Features An Account of Pursuing God's Will Together A Guide to Open Membership My Friend Despair, Doubt and Lent Community Garden Team Freedom February Hustle and be Still
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Delve submissions are due on the LAST MONDAY of each month. To submit for the next issue of Delve, please email: email@example.com
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Cover:Monica Kay Design: Clement Lee Contributors: Garth Barron Karen Cassel Garry Lam Michelle Li Jeremy Ranasinghe Victoria Shipmaker Gene Tempelmeyer Kaitlyn Williams Copy Editors: Karen Cassel Greg Kay Michelle Li Gene Tempelmeyer
AN ACCOUNT OF PURSUING GOD’S WILL TOGETHER
The Leadership Journey toward Separating Baptism and Membership Written by Gene Tempelmeyer with additions and edits by Garth Barron, Darlene Boyd, Marion Cameron, Greg Kay, Peggy Moore, and Esther Penner.
hat is the relationship between baptism and formal membership in a local church? This question has arisen numerous times at Spring Garden over the years. On several occasions between 2002 and 2014 the question was raised to either the deacons or elders. We knew that sooner or later we would need to resolve this issue, but we felt the congregation wasn’t united enough for a potentially divisive conversation. One development occurred in 2013 that would eventually shape the conversation we are now having: The Deacons, Pastors and Elders simultaneously studied and began to apply a book entitled Pursuing God’s Will Together: A discernment Practise for Leadership Groups, by Ruth Haley Barton. The book suggests in important matters it is not the job of church leaders to make good 4
decisions. It is, rather, the job of Church leaders to discern the will of Christ. We learned a process for making this important shift. An important part of the process is consciously and deliberately recognising our biases, opinions, fears, etc., seeking God’s help to become indifferent to all but the will of Christ. We began applying that process as Pastors, Elders, and Deacons began meeting together quarterly to ask God what He is saying to us as a church body. One of the first issues for which we used this discernment process was that of identifying and expressing our core values. This task, finalized in January 2014, is what you will find on the back of each issue of our monthly magazine Delve. The development of our Statement of Values gave impetus to thinking about other aspects of our stated beliefs and practice that should be altered to better reflect these values. May, 2015 The first time we put the question of membership vis-à- vis baptism back on the table came as a result of considering a different problem. We were aware that many newcomers to Spring Garden Church were initially welcomed into the family, but as they tried to move into a deeper relationship with us found that to be more difficult. As we asked why this was, one answer that came back came from people unable to become formal members who did not feel God was calling them to be baptised, mostly because they had already been baptised elsewhere in a different form. Our question to God and each other was simple: is it time to talk about this? How could we have this conversation in a healthy way? We spent time talking to each other and then went off to be silent before God. When we returned to report our experiences, while we had many differing views on the best outcome of such a conversation, we were all convinced that God was leading us to begin. We ended the meeting by defining the next question: “How should we begin?” November, 2015 A group of people had been assigned to do some research over the summer, but this had not been very productive. A number 5
of CBOQ churches did not require baptism for membership, but, for the most part, had made that decision so many years ago no one was left to remember the process of making it. We had three documents related to joining Spring Garden Church: our Values Statement, our “Confession of Faith and Commitment” (which will be described as our Statement of Faith hereafter in this document), and the membership application. We recognised that there are both legal requirements and spiritual qualifications that come together in the act of becoming a church member. Our question for God and for each other was: “What should we require?” Needless to say, there were many opinions! These ranged from believers baptism by immersion plus agreement with the Statement of Faith plus agreement with the values, to only agreement with the Values, to only agreement with the Statement of Faith, to simply an affirmation of personal faith in Jesus Christ. With all of these ideas in mind we retreated to places of silence and solitude to listen for the voice of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit spoke to many of us: “I am in the middle of this. Trust me.” Some heard the Spirit suggesting that we should ask how God arranges membership in His Church. Someone recalled that the lineage of Jesus includes a pretty mixed bag of people, not all of whom were ideal candidates for the family of Christ. One person reported they heard the Spirit say, “It’s messy. A community as open as Jesus was won’t be tidy and neat.” Another heard, “You are called to bring people closer to me. I will do the rest.” Still another: “Let the little children come to me. I am pleased you are talking about this. Keep going with the process and trust me to lead you.” Without knowing where such words might take us, we were encouraged even though we felt no further ahead in many respects. During this meeting we had looked together at the current By-Law requirements for membership, talked about the meaning of membership, and drew the conclusion that, among other things, our Statement of Faith, while containing doctrine we believe to be true, 6
