Happy summer to you all. I thought it would be good to give you a heads up on a few items as we head into the summer.
Can we be making sure we are caring for each other in this time? For many in our community, these are disconnected times. I’d love for us to take initiative and reach out to one another. A visit in the park. A text or phone call. Any kind of expression of thought and care can go a long way to helping us feel connected and in this together. As Paul says in Galatians (6:9-10), let’s not weary of doing good to all, but especially to those in the community (my own paraphrase, but that is basically what he’s saying!).
I (Andy) will be on vacation for the next few weeks. If there are any pastoral needs that arise during this time please be in touch with your House Group leader (if you’re in a House Group) or anyone from the Leadership team (Elders & BOD) with whom you are familiar. They can initiate a response as needed. Violet is also around and will be available connect people with an appropriate response from one of the Elders should the need arise. If you’re not sure who to contact you can always reach out to the office and Vanessa will forward your message to the appropriate people.
Throughout the summer we will continue to meet online on Sunday mornings. Can I encourage you to join and participate in whatever way works for you? Sunday mornings are live on Facebook, but can also be viewed after-the-fact either on Facebook or on our website.
Also there are some House Groups who are beginning to connect in person again. This is great and I’d like to encourage every House Group to be in touch about connecting in some way shape or form.
We will be meeting every other Wednesday for prayer throughout the summer. The remaining prayer meetings are July 22, Aug 5 & 19. If you want to participate here is the link. Watch your email for a reminder and the password to join before each meeting.
Kids & Youth
Dustin and Dynel Davidson stepped into the Kids and Youth Ministry director roles early this Spring on an interim basis. They have served in the midst of a very turbulent time – in fact Dustin only had one meeting with the Youth in person before Covid hit! Their interim service was completed June 30. We want to express our gratitude to both of them for doing such a great job in the midst of a difficult season! Thanks D&D!
We are working at assessing our needs and determining the best path forward for both our children and youth in the Fall. Will you pray with us for our younger generations? They need mentors, leaders, encouragers and role models. We will be having a few focus groups in August to pray and plan for our next steps. If you have an interest in being part of a possible youth leadership team, please contact the office.
At this time we are looking to resume some form of in-person gatherings near the end of August. Of course there are many factors that need to come together for this to become a reality, but this is what we are currently aiming for. Even when we begin meeting in person again, we will continue to have an online live-streamed presence for those who are not able or not comfortable attending in-person gatherings.
At our latest Elder’s meeting (we met last Monday) there was a distinct sense of encouragement and leading of the Holy Spirit. We came away with a keen sense that God is leading us into a season of re-planting and renewal. Over the past year there have been some significant prophetic words given to the community which seem to indicate the same. We are excited as we seek to “turn the corner” so to speak. Even in the midst of the new Covid realities God is working and bringing something new to us.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.“
In the spirit of keeping our regular updates both extensive and, well, regular, we hope you’ll find this both encouraging and informative. As always we value your prayers and feedback regarding any of the topics covered in this update.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course & Series
We are super encouraged by the response to the EHS course we are piloting for eight weeks this Fall. Not only was it great to see over 70 of you sign up, the reports about the content and what God is gently doing in us are the reasons we’re doing it in the first place. Currently we are a little over 1/2 way through and are starting to get to the good stuff. As is the way with the Kingdom, the “good stuff” is often the hard stuff, but always leads to life! Our prayer is that God will continue to confront unhealthy patterns in us and that we would submit to the slow, beautiful and transformative power of emotional health and contemplative spirituality that this course is built on. Emotional health is important because it is intimately linked with spiritual maturity. Contemplative spirituality is important because it is what walking with Jesus is all about – being aware of his presence with us at any given moment in any given day. It is about “practicing the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence has said. Let’s pray that those who are taking the course would collaborate with God in the deep beneath-the-surface transformation and that we would emerge a much more robust and healthier community as a result.
