My son has a spy pen that does the work of writing things down but the words are not visible unless illuminated by a special light. I think that can be the case in church life too, with the work of diakonia in our churches taken for granted or going somewhat unnoticed. For certain, faith communities have made and are making significant contributions to the well being of their communities. But do you ever wondering if others see what good things you are doing? Is all your work done in the background? Do deacons receive a thank-you for the connection and service they make?
Three times a year, deacons, representative from Classis Alberta North diaconates and partner ministries meet for learning, mutual encouragement and sharing. We hear about each other’s joys, challenges and current events. We often have a guest presenter share about a ministry for churches and deacons to learn more about and be able to consider for supporting or accessing resources. There are many common ministries happening across the Classis and we have even witnessed the formation of new ministries in diaconates that have heard and learned from others.
An example of this has been community gardens. A couple of churches had lead the way and reported to the group how excited they were about them and about the overwhelming support they received from the community around them. A couple of churches that then started up new community garden initiatives said they were so much in demand the first year that they had to double the capacity the next year. Talk about planting seeds!
We always have a time of sharing and caring to have the deacons talk about what is happing in their church and I am always blown away by the stories and responses. We have heard a diverse array of ministry with everything from senior tea’s or dessert nights, to children’s VBS or summer sport camps (with a lot in between). Last time, instead of making a mental note of it, I decided to see if I could catalogue it and see what it looked like on paper… in no particular order… ministries and activities supported by CAN diaconates…
Wow, what a list and with not all diaconates represented I know there is more that I have not captured here. Now, I want to say outright that this is not to pat ourselves on the back and display what we are doing to gain the praise of others. Really, this is to show the faithful service of deacons in our communities and how they can encourage and support congregations to make a difference in others lives to the honor and Glory of God.
Have you ever heard of the Halo Effect? It has long been known in Canada that churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples have social, spiritual, and communal value. But what if we could measure the value of what they contribute to the common good in their neighborhoods and communities? The Halo Project began to examine and measure how religious congregations fare as economic catalysts and they have found that for every dollar in a religious congregation's annual budget, a city gets an estimated $4.77 worth of common good services. (www.haloproject.ca)
Check out some of the links to see tangible research to support what our churches our doing. Not that we need to see stats, we know by our hearts and the work of the Holy Spirit, that God is working in the lives people everywhere!
Also check out this local CBC interview for an explanation of the project…
I am so encouraged to know that our brothers and sisters are living out the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus and that it is making a difference in the Kindom of God. God bless and keep on serving and giving. - Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant
“When one does not know how to make room for the Lord and the poor, one is not a master of his wealth but its slave.” - Daniel Groody
It is good to intentionally think about money, finances, stewardship and generosity from time to time. Churches periodically have times of teaching and talking about money, pastors will preach on the heart of giving, charity, generosity and financial justice. Some churches even host courses about money management, budgeting, investing and estate planning. I have heard the question asked, “Are you even Spiritually ready to receive a million dollars?”
Part of the role of the deacon is to deal with church finances, benevolence cases and to encourage the congregation in matters of resource management, including time, talents and money... (Continue to full article from file attachment, as well as accompanying ppt).
Jesse Edgington – NADC Consultant
November 3, 2018 is still a ways off but we wanted to introduce our theme and some presenters that will be joining us for the Day of Encouragement. More info will follow as the time gets closer but for now, to get the interested started, take note of who is coming and look into how they could be a blessing to interact with.
Keynote presenter: Dr. William McAlpine - Theologian from Ambrose University and author of "Sacred Space for the missional church."