did not really reflect who we are and how we talk about our beliefs. Toward the end of this meeting, someone said as an aside, “I love the Apostles’ Creed! I wish we made more use of it than we do.” That off the cuff comment resonated with many of us and stayed in our minds after the meeting. March, 2016 Through the winter months Deacons, Elders and Pastors all discussed these questions in our own meetings. By the time we reconvened in March there was a clear consensus that our Statement of Faith needed rewriting to better reflect our congregational character. The focus on sin, wrath, and evil did not seem to fit us. The Elders had begun working toward a revised version, but many of us were also intrigued with the idea of simply using the Apostles’ Creed as our own statement of belief. On the one hand, the connection with churches across the broad Christian spectrum and through the millennia of Christian history was appealing. On the other hand, there was no mention of the importance of Scripture and some of the language would need to be interpreted for contemporary ears. After prayer we agreed we would introduce the Creed with a statement about the place of Scripture with some paraphrasing, and add our Values Statement. We then delegated discerning the specific wording to a smaller group who would report back to Deacons, Pastors, and Elders. These edits were subsequently approved by all three leadership groups. September, 2016 Having been distracted by the Statement of Faith for nearly a year, it was time to circle back to baptism as a membership requirement. Because it had been some time since we had discussed baptism and membership directly, the morning began with the simple question, “What are you thinking about this subject?” What was intended as a 20-30 minute introduction to more serious conversation became a 90 minute sharing of stories about church, baptism, and membership. We heard from people for whom the decision to be baptised by immersion had been a deep experience of God and community. 7
We heard from people who had been baptised simply because it was required in order to join a community they deeply loved and felt called to. Because we were all Deacons, Pastors or Elders, we had been baptised by immersion as believers, but several recounted stories they had heard from others who felt genuinely called to a Church but were not baptized by immersion as believers out of spiritual integrity. They considered their infant baptism to be their baptism and did not want to engage in such a sacred act out of administrative necessity. As we shared these stories, beyond anything else, there was an atmosphere of joy, love and mutual respect. We could not help but admire the spiritual commitment and growth that had led us to different conclusions about the issue we were discussing. There was no mistaking that, beyond whatever disagreement we might have, we were a unified and happy community. After spending time in silence with God there were a number of encouraging things people sensed the Spirit was saying to them: “The Church has no walls.” “God is giving us life in Spring Garden. We need to follow where the life takes us. Just follow the life.” “I have a strong sense that it is important that a number of non-Baptistic people are part of the life of our church. People becoming members who are not immersed should be asked to pray about this, but anything beyond that is coercive.” “’There is one God and one Body of Christ.’ What will bring us closest to that in our community? We need to celebrate one another’s faith in freedom.” One person remembered their spouse being baptised as a teen and then feeling called to be baptised again later as an adult because the first time had not meant all it should have. “It’s not a matter of water, it’s a matter of the heart.” “Jesus said ‘Everyone should come to me.’ I don’t know what that should look like in the church, but it should not look like a twotiered system.” “Baptism by immersion as believers is how we should practice baptism, but we know God works in diversity and we should recognise other kinds of baptism, too.” “God led me to think about the list of Scriptural qualifications 8
for deacons. It does not include baptism, but it does include character.” “I had a picture of a fence. We need to know how to preserve our identity but also have a gate to let other people in.” “It is important that we maintain the idea of ‘The Believer’s Church’ (an early Baptist idea that the local church should be made of people who consciously believe in Jesus).” We left the meeting with a strong sense that we needed to change the by-law in some way that would both honour the diversity of the people God has drawn together here but also honour our history and the place that believers baptism by immersion has had in our church. November, 2016 Two months later we reconvened to consider how the bylaw could be changed to honour both our historical practice of baptism and the diversity of people God had drawn into our body. As we discussed options, our conversation was largely around apprehensions we had about changing something that felt so important. There was discussion around our value: “we believe in a God who is our centre”, and that all people are at different parts of their journey moving towards Christ. This value suggests that regardless of where one is on this journey one should be welcome to be a member of our community. By having baptism as the ‘in or out’ marker, we’re saying that people who are on a journey towards Christ but aren’t baptised yet can’t have a place in our membership, i.e., “You aren't fully welcome unless you're at a certain point in your journey). By removing baptism then we can uphold this value, while affirming that baptism is an important part of discipleship on the journey. Separating membership and baptism actually heightens the value of baptism as a key act of discipleship and a sacrament that points to the work of Christ in the life of a believer. Then we went into silent, prayerful listening. Here are some of the things we felt God might be saying to us: “I thought of the pomegranate as an early symbol of the church. The red represents the blood of Christ. The seeds represent the church: a diversity that is held together by Christ.” 9
“They will know we are Christians by our love.” “’Do not hinder the little children.’ Don’t hinder people at various stages of transformation. There is room for grace here – even in the by-law.” “Let’s not impede those wanting to enter the Body.” “God said, ‘Accept my people.’ I asked, ‘Who are your people?’ ‘Those who believe in me.’” Quite a few of us were reminded that the important baptism is the baptism of the Spirit into one Body in Christ. As one reported, “I was reminded ‘we are all baptised by one Spirit into one body.’ God seemed to say, ‘You baptize in water. One is greater than you who baptises in the Spirit.’” “The baptism we bring to people can never be as important as or as significant as the baptism the Spirit gives people.” After hearing all of these reports, someone summed it up: “The message is God accepts more people than we accept. We need to accept all the people God accepts. We are to accept in membership all believers.” We all agreed, whatever that might look like, this is what we believe God is saying to us. February 2017 We had reached an awareness we needed to propose a ByLaw change. It was now time to get specific. Looking at a variety of options, the two possibilities that rose to the surface were to either recognise all forms of Christian baptism as a requirement for membership or to take the issue of baptism entirely out of the requirements for membership. After discussing the pros and cons of both options we went into silent listening prayer. Here are some of the messages that came out of that time: “I had a sense of peace. The idea of commitment came to mind. A member should show intentional commitment.” “This is not our church. It is not up to us to protect it.” “If we eliminate baptism from the membership requirements it doesn’t mean baptisms aren’t going to happen. We don’t want someone to be forced into baptism to join, but we do want to talk about baptism and teach baptism. Then let people decide.” “Baptism is between a person and God. Church Membership is a human construct. We do not need to merge the two.” 10
