Have you ever attended a business-type meeting and actually gotten choked up during it? Well it happened to me several times this past week! On Saturday, May 2nd, I had the privilege of attending the Annual General Meeting of the Brethren in Christ (Canada) as a delegate on behalf of Westheights. The theme of this event was Boundless Expectations and it took place at The Meeting House in Oakville. I found that it was a time of great encouragement as we heard how God is changing lives through the work of the church.
Shayne Brown, the pastor at Pathway Community Church, shared how they are reaching out to inmates at the women’s prison here in Kitchener. Several of them are able to be picked up regularly to attend Sunday services and some have taken the step of being baptized.
Tim Day, lead pastor at The Meeting House, talked about how God has used the short book he wrote as an overview of the Bible, “God Enters Stage Left,” to reach into the Muslim community around the world. It has been translated into Arabic and the audio version has been listened to by thousands of people.
It was also exciting to hear former Westheights member Trevor Main act as a translator for the President of the Cuban BIC church. Frank Martinez is an enthusiastic preacher and Trevor did an amazing job simultaneously translating from Spanish to English.
We heard about the great work that is being done by BIC Canada-Global in reaching out to targeted countries around the world with the message of Christ. It is encouraging to know that Westheights is an important part of that work as we continue to support and partner with churches in Nicaragua.
I also found it quite moving when I realized that I had the opportunity to be part of the historic vote to go forward with changing the name of our denomination in 2016. This motion passed with over 90% in support, so the leadership will begin to create a process to decide on a new name by next year’s meeting. Stay on the lookout for your chance to give input.
The Executive Director of our church, Doug Sider Jr., did a wonderful job focusing our attention on the BIC Philosophy and Mission: “We are a growing faith community following Jesus, sharing his message, and extending his peace around the world.” Everything that was presented at the meeting emphasized how God has been working through His people to impact lives for the Kingdom.
This past week I shared with a few people how becoming part of the BIC church (about 5 years ago now) has been a sort of ‘coming home’ for me theologically speaking. Early on in my Christian walk (1979!) I was influenced deeply by the writings of Ron Sider. He has deep roots in the BIC church and his award winning book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” helped me see the Bible and finances in new ways. So it was another moving moment for me when they announced that the BIC Summer Book Club will be reading through Ron’s newest book ‘Nonviolent Action’ this year, and that they had the books available to pick up at the meeting.
I am so glad to be a member of the BIC church in Canada. It has a rich history rooted in important values such as simplicity and promoting peace. At the same time, the BIC is also forward thinking, shown in things such as its celebration of different ways of ‘doing church’ (The Meeting House, Community Churches, Network) and allocating resources to training up new young leaders in the church through its FLOW internship program.
If you want to learn more about the exciting things happening through our greater church body please take time to visit their excellent website at www.canadianbic.ca