Implementing New Faith Communities in Rural Canada: Rosalee’s Story 

By Jenna Hanger

This article is part of a series. Read the introduction here, and the previous article here.

Fifteen years ago, Rosalee Richardson went with a group of fellow students from Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) to Sunchild First Nation Reserve to take part in a locally-run ministry called Coyote Creek Chapel. Located an hour West of Rocky Mountain House, Sunchild reserve is the definition of rural: a close-knit community with many generations of families. The place and the people quickly captured Rosalee’s heart, who continued to grow her relationships there after her time with PBI ended. 

She now lives four hours away, but visits her friends there a handful of times throughout the year, often accompanied by her husband and three young children. When people think of participating in a ministry involving a reserve, they often think of what they can do—what programs they can run, what items they can bring––but Rosalee says it’s more about building relationships than anything else: listening and learning, and responding when an invitation is extended or need is made known. 

Over the years, Rosalee has made a point of learning from her friends about their culture and doing her own studying to better educate herself and understand the issue of reconciliation. Reconciliation has been brought to the forefront over the last few years, but many churches don’t know what to do with it, or what role they might personally play. Rosalee believes a first step for churches is more education and understanding, and the second is about building personal relationships. Here are some of her reflections: 

A thought I have been mulling over a lot is what does reconciliation look like for our country on a macro and micro-level? On the macro-level, our government has a role to play in accountability to the past, that’s for them to figure out. So, then it comes back to the micro- level, person to person. And all I keep thinking is Reconciliation starts with ME. It starts with me treating all equally––taking God’s command seriously of loving my neighbour and remembering we are all one nation under God, brothers and sisters in Christ.  

So, it’s about finding opportunities to get to know each other, hear each other’s stories and learn about the culture. The church in Canada needs to work on the education of our understanding of Indigenous People. To know there is a nation within our nation that is often living in poverty and generational cycles of abuse, yet many are unaware. We need to do better at seeing the need in our own country, and likely the need in our own hearts to shift our thinking towards our Indigenous Peoples. 

Fifteen years ago, on my first day on Sunchild Reserve, we headed to the Coyote Creek Chapel, led by longtime missionaries who have given now 50 years of service. It was like the Holy Spirit was showing me how He had prepared me for this place, for these people. He gave me an immediate love for them. When I am there, my cup is filled as much as it is poured out. We always pray as we are hitting the long gravel road that takes us to the one-way blue bridge marking the entrance onto the reservation. My prayer is “God go before, beside us, behind us and all around us. May your presence be in each place we stop. Prepare for us the way and take us where we need to go. Keep us safe and may we be a blessing to others.” God has always honoured this prayer, we feel His protection, we see his divine appointments, and timing. God has shown me how he has protected us and prompted us. 

I started out as a single college student going to help with Sunday school and it now has become my husband and three children packing up and driving the 4 hours to go continue to deepen our friendships. I LOVE watching my two older children now building their own bonds with kids and seeing the importance of loving on them. They are growing in their role in passing on the love of Christ and I couldn’t be more proud of them.  

I wish I could put into words my love for my friends out there. I have walked through 15 years of life with many of them and formed deep bonds. We have had moments of fun and joy to moments of deep despair as we walked through terrible events like murder, suicide, addiction, depression and family hurts. Through my relationships on the reservation, I have learned that they are a resilient, strong, and brave nation. They know how to keep walking forward and have a laugh even in their hardest moments. Mark Maxwell said, “Joy in the journey does not imply the absence of opposition and difficulty, rather the Peace of God and certainty of His purpose in the middle of adversity.” They walk this out daily. I have learned a great deal from my friends and it has helped me in my own valleys. Keep walking and keep laughing. 

Not everyone has the opportunity to visit and plug into a reserve without a personal connection or one in proximity. So how can your church practically get involved? One way to start is by initiating the education piece. Jodi Spargur runs a non-profit organization that is all about this, called Red Clover, Healing at the Wounded Place. She provides resources for churches, courses, council and will come visit your church to speak. Even if you don’t live near a reserve, there are many practical things you can do to be engaged.   

Resource for You: Evangelism Masterclasses

By Shannon Youell

How many of us hear that word evangelism and roll our eyes or quickly disengage from the conversation? Many of us have our own horror story version of evangelism on steroids and how, rather than draw people towards looking deeper at Jesus, sent them running faster than cows out of a burning barn. 

