Street BBQ Report & Thanks

At noon last Thursday, we prepped and distributed 120 hamburgers, chips, drinks, and granola bars in a large Ziploc bag to Main Street. Thinking we’d see everyone at the door was a naive dream. So we went to the street and distributed all the bagged lunches in an hour to the groups in front of the New West Hotel, the Northern Hotel, the 817 Main St High-Rise, and our pocket park. Reconnecting in the future will be us going to the street, not the reverse.

Thanks to all those who helped, Margaret, Lindsay Ward, Elisha, Violet, Kirby, Ramona, Gilbert, Manfred, Andy Wood, and Jeff Cox who all pitched in bagging and distributing.

The spirit of the Lord was on the effort and some recipients even responded to our invitation to reconnect for a hamper. It will be a long journey to normality but we will keep at it.

Next up will be 50 bags to Love Lives Here. Stay tuned for more opportunities to see Jesus in the needy, to bless them with love, and hear His thank-you.

Community Update: Summer 2019

Dear WCV Community,

We want to take this opportunity, mid-way through summer and mid-way through the year, to update you on a few items of importance pertaining to the life of our community as we evaluate the past six months and look forward to the rest of 2019 and beyond. It’s a fairly extensive note, so sit down somewhere sunny and dig in… 😉

Leadership Team:

The Leadership Team has been meeting monthly to worship, pray, discuss the current issues, make decisions and plan for the future. The Board of Directors, with input from the rest of the team, has begun a number of initiatives. The BOD is ultimately responsible for staffing, financial and governance related issues, among other areas of responsibility. Each of these areas has some momentum which is outlined below. As a whole team, we’re tackling these and other issues in sequence – one step at a time – bathed in prayer. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to follow Jesus, our goal, guide and our source.

The leadership team consists of the Board of Directors and the Pastoral and Lay Elders.

  • Board of Directors: Ben Kelly (Chairperson), Cornelius Martens, Andrew Chan, Paul Ansloos, Marlese Hazeu, Steve Fligg, John Rademaker.
  • Pastoral Elders: Andy (Pastoral Executive) and Beckie (non-staff) Wood, John and Violet Rademaker.
  • Lay Elders: Krista (Elder Point Person) and Cliff Heide, Rod and Elisa Jersak, and Paul and Sherry Ansloos (until Aug 31). We are currently in a new elder process which will see the Lay Elder team expand.

Here is what we’ve been up to:

Staffing:

We have three job postings out there for our Kids and Youth ministries. These portfolios will be filled by one or two people – either one person filling the Director of Kids and Youth ministries role, or one person taking the Kids and someone else taking the Youth. Cornelius, Stephen, Jodi and Andy have been working on this. We value our next generations and want to ensure as little disruption as possible with Jodi’s transition.

Second, we have a clear need to increase our team’s capacity in the area of pastoral care. Over the past year our Pastoral Elder team has been significantly reduced while the needs have increased. We are working on a few ways to address this challenge. 

  • We want to see more House Groups develop. Being a member of a small group like this has many positive benefits – one primary benefit being a space for people to be cared for pastorally. 
  • However, we are still keenly aware of the need for more trained and experienced pastoral help. We are exploring various interim options. Andy and John are working on this.

Vision:

There are three documents that are influential in our understanding of who we are, and what kind of community we are to be. At our latest Leadership Team meeting we agreed that our own WCV Core Practices, Vineyard Canada’s “Why Vineyard” material, as well as Vineyard USA’s Core Values documents are central to our own understanding of who and what WCV is to be. This decision was unanimous. Vineyard Canada’s “Why Vineyard” is still in draft form but will be ready for distribution soon. Our own Core Practices can be found here, and Vineyard USA’s Core Values can be found here. 

WCV’s Core Practices

Financial:

Our 6 month actual results indicate that our 2019 budget was accurate and our income is reduced by 14% from 2018. The most significant news is that we have no deficit and a surplus of $2,140! This is a major departure from years past where at this point in the annual cycle we would be carrying a significant deficit. Vanessa and Andrew have administered every expense item to ensure no deficit spending through prioritizing expenditures with the relevant parties.

We know that with this posture and the decrease in the Pastoral staff team that we haven’t been able to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This will continue until we engage new interim staff and have the ability to afford more permanent staff.

Our estimates for the next six months include increasing income with a total annual budget somewhat higher than $360,000. We continue to exercise a posture of prudent stewardship of what we have and trusting in God’s provision. We are grateful.

Constitution:

Having good structure is important, especially in times of crisis and transition. It allows for common understanding, good governance, clear lines of authority and decision-making processes as well as articulating an organization’s purpose. We’ve begun a constitutional revision that will address our structure and mission. This will include a complete rewrite with legal input to address any areas that are unclear or deficient. The BOD has struck a committee for this and has invited a representative from the Elder team as well. Cornelius, Stephen and Beckie will be working on this. There will be input from the membership as appropriate. All changes will be subject to membership ratification.