If all goes well, we will be offering the EHS course on a regular basis, so if you’ve missed out on this round, there likely will be another chance in the future. Also, the EHS course is Part 1 of what is called the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship courses. Part 2 is entitled “Emotionally Healthy Relationships”. Where EHS grows our ability to love God, the Emotionally Healthy Relationships course grows our ability to love others in very practical and powerful ways. We’re exploring this as another option in the future. We’d love feedback and thoughts on any of this.
Gifts 4 God
November and December is always an exciting time for our children because it’s Gifts 4 God season! This year we’re going to be having four classes – Cooking, Art, Sports & Dance. We have volunteers and youth helpers lined up to create spaces for our children to discover their gifts, learn new skills and how these can all be used as worship of the One who gave them these gifts.
Christmas & Advent
We’re going to be exploring what we’re calling “The Invitation” which is centred on the theme of opening God’s invitation to us through practicing hope, peace, joy and love. Each moment in our lives is pregnant with opportunity from God – each moment contains an invitation, if you will. We can let the moment pass without awareness of what that invitation entails, or we can say “yes” to the Holy Spirit and discover what God is up to – and then join in – much like Jesus when he said he only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19). However, each of these moments meet a certain resistance within each of us. Part of opening the Invitation is understanding our own resistances to the Holy Spirit.
If you haven’t noticed, we always try to have an inviting and clear theme for the Advent season. This is partly so that you could feel comfortable inviting someone to our gatherings who isn’t normally part of a church community. This season is a good opportunity for people to come to know Jesus in a personal and deeper way. We think “The Invitation” is can really facilitate this.
As always we’re going to be having our annual Kid’s Service and Community Feast. This will be on December 15. Watch for details about this action packed Sunday – including how you can contribute to the Community Feast.
The whole leadership team (Pastors, Elders and BOD) continue to meet regularly as well as separately. We seem to be getting into a good rhythm of togetherness and separateness – coming together to hold the whole community, and separating into each team’s unique responsibilities and purposes.
Among other items, the BOD is working on the constitution review. The team that has been struck is Stephen Fligg, Cornelius Martens and Beckie Wood (as a rep from the Elder team). They are working to develop a proposal that can be presented at our next AGM in 2020. This will be a full review and update of our governance and decision making structures as a church. Additionally, the BOD is looking toward 2020 to determine funding priorities and budgets.
The Lay Elders are working on expanding the team. The New Elder process that was initiated in the Spring is underway and we hope to have a few names to offer the community in the near future. This would initiate a time of new people being prospective elders. If this prospective time seems right to us (meaning both the prospective elders and the current team) and the Holy Spirit (this whole process is a process of discernment), these prospective elders would then be brought to the membership for a ratification vote at the next AGM in 2020.
The Pastoral Elder / Staff team is working diligently on managing and providing leadership where necessary to all areas of life in WCV. The most significant news here is that John Rademaker has recently completed a personal discernment process that has led him to step away from his pastoral responsibilities in WCV. We’re still digesting the implications of this. We will be having a special time to honour John and Violet for their contributions to WCV over the past 24 years (note that it’s only John who has stepped down). They’ll still be around and involved in various capacities, but this does mark a significant transition for John, and we want to honour this. Another item of note is that Andy is back to Full-time. His position was moved to 75% at the beginning of the year. In September the BOD moved him back to 100%.
In our previous Community Update, we mentioned that we were exploring interim pastoral help. At this point there have not been any significant developments in this regard. However, we are very pleased that we’ve seen a major uptick in people stepping forward to help in pastoral ways. The team leading the EHS course, is a great example of people contributing to the overall health of the community. While this does not completely fill the pastoral gaps, especially after John steps down at the beginning of 2020, it is encouraging. We will continue to work on developing more House Groups. Once the EHS course is complete, we will see a few more begin. These are all positive developments.
Why Vineyard? & Orientation
Vineyard Canada has recently produced a great document that outlines the history, theology, posture and practice of the Vineyard in Canada. For now you can access this on WCV’s website but we hope to have printed versions available for you in the New Year. This resource will be the basis for our new Orientation Class which will be for anyone who wants to know more about what it means to be part of WCV and the Vineyard in general. Watch for details.
