizing one of our dreams as church. The meeting consisted of representatives of Bethel Church, the principal of Bannerman Elementary school, the president of the Bannerman Community League, and an area Social Worker. The topic was: “Could we do more for the Bannerman community if we worked together in closer partnership?”
The excitement around the table rose over the course of the meeting as we discovered areas where a little cooperation would go a long way:
· The Community League has learned that there are seniors who lack connection with others. The school’s principle needs people to read books to her children. If seniors could be enlisted to help, they would be a perfect fit.
· We do a school supplies drive each year for community children who attend Kids’ Club. The school principle was surprised and delighted to learn this. She is willing to give input into this effort from the school perspective, and the Community League said they would be happy to contribute money toward supplies. These connections could end up making the program even more effective!
· The Community League, through the Abundant Communities initiative, is gathering neighborhood information that could be helpful to us in our ministry planning, and they were able to tell us how to regularly get valuable census data that could help us in the future.
· The school provides snacks for kids who come each morning hungry, but both of their refrigerators crashed just this week. We offered to advertise the need to our church community.
Other areas of possible cooperation were explored, and the group set a date to meet again. Words like “timely,” “helpful” and “worthwhile” were offered by various attendees to describe the meeting.
As hosts for the meeting, we felt we had contributed something positive to our community, and it brought us closer to a goal expressed two years ago in A Dream for Bethel:
“[Our connection with the Bannerman Community] will involve ongoing personal relationships with people from the area and will have the character of a true, partnership in which we work side by side with our neighbors to make this community a little more like the Kingdom of God.”
I vividly recall talking to a woman who had just come to faith in Christ. She was explaining why, during her first-ever, small group meeting, she had broken into tears upon hearing her name mentioned in prayer by a fellow group member. “No one had ever prayed for me before,” she said. “I was overwhelmed.”
I was moved by her words, and also deeply humbled. “I will pray for you” are words we commonly say to one another around the church. When I saw how profoundly moved this woman was by hearing her name mentioned in prayer, I was struck by how easily we take for granted this precious gift, which we routinely give to one another.
“I will pray for you.” We can make this offer to one another because God has thrown open the doors to his throne room through Jesus Christ. When we pray for one another, we invite God to bring his grace and power to bear on our life's biggest challenges. God assures us he will never fail to hear us, even if we cannot always understand how he is answering our prayers.
At Bethel, we want to “always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” as Paul encourages (Ephesians 6:18). This is why we pray individually for one another, and why, after Sunday mornings, we have people available for anyone who desires prayer. It is also why we have a prayer ministry that meets mid-week in the church’s Prayer Room to welcome people who feel a special need for God’s healing touch.
(As a side note, some have wondered why we don’t use the Prayer Room for prayer ministry after Sunday services. Simply put, the prayer team believes the front of the sanctuary is more convenient and private on a day when there are a lot of people milling around the foyer area.)
Let’s keep on praying for one another. It is a key ingredient for having a loving and vibrant church. And please know that I’ll be praying for you.
This week, leaders from all the Christian Reformed Churches in Northern Alberta met in Edmonton. We call this semiannual meeting “Classis” which is Latin for “ships traveling together in a fleet.” At this fellowship of “fellow-ships,” Gary Duthler, Randall Huisman, and I represented the Good Ship Bethel.
Something quite exciting happened at the meeting. As chair of the Home Missions Team for our region, I introduced our “two pronged” strategy for church growth and renewal. Our plan is to launch an aggressive and innovative church planting movement - one new church in Classis every three years for the next fifteen years - while helping established churches to grow in vitality and in evangelistic effectiveness.
As part of the Home Missions report, Victor Ko, pastor of mosaicHouse Church, announced a joint venture between mosaicHouse Church and Ottewell CRC that would see a new church planted in Edmonton within the next year. Ottewell has offered to sell mosaicHouse their building at a bargain price if mosaicHouse will launch a new church plant in their location while renting space to Ottewell’s members for their own worship services.
If mosaicHouse can pull this off, this will be their second church plant in two years and they are only six years old themselves. They are trusting God for their big dreams and are asking if their “fellow-ships” in Classis will help them secure the down payment for the building.
I am thrilled to be witnessing this moving of God’s Spirit in our region, and I am eager to see how God will lead Bethel in it. Let’s set our sails to catch the Spirit’s wind as He takes our “ship” to an exciting destination.
-- Pastor Tom
Over the last couple of months at Bethel there have been promising developments in Young Adults Ministries. We have a strong young adult leadership team this year which includes Helen Krol, Alan Wedman, Meghan Clarke, and Kristy Bootsma.
In the next year we desire to see Bethel connect more and more with students at the King’s University. You might remember, a few weeks ago I mentioned from the pulpit our dream to see King’s students transported weekly from school to church on Sundays. In the weeks since, the Dueck family and Angela Magnes have stepped up to provide transportation. Last week we had nine King’s students come to church at Bethel. Members of Bethel have been very hospitable – taking in King’s students for thanksgiving and for lunch after church.
In addition to transportation, Kristy Bootsma will be running a Bible Study monthly at King’s for students. Meghan Clarke will run a Bible Study monthly at Bethel, and Alan Wedman will run service and social activities.
As we continue to grow as a church, I am thrilled to see so many young adults involved in the life of our church. Whether serving in ministries or in leadership, young adults have a valuable contribution to the body. Please join me in prayer for the “twenty-somethings” of our church - that they would grow in Christ and flourish in His community.
Come here for news on what is happening in Bethel Church from our Pastors.