The result is that the church in our western world has lost the deeper richer joy of journeying along with others who are looking for hope in a rapidly-changing world. Evangelism is far more about listening and telling our stories with one another and, from within our stories, watching to see where God has been all along and where hope in community flourishes as we draw ever closer to the well of living water – Jesus. 

CBWC has partnered with Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec (CBOQ) and Salvation Army to hear and share stories of everyday pastors and leaders engaging on mission in our complicated culture.  

In this fall series, you will hear disciples on the ground talk about joining God in many different aspects of having relational conversations with folk from wherever they are in a journey of curiosity about life, meaning, hope, love and joy. 

These webinars are our gift to you – sign up today for free for all or one or two.

New Name, Same Vision 

Cailey Morgan and Cam Roxburgh take a stroll down Memory Lane, celebrating 30 years of Southside Community Church.  

Cailey: Southside began as a BUWC church plant in 1992 in the Edmonds area of Burnaby, BC. Along with Cam and his family, my parents were part of the inaugural leadership team.  

Cam: It is hard to believe that it has been 30 years! Our vision from the beginning was to plant a church that planted other churches. It was never just to grow bigger and bigger with many driving from miles away, but rather to have an impact on the immediate neighbourhoods in which we lived and to which God had sent us. Little did we know how wonderful the journey would be.  

Dan Bennett and Cam Roxburgh at a Southside block party, 1993.

Cailey: Because I was 4 and a half years old when the whole thing started, I don’t remember exactly when our vision of “establishing multiplying, missional Christian communities” was articulated as such, but I do know that my elementary school years were rife with block parties, potlucks, Athletes in Action day camps and Saturday afternoons spent hanging “Interested in God, but not in Church?” flyers on hundreds of doors in Edmonds–and before long in the Robson Park neighbourhood of Surrey, then in Forest Grove (North Burnaby) and Walnut Grove (Langley). At some point along the way we adopted a youth congregation who held vibrant services and just-as-vibrant soccer matches. 

Cam: The road we have travelled has been filled with many ups and downs as we have sought to create local missionaries of our people, but the focus on community and on neighbourhoods has been a very rich experience.  

Cailey: As a high schooler, I was hanging around Ethos Coffeehouse at our Forest Grove campus, and participating with initiatives in Vernon and Fleetwood: dessert theatre, movie nights, services in elementary school gyms, handing out day-old Cobs bread, and of course, more summer day camps. My teens and young adulthood were punctuated by six trips to support our congregation in Sauk, Albania, and a decade on Southside’s Leadership Team. And now, at the ripe old age of 34 (and a half!), I marvel at all the change that has happened in our church and in our community, and am almost equally amazed at how much has stayed the same.  

Even when everything else seems to be changing, God’s loving, missional Self does not. Granted, thirty years is a small sample size when it comes to talking about an eternal God, but I am completely convinced of the reliability of God’s nature as one constantly reaching out with the ministry of reconciliation, and drawing us into that story. He loves you and He loves your neighbours. Period. 

Cam, Cailey and crew in Sauk, 2018, at the home of congregational leaders Xhevi and Klement Dokollari (far right)

Cam: During COVID, where most were forced to go to Zoom, we learned a lot about the opportunity to expand. We had always thought that we would plant locally, but through meeting on Zoom we realized that our “reach” was to places further away. We are delighted to be working with Heather Hitchcock in starting a new congregation in West Kelowna that shares the same vision for becoming a community of God’s people sent as missionaries to their own neighbourhood. 

The Neighbourhood Church in West Kelowna
The Neighbourhood Church in West Kelowna on a Prayer Walk

Cailey: I can’t encourage you enough to just try stuff! Even if it might fail. My husband recently introduced our daughter to The Magic School Bus—speaking of ‘90s nostalgia!—and I was reminded why I love Ms. Frizzle so much. Every time her class is on the brink of something scary, she reframes it as a great learning opportunity: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” 

Looking back, you could say that there have been failures in Southside’s history. Not every partnership worked out, not every congregation we planted was viable long-term. But we are learning humility and we are learning to listen to our neighbours, the Holy Spirit, and each other. And we are learning that even though not everything we plant grows into the tree we expect, it is still worth the sowing. Not only is God’s definition of success different than what we often measure, but also mistakes are one of the best ways to learn! 