Communication:

We are aware of the need to keep everyone in the loop as things develop. We also know that you care deeply about WCV and what’s going on at a leadership level. Thank you for this concern and thank you for the times you’ve reached out to any of the Leadership Team for clarification, suggestions, etc. Please keep doing this! We also recognize that our efforts at communication have been imperfect and have caused pain – we apologize for this and will keep trying to communicate regularly and clearly.

Nathan:

We know we haven’t said much about Nathan recently. This isn’t because it’s a taboo subject but rather because there isn’t much to say. Legally, he is a former employee which does play a factor in what we can say. Emotionally, he is a former pastor – this hits each of us differently. 

We do want to take this opportunity to reiterate a few things we’ve said before. The Pastoral Elders and others continue to walk individuals through the significant challenges they continue to face while dealing with this situation. There are some who have only recently been able to talk about their sense of betrayal. There are others who are well beyond that. From a leadership perspective this highlights the need for grace and sensitivity for each other. Thank you for the ways you’ve shown this to us and to each other. We continue to lean into pursuing healing through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

We also want you to know that we as a Leadership Team forgive Nathan. Forgiveness does not excuse or justify behaviour, nor is it a one time deal. It takes time, effort and intention. Scripture is clear though – we are called to forgive and we want to lean into that.

We also recognize that WCV must be a safe place and we take seriously the mandate to provide care and protection of the vulnerable among us who have been traumatized by this situation and it’s fall-out. For these reasons, like we’ve said previously, Nathan won’t be returning to WCV. Forgiveness and reconciliation don’t mean that things return to the way they were.

A last note on this subject, we’ve reviewed our whole safety protocol, and have solicited outside input. Our Plan to Protect policy, which has been in place for a number of years, is robust and necessary updates are under way. The policy’s purpose is to provide a comprehensive level of safety to all vulnerable people in the church while they are engaged in church ministries. For people working with our kids and youth there has been one Plan to Protect training this past Spring. Everyone involved in volunteering with our Kids and Youth must take this training. There will be another training this Fall for those who need to complete the training. Cornelius Martens and Jeff Leighton have been working on this (alongside Jodi while she was here). Additionally, our Kid Check system and on-the-ground security in the hallway provide other layers of safety for our kids and youth and our leaders and volunteers. 

Channels for reporting any abuse, allegations, disclosures or incidents are to report to the leader of the ministry involved, or to any member of the Leadership team. They would then communicate directly with Andy who takes all concerns to Ben as the BOD chair. Everything is documented. If there is ever any suspected criminal behaviour, the appropriate law enforcement is involved and should be accessed by any party.

Street Parish / Mercy Reset:

“Food and New Friends” BBQ Lunch

We are currently following through on our decisions to act on the recommendations from the Spring meetings we held with the folks from the Street Parish and the Drop-In. Here’s what’s up:

  • In late June we held a “Food and New Friends” Lunch Barbecue in the Greenspace which was attended by about 150 folks from all over. The intention was to interact with those we didn’t have a relationship with and set up a plan to stay connected. There was good focus on this but we decided not to monitor or survey the results. We know of some activity here and want to see it continue informally. Please feel free to share any new stories with the leadership.
  • Every summer we have “Farm Days”. These outings have become a huge blessing for those seeking a chance to flee the city on a hot day with their families and friends. The food is plentiful but the highlight is the lake – swimming, kayaking, canoeing and water-sliding. LBE freely shares their camp with us and it’s become a much better venue than the farm. In July we had 65 people out. It was more of an “only Street Parish focus” which was one of the requests from the community meetings. We got a cheer from all when we underscored this thought at the lunch. We will do it again August 25 and will be ready for even more people. This is a great place to come, help serve the food, and just be with everyone on the sand beach or in the water. 
  • Regarding Drop-in, there have been no further developments for the Fall. The core of our Street Parish are still with us. It’s not as simple as just starting up where we left off. Our creativity will be tested as we seek the Lord’s provision for helpers. If you have any thoughts, please contact John Rademaker. 

The ongoing blending of people from different lifestyles within WCV is about strengthening personal relationships and sharing in each other’s lives. The commitments to regular friendship connections at the moment seems to be a direction that the Lord is pointing us to. As we taught this past Spring, there is a huge opportunity here for mutual strengthening. We all are needy, poor and ready for encouragement from each other. As scripture teaches, seeing Jesus in each other’s needs is a spiritual lifestyle we all need. Perhaps a combination of already happening connections and periodic meetings that target food, spiritual growth (videos), and fun could propel us into a new dimension of community life.

Conclusion:

We have come through a difficult time in our history. We see the Lord’s hand evident in both shaking up and building up. Even across the country, there are a number of communities, while not sharing our experience, are going through times of shaking. God is taking seriously Vineyard Canada’s initiative of “Health begets Health” (recognizing when we are in a healthy place it will create more health around us – and the opposite also being true) and leading us with grace in order for our communities to be more healthy and effective for his Kingdom. The Spirit is with us, and in us, and won’t leave us! As a leadership team we hold on to this and will continue to seek and follow Jesus one step at a time. At times it feels slow and imperfect. But we trust Jesus and his plans for WCV as we rebuild and re-envision for the future.

With love and gratitude,

The Leadership Team