“Baptism is a matter of obedience to Scripture. ‘Obey everything I have commanded you.’ There is more to that than being baptised. We do not require perfect obedience to become a member.” “I get the sense baptism is not necessary for membership. But baptism IS part of discipleship.” In all of this sharing, one theme came out very strongly. We want people to be baptised, but it should not be a requirement for membership. We want people to be baptised for the right reasons: as an act of obedience and discipleship to Christ. We concluded by assigning a smaller group of people to draft a proposed change to the by-law that we would review. We hoped to have a proposal in place for the June, 2017, Annual Congregational Meeting. April, 2017 We received a proposal that we remove the baptismal requirement from the By-Law and were also presented with a potential statement that would be added to the by-law indicating that our continuing teaching and practise of baptism would be limited to believer’s baptism by immersion. We “took the temperature of the room” to discover if we still needed more time to pray and think about this or were we content to remain with the conclusions we reached at the February meeting. The February conclusions were affirmed with the suggestion that we state in the by-law an important thing we had heard from God: “We should accept all those whom God accepts into His Church.” What followed was an unusual time of listening to God and reporting what we felt we had heard. This was unusual because a number of people reported in one form or another that God had said, “I’ve already told you this. It’s time for you to take care of it.” The other message several people received was that it wasn’t that important that our main insight (We should accept whom God accepts) be in the by-law, but that it is an important piece of information to communicate to the congregation as we explain what we are proposing. Meanwhile another issue emerged. The By-Law also required 11
“the individual understands the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.” One problem with this requirement is a lack of definition about what this means. A further problem is the assumption that faith is matter of intellectual assent to a set of ideas or the intellectual capacity to understand those ideas. We approved the final form of the by-law as it is now being presented to the congregation. We also decided that it had taken us a long time to get our heads and hearts around what we felt God was leading us to do and it would be unfair to ask the congregation to be ready to make a decision in a couple of months. We would not bring this proposal until June, 2018, to give us time to plan our communication and to give the rest of the congregation time to consider, process and pray about what we are proposing. September, 2017 With our Lead Pastor back from a sabbatical, it was time to work out how we would communicate our proposal to the church. A high value was placed on giving people different opportunities to consider the proposed change. We knew some people would think their way to a decision. Others would feel their way to a decision. For many, details and theological reflection would be necessary. For others, the kind of stories that opened our hearts to a greater diversity would be most important. We were daunted by the task. We believed we had heard from God and that He would lead the congregation. But we also knew we needed to show leadership. We felt it is very important that we tell the story of how we came to our conclusions. As we then spent time in silence listening to God, here are some of the themes that emerged: “I have been allowed time to listen to ideas and, more importantly, to people’s stories. It will be good for the congregation to have the same kind of opportunities.” “Get on and do the job in front of you as well as you can and leave the rest to Me.” “Teach my people to listen to me.” “I want to be in a community where love is shown and conversation happens. These are more important than the 12
outcome.” “Teach the congregation that when we listen together we don’t always hear the same thing it’s ok. If we keep listening to God and to each other it will work out. This is for the glory of God.” “Don’t scheme. Just go share the story.” “Trust. Trust what we have to share. Trust God. Trust the community.” “Relax and rest in me and I’ll walk you through it.” A small group was given the task of creating a communication plan that would include opportunities for people to ask questions, express opinions, and tell stories. Further, this group would consider the whole discussion to be an opportunity to learn and grow in the ability to have healthy communication, including conflict, in a church setting. Over the next several months, Sunday worship themes will take a wide angle look at the content of the Apostles Creed, the meaning of Baptism and Church membership, and the process of making a congregational decision. A number of opportunities for dialogue are being planned as we move through this teaching. In June, 2018, we will present a simple question to the congregation: “Is God leading us, as a church, to accept this recommendation from our leaders?” Our most earnest hope is not one outcome or another, but that together we enter a spiritual process in which the only thing that matters to us is finding and acting upon the will of Christ in this matter.
A Guide to Open Membership by Garth Barron
Background Information Spring Garden Baptist Church, like most Baptist churches historically, currently practices what is known as “closed membership”- which, for Baptists, means that one must be baptized as a believer before one can be accepted into membership. But in view of our emphasis on inclusiveness, the leadership (pastors, deacons and elders) began to question whether it is time to rethink this requirement. We asked: What about those who have been baptized as infants and see that baptism as legitimate, so aren’t willing to be baptized again? Or those who, for whatever reason, haven’t been baptized? Should these people be barred from membership in SGC? Or should anyone who professes faith in Christ and desires to be part of our faith community be eligible for membership? (This last option is what is known as “open membership.”)