Cam: Today, after a name change to The Neighbourhood Church, we have started to dream again about “being sent” to other neighbourhoods. Our desire is to be a part of a growing movement of churches who recognize that God is doing a new thing in our day, and that church as we have come to know, might be very different in generations to come. But one thing that will remain the same is the call to make disciples (missionaries) who join God with what God is doing in their own context and introduce people to Jesus. Through this, there will be an opportunity to multiply these missional communities into new neighbourhoods. 

Happy Birthday, Neighbourhood Church! 

Live At Assembly!

Faithful, You are; Faithful, forever You will be;
Faithful, You are; All God’s promises are yes and amen
(Yes and Amen)  

We sang this declaration of the faithfulness of God on opening night of Assembly 2022 setting the tone for what we have gathered to celebrate. For many of us, the reminder in the midst of times of darkness, that God is still and always at his work in the world around us, even though it may seem elusive or distant to us.  

As Anna Braun reminded us in our Bible Study Friday morning, sometimes we are in the dark and our job is to remember to have hope; the light comes through the cracks. 

Faithful, You are 

After such an extended period of gathering restrictions, we are grateful and joyful as we meet with many of you face-to-face at CBWC’s Assembly in Calgary. 

While we see diversity in biblical interpretation and praxis across our family, we all agree on Jesus’ plain call to us to love one another as a sign to the world that we belong to Him. We have seen this love expressed first-hand this week in the joyful hugs and conversations, and the unity that we find in worshipping our King together. 

Faithful, forever You will be 

One of our favourite moments in Assembly is when we have the opportunity to present our new churches to enter into affiliation.  

This year, we celebrate Heritage Mountain Community Church joining our family. HMCC gathers in Port Moody BC, recently celebrating its 20th anniversary since formation. Like many congregations in this uncertain era, Heritage Mountain is undergoing a season of change, so we are glad to be able to offer some support and stability—and prayer! Please join us in lifting up this church to the Lord. 

Calgary Chinese Baptist Church, comprising both English and Cantonese congregations, has been faithfully ministering for 40 years in their neighbourhood. Sensing that God has blessed them to be a blessing, they focus on caring for one another, discipleship in word and deed, and blessing the Whitehorn area of Calgary in Jesus’ name. Welcome Pastor Evan, Pastor Tony and the CCBC congregation. We look forward with anticipation to leaning how we are better together!

We are also excited to welcome Emmanuel Baptist Church of Calgary into affiliation with CBWC. EBCC began as a Spanish ministry of First Baptist Calgary in the 1980s, and has developed into a bilingual congregation that now gathers in the Bonavista Baptist Church facility. EBCC aims to address the spiritual needs of both the first and second generation of Latino immigrants in the south neighborhoods of Calgary. Congratulations to Pastor Jay and the whole team! 

If you ever go to Longview Alberta (aptly named for its long and beautiful view), make sure you drop in at Longview Fellowship and ask for Gil and Andrea Kidd. This delightful couple pastor, lead and care for this little church and the town surrounding them along with their congregation. At our online Assembly in 2020 we officially welcomed them into our CBWC Assembly. What a thrill to finally welcome them in person at this year’s assembly!  

Please continue to pray for each of these new communities of brothers and sisters, followers of Jesus our Lord and Savior, as they engage intentionally in the implementation of the gospel in their neighbourhoods. 

Faithful, You Are; All God’s promises are yes and amen! 

~ Shannon and Cailey

Meet Kiarash

CBWC’s gap year discipleship experience, Kurios, is nearing the end of its second cohort. Over the past months, we’ve been thrilled to hear about what’s been happening in life and heart of each Kurios student, and are grateful for this opportunity to share a story especially close to our hearts. Today, we’ll meet Kiarash, a Kurios student from Emmauel Iranian Church, one of our church plants in BC. 

Hey! My name is Kiarash and I am 18 years old. I enjoy photography, videography and occasionally like to play the drums.  

Because of my dad’s job when I was younger, my family had the opportunity to frequently travel abroad. This allowed my family to be introduced to Christianity, as in our home country, Iran, the freedom to practice any religion was and is still forbidden. As such, my parents were able to be introduced to Christians and Christianity in other countries such as Korea doing their travels. When they returned to Iran, through some missionaries, they managed to find a few other Christians who would gather at each other’s houses every week in secrecy to worship and study the Bible in what is known as “Home Churches.” 