Bernadette Arthur - Race Relations Coordinator for the Office of Race Relations in Canada
Tom Baird - Lead pastor at Bethel Community CRC in Edmonton
Peter Bulthuis - Associate Director for Church relations with World Renew
Ben Bentum - Counsellor with Mercy Counselling, ministry of Catholic Social Services in Edmonton
Debbie Fawcett - Women's Reintegration Chaplain at The Mustard Seed
Faith Nostbakken - Spiritual Director at Providence Renewal Centre and Diaconal Minister of ELCIC
Danielle Rowaan - Justice Communications Team Coordinator for the CRC, working for the Centre for Public Dialogue, Office of Social Justice and more
Cindy Stover - Justice Mobilizer for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada
Gerald Van Smeerdyk - Military Chaplain with the CRC, stationed at CFB Edmonton
Arlette Zinck - Associate Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at King's University
Call for submissions: for DOE 2018
We would like to invite any congregational members who are avid photographers, poets or spoken word artists to contact the NADC consultant about submitting their work to be used and/or displayed for that day. We are looking to display art from our own members in the atrium at the King's University, much like we did last year with the Mustard Seed art. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jesse at 780-819-7488 to inquire.
Conflict has been a part of our world from as early as Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden of Eden. Since then, it has manifest itself in many ways, including war, and there have also been many different voices speaking out about this justice issue. I spent some time this winter researching one aspect of it, that I think is an important one, and I want to share my research with you. Here is an excerpt of the attached paper for your interest or use with a small group to learn more. There is also a CRC denominational link added to find further resources there too,
"As we launch billions of people around the world closer and closer to the year 2020, a huge question remains to be seen if a vision of peace and sustainability can be seen on larger global scale. As we look through the glasses of faith, economics, politics, trade and global human rights, will we see a world moving in a stronger direction of achieving Global Sustainability Goals by 2030? As I examine the impact, influence and effects of the global arms trade, I would like to explain how I think we cannot do so without a drastic reduction in arms manufacturing, trade, sales and research." - Arms Trade and Trafficking - NADC - Jesse Edgington (full paper below).
One spring I participated in a two and a half day silent retreat where I picked up two books by Scot McKnight called The Blue Parakeet and The Jesus Creed.In some of my reading and reflection times, I learned some things about principles of applying my story to the stories of the Bible and I thought about simple events in my life that I was overlooking. As the Bible tells stories about who God is and what He has done, it can also be applied to how he is present in our lives, every day and into the future.
We should be able to look at those stories in new ways as we put ourselves into and apply them to our lives. God’s chosen people often struggled with otherness and were searching for ways to live in oneness. God called them to live in a covenantal community with himself and others and the same is true for us today. This story is one that transcribes the entirety of the Biblical narrative, from Genesis one and two, through the life of Jesus, to the perfect fulfillment of oneness found in Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two.
One reason God gave us scripture was so we could not only know it, but also know about Him through it. We must read, reread and listen to how it is settling into our minds and heart. McKnight says listening is mentioned more than 1500 times in the Bible and one of the biggest complaints in scripture is that people do not listen to God.
If we can continue to develop these postures in our spiritual formation as Christians, we can aim to think like God thinks, desire what he desires and love what he loves. Love also has elements to consider beyond emotion and feeling, as it also has to include will, affection and action. Love drives things like compassion, empathy, reconciliation and justice. Again we come back to that oneness, seeking shalom justice by being reconciled to God, to those around us and to the place we live out of.
As I absorbed and reflected on these things in my own life, a passing experience of daily living came to mind. I was out running an errand and grabbing some groceries from Safeway one night as the pressures of the day with a young family had been taken care of; with the kids finally in bed. I grabbed my few things and headed to the only open till. The person ahead of me was visibly a bit unkempt and my first stereotypical response was that they were a homeless person or at least living on low income.
They had taken too many items than what their bank account would allow and were having to try, item by item, to put some back until they could afford the rest. I was immediately annoyed at having to wait, being held up from going home and missing my precious one hour of relaxation before bed. I did not say anything or make a scene but my heart and mind were not in the right place and I was living out of judgment, stereotype and division.
I was missing the characters of God I should have been living out and also missing the child of God that this person was. I was not looking to see God reflected in them, or even myself reflected in them as fellow human being. I missed an opportunity to be kind, generous, to strike up a conversation, or maybe even a relational opportunity with them.
