What an exhilarating but bumpy week we had at the Alliance in Canada’s General Assembly held just over a week ago in Winnipeg. Sure I could get all uptight about the tense debate over the issue of ordaining women and the potential fallout that could come from that historic decision. But when I put that debate in perspective, there was a whole lot more happening at Assembly which in the end left me just pumped to be a part of this church family called the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada.
Let me just list what particularly grabbed me at Assembly that leaves me excited about being a part of this movement:
The election of David Hearn as president. It’s not simply that I would call him a friend that I have known for over 30 years who has taught me the value of a hug, more it’s that Dave is a uniquely wired leader particularly suited for this next era of our journey. He is inspiring and empowering; a leader who truly encourages other leaders to lead. He is an incredible cheerleader for the people God is using, whether they are living in the box or way outside of the box. Under Dave’s leadership we will become more diverse in style and practice both locally and globally, while more rooted to our historic passion for the deeper Spirit-enabled life.
- Justice and compassion are now mainstream. After my over 30 years with the Alliance in Canada, it was so sweet to realize that mission has once again become holistic for us. Justice and compassion are no longer second-class citizens. We now embrace that idea that God has given us a mission to see lives and our world change now, bringing God’s kingdom now, in anticipation of when our world will be fully restored at the return of Christ. This is part of the legacy that our now past President Franklin Pyles leaves with us. It’s a huge shift that he has led us through. Thank you Franklin.
- We can celebrate churches that are doing it differently. I was grabbed by a video about the work of MetroMercy, the downtown site of RockPointe in Calgary who not only meet in a bar, but in a sense team with that bar to impact the unreached downtown core. Okay the MetroMercy site pastor Rob Brown did buy me a beer at a seedy little bar with great blues Music near the Assembly hotel, so maybe that endeared me a bit more! But hey, even that “after Assembly event” organized by a District Superintendent no less, was a new twist to the Assembly experience, evidencing a church family that is not living as fearfully in the midst of our Canadian culture.
- Our international work is vibrant and cutting edge. Increasingly who we are in the world is who we are in Canada or vice-versa. We simply want to make the invisible Jesus visible locally and globally. We are being creative, engaging risk, working holistically, and being used of God to see transformation happen. We have a great team of international workers. Never have I been more excited and committed to our international work.
- A great lunch with my new District Superintendent. With my recent move to Fort McMurray, this was the first time to really connect with Brent Trask, the Western Canadian District Superintendent. I was hugely encouraged by the sense that we are doing mission together. Fort McMurray is an isolated and unique community in northern Alberta. But I know I’m not alone as I serve there. I know that Brent and the churches of Alberta are there for us, as we are there for others. I left my lunch with Brent with a strong sense of being connected to a vibrant team. Thanks Brent!! I am really looking forward to getting to know you as well as my District Coach Don Neufeld better and working more closely with the District Team.
- Allowing women to be ordained. I think it’s about time that our “rites” catch up with our practices. I am looking forward to the day when Bonnie Hodge, our Executive Pastor at Fort McMurray Alliance who is ordained with another church family, can be ordained by the church family she serves with. But I regret that this decision leaves us deeply divided as a church family. I pray that we can figure out a way to walk together on an issue like this without seeing eye to eye. I’m convinced we can.
Overall the trend I see in the Canadian Alliance is a church family that is committed to being a Spirit empowered holistic mission to Canada and the world. I see us navigating through change and diversity with Spirit emboldened courage. I am confident that we can work through the challenges that lie before us in a way that strengthens us as a movement. I continue to be grateful to be a part of this movement of God called the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada.
Hey check out this video from Assembly about MetroMercy. It’s my daughter Meagan’s church home, and just a little different than the church she grew up in!!