When I was 7 years old, after the arrest of our pastor in Iran, my family made the reluctant choice to flee the country in a matter of weeks to Turkey. We then, through the help of the UN Refugee Agency, were able to get accepted into Canada in 2014. We were sponsored by Pastor Arash Azad at a time where Emmanuel Iranian Church only consisted of 10-20 people. 

Through that period, my family was able to again connect with other Christians going through similar circumstances as us. So growing up I was always surrounded by Christians, and at some point, 7-year-old Kiarash decided that he wanted to have the same thing my parents had and openly accepted Jesus into my heart. 

Having been there from almost the beginning of the church has been a fantastic opportunity to see how Emmanuel Iranian Church has grown from the start and where they have gotten to now. You can see the growth through the 40+ baptisms that they do every few months. 

I was first introduced to Kurios through my pastor who thought it would be a great opportunity for me to gain that solid foundation on what it means to be Christian. It was also at a point in my life when I simply had no idea what I wanted to do. Going into this program, I was not sure what I was anticipating, but I know now that it has exceeded every expectation I could have had and I am extremely grateful for that. 

One of the best aspects of Kurios has to do with it being very mobile. One of my favourite memories involve the first week of the program where we took a one-week camping trip down to Kananaskis. It was a wonderful experience being constantly surrounded by nature and seeing God’s beautiful creation firsthand; it was also very giving in terms of building relationships with people that I am now grateful to call family. The biggest thing I have learned is that God is God and I am not, as well as the importance of putting all your trust in Him. 
 

For me, taking a gap year has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! I truly do not know what I would have been doing instead of coming to Kurios. In my opinion, a program like Kurios can be perfect for someone who is still searching for their passion and can be one of the best ways to figure out what God has called them to do. 

Visit kurios.ca for more details on this great opportunity. They’re accepting applications for the 2022-23 year now! 

Stay in The Story

By Rev. Shannon Youell

“Stay in the Story” —I heard this phrase a while ago from a guest on a podcast. He was referring to our need as Christ’s ambassadors who join God in his work, to continually put ourselves back into the larger Story. We must not lose sight of the Big Story of God in the midst of life’s challenges and joys inherent in being humans together.  

It is no coincidence that a story reminding us of the goodness of God in the land of the living can shift our focus from discouragement and weariness back to our raison d’être. When we tell one another stories, placing them back into the Big Story of God and humans, we see evidence of God at work all along. Join us as we “Stay in the Story” in this update of God’s work in a few of our newer communities.   

Makarios Evangelical Church – New Westminster, BC 

This gathering continues to grow deeper and wider. In the final months of 2021, Makarios welcomed new arrivals from Hong Kong who are relocating to Canada. This is a growing part of their ministry, partnering with ministries in Hong Kong to help newcomers settle into churches and communities here.  

Along with new families comes an increase in children and youth, and along with the recent hire of a part-time English Ministry pastor for the college students they minister to from Douglas College, Makarios will be looking to hire a part-time children’s worker this coming summer. It is with great thanks to CBWC and our churches who support new works that they continue to grow and extend the Good News Story all around them, with a special shout-out to the hospitality shown by Olivet Baptist Church!

Emmanuel Iranian Church – North Vancouver & Coquitlam, BC 

EIC continues to grow despite COVID restrictions, their main campus undergoing renovations, a great need for more leaders and for an English-speaking youth worker, limited finances, and health issues for both pastors. They have rotating services to accommodate both space and health restrictions, but this framework increases the workload for the leaders. In January 67 new believers were baptized – this brings baptisms up to well over 400 since fall of 2018!  

They have also recently begun planting a new community in Burnaby out of CBWC’s Royal Oak Ministry Centre. God’s Good Story is compelling for those coming from a Muslim background, whose religion can feel like an oppressive authority. I have had several new believers express to me the great joy they have found in Jesus and the liberty and grace of being able to explore and express their journey as disciples without fear. 

Please continue to pray for provision for this community, church, pastors and leaders as they continue to boldly and plainly proclaim that Jesus is God. 

