More than 1,900 Wesleyan pastors and spouses traveled to the Caribe Royale Resort and Convention Center in Orlando this week for The Gathering. The times of worship were Spirit-filled. The preaching was raw, real, and practical – as well as inspiring. The seminars were varied and high-calibre. And the fellowship amongst long-distance friends who are rarely in the same city together let alone the same room was rich and meaningful. This event was first offered in 2007 and there has been a steady increase in attendance from our North American churches with the 4th Gathering as the largest yet in registrations. There were approximately 120 adults from the Atlantic District including staff present from Kingswood University. A special shout out of deep appreciation to The Gathering Director Becci Wood and her excellent team including HQ Division sponsor Education and Clergy Development for a conference that exceeded expectations on every level! The generosity of Wesleyan Investment Foundation was also a key component in the gifts and program quality provided.
For those who missed The Gathering, there will be a “Retreat to Advance” offered at Beulah Camp and Conference Center on February 26-28. Attendance is optional and more detail will be provided in next week’s edition of IMA. This will vary somewhat from prior year format. The only cost for those who register by February 15th will be travel to/from the event – stay tuned. Worship Pastor Marc Jolicouer penned words of gratitude and reflection re: The Gathering on this Facebook post which captured the feelings of those who had opportunity to attend. Stronger together, indeed!
The group pictured above were just some of the hundreds of KU Alumni present – many from the Atlantic and Central Canada Districts. The KU booth was a tremendous success with a constant flow of guests. If you look closely, you may find an uncanny pair of twins which perfectly match the duo on the far right – leave it to Tanya Nace (Executive Director of World Hope International Canada) to find a way to work the panorama shot!
Another highlight at the KU booth featured the public signing of an Articulation Agreement with Wesley Seminary that will allow for all 36 hours of the Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology (MAPT) from Kingswood graduates to apply towards the requirements of the Master of Divinity at Wesley Seminary. This Kingdom synergy in raising leaders for the Lord’s work is one of the many ways We5 efforts are continually innovating to serve the higher education needs of the local church. President Lennox and KU VP of Academic Affairs, Dr. Janet Starks, are to be commended for leading the way in making this possible.
On Thursday afternoon leaders from several Atlantic churches enjoyed a presentation about satellite ministry offered by Ken Nash, Lead Pastor of Watermark. It is exciting to see the value of kingdom multiplication gaining momentum in the hearts and vision of many of our Lead Pastors as we risk the spark of innovation to see more lost people reached and made disciples.
Wednesday evening featured a Global Partners reception with interaction from all Area Directors. Executive Director Dennis Jackson gave an inspiring global update in addition to the launch of a new initiative NEXT which is designed for young adults who may want to have a cross-cultural experience in a summer internship context of ministry.
The Gathering provided countless opportunities for Kingdom connection and strategy. Pictured above was a dinner dialog with Moncton (Joel Gorveatte), NS Steve Elliott, and Global Partners leadership (Africa Area Director Bob Bagley and Dennis Jackson). The sacrificial vision, initiative, and innovation of Wesleyan leaders is a gift to the Great Commission we share. NS Elliott also shared his vision for the first National Conference in Quebec (August 14-15) during a delicious Friday night Ice Cream Reception for The Wesleyan Church of Canada.
I was privileged to join the Board of Trustees of all five Wesleyan Colleges and Universities (pictured above) for a two-day event prior to The Gathering sponsored by Education and Clergy Development (Executive Director Russ Gunsalus). Workshops and keynote presentations provided impressive and timely insights for the challenges and opportunities facing Christian higher education.
Immediately following The Gathering, our General Superintendent Wayne Schmidt convened the annual DS Institute on Saturday. These are days of very significant transition with retiring leaders and district mergers. DS Peter Rigby (Central Canada) was honoured with his wife Cyndi as he will be retiring this summer. It is humbling and deeply refreshing to spend time with this outstanding cadre of Kingdom leaders. We are truly blessed by the vision and intentionality of our denominational leaders.
Back on the homefront, AJ Thomas (Deep Water) had an unusual first service yesterday morning. AJ shared, “The power was out due to a downed line for our 9:30 a.m. service so we did the whole thing without sound or media or lights or heat. It required some quick adjustments but worked out just fine. This was probably the only time I have been thankful for a small building where the people at the back are still only about 25 feet from the people on the platform.”
In other district news, Bud Fancy (Presque Isle) is still feeling the powerful effect of their New Year’s Sunday service. Bud was awakened and felt directed to alter his message for their two weekend services with a focus on the healing touch of God’s Spirit. In what is typically a low attendance Sunday, there were 680 present and more than 100 came forward after each service for an extended time of of prayer and seeking God’s touch for a variety of needs!
Also earlier this month, Aaron Reimer (Island) turned winter lemons into worship lemonade. Dangerous roads and bad weather did not stop this preacher from caring for his flock with a first-ever Facebook Live message to his congregation from home so that no one had to miss church. The CBC got wind of this wrote a very complimentary article giving Aaron and our Island family a nice plug in the community – wlle done!
Special Prayer Requested: In this weekend’s services at Crosspoint, it was announced by the LBA ViceChair that Mark Brewer has been placed on a medical leave of absence to pursue treatment for a stress/burnout diagnosis received last week. His LBA and Pastoral team have been absolutely wonderful to work with over these past few days as we have sought the best path forward to care for the Brewer family. In this interim period of treatment, I have appointed Jamie Cambers as Acting Lead Pastor. Feel free to send Mark and Liz an encouraging note, but please understand their need for privacy and the freedom to not respond at this point in their journey. Thanks in advance for your prayers for the Brewers and the Crosspoint family as I meet with the LBA & Pastoral team this Tuesday.
- Without reflection it is not possible to grow in our Christian lives. (Geri Scazerro)
- We would rather correct people than connect with people. (John Maxwell)
- You can be so busy with the work of the Lord you can forget about the Lord of the work. The consequence in part of the fall is the fatigue that robs the joy of the work. (Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero)
- We all have a tendency to seek an enemy, when what we need is a mirror. (Michael Gerson)
The Buckingham Leadership Institute (Kingswood University) is offering a new leadership opportunity for “Express Mentorship” the end of February. Details regarding this two-day event are offered with online registration for this excellent opportunity to deepen the effectiveness of your leadership in the local church.
Children’s Ministry Pastors and Lay Leaders: NEXT registration for Saturday, April 6th, in Halifax is now open @ http://cbacyf.ca/next. The first 100 participants to register through their Wesleyan Church using the code “NEXT2019” will receive a $20 scholarship discount from the Atlantic District.
In EFC’s Canada Watch (Oct/Nov), the lead article by David Guretzhi deals with the question “How do Christians live out our witness in this new context?” It is both inspiring and challenging—well worth reading.
The Oct/Nov Canada Watch edition also contains an article on Renegotiating Faith. CCD Pastor Rick Hiemstra explains the research in a 25 minute interview or watch the 45-minute webinar recorded in early October featuring key members of the research team.
Another valuable resource from EFC is the Palliative Care Toolkit. View the booklet online or request your own copies at 1-866-302-3362 (toll-free). EFC is requesting prayer for their submission against Expanding Access to Assisted Suicide. Read the background story.
Keep up with what the EFC is doing as they seek to be a positive influence and to apply biblical principles to contemporary issues.