God was there, right under my nose and I wasn’t listening to the Holy Spirit in ways that could have made that small seemingly insignificant situation a God moment. I wasn’t living out the Jesus Creed and loving my neighbor, I was forgetting the greatest commandments. From this realization I have tried to incorporate some spiritual practices to help me be more constantly mindful of God in my day. I try to recite the Jesus Creed to myself as I go through my day and I use short breath prayers as I encounter people or situations in my work and life.
As we come out of the hibernation of winter, get more active outside again and be more interactive with those around us, I hope we can see all of our friends, neighbors and strangers as created by God. May we encourage and strengthen each other to live and act in the love of the one who created us and gives us life. It is a wonderful thing to see communities gather together in unity, oneness, and see the lives of those around us flourish. God Bless you as you live and serve others in this new season.
Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant
Check out the March 2018 edition of the latest NADC news and views...
This week the local farmers market, that my family and I faithfully attend, was struck with some unexpected sad news. A meat and eggs vendor named Ed experienced a sudden massive heart attack and passed away at his home. When we arrived at the market expecting to see him and his wife at their regular spot, all that stood there was a simple memorial table with a sign passing on the tragic news.
The mix of emotions that followed was something that we had never expected or even put much thought to. How is one supposed to feel and react when your food producer, your farmer, passes away? Of course we were sad, we had deep sympathy for Ed’s wife and family and could even sense a shared somber feeling in the space, as the vendors all had to come to terms of loosing someone who was a vital part to the market family.
On the other hand, I think those feelings are natural and speak to an importance about food justice and sustainability. If a farmer producing food for the commercial grocery chains were to die, rarely if ever, would the average consumer know about it! When we give thanks for our meals we often tell our children where that food came from and we can also give thanks for the people who helped provide that food. Here too, we were able to talk with our kids about what happened to Ed and how God is ultimately the one who provides and farmers are co-creators or stewards of the land and gifts He has given them.
God created us in a community of sharing and codependence and we were able to acknowledge and reflect on our dependence of the local farmers for the food that sustains us each day. Like other situations of injustice, when one suffers or experiences loss, we all do and we must rely on God’s grace and providence to give us what we all need to keep going and keep serving those most in need.
Our farmer Ed had a wealth of knowledge, of beautiful land, of family and as John Chrysostom states, “… wealth is not a possession, it is not property; it is a loan for use.” Ed used that wealth to earn a living for his family, to contribute to the sustainability of healthy food in his community and to show the care and love to others that he used to produce really good tasting food.
The Kingdom of God is reflected in the ways we live our lives and the life of a farmer, with ambitions for producing local healthy food, for sustaining his family, his practice, his part of creation are all qualities that reflect God’s character well. It is a witness to acknowledging that the food he made connected us all in ways that then implies our responsibilities to care for each other in the ways we can, as equals.
Daniel Groody points out that “…life is finite, and ultimately all of us will be judged by how we live our lives and use what is entrusted to us.” So in that, let us be reminded that our actions should be in line with what we believe and if we believe we are all children of God, called to love him and our neighbors, may we do so to the point of standing with them, sharing food with them and grieving with them in times of loss. Our prayer is for the continued flourishing of Ed’s farm and the renewal of his family as they continue their faithful stewardship of the land God has blessed them with. We will continue to be there supporting them with our patronage and our relationship with them as I know we will see them very soon, as the Sun rises again, on another Saturday morning.
Jesse Edgington - NADC consultant
Classis Alberta North
This is an opportunity for your congregation to learn and have a conversation about justice and reconciliation with Indigenous leaders and act on the TRC's "Calls for Action" to the churches.
You will be able to:
Jesse Edgington – email: email@example.com
Women of Power and Strength
When you hear of societies that are largely run by women, they are referred to as matriarchal societies. In the animal kingdom, this is commonplace in groups of monkeys, large cats, herds of elephants and insects like bees or ants. The dynamics of such groups are studied extensively in the fields of anthropology, ecology and animal behavior. It often leads me to wonder about the dynamics of our own species and cultures. Where do we see women leading humans within our contexts of culture, politics and religion? What key roles and changes are shaping who we are now?