Hope Christian Church of Calgary, AB

In the past you’ve been invited to join us in praying for, and supporting, Hope Christian Church of Calgary, a small Arabic-speaking congregation. Our current situation is that planter and Pastor Mouner Alajji stepped aside last July, sensing a call to the Arabic-speaking mission field in Europe. One of the leaders in the church told me that Mouner was the best pastor he has ever had, and how missed he will be! Sadly, Mouner has also been undergoing serious health complications and is unable to continue at this time in the mission work as he undergoes treatment in Calgary. Please remember to pray for Mouner and his family during this time. 

The church has been wrestling with the departure of their pastor and have really struggled with the COVID restrictions and how they would continue forward. The board of the church prayerfully discerned that they would shift their focus to a home church led by one of the gospel teachers in the congregation, and to officially close the Hope Christian Church of Calgary location.  

While some might see this as a failed church plant, it is most definitely as successful gospel plant. The congregation continues to speak God’s Good News into their lives and into the lives of those they interact with in their places and spaces. What is a church plant after all? It is a gathering of believers who are communicators of God’s justice, love, grace, mercy, salvation, and hope, alive and active in the broken places in our lives and in our world.  

As Gospel Planters in general are seeing movement of the Spirit in micro-churches as an avenue to engage people with God’s Good News, we continue to pray for this home church (one expression of micro-church) in joining God on His mission right where they find themselves. 

Other Gospel Planting Work 

I love how out of our deepest doubt and questions, God shows up! Well into the pandemic, a lot of conversations were going around the catalyst conversation table: How do new plants happen now? How will new church communities, committed to evangelism, survive? But, surprise! God is still at work and His Spirit is still inviting his people to join Him.  

Not only have several new works actually thrived in various ways, but new gatherings happened! CBWC Church Planting is working with a new planting in Kelowna, a new plant in the discernment process in Burnaby, as well as a handful of already existing church communities looking to become family with CBWC. We will keep you updated as these new works progress!  

You are invited to join too! Please continue in prayer for our existing and future plantings, lifting up the leaders and the congregations that courageously press forward with the Good News of God’s kingdom in our troubling times. They are committed to telling the Story by intersecting the stories of seekers with God’s Good News.   

For that matter, remember to pray for all our churches – each and every one devoted to being salt and light in our communities across Western Canada! 

Want to know how you can be a part of the Story with these and other new communities? Contact us to discover how you can join in.

A Most Reluctant Conversation

By Cailey Morgan

Over the holidays I had a chance to watch The Most Reluctant Convert, a film highlighting the winding path that led CS Lewis to Christ over the first 30 years of his life. 

The movie, based on true life events and writings, leads us through Lewis’ sometimes-active and sometimes-passive resistance to the idea and reality of God, and under it all we see God’s patient, loving pursuit of his child. 

Nicholas Ralph as young CS Lewis in The Most Reluctant Convert. Credit: cslewismovie.com
Nicholas Ralph as young CS Lewis in The Most Reluctant Convert. Credit: cslewismovie.com

For Lewis to come to a place of calling Jesus Saviour and Lord, he needed to be “converted” in both mind and heart. Intellectually, he worked through all the scenarios and concluded that there must be a god: he became a (reluctant) theist based on reasoning and logic. But it takes more than scholarly wrestling to become a whole-person-disciple.  

In our text-message philosophizing after watching The Most Reluctant Convert, my mom Sherry Bennett put it this way: “clearly Lewis’ decision to follow was a result of the Spirit and not just his pursuit of knowledge. Understanding came from the Spirit. And from Spirit-led understanding came a depth of call and commitment. If God is real, we can’t just decide that he is somewhat important, but that he is of utmost importance and we must obey.” Lewis moved from a theist to a disciple of Christ as he not only began to find answers in Scripture to feed his mind, but also discovered Jesus the person who quenched his thirsty heart and spurred him on to a new way of living. 

This film was especially poignant for me as I thought about a mentor of mine who had first experienced Christ through Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. But it brought up a question for me as well. If CS Lewis hadn’t lost his mother at a young age, or served in World War I, would he have written that book? Would my friend have come to know Jesus and become an important figure in my development as a young Christian leader?  

I don’t recommend “what-if” rabbit trails as they rarely take us anywhere good. But this one did. It reminded me that God’s love is pursuing us in so many ways, and it inspired me to want to be part of that journey for those around me. Do my everyday decisions, words, and attitudes provide a chance for people to experience Christ? Are we living in such a way as to give people a taste of God’s love? 

