2019 IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR
2019 was a significant year for our church. It was filled with joys, challenges, and lots of reasons for thanksgiving. Let me mention a few:
We celebrated 40 years of being a church: In February, former members and pastors joined us to celebrate 40 years of God’s faithfulness.
We gave birth to a church: Much of this year’s challenge and joy was related to the launch of Bridge Church. We said “goodbye” to Pastor Ryan, Jessica, and their children after 10 years at Bethel, and we commissioned nine other Bethel families to join the church plant. All of our sacrifice resulted in the birth of a new, vibrant church in Fort Saskatchewan.
We welcomed many new members: We receive 22 new members this year and celebrated 12 baptisms. Eight of those baptized were starting a new life with Jesus. We heard the Koyu family’s unforgettable testimony about their journey of faith from Islam to Christianity. After John (formerly Musa) and the children had made a decision to follow Christ, Sandy Koyu saw a vision that resulted in giving her life to Christ.
We forged new links to our church’s neighbourhood: We partnered with the Community League in the first ever Bannerman in Action event—“a day for doin’ good in the hood.” We also committed $25,000 to support the local After School Program.
We found a second pastor: After 18 months of searching we called Cris Harper to be Bethel’s second Pastor. We look forward to welcoming Cris and Christy and their children Ruth and Gabe in about two months.
We became a more vibrant church of prayer: For the second year in a row we had a week of 24-7 prayer. During every hour of that week, day and night, at least one person was in the church building praying. People prayed weekly during and after worship services, and we saw an increasing number of people ask for prayer through our healing prayer ministry.
We grieved the loss of beloved church members: Kieran Otteson and Joanne Huitsing passed away this year. We felt a deep loss for each and surrounded the grieving families with love. Genevieve MillerElsner lost her husband Glen recently. This week, Netty Fennema passed away. Though not a member of our church, Netty was among its first members and was the wife of Bethel’s first pastor, Chuck Fennema.
We started new things: We created a new “Dream for Bethel”—a five-year ministry plan for our church. We launched a Growing Young Team to study the attitudes and needs of our church’s young adults. This resulted in the start of an Intergenerational Team that will take action in response to our findings.
Time and space does not allow me to talk about all the ways our ministries changed lives or all the new friendships that were started or all the people who journeyed through illness, and received visits and meals, and sometimes startling healing, this year. These few things show us, though, that we have lots of reason to praise God and look forward to the future.—Pastor Tom
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