A Letter to Our Congregation

May 2020

To the Faithful of Broadway-First Baptist Church.

We share a wonderful faith story at Broadway.  As I think about the people who I have shared and continue to share our pews with, I get to see what a lifetime following Christ looks like.  Our mission has not been built on short term commitment, it is built on a lifetime serving one God and one risen Savior, season after season in the same place with the same people.  It is encouraging to see the people you count on being with you every Sunday morning back to worship and work together a few pews away.

In the light of a lifetime in God’s service, the current pause in our Sunday morning tradition will merely serve as a point of interest in the 2020 annual report.  Having stated this, it has been and will continue to be a challenge to feel connected with each other.  I encourage each of us to reach out to others by phone, e-mail, or any other way possible.  The BFBC Facebook page is always on and your church family are one post away.  I have had the benefit of connecting with Deacons, Wednesday night prayer group and the Nominating Committee through Zoom meetings.  It isn’t as good as being together, but I am grateful we can see each other.

While we have been away from the church, the Coach Programme has continued to operate and support the students and families that they serve.  They now use our church between 8 and 7 during the week and additionally provide respite for students between 11 and 7 on the weekends.  Parents drop their kids at the church and a Coach will take them for a walk in the neighborhood or work with them in a classroom.  Many of these families have been affected by the contraction of the economy so the coaches prepare meals in our kitchen for the students to take home.  At the end of the day there is a thorough cleaning in preparation for the next day.

The Deacons have identified supporting the Coach Programme at this time as an outreach.  They are part of our community and have told us how grateful they are for the extended use of the building.  In the words of Coach Coordinator Ashten Orr “You all are a huge part of why we can continue helping our families.”  They have asked me to tell you how grateful they are.

I am writing this letter from a corner of my living room, sitting in a recliner with the doors and windows open.  We are deep into spring and the cold days are slowly giving way to warm weather.  This is encouraging but it is hard not to think about the changes that the months of May and June will bring to our church family. 

In the February congregation meeting we passed a budget that eliminates the pastor position after June 30.  We have continued as normally since that meeting, but the changes start to take place at the beginning of May.

Although Joe will still be on staff until the end of June, he will not have pastoral responsibilities after April 30 so that he can take his holidays and focus on life after Broadway.  During the past 8 years Joe has been our leader and friend and I am sad to see him leave.  No matter what we have faced together he has always gone forth with optimism and a smile.  I have shared phone calls, e-mails and breakfast with him, and we always found a way to agree on what is best for our church family.  I am going to miss the Welty family at Broadway, but I know that as we continue to pray for them, they will be praying for us.

I can’t thank Joe enough for the years of service he has given us, and I won’t try to in writing.  As soon as possible Joe will lead us in a worship service and communion when we can properly show him our gratitude.  That is going to be a tough and wonderful day.

Now let’s focus on what we can look forward to in the coming months.

Our annual meeting will be held in late May or early June.  Depending on what best practice allows, this meeting will either be in person or electronic.  An electronic annual meeting would be a first for Broadway and although it is not what we want, CBWC has been hosting electronic meetings on alternate years so it is an acceptable alternative.

When the Annual meeting ends my term as Chair of Deacons comes to a close.  It has been an interesting 3 years where the Deacons have tried to operate as a “Small Group” focused on renewing church mission, helping our church family feel connected, conducting church governance and above all support one another.  Tuesdays start early for me, so I often arrive at the meetings worn out.  However by the time we are ready to close in prayer I am energized and encouraged that we have come together and felt the hand of God leading us forward.  Thank you to the Deacons for their support, wisdom and vision.  Thanks also to you for placing your confidence in us.

In March and April, we have come together with recorded worship services.  Joe has done an excellent job planning, recording, editing and posting these services and it has been a significant commitment.  They have been a real blessing in this time of isolation.  However, for the 5 Sundays of May we will change to more of an interactive and live experience using Zoom.  We plan to record and post these services on our website, but they will have a different feel than our pre-recorded services.

May services will be led by Mark Doerksen, Bob Griffin, Jon Hunt, Bob Barber and Barbara Lyons.

As I write this, we are getting some early indications of how easing of COVID protocol will unfold but it is unclear when we will be able to get together again.  We have a nice wide-open sanctuary and as soon as possible we will be able to use it to full advantage while keeping distance between ourselves.  I hope the thought of coming back together in that space gives you hope.

When we worship at church again our music should provide some nice surprises.  Sharon McCullough has agreed to play for us about every 6 weeks.  She hasn’t played organ in a few years but has been very active on piano and is looking forward to sitting on that old bench again.  Erwin Kitsch returned for the recorded Easter service and has agreed to come back when we need him.  Others will return who played for us in February and March; namely Charmaine Bacon (organ), Rachel Dueck (piano) and of course Kent Gowler.

Beginning in May we will be a self-pastoring church.  The Deacons are taking this very seriously and have discussed the implications.  Self-pastoring means that each of us, Deacon and non-Deacon is a leader and a follower.  We need to reach out to others and be open to the same.  Community support will be provided with a three-legged stool approach.  We will prepare and deliver a Sunday morning service; we have an active visitation team reaching out to our family in person when safe and by phone or electronically in the present environment, and we have Bible study and prayer groups in place that meet mid-week for fellowship.  If you haven’t taken advantage of the small group opportunities, please consider doing so; the mid-week encouragement is a blessing.

If you have specific pastoral needs the Deacons are always available to support our church family.

Starting in September we will introduce guest pastors on a regular rotation.  Mark Doerksen has provided us the names of some people, but I am looking for more.  In September we will also start preparations to call an interim pastor in early 2021.  It is important that we call an interim pastor very carefully since we don’t know how long the term will last.  A committee will identify what the qualities and priorities of the pastor will be.  As a part time role, the pastor will probably be preaching half the Sundays and working on community health and worship planning the rest of the time.  It is hard to know how long we will have an interim pastor, but it is interesting that at one time in the nineties we had 4 successive interim pastors before a full-time pastor was called.

Planning for the future depends on financial stability.  I can’t stress enough that if we aren’t in healthy financial shape on December 31st, we will have to reassess the viability of an interim pastor.  Your generosity in these days of isolation is certainly appreciated and I ask that you please find a way to safely continue giving to our mission and benevolent fund.  For more information on how to give without dropping an envelope in an offering tray reach out to Richard Billings or Bob Barber.

As a final comment on finances rest assured that we are looking for opportunities to reduce expenses.  Our loan payments to CBWC Foundation will be interest only for 6 months in 2020 and repairs to our elevator have been deferred.  (Note: the elevator is fully functional and safe to use.)

As we move forward together, we are headed in a new direction.  Joe led us through the Exodus story this winter in a series of sermons.  Now it is time for us to take our own journey of discovery.  It is normal to be uncomfortable and nervous about this but take courage in the one who we follow.  There is no better leader to place our faith in as we go forth, than Jesus Christ.  I can’t think of a group of people I would rather be on this journey into the unknown with than you.

Let’s get back to the pews so we can get started.

Sincerely

Jon Hunt

Chair of Deacons

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