Things that would be different under Open Membership: • We would allow ourselves the option, in some situations, to admit someone to membership who hasn’t been baptized as a believer. If someone was baptized as an infant, and believes that baptism to be valid, or if they have not been baptized, we would respect their conscience in the matter, and consider them eligible for membership. • Baptism would not be necessary for membership; instead, the emphasis would be on the individual’s profession of faith in Christ and his or her willingness to commit themself to fellowship with us. Theological Reminders
A change in membership requirements would necessitate an amendment to our General Operating Bylaw, by resolution of the Deacons’ Board and confirmation by the members.
1. Baptism is not required for salvation. 2. Baptism doesn’t have to be by full immersion to be valid. 3. Membership in the Body of Christ is the basis for our unity as Christians. 4. Church membership is primarily about a covenant relationship with God, and therefore with each other; other considerations are secondary.
Things that would remain the same under Open Membership:
Advantages of Open Membership
• Our belief that believer’s baptism is the ideal for every Christian. It would be encouraged for anyone who has come to faith at Spring Garden, and anyone who hasn’t been baptized in their tradition. • Our identity as a Baptist Church. There are already churches practicing open membership in CBOQ, so our denominational affiliation would be unaffected. • Candidates would still be interviewed by the Membership Deacon, and after consultation with a pastor, recommended for approval by the Board.
• The priority for membership becomes the recognition of a commitment to Christ and a desire to live as his disciple. Our membership requirements would then more closely reflect those of the church universal; no one who is part of the church universal would be excluded from membership at Spring Garden. • We can be more inclusive, more easily inviting those believers who want to be part of our community into church membership. • It allows us to show greater respect for other denominational traditions, as well as the conscience of a believer who differs from us on the subject of baptism.
Disadvantages of Open Membership
My friend by Garry Lam
• It will require time, energy, and patience during the transition to a new way of working. • We may encounter uncertainty and insecurity about our identity as Baptists and our relationship to other church traditions, so we will have to show sensitivity and clear and positive communication regarding the change. Definitions Open Membership: Anyone who professes faith in Christ and wishes to covenant himself or herself to our community can become a church member. Closed Membership: Only those who have been baptized in the tradition of a particular church are eligible for church membership. For most Baptist churches, this has meant believer’s baptism. Believer’s Baptism: the baptism (normally by full immersion) of a person with an appropriate understanding of Christianity, communicated to the local church by personal testimony and confession of faith. General Operating Bylaw: The legal document governing the operation of Spring Garden Baptist Church as a corporation incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act on Nov 15, 1993.
I have a friend who I met about 7 years ago at my old church. He grew up in Oshawa and spent most of his formative years in the GTA. After I met him he travelled around Canada living in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Hamilton. He spent close to 2 years living in Ottawa just to learn French. One of his passions is comic books and comic book drawing, every year he attends the comic book show in Toronto. A few years ago, he did the Ride to Conquer Cancer and raised the most money in his respective group. He's held some jobs as a car shop technician, supporting the Canadian government roll out the Phoenix pay program and currently is an UberEats cyclist. This life I've described appears somewhat typical or perhaps more exciting than the average Canadian. Unfortunately, our society views him as simply being 'homeless' and moving from shelter to shelter. I met him through the Out of the Cold program we ran at our old church. For every Ontario Works recipient, shelter client or panhandler there is a story. A story which represents marginalization from our unjust society. As a society we behave on a results basis despite the famous saying "life's a journey, not a destination". Similarly, every ESL Cafe attendee, day camp child, parent or attendee of Christmas service has their story. Their story may be of high privilege or an exciting journey. Their story is still unique and they are someone who is a child of God equally eligible for a chance of salvation from Jesus Christ. In our personal individual ministries, we encounter people who may be seeking God or not seeking God at all. We meet these people as Christ followers serving in the name of Jesus Christ striving to obey the key commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart all your mind and all your strength and Love your neighbour as yourself. Achieving these two objectives ultimately positions ourselves to build stronger relationships with the people we serve and those we serve with to ultimately go forth and make disciples of all nations baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. This is the ultimate goal - it's a journey not a destination.
Partnering with Families
SGC Discipleship Ministries
Spring Kids Here is an overview of what we will be talking about on Sunday’s for kid’s worship!
February 11th - Due to the upcoming youth retreat, we will not be having our regular worship time. Any youth who are not on the retreat are encouraged to join the upstairs worship gathering. Life Groups:
Pre-K - JK/SK: Peace - In this series, children will learn that when we are afraid or worried, Jesus gives us peace. Children will discover that we can experience peace in every situation through Jesus, and that we can be peacemakers in the world around us
Grades 1-5 • • • •
God Blesses God is Trustworthy Remember and Celebrate God is Faithful
Here is what is happening in February! Sunday Morning Worship Gatherings: February 18th - We will have our regular worship gathering for youth in grades 6-12. Youth will continue worship following the children’s blessing in the youth lounge. February 4th: Serve Sunday - We will be joining the upstairs worship this day as the youth band team leads the musical portions of the gathering. Youth are encouraged to serve through the different opportunities available.