As a child, I saw a couple of strong women play massive roles in my family and faith community. My grandmother was a devoted woman of faith who, through her love and prayers, became the cornerstone of our family. At the time of her death she had 8 children, their spouses, 24 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. She always remembered our birthdays and gave personalized gifts that were often hand made. As I got older I learned that she was a faithful women of prayer and would pray for everyone in her family, each day, by name. As the list got bigger, so did her commitment to praying for her family.
She also stood up for the rights of those she loved and was in community with. If there was ever a notion of someone being wronged, or someone going without, she would step in and right the situation. This could all be discussed and remedied over a cup of tea and her seemingly limitless supply of cookies. My own mother taught me qualities and dynamics of strength too. She taught us children an enduring love of food justice by modeling how a family could grow a garden, save seeds, preserve food for the winter and harness natures power of growth, energy and regeneration. She also was a strong woman of prayer and actively showed that by being involved in church prayer groups, the telephone prayer chain and praying with us children as we grew.
As our family grew over the years with many cousins and babies, that I often have a hard time remembering names for, we came up with the idea of a family calendar with pictures and birthdays so we could keep track. I was involved in helping create it for a couple of years and it is a lot of work but the end product is a helpful reminder of our connections. At one point a few people wondered if it was worth the effort and considered stopping the tradition. That question brought out something beautiful that comes back to one of those dynamics I talked about earlier from my grandma. Someone quickly piped up in reply to the question about stopping and said, “but I use it to help me know when to pray for people on their birthdays!” That’s all it took to convince the people doing to work to keep on doing it.
I recently started reading a book about global justice and the author started by talking about the subtly of language and how it can incite different emotions depending on the context and definitions used. The words I used for the title can be a good example of that because there are many different ways of defining what power and strength are, so I think we need to be careful and considerate of what words we use, as well as vigilant in defining and talking about them with those we are in relationship with. The traits and examples I gave of my mom and grandmother are ways I would define strength and power and the source of that lies in faith in God, the leading of Christ’s example and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I also used the word Kingdom for describing a grouping of animal species, but the author of that recent book introduced me to a beautiful new way to nuance that word. She suggests that we consider replacing it with the word “kindom” within our Christian contexts. Instead of being a society that is lead by a domineering, controlling, all-powerful King who rules in autonomy, we can be lead by those who we see as family, those who we love and are loved by. That would be a society where we could see the power and strength to lead others by serving others, caring for friends and neighbors and by loving all.
God Bless you as we anticipate spring and see the attached file for my spring Classis meeting report - Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant
For churches and diaconates in our Classis that have had the opportunity to get to know and support Ernst de Vries, you may know that we celebrated with him recently in his retirement from that roll. So we welcome Gary Roosma aboard the good ship of God's Ministry on the west coast and wish him all the peace and blessings that he will experience. If your church and deacons want to get to know and support Gary, here is his bio. His phone number is on the Facebook page and I would be happy to pass on his email if you want to get in touch.
Gary is an ordained minister in the CRC, currently serving as chaplain in the Port of Vancouver with the CRC Ministry to Seafarers and in partnership with the Anglican Mission to Seafarers. This ministry involves visiting cargo ships in port and serving seafarers in the ministry centres in Vancouver and at Roberts Bank.
Missions has been the primary focus for most of Gary’s ministry life, especially leadership training. Previously he and his wife, Jennifer, with their three children, worked with OMF International for 10 years in East Malaysia, with a focus on training local pastors for ministry. He spent another 7 years working as Regional Director with OMF in BC. He also served as pastor at Emmanuel Christian Community from 2010-2013. Preaching and teaching continue to be another big part of his ministry.
Following are some links to find out great information about the Seafarer ministry.