Welcoming the Student Among us
I sat down with a young woman this week, and I realized something: every stage of life has its unique challenges. For the twenty-something, life is filled with both possibility and pressure. Key questions have to be answered: What do I think about God? Who am I? What should I do with my life? With whom should I spend it?
Jesus loves young adults! He desires to be with them and guide them through this key stage of life. At Bethel it is our desire to be a welcoming community for young adults. A place where they can explore their thoughts about God, build life upon Jesus, and also enter into meaningful relationships with others on the same journey. I am pleased to say that I can see meaningful steps happening all around Bethel to become more and more that enfolding community.
Perhaps you have seen the many new twenty-something faces in the 11:00 service. Recently Bethel’s Young Adult team created care packages for new King’s students and offered a warm invitation to church. I was struck by the questions students had about Bethel: “Does Bethel value the Bible as the Word of God?” and “Is Bethel a church with people of all ages?” stand out to me. Indeed, twenty-somethings are hungry for vibrant Christian community.
It is encouraging to see volunteers transporting students from King’s to Bethel on Sundays and young adults, whether in school or working, joining new small groups. The Young Adult kick-off barbeque had its best attendance ever. Currently we are searching for families who will take in a student away from home for Thanksgiving dinners.
I want to encourage us all to continue to make Bethel a warm and welcoming community, not only for young adults but for everyone else too. All people, whether young or old, deserve to be noticed, listened to, and valued. When we invite the stranger into our hearts and homes, we entertain our Savior. - Pastor Ryan
A Bethel member was driving through the Bannerman neighbourhood recently when she spotted a man in a scooter stuck in the snow at the side of the road. His wheels were spinning but his scooter was not moving. With thoughts of our recent sermon series, Being Christmas, playing through her mind (with its challenge to incarnate the love of God wherever you go), she decided to stop and help out. Little did she know that her act of kindness would take her on a wild ride - literally.
With a little pushing, she and the gentleman succeeded in getting the scooter to surer footing, but he was soon stuck again. This time it was permanent - his scooter battery had run out of power. Apparently this man was experienced at this sort of thing, because he produced a rope and promptly requested that this Bethel member use her car to drive him home. With some reluctance she agreed, and with another Good Samaritan walking at this man's side to ensure his safety, she made her way to his house.
The adventure was not quite over, though, because the driveway was slippery with ice and impassible. She had to enlist the help of another man, a dog-walker who was passing by, to finish the job. So, as she held two yapping dogs by their leashes, the other helpers pushed the man to the safety of his garage. The Bethel member decided she would bring the scooter driver a Christmas hamper later in the week for all his troubles.
So here is a word to the wise: Be careful. When you decide to "be Christmas" you never know where it might lead you.
Dave Ball, President of the Bannerman Community League, and city representative Howard Lawrence came to talk with our Managing Elders this week. We talked about how, as church, Community League, and city government, we might partner together to make Bannerman a better place to live: a place where neighbours know and care about one another, where elderly people can meaningfully contribute to the community and have their own needs met, where people can enjoy friendship around common interests, and where people who need help to overcome an addiction can find supportive friends from the neighbourhood to help them on their journey.
This conversation came about as a result of the City of Edmonton's Abundant Communities Initiative - an idea for resetoring neighbourliness to neighbourhoods. The plan aims to raise up volunteers who will survey people in the community to learn who they are, and then connect them based on their interests, needs, and strengths. Because of the interest shown by both our church and the Community League, the city has chosen Bannerman to be a pilot area for this project. If the idea proves successful, they will take it citywide. It was truly a historic moment: Our church leadership looking into the eyes of caring people from Bannerman and saying "along with you we arecommitted to the wellbeing of our church's community -- you can count on us as partners". We agreed to donate $2,500 to hire the "Community Connector" who will in turn recruit 50 "Block connectors" to carry out the surveys. We also committed ourselves to encourage Bethel's Bannerman residents to give their enthusiastic support to the project. Perhaps most importantly, we built a bridge. We gave a strong message to our city and immediate community that we are a church that cares and, in so doing, we hope, let the light of Christ shine into our neighbourhood.