Vineyard Canada Metanoia & Roundtables
Eight people from WCV went to participate in the Metanoia event held in Calgary over the last weekend in September. Metanoia events occur regularly across the country, and are designed to help us think deeply about different theological themes. This one was meant to provide some theological teaching and reflection on the concept of Human Flourishing – providing a rubric for exploring human sexuality and spiritual formation. Rooting us firmly in the story of God’s redemptive purposes in creation, scholar Matt Croasmun shared many key insights that provide the backdrop for a conversation about sensitive subjects like sexuality and gender.
This Metanoia event kicked off a series of 10 Roundtable discussions that are happening online in closed groups of Vineyard pastors and leaders throughout October and November, that are delving deeper into examining themes of the Christ shaped kingdom of God, theological discernment and interpretation, purpose of creation and humanity, theology of unity and diversity, and pastoral concerns around issues of human flourishing and sexuality. This online forum is meant to foster safe places for deep discussion and learning, and has been formed in a way to support communal discernment with leaders across the country.
The Metanoia event and the round tables are part of the roadmap that Vineyard Canada has laid out which will move towards the eventual discernment process in January 2020 of whether or not Vineyard Canada will modify in any way it’s current position on LGBTQ people in leadership and same-sex marriages. Please continue to pray for this process of communal learning, prayer and discernment.
There really isn’t any news. But every once in awhile rumours are circulated that he will be released on this or that date. Please know that we will give you notice as soon as we know anything that is solid – like a release date. When Nathan is released we know this will raise all kinds of questions and there is a good possibility that it may stir up various emotions in many of us. We are deeply aware of this reality, and will be attending to the community in the best way possible, seeking advice from others, including our Vineyard Canada national and regional leaders.
There has been some intentional activity with the Street Parish folks over the last months. In the absence of an official start up on Drop-In we have been meeting for Pizza Lunches for discussions and connection. The next Sunday date is Nov 17 at which time we will focus on hamper assembly and distribution by the core group to their friends on the Bell Hotel strip. The theme is “one hand out and one hand in” which means everyone would focus on giving away before receiving. There is a lot of excitement on this. Then the Christmas feast will follow in December and an opportunity for the church to give hampers to those who would benefit from them.
Additionally, we are also considering being involved in the Care Portal. Care Portal is administered in Winnipeg by Forever Families and is a tool that connects churches with needs of families and children in care of CFS. This seems to have a lot of life on it in WCV and we think the Spirit may be highlighting it for us. This will develop into 2020 as the logistics firm up.
A last serious option starting now and into 2020 will be food distribution from our own resources (not a food bank). More details to come.
Finally, we want to encourage EVERYONE to keep a relationship active with someone in need. This is a mutually beneficial initiative for all and really is a non-negotiable option if we want to follow the invitation of scripture to “remember the poor” (Gal 2:10).
Please watch for more info on all these initiatives as well as a process for pursuing reconciliation in our relationships with those who have been disconnected or wounded in some way this past season.
Thanks for reading this and for your continued presence and contributions to the community. If you have any questions or would like to have a conversation about anything in this update, please reach out to anyone on the Leadership Team.
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… 😉
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:
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.
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
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 deficitand 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This short report will bring you the latest update on WCV’s financial situation.
As we enjoy the summer we are seeing our deficit increase to a level that needs attention. At July 31, we had an operating deficit of $35,699 which is at the maximum level that we can manage our cash flow comfortably. The operations effect of this amount is somewhat reduced by the $18,646 surplus that we carried forward from previous years. But the reality is that we must replace that amount before year-end.
We want to bring this situation to everyone’s attention so that all are aware. Our income must now increase significantly to make up this deficit and carry us through to the end of the year.
We are thankful for all the generous support from many in the community, and continue to pray for God’s provision for all our needs.