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” Wendell Berry, Another Turn of the Crank  

To borrow a Shannon-ism, the Gospel is thick enough to reach each of us where we are at, even as different parts of us are converted at different stages for different people. Similarly, Mom reminded me of John 1 and the calling of various disciples to Jesus: “John pointed out the Messiah to Andrew and he followed. Then Andrew got his brother Simon, who then also followed. But interestingly, the next disciple to follow was Philip—but it was Jesus who went and found/pursued him! And then He went to Nathanael who was skeptical. He needed a direct, tangible encounter with Jesus and proof to follow.” 

Perhaps it is a deep discussion with a friend that enlightens the mind or seeing the selfless action of a stranger that touches the heart. Perhaps the Spirit speaks without another soul around—through a dream or a song or the beauty of Creation.  

For Lewis, many of the big steps on his journey had to do with people he respected who were open about their Christian faith. Because there is a film about his life, we get the joy of experiencing those moments in hindsight, whereas in our day-to-day, we don’t often get to see the mental wrestlings or inner journeys of our friends, family, or neighbours. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t making a difference. 

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but CS Lewis, the apostle John, Wendell Berry, and my mom have helped rekindle a desire to join God, through a life of love, in “summoning the world always toward wholeness.” 

And this is my hope for you this year: to follow the Spirit into a life of God-indwelled grace and boldness, deeply rooted in prayer for the other. A life bearing the Fruit of the Spirit in you and those around you. 

Even if they never make a movie about it. 

I’m Back!

By Cailey Morgan

Hello Readers!

This quick post is just to let you know that after a wonderful and intense 13-month parental leave, I am back part-time in my roles with CBWC in Church Planting and Communications.

In 2018 my husband and I decided to pursue local adoption, in November 2020 we welcomed our daughter Rorie into our home, and in June 2021 we signed the court documents to make it official. Rorie came into our lives shortly after her first birthday, after a year in a fantastic foster home.

Kyson Rorie and Cailey Morgan

Rorie is friendly, talkative and loves to sing. She’s into scooting, soccer, and books, especially ones about Fancy Nancy or construction vehicles. Her favourite song is “Every Move I Make,” with “Praise Ye the Lord” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” tied for second place. She is epic and hilarious, but also exhausting and challenging—especially to this mom who likes solitude and silence and being in control…but that’s another post for another day.

We are grateful for everyone who has prayed for us and cheered us on along the way. We are also so inspired by the many stories in the CBWC family of those who have grown their families through adoption, and we look forward to more conversations!

Life from the Missional Web

By:  Rev. Shannon Youell 

Donning rain coats and boots, my husband and I went on a rainy day guided hike in one of our local parks boasting old-growth 800-year-old Douglas Fir, a multitude of resident creatures and an incredible diversity of understory plants. Our focus was on mushrooms – Marvelous Mushrooms as the hike was titled.  We expected to learn and identify mushrooms but this was so much more. We discovered mycelium!             

Mycelium, a vast network of fungal threads, are something like the root and digestive systems of the mushrooms.   These networks are what is going on underneath the top layer of soil. They are formed from the mushroom’s mycelium, a web like network that makes its way beneath the forest floor connecting to other lifeforms.  What we see on the surface and recognize as mushrooms are the fruit of the fungi.  

Surprised as we were by that discovery, it was the symbiotic relationship the mycelium has with the forest trees that brings Marvelous Mushrooms to this blog.  Called mycorrhiza, this under the surface relationship is crucial to the health of the trees and of the forest ecosystem and of course for the support of the mushrooms themselves.

The short version is that mycorrhiza from the mycelium weave around the underground roots of trees to nourish and protect them.  They help trees absorb their needed nutrients and helps to protect them from absorbing toxins that could affect the health of the tree.  Mycorrhiza also connect trees in the forest, via the mycelium web network, to one another and help the trees sense when one of their ‘community’ is struggling.  Once those ‘sensors’ are triggered, healthy trees will divert their own nutrients to help the struggling trees, even trees of different species.  Current research being done at the University of British Columbia has discovered that these ‘connections’ go even deeper: ‘mother’ trees, through the web, can detect when one of their own ‘baby’ trees is struggling and divert energy and nutrients to help foster their growth.  They will prioritize the nurture of their ‘own’ over another tree! 