Life Groups will be on February 2nd this month. For more information please contact either Sam or Jeremy for boys life groups, or Kaitlyn (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Diana (email@example.com) for the girls. **Girls will be meeting at Tyndale University (3377 Bayview Ave, North York, ON M2M3S4)**
Youth Events: February 9th-11th - Blizzard Retreat: More info will be sent out the Monday before the retreat. For those who have not paid the full amount yet, please get that to Jeremy as soon as possible. February 23rd - Fundraising Prep: We will be meeting at the church to put together our fundraising packages for the 25th. Youth are encouraged to help via baking, art, crafts etc. Time: 6:00pm-9:30pm Cost: $5 February 25th - Fundraising Sunday: We will be selling and raising money for an anti-human trafficking organization that Spring Garden partners with. We will be selling baked goods as well as created projects by the youth. For more information please email Kaitlyn (firstname.lastname@example.org). Time: Refreshment time following worship
Staying Updated: To stay up to date on what is happening for your youth, please visit our google calendar which has all our planned events. http://tinyurl.com/SGCYouth 19
Despair, Doubt and Lent by Greg Kay
his Feb 14th, landing randomly on the same day as Valentine’s, is the beginning of the season of Lent. My understanding of Lent is that it is to be a journey with Jesus towards his suffering and death on the cross, characterised by penance (posture and acts of repentance), prayer (listening and crying out to God) and self-sacrifice (through inward and outward acts of fasting and/or serving). By journeying with Jesus towards the cross we not only realize how desperately we need him to redeem us and the world through the resurrection, but we are also challenged to wrestle with the reality that self-denial and suffering somehow go hand in hand with freedom and new life.
Lent itself is 40 days long, though there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (Feb 14th and April 1st in 2018). This is because Sundays are not part of the season of Lent. Sundays are ALWAYS the day of the Resurrection; every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Although I’ve come to appreciate this tradition, there’s something about it I find hard to swallow. You see I, like many others, can struggle with despair and doubt. There are seasons where life seems like an endless stream of Good Fridays, and when I am in that place, I cannot simply ‘take a break’ and insert an Easter Sunday. Of course, 20
I am not talking about those times that I am having a pity party and simply need to “suck it up.” I’m talking about those times when either the disposition of my personality, my physiological struggle with depression, or uncontrollable life circumstances have brought me into a dark place that my human will, even with the assistance of those who love me, cannot simply pull myself out of. The best way I can describe these times in my own words is to share part of a song I wrote a few years back: I can’t face the silence Absence overwhelms me The suffocating vastness of this private hell Break into the silence Even just a whisper Echoes of a love that I once knew so well Won’t You show You still remain? If you can relate to this, I hope what follows will be encouraging to you as you enter 2018’s season of Lent, whether in spiritual practice or the lived reality of journeying through suffering. Rather than writing an article with my own words, I thought it might be more meaningful to share three things that have brought me hope this year—the first is a song, the second is theological prose, and the third is a poem. This song by Andrew Peterson gives voice to much of what I feel on those hard days, as well as stirring up a hope within me that Jesus can bring something good. Rain Keeps Falling Down, by Andrew Peterson I tried to be brave but I hid in the dark I sat in that cave and I prayed for a spark To light up all the pain that remained in my heart And the rain kept falling Down on the roof of the church where I cried I could hear all the laughter and love and I tried To get up and get out but a part of me died 21
And the rain kept falling down Well I'm scared if I open myself to be known I'll be seen and despised and be left all alone So I'm stuck in this tomb and you won't move the stone And the rain keeps falling Somewhere the sun is a light in the sky But I'm dying in North Carolina and I Can't believe there's an end to this season of night And the rain keeps falling down Falling down There's a woman at home and she's praying for a light My children are there and they love me in spite Of the shadow I know that they see in my eyes And the rain keeps falling I'm so tired of this game, of these songs, of the rote I'm already ashamed of the line I just wrote But it's true and it feels like I can't sing a note And the rain keeps falling down Falling down Peace, be still My daughter and I put the seeds in the dirt And every day now we've been watching the earth For a sign that this death will give way to a birth And the rain keeps falling Down on the soil where the sorrow is laid And the secret of life is igniting the grave And I'm dying to live but I'm learning to wait And the rain is falling Peace, be still Peace, be still (I just want to be new again) 22
Peace, be still (I just want to be closer to You again) Peace, be still (Lord, I can't find the song, I'm so tired and I'm always so wrong) Peace, be still (Help me be brave tonight. Jesus, please help me out of this cave tonight) Peace, be still (I've been calling and calling, this rain just keeps falling) Peace, be still (Is it You? Is it You?) Peace, be still (Is it true? Is it You?) Peace, peace This next piece by Catholic theologian Drasko Dizdar from his book “Sheer Grace” has worked for me as more than simply an intellectual understanding of the relationship between faith, doubt, and God, but is an image that gives me permission to not have all the answers and hope when I wonder where on earth God is at work in me. "Faith is the open door to mystery-- as doubt is its frame and hinges and planks. We pass through this doorway, by means of faith, into mystery-- just as we can get stuck in it by doubt and fear. Certainty is the closed door of, to and by doubt: either religious or atheistic fundamentalism. Faith does not "know"; it does not grasp the truth and possess it like an object. Faith is but the way into mystery, a vast and open space that opens our own minds and hearts to question with courage, to wonder with love, to seek with compassion, to grow in freedom. It is far from being the enemy of reason--logos. It is in fact reason's liberator, setting it free from ever being locked in by whatever answers we may think we've found. Instead, it keeps us moving by the invitation of the question that resounds pros ton Theon [the Word was with God]. God is inexhaustible Mystery. We can never finish moving into/towards God. A fundamentalist grasping of what "God" means (either way: that God is this or that, or else that God simply is not) has nothing whatever to do with faith.” 23
