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.
The Honduras Water Project is looking for more team members to join the group going in May 2018. This is a Classis Alberta North joint project with NADC, World Renew and The King's University and is open to ALL CRC members in our area! If you know of someone 18 years of age or older that would want to experience a life changing trip, contact me ASAP. You will be going to the same community that I went to a couple of years ago, which will be amazing to witness the relationships being built. Check out the linked powerpoint to see my journey and download an application form today. I would love to hear from you.
.The Day of Encouragement and Remembrance Day are past and the next season is upon us. You know the one I am talking about, it is the one that my six and three year old are jumping up and down about. Christmas is about 3 weeks away and thoughts of Christmas cards, baking, decorating and yes, shopping is beginning to be ever present on our minds. In a society and economy that puts huge value on Black Friday and Christmas as times of money and goods, Christians have to double down on our focus of deeper meaning and values being shown through our actions.
As my children are in very formative years of their lives, I am conscious about what our traditions and actions are teaching and forming in them. My wife and I are practicing vigilance in helping them learn about giving and caring for others, reminding them that it’s not material things that makes the holiday’s special and we take time to repeatedly reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. We continue to stress that the time spent with friends and family, the time spent in service of others, the time, energy and money we give to others is important to who we are as Christians.
If you were not able to join us for the Day of Encouragement, we had a great day of exploring how to live a life of Shalom and how to make room at the table for others in our lives. Our denomination’s director, Steve Timmermans, encouraged us to think about that in the context of our faith communities but also with others in our neighborhoods, non-believers, people of different denominations and even people of totally different faiths. As we follow our beloved traditions, Christmas can be a perfect time of year to reach out and try something new. In the spirit of kindness, generosity and advent, I encourage you to take a step at deepening a relationship with someone you may not typically rub shoulders with and see what God might do.
Another consideration that I would encourage deacons to think about and promote within your diaconates and churches is engaging with such great resources like gift catalogues and reverse advent calendars. World Renew offers an extensive gift catalogue that allows you to support people around the world and give a gift on behalf of yourself or a loved one. www.worldrenew.net/gifts The other thing that I have discovered this year is the reverse Advent calendar. Instead (or on top) of taking something out of a box each day, consider getting a box and putting something in it each day of Advent. Then when it is full, you can donate it to a person or organization that will pass it along to someone in need. The Food Bank is one example and others can be found with a quick Google search or on my post www.facebook.com/yournadc.
This Christmas as we steward the gifts God has given us, as we think about meaningful ways to participate in justice and as we find ways of sharing compassion with those we love and those around us, may we do so with God going before us, the Holy Spirit guiding us and Jesus Christ as our example and leader. Blessings to you from the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference,
Jesse Edgington – NADC consultant
Download the most recent newsletter from our NADC consultant!
Calvin Williams of MY House in British Columbia, was one of the participants, of MND 2017 and offered some encouraging feedback after the days’ workshops:
“I was very impressed with the quality of teaching and interaction that was presented at the Networking Day. I was impressed at the high regard that the CRC and ministries represented had for justice work and how it is integral in God’s mission. I felt encouraged that there is a large representation of believers from a mainline church that are as passionate about God’s justice for the “least of these” as I am.
The presenters offered clear scriptural support for justice work and brought our attention to passages of the Bible that traditionally have not been associated with justice work. We were lead through really appropriating Scripture to our calling and daily work. This was affirming.
I learned a lot about Appreciative Inquiry and how it can be used to connect with our participants and address problematic issues. I used it in the week I returned back to work with great results.
During the Networking Day, I also made some connections with other ministries who are involved in areas that I want our ministry to expand into. We look forward to connecting with the other ministries further as we continue to develop.
Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Networking Day!”
Ministry Networking Day 2017 was held on May 26th, 2017. For more information about Ministry Networking Day learning opportunities visit the DMC website.