The Alpha Program has been a source of ongoing excitement for its planners, leaders, and participants. The meetings have been enjoyable. Life-change is clearly happening. Here are some of the highlights:
· Many people attending the meetings are inquiring about God. Some don’t have a relationship with God, some others have been attending church for a long time but are looking for something deeper.
· Many setbacks seemed to keep our guests from attending meetings at first—everything from strange illnesses to automobile accidents. As leaders, we continued to put our trust in God, and we have seen a big change in this situation.
· The group’s members are building good relationships. They are enjoying one another’s company and support. Some guests show up with food in hand. One guest offered to pick up another guest on a week I had to be out of town and could not do so.
· Our seekers are asking really good questions, like, “How does Jesus’ death on the cross take away my sins?”
· Two guests in one group told the leaders that they would not return to Alpha. The leaders prayed and, sure enough, those guests came back in following weeks. One guest returned because her circumstances changed. The other because her heart changed.
The food providers have been marvelous. The food is ample, delicious, and on time. This was a marvel to one of the guests in my group.
Please pray for the Alpha program and for the upcoming “Weekend Away” which is all about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you Bethel
Thursday October 12th at 9:00am, I sat on a stage at Trinity CRC and took part in my final of many denominational exams. At the end of a healthy grilling from pastors and elders from churches around Northern Alberta, I was “declared qualified for and admitted to the sacred ministry of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church.” Driving home from this event I thought: “How on earth did I end up here?” Pastor Tom has asked me to reflect upon my upcoming ordination.
As I look back on a journey of 7 years of Master’s studies, intentional mentoring, and navigating ecclesiastical requirements - I am filled with gratitude for the faithfulness of God and His people.
When I think about the volunteer from the Gideon’s society who gave me my first New Testament at my elementary school, and the Sunday school volunteers who first took an interest in me at Evangel Assembly - I can see just how many things had to go right to get to this point.
Coming out of College, I was a Pentecostal kid who was extremely anxious and wondered whether my ministry dreams would work out. One well-intentioned professor told me I should probably find something else to do with my life. Despite many obvious flaws, Bethel’s calling team took a chance on me and I will always be thankful. These nearly ten years of serving Bethel have been extraordinary – filled with great challenges and joys along the way.
Much could be said about the role of my family and close friends, but this Pastor’s Corner is about you Bethel.
Thank you for giving me a chance to learn and grow here. Thank you for letting me fail and succeed. Thank you for trusting me with your kids – even when we took them on some really bizarre youth retreats. Thank you for sitting through some of my first awful sermons and still loving me along the way. Thank you for releasing me to take trips to Grand Rapids for seminary. Thank you for mourning my father with me and blessing my mother. You have shown me the love of God and there is no way I could possibly express how much I love you all.
When Pastor Tom and the council lay hands on me and ordain me on October 29th, please know that I am eternally grateful for this community of believers. Without your love, encouragement and prayer I would not be here today. I look forward to continuing to grow together and seeing the Kingdom come at Bethel!
With a heart of gratitude for you,
SERIOUS ABOUT SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Bethel’s mission is: “Becoming like Christ and sharing Him with others.” Our church’s pastors, elders, and deacons take this mission very seriously. Recently, we made two commitments that show that “becoming like Christ” is a top priority for us.
At last Saturday’s Council kickoff breakfast, we read our Council Covenant out loud. This is a document we worked hard on last year. It essentially says that we will live with one another in a Christ-like way--we will live in the way we want the whole church to live together.
We read off statement after statement describing our commitment to becoming like Christ. We detailed how we will show Christian love to one another, how we will talk to one another, how we will talk about one another, and how we will deal with differences among us. Then we knelt and prayed, asking God to help us to love and serve the church he has entrusted to our care.
After recommitting to this covenant, we then discussed a way of encouraging one another to personal growth in Christ, as well as modeling growth for the congregation. The plan includes three things:
· At each of our meetings we will start with a personal devotion. Instead of reading a devotional thought from a book, a council member will tell the story of his or her own life with the Lord. It will be a personal testimony or a description of what the Lord has been teaching them lately.
· Occasionally, we will break into small groups and ask one another how our walk with Christ is going. We will encourage one another and hold one another accountable.
· Each month, we will publish one council member’s story as a way of sharing our lives with the congregation.
Please pray for us that we can be faithful to these commitments and that all of us together will grow into the kind of church Christ wants us to be.—Pastor Tom
Giving Thanks for God’s Work in Bannerman
I was at an amazing meeting in our Church’s local community recently. The meeting was called to discuss afterschool programming for the kids at Bannerman elementary school.
It turns out that the local school has an especially high number of new Canadians and special needs students who attend there. These kids need some extra assistance. Many of these children also return to homes where there are no parents present because of work obligations, meaning that they have unstructured and potentially wasted hours in their day.
That is what this meeting was all about. The new school principle, Lena Corrigan, is eager to address this situation. Supported by Community League President Dave Ball, and local volunteer Maureen Murphy-Black, she hopes to develop an afterschool program for these kids. Lena is strongly committed to working side by side with Bethel Church and other community organizations to do so.
The meeting impressed me for two reasons especially. First, not all communities have such a high level of cooperation and commitment to see their neighborhood thrive. People at this meeting were passionate, and I have witnessed this wonderful spirit in many similar meeting in Bannerman in the past five years. I couldn’t help thinking that I was seeing God answering our prayers. For decades we have prayed that God would bless our church’s community, and we continue to do so today.
Second, I was impressed because Bethel Church was singled out for special commendation a couple of times during the meeting. The group’s leader noted our church’s offerings for children, including Taekwondo, the GEMS Girls club, the Cadets Boys Club, Kids Club, our summer sports programs, and summer kids’ camp. Then later someone cited our Kids Club as a good example to follow for keeping children safe, since our volunteers escort kids to and from the program.
I tell you these things, not to make us proud, but to give us reason for thanks. God is answering our prayers. I felt humbled and full of gratitude—thankful for God’s moving in the Bannerman community and for the dedication of many Bethelites to Bannerman over the past decades. We serve a wonderful God. –Pastor Tom
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