And finally, a poem from Christian Wiman’s collection of poetry by the same name, ‘Every Riven Thing’ (2010). I recently discovered this poem and was overwhelmed with the way it spoke into my experience (especially the part about a solitary man trying to will himself into a stillness where God is!), the way it reminded me of God’s love for me as I am and of His presence with me and all of the world. The word ‘riven’, used a number of times in the poem, is a word which means ‘broken’; divided into pieces. God goes, belonging to every riven thing he's made sing his being simply by being the thing it is: stone and tree and sky, man who sees and sings and wonders why God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he's made, means a storm of peace. Think of the atoms inside the stone. Think of the man who sits alone trying to will himself into a stillness where God goes belonging. To every riven thing he's made there is given one shade shaped exactly to the thing itself: under the tree a darker tree; under the man the only man to see God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made the things that bring him near, made the mind that makes him go. A part of what man knows, apart from what man knows, God goes belonging to every riven thing he's made. I pray that you would know in your deepest inner being, no matter how divided or broken you may feel, God goes belonging to you. To me. To everyone. 24
The Community Garden Team is Looking for Members
ou may have noticed the patch of empty garden facing Spring Garden Road. Last year church members planted a variety of vegetables which we donated to the Drop Inn at Cummer United Church just to the north of us. It was a good first year and we invite you to join us for our second year. We are interested in growing food but getting the biggest crop is not our motivation. Instead we want to give people a chance to see how a few small plants provide the food we are used to seeing in the grocery store. Some people have never seen tomatoes on the vine or how fast beans can grow and may not have thought too much about the basic things of life that only God can create. It is also a way for us to meet our neighbours and provide a chance for them to do a bit of gardening. As a church it gives us a chance to learn how to equip and encourage each other in a group project. Of course it has to be fulfilling for us as individuals and a team too! 25
We learned a lot last year and are ready to expand our vision this year to involve more volunteers in different types of work and to ready ourselves to include our neighbours on our team. Whether you are interested in planting, harvesting, watering, taking the harvest to the Drop Inn, meeting with neighbours or just hanging out there is room for you! We are adding new volunteer positions to the team: Garden Liaisons â€“ work with gardening team (church and community ) to establish the planting, education of team and harvest. It is a shared role so each person can take off some time as needed. Coordinator /Community Liaison â€“ works with community members and the Drop Inn program. Assists with team concerns and administration that is outside the scope of the Garden Liaison. Victoria will work with this volunteer(s) to develop the role. These roles will be active from March to September and will require no more than an average 2 hours a week with time off for vacations. You do not have to be a gardener as the role is to equip the gardeners in the roles they like to do and to ensure they have the support they need. We will be having an information session in March but anyone who is interested in being part of the team s is invited to drop me a line and we will chat about the different opportunities. email@example.com Looking forward to hearing from you! Victoria Shipmaker on behalf of the Spring Garden Based Initiatives Team
What is a Church Budget? Sure, we all know what a budget is. It is a plan for receiving and spending money. But it is more. A church budget is a statement about priorities. What is important to us? In 2017 we received a little over $580,000. That is a finite sum. Assuming this is an indicator of what we might expect to receive in 2018 we may slice the pie according to the costs of our priorities. Is gathering together for worship important to us? Given the number of people we are, we need a place to gather. Is it meaningful and/or cost effective to own a place for worship that we can design as a physical space helpful to our wholistic experience of worship? If so, we need to pay the cost of maintaining and owning such a place. Is it important to us that we support mission partners in the city, nation, and world with prayer, involvement, and finances? If so, finances need to be set aside for that work. And if it is important for us to engage in mission, ourselves, we need to invest in organizing that. Is it important to tell stories about ministry and people? Is it important to communicate what is happening in our community? That requires web presence, publications, and all the information technology required to provide this communication. And someone to design and publish these various forms of communication. 27
Is helping our children and youth become followers of Jesus important to us? Is important to see them grow in faith? Providing resources of tools and people requires an expenditure. The things that are important to us feel endless to those sitting down to try to put a monetary limit on our available finances. Where do we need to invest? Taking care of seniors? Having coffee together after worship? Allowing someone time to write meaningful and well-researched talks as part of our worship experience? What technology is needed so everyone can hear that talk? Is it important to have a trained musician/theologian who brings thoughtful, beautiful, and truthful worship music to our gathering? Each year we decide together who we are becoming by deciding what we will give, what we will spend, and how we will spend it. That’s why our finances are transparent and we have a congregation-wide meeting to set the budget. Please join us at 11:45 AM, Sunday, February 25, for this important meeting. The final vote is limited to formal church members – but everyone in our community is welcome to hear and participate in the discussion about what is important to us. The proposed budget is available in the lobby under the balconey.