My apologies to any mycologists out there, I am just learning and excited to learn more about how all life is connected.   

Let me get into more familiar territory.  What do mushrooms and their ‘web’ have to do with how followers of Jesus, and specifically communities of followers of Jesus, participate in the support and nurture of one another’s communities?

This blog has often touted the benefit of partnerships for the establishment of new expressions of the gospel in our communities.  Both past and current plants are the beneficiaries of partnerships with already established churches (small and large), and in fact, those partnerships are necessary to nurture those plants and crucial for their ability to grow into healthy gospel communities of their own. We also encourage symbiotic relationships in these partnerships – a flow back and forth as needed for the health and discipleship of both communities. 

We need more of these symbiotic relationships as an eco-system for all our churches. Would more of our existing churches be willing to risk planting new expressions of the gospel if they knew they would not be on their own but supported by the ‘underground network’, communities of Christ ‘mycorrhiza’? Can we operate as an eco-system of communities even while distant from one another, so that we naturally respond to the struggle’s others are having, diverting some of our own energy and nutrients to support them?  If Jesus were talking to nature folk rather than agrarian folk, would he have told the Parable of the Mycorrhiza?  The kingdom of God is like……? 

I think of this in supporting gospel communities both new and existing. How might we, as our vast geographical network of churches, live symbiotically, nurturing one another for the health of the whole.   Can we be more active and involved in the health of one another’s communities in our common mission of joining God in his work of revealing the Good News wherever we live, work, play and pray?  Think about it.  (Paul writes about it in 2Cor 8)

There are new communities right now that you can nurture and encourage by your connections with them.  Contact me at syouell@cbwc.ca for how you can join the web of life that connects all of us to God’s creation and to God’s mission in and to this amazingly interconnected and interdependent world he created.    

Engaging Mission with Coaching and Cohort Opportunities

Wow! Fall is looming up before us already and most of us are making plans for how we can be salt and light, the Church, in our neighbourhoods in this next season, whatever it may hold for us in the ongoing changing landscape of life disrupted by a pandemic and other world events!

It also means deadlines for engaging in some of the amazing opportunities and pathways available to you and which you can read more details about HERE including the contacts for registration.

This past year (September through March) two of our CBWC churches participated in the Year One Course From the Centre for Leadership Development – “Forming and Reforming Communities of Christ in a Secular Age. One of those churches was where I attend. Five of our leadership team took part in reimagining engaging in mission right in our own area. This has benefited us greatly in understanding together how we can move deeper in shared practices within our church community and engage more relevantly and meaningfully by discovering where God is already at work bringing his presence, his shalom, into our neighbourhoods. The good work we did in that course and the consultation with Tim for our whole Leadership Team (board, elders, staff) is now being fleshed out with a larger group of our folk as we endeavor to discern together how God is forming and reshaping us to engage in his mission. Registration is open now for a mid-September start!

More than a decade ago when I was an Associate Pastor at another church, I brought some our leaders to an event brought to Victoria from The Forge Missional Network and facilitated by our own Cam Roxburgh (who I did not know back then). This opportunity was sponsored by our City-Wide Ministerial, and leaders from a wide range of churches and denominations in Victoria attended this workshop/course Friday and Saturday. It changed and began to reshape my understanding of evangelism, discipleship and mission, and gave words to what had been a growing passion in myself and the leaders who attended with me. Fast forward to today and we have The Discovery Project pathway to begin the conversation with your church and leaders. “Many leaders have gone through some missional training and are asking how they might help their people to “discover” some of the exciting opportunities presented to us as followers of Jesus in these difficult days.  The Discovery Project is one response to this question.”  Registration for this pathway is flexible as is church specific but don’t delay as space fills up!

For our churches who are already exploring what it means to be the Church in our day as missional engaged people, The Neighbourhood Project is here to help! This pathway brings together cohorts of groups to explore, equip and implement what the Spirit is leading them to. This pathway is filling up so fast, its now added a second and likely a third cohort and there is still some room so don’t delay!

Again, you can access more information and contacts for registration HERE

Don’t miss out on these great opportunities as we all desire to participate in the advancing of God’s kingdom here on earth!