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Results of Secret Ballot from Annual Meeting 2019/2020

The results of the secret ballot from the Annual Meeting for 2019/2020 held on June 4 2020 are as follows:

The ballots were counted on Sunday, June 14 2020, after the Zoom church service of worship.

2 Deacons were present – Jon Hunt, Bob Griffin
Ballots received – 33 from members

All three motions have been carried.

As per church policy the ballots are to be destroyed.

Thank you to everyone who took the opportunity to vote.

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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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A Final Word

By my best count, this is the 80th time I have sat down to write one of these. I say “my best count” because time and a number of hard drive crashes and file transfers have left some notable holes in my archives. I know this because, as I was preparing to write this, my final Connections article, I found myself digging back through my files looking for the very first article I ever wrote. Transitions like the one that we are going through have a way of making us do these sorts of things. They have a way of making us nostalgic and want to look back. Sadly, that first article is one that has fallen victim to the electronic equivalent of “moth and rust” – at least on my system. I say “sadly,” but I wonder if this is really not a gift wrapped up in a surprising package. After all, if we can’t look back, then maybe what we need to do is look around and look ahead.

Looking around I see dozens of people who have tried their best to share faith and life together. Looking around I see people who have taken steps of faith, made sacrifices of time and talents and resources, stepped up to the challenges of leadership, and stepped into times of celebration and sorrow with a hug or a smile or a word of love and encouragement. Looking around I see you and am grateful for your love and encouragement as we have set off in this journey of faith through a strange country together. Have we done this perfectly or even just well every time? No. But fortunately, because of grace, this is not the standard we are to judge by. So to all who have been a part of this journey together, thank you.

Looking around also moves me to look ahead. There is much that lies ahead that is unknown to us all, something we are all tangibly reminded of by the fact that we don’t even know when the next time we will be able to meet again in person is never mind what the next six, twelve or twenty-four months hold. But this is nothing new, is it? We never know these things contrary to what we so often assume. Jesus, as he spoke to his disciples one last time before his ascension, recognized that he was sending them off into a future that they did not know either. The last words he spoke were not just a final reminder of what they were to do (to “Go and make disciples”), but the promise of who goes with them – that He will continue to be with them until the very end of all things. As I pack up my office into boxes, I am reminded vividly how this is not the promise I get to make to you. But looking ahead, I know that I can promise we will continue to walk in the same direction as we continue to walk with and towards Jesus. And instead of this promise, I can let my final words be the same words of promise and blessing that the apostles Peter, Paul, and John all leave as their final ones: May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.

Amen

-Joe Welty

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“A Mind-Boggling Sensuous Pleasure”

This past week an article was published in the National Post with a title I couldn’t ignore. It was titles, “When Going to Church Sounds Like a Mind-Boggling Sensuous Pleasure.” I love that. It was written in response to the ongoing shutdown as a result of the corona virus outbreak. From where I sit right now, working from the same home that doubles as my children’s school, home, and recreation centre, I have to say I agree with the title’s sentiment. The thought of being in a room full of people with their different voices, stories, handshakes, and hugs does seem like a mind-boggling sensuous pleasure. I look forward to the time when that will once again seem like the mundane norm and time to myself will seem like the sensuous pleasure.

I look forward to this, but with one exception: What if, as a result of this, we stop thinking of the church as a place that we go to and, instead, experience more deeply that this is what we are?

For most of us our default setting is to think of the church as a noun. That is, to think of it a a place that we go to and a set of experiences that we have when we get there. For many of us we follow what is often called the Reformed definition of the church, even if we are not Reformed or don’t even know what it means to be. The Reformed definition defines the church as the place where the Scriptures are rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered. These are two very important functions of the church, but these are not all the church is. Instead, the church is something that is so much bigger. I isn’t a place that we go to and experience, but rather something that we and do. Jesus describes the church as “wherever two or three are gathered together in my name,” a community of people that are called out, empowered, and sent – not just as a witness to, but as the tangible demonstration of his presence in the world. Likewise, the rest of the New Testament picks up on this and describes this loving, serving, worshiping and witnessing community that is defined by who it serves and what it is and does, rather than by where it meets. In fact, when the New Testament itself was written as a collection of letters, the mailing information wasn’t a building’s address, but people’s names. The church always has and always will be a people and not a place – something we experience less like a noun and more like a verb.