Freedom February by Kaitlyn Williams
In Canada, the majority of human trafficking occurs in the form of forced prostitution where traffickers force women and men, boys and girls to sell themselves for the profit of their trafficker. The average age of someone being tricked into forced prostitution is 13.5 years old. These are children, teens, and young adults in our own backyard who need our help. They need someone to stand up and fight for their freedom. Fight4Freedom is a Toronto based non-profit organization whose mission it is to be an active voice of justice for those being victimized by human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Fight4Freedom is working to assist those who wish to escape human trafficking and rebuild a new life, to spread education and awareness to prevent human trafficking, and to engage in partnerships with other organizations to spread our impact. Fight4Freedom works across Ontario in Strip Clubs, Massage Parlours, and on the Streets to reach out to those who may be victims of human trafficking and provide support for escape. They also work with those who have escaped to assist them in rebuilding their lives and staying safe. This February, Spring Garden’s Youth Group is working to raise awareness and money to fight human trafficking in Canada. A number of our youth have committed to join the month-long fundraiser which we are calling Freedom February.
On February 25 th , after worship, we will be holding a bake sale and art sale where our youth will be selling baked goods and some art to raise money for Freedom February. All of the proceeds from this sale will go to Fight4Freedom and their work with survivors of human trafficking. Please join us on the 25 th to help support our youth group as we work put an end to human trafficking! For more information about our bake/art sale, Freedom February, Fight4Freedom, or Human Trafficking, please email Kaitlyn Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our fundraising page at fight4freedom.ca/fabfeb.
Since I am such a task-oriented person I noticed that I often act without enough patience and compassion towards people especially to my husband and kids. One day I was chatting with John, my 7 year-old son. He said, “Mommy you look serious. You only smile once a day, only when you pick us up from school you smile. You need to smile in the morning, afternoon and evening!” His words completely dawned on me. When and how did I become such an emotionless, insensitive and fanatic mom? Didn’t I say my goals for this year is to be a happier mom and wife and Christ follower? These days I have been trying to pause, think before I react. Though I still fail from time to time, but I realize that when I remember to do so it helps me reducing my stress/ bitterness or anger to pile up. I have learned to take some deep breaths and pause especially during those frustrating moments when kids are not listening or being annoying.
Hustle and be Still
I am sharing this because I believe that being mindful of ourselves and be still with the Lord is not just when we have time to do. It should be our daily practice to contemplate and reflect our lives with Christ and with others.
It’s almost been half a year since our family joined the Spring Garden Church family. It has been a journey for me to experience and see how God works in the community of where we live, work and play.
Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
by Michelle Li
One thing I feel I have been blessed most in joining the pastoral team is their grace and support. I feel that I have grown spiritually, and also grown to know myself a little better. We live in a fast paced world, with many things to do and demands to meet everyday, we rarely pause and wait…but react quickly to what we feel is right at the moment.
When I let my flesh to act and react, I only feel more overwhelmed. When I let my inner Spirit to pause and think before my flesh, the results are often more effective and useful than I expected.
As a wife and mom of two young kids, I often feel I am constantly in a rush. I can’t afford to waste time in doing nothing. I need to get things done and being “useful” from the moment when I am awake. 30
Spring Gardenâ€™s online library catalog can be accessed at springgardenchurch.ca/library
If you know of books or DVDs that youâ€™d like to recommend to the Resource Centre, please contact Karen Cassel email@example.com
Recomendations From The Resource Centre Leading in disOrienting times: navigating church and organizational change, by Gary Nelson
and Peter Dickens. 253 NEL
Gary Nelson and Peter Dickens, pastors and teachers with vast experience working with congregations and organizations, believe it is time for Christian leaders to be "disoriented" for the fundamental values and assumptions of Christian leadership to be reframed and broken down so they can see the leadership task in new ways. Blending current literature from both Christian and secular scholarship with individual and organizational examples, Leading in DisOrienting Times provides support for the concept of servant leadership that may be initially disorienting, but is ultimately liberating.
Deep church: a third way beyond emerging and traditional, by Jim
Belcher. 262.26 BEL
Author Jim Belcher has been both an insider and an outsider to the Emerging Church movement. Now he brings the best insights of all sides to forge a third way. With appreciative critique, he explores the proposals of the emerging church leaders and provides constructive models of what this alternate deep church looks like - a missional church committed to both tradition and culture, valuing innovation in worship, arts, and community but also creeds and confessions. Plumb the depths of Christianity in a way that neither rejects our postmodern context nor capitulates to it. Instead of veering to the left or right, go beyond the extremes and go-deep.
Leadership at Spring Garden Pastoral Team
The Transformational church: creating a new scorecard for congregations, by Ed Stetzer and Thom
Rainer. 354.5 STE
Churches committed to following Christ's wish to see this world changed for the sake of eternity. What is the best way for a body of believers do its part in contributing to an environment where true spiritual transformation can occur? In Transformational Church, bestselling research authors Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer survey thousands of congregations to find that the most effective transformational churches are those who make disciples shaped by the Gospel. These disciples in turn, are key to engaging their culture surrounding them resulting in its ultimate transformation!
Gene Tempelmeyer, Pastor 416-223-4593 Ext. 222 firstname.lastname@example.org Greg Kay, Worship and Mission Pastor Ext. 224 email@example.com Margaret Sutton, Pastoral Care/Seniors Ext. 226 firstname.lastname@example.org Sam Lee, Pastor of Discipleship, Ext. 227 email@example.com Michelle Li, Church Office and Communications Manager Ext. 221 firstname.lastname@example.org Jeremy Ranasinghe, Discipleship Ministries Assistant Ext. 223 email@example.com
Deacons Sam Chaise firstname.lastname@example.org Adora Chui email@example.com Lesley Daniels firstname.lastname@example.org Joanne Laing â€‹email@example.com Gonzalo Librado firstname.lastname@example.org Shannon Loewen email@example.com Peggy Moore firstname.lastname@example.org Esther Penner email@example.com Doug Willson firstname.lastname@example.org
647-968-5065 905.962.3897 416.806.5373 416-617-6582 416.229.2695 647-202-0701 416.225.2406 416.227.1840 416.221.0450 35
Elders Garth Barron email@example.com Darlene Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org Cindie Chaise email@example.com Cheryl Chapman firstname.lastname@example.org Joanna James email@example.com Barrie Porter firstname.lastname@example.org Brad Sider email@example.com Corinne Sutton-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
416-724-9329 416.385.2483 416.738.0530
Life around Spring Garden
416.222.6963 647.928.0862 416.829.4210 647.200.6853 647.704.7710
Discipleship Ministry Interns Sarah Lander - Children’s Intern email@example.com Diana Boisvert - Youth Intern firstname.lastname@example.org Calvin Pais - Parent and Family Engagement Intern email@example.com
Spring Garden Church T 416.223.4593 112 Spring Garden Ave. F 416.223.6126 Toronto ON M2N3G3 www.springgardenchurch.ca firstname.lastname@example.org Prayer Line 416.223.4038 36
The World Day of Prayer The World Day of Prayer is March 2nd 2018. A service will be held at Lansing United Church. The planning team will meet on Monday, February 5, 2018. If you would like to participate, please contact Margaret Sutton at email@example.com.
IT and Computer support volunteer wanted SGC IT/AV Committee needs some help with supporting the pastoral team with their computer and technical needs. If you are someone who is interested in troubleshooting and fixing computer problems, and are available to be called upon to assist when the pastoral team has issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatâ€™s Happening Life in Spring Garden
Weekly Tuesdays 1:00 pm - Pastoral Team Meeting in Meeting Room
Wednesdays 10:00 am -11:30 am - Refresh Women's Group - in West Lounge (childcare provided) 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm - ESL cafe - Wednesday in East Lounge (starting Oct 18th) Thursdays 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm - The Thursday Bunch - in East lounge Sundays 9:00 am - 10:00 am - ESL Bible Class - Sunday in Basement Hallway 9:00 am -10:00 am - Sunday Morning Bible Study - in Meeting Room 10:00 am - 11:30 am - Sunday Morning Worship (communion on the first Sunday of the month) If you would like to receive a weekly email update on whatâ€™s happening in Spring Garden, please visit the SGC website (www.springgardenchurch.ca) and add your email address at the bottom of our home page to subscribe to our weekly update
This Month Feb 9-11 - Youth Blizard Retreat (pg 19) Feb 23- 6:00-9:00pm - Youth event (pg 19) Sunday February 25 10:00am- Intergenerational Worship 11:30 am - Youth fundraising bake and art sale (pg 29) 11:45 am- Budget meeting (pg 39)
Our Values We believe in a humble God who came not to be served, but to serve. Therefore we engage in sacrificial and active service to those around us. We strive to be good stewards of God’s gifts and talents by serving one another in humility. We aspire to regard others as higher than ourselves, which liberates us to creatively take risks in serving others for God’s glory. We believe in a God of grace who came to save the world, not to condemn it. Therefore, as we are continuously receiving the gift of God’s grace, we seek to grow in that grace and extend it to others. We strive to define ourselves by what we are for, not what we are against. We believe in a God who knows us, and who desires to be known. Therefore we embrace a journey of faith that requires us to constantly strive for a personal, intimate and transformative knowledge of God. We strive to be led by God’s Spirit in supporting and encouraging one another in working out our faith. We believe in a creative God. Therefore we are open to expressing our faith in new and creative ways that reflect the beauty and complexity of our creator. We are called to use our creative gifts in worship and service as we engage with our world. We take joy in the diversity of gifts that allow us to delight God and participate in His ongoing story. We believe in a triune, relational God who calls us to come together as a diverse community of believers. Therefore, we want to walk together, supporting one another physically, emotionally and spiritually. We strive to be a welcoming, inclusive family that goes through the joys and the trials of life together, acknowledging that God uses this community to deepen and mature our faith. We believe in a God who loves this broken world and wants to reconcile us to Himself. Therefore we are commissioned by Christ to go out into the world, meeting the holistic needs of the local and global community. God calls us to participate in a redemptive work that he has already initiated; in humility, we will partner with others to work alongside and chase after Him. We believe in a God who is our center. Therefore where we are on the journey is less important than that we are moving towards a deeper relationship with Christ. We believe and participate in God’s redemptive work in all people, which gives us the freedom to come as we are, and to accept others as they are. We each are on a unique journey to become who God has created us to be.