So no, right now we don’t get to “go to church” for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean the church is on hold. Instead, this is an opportunity for us to explore what it means to be the church. How we can be the church at worship in the quiet of our home around an open bible or in prayers whispered over a cup of coffee or united around our computer screens. How we can be the church in action and witness over the phone or internet connections with neighbours and loved ones or even in how we ship or wash our hands or make decisions about where to invest our time and resources. And how we can be the church in our hearts, responding to the opportunities around us out of faith and hope and love, not fear and anger and self-reservation.

Yes, going to church dies seem like “a mind-boggling sensuous pleasure” right now. But maybe you will get a glimpse of how much more being the church can be.

-Joe Welty

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An Updated Message to You Regarding COVID-19

I am sending out this note in regards to Covid-19.

Beginning on Sunday, March 22 we will be worshiping using an online format that will be available on this website. Meanwhile all other midweek gatherings will be postponed until further notice. We will continue to follow the guidelines put out by our health officials and will do our best to communicate any further changes that impact our community as we are able.

Continue reading “An Updated Message to You Regarding COVID-19”
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The Journey

Alister McGrath is one of the most respected, most read, and most published theologians alive today. Among his many accolades are his tenure as a long time professor of theology at Oxford, his three doctorates including one in molecular biophysics, as well as his publication of 50+ books including the most widely used theological overview in print today (in other words, when it comes to theological study, he literally wrote the textbook on it). A former atheist turned believer, he writes with the piercing clarity of a biophysicist and the passion of a minister and disciple. Of all the books he has written, however, the one that has been the most helpful for me is not one of his top selling or top awarded ones, but perhaps one of his least. It is a short little personal reflection of a book titled, The Journey.

In it McGrath offers what he has found to be the most basic frame work of the Christian life. He acknowledges that there are many images that can be used for the Christian life, but the most dominant image that runs through out Scripture is that of a journey. As Christians, we recognize that we are a pilgrim people. We recognize that we are people who are on a journey.

We are people who have started somewhere, but are heading, travelling, running, and sometimes plodding and wandering to somewhere else. We are heading to our new and true destination. He suggests we are not doing this without a map. Instead, the map we have been given is the Exodus. As he says, for the believer the Exodus is not just the story of a great event in the past. Instead, it is our story. He writes,

Each of us has a personal journey to make, from our own Egypt to our promised land. We have left something behind in order to make this journey. We have had to break free from our former lives in order to begin afresh. We were in Egypt. We were delivered from bondage. We are in the wilderness, on our way to the promised land. The story of the Exodus involves us – because it is about us. We can therefore enter into that narrative knowing that it is our story. We belong in it, and it belongs to us. It is all part of the history of our redemption, of which we are part.

So we are on a journey from one place to the next. We are on a journey that begins with creation and moves through exile to redemption and consummation. We are on a journey that involves the wilderness experiences of doubt and failure and fear and suffering. And we are on a journey that involves the oasis experiences of refreshment and rest and fellowship as we look ahead to a feast. We are on a journey that is made possible by the acts of remembering and anticipating and resolving­. So we remember what God has done in the past. We anticipate what God will yet do in the future. And we resolve to deepen our commitment and the quality of our faith as we journey through this space in between.

We are on a journey. We have not yet reached our destination, but we are not where we began either. So remembering what lies behind us, we press on after Christ, trusting that he not only lies before us, but is walking alongside us as we go.

-Joe Welty

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A Familiar Scene

It is a familiar scene. The hero or heroine is in a moment of turmoil. In those last fleeting moments before facing their great crisis, they pause for a moment of quiet solitude. They kneel at the altar, there at the front of a great cathedral or hastily thrown together chapel. There in that moment they pray, asking for deliverance or guidance or strength or whatever else their time of crisis calls for. Then, after they pray, before the camera has time to pan out, they open their eyes. They look up. And what do they see? What is the first image their prayers are met with?

A cross – a quiet response to their quiet or not so quiet prayers.

When we think about prayers in moments like these, we tend to focus on what they will do for our circumstances. That is, we tend to focus on how God will answer them by bringing the deliverance or guidance or protection that we so desperately want or need. But what does that moment do for us? What if the beginning of the answer is already being given? What if it is already being given in that first moment when they open their eyes? What if it is already being given in the cross?

There the hero or heroine is… there we are … in that decisive moment. We are in that moment when the time has come for us to open our eyes and commit to our course of action. And as we do this, we see the cross. We see in that moment a tangible reminder of what true greatness looks like. How it looks like love not hatred. Mercy not anger. Humility not pride. Forgiveness not revenge. Sacrifice not self-preservation. We see in that moment a tangible reminder of where redemption and reconciliation and renewal and rebirth are found. Not in the greatness of our muscles or minds or imaginations or manipulative skills to bring about the ideal we imagine. But it is there in the cross. It is there in the way of the cross.

This is a familiar scene in movies and on television screens. And it is a familiar scene in our life together. We ask for deliverance or guidance or strength. We ask for God to change our circumstances. And then, when we open our eyes, we see the beginning of his quiet answer to us. We see how God changes us in the midst of our circumstances and points us in the way through them. It is through the loving and humble and redemptive way of the cross.

-Joe Welty

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A Vision of Life Together

“God hates visionary dreaming”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is a stark sentence that stands in stark contrast to many of the ways we are used to talking about vision both inside and outside the church walls. We talk often about the importance of having a compelling and transforming vision for our lives and organizations. Likewise, we see the negative effects that a lack of vision has on us and others. Church leaders commonly point out how this is reinforced by passages like, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). So how can we say, “God hates visionary dreaming,” when it seems like so much seems to hang on it?

This sentence comes from the German pastor and Confessing Church leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Banned from public teaching and preaching as Germany careened towards the madness that was World War II, Bonhoeffer became the head of an underground seminary at Finkenwalde for pastors whose consciences would not allow them to serve in Hitler’s official and “updated” church. At Finkenwalde, and then later in what became his “seminary on the road,” Bonhoeffer and his students lived in close community as they worked, studied, prayed, played, ate, and slept in close proximity to each other. In his book, Life Together, Bonhoeffer sets out the theology of Christian community he taught and reflects on the lessons he learned from living in such close proximity to his fellow Christians for so long. One of the lessons he comes back to often has to do with what he calls “visionary dreaming.” He points out how often Christian communities spring up from “wishful dreams” of what that community might look like and “very definite ideas of what life together should be.” We think that, if only we should look and act and sound a certain way, then everything will be different … better … perfect. We throw out words to these dreams like contemporary or traditional, young or old, conservative or progressive, family or teaching or outreach or justice or community-focused. We fall in love with these visionary dreams. We fall in love with, not what might happen, but what we are convinced will happen when we all get on the same page and “sing” from the same proverbial hymn book (or screen or smart phone app).

But, as Bonhoeffer writes, “God hates visionary dreaming.”

God hates it because when we do this we are falling in love with a dream or an illusion over the person who is actually sitting there in front of us and the reality that this called the Church that we are a part of actually is. These dreams, he writes, make us proud and pretentious as if it is our dream and vision that holds us together. And these dreams make us angry or disillusioned with each other when our dreams inevitably fade or are shattered. He writes how these failed dreams then turn us ultimately into accusers of each other and accusers of God for failing to live up to our vision for them and not God’s vision for us.

“God hates visionary dreaming.” This is not to deny the importance of us having a common, compelling, and transformative vision. But it is a strong warning to make sure that the vision we are united in and the vision that Christ is pointing us to are the same thing. A vision of a called out people made up of every race and language and gender and skin color and economic and academic background who are all being knit together and built up and reconciled to God, and he continues to reconcile us and transform us together. What does this look and sound like? Well, we get to find that out together along the way.

– Joe Welty

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ADVENT 1

An Advent Narrative

As we prepare again to hear the message of Christmas, perhaps you might appreciate excerpts from Walter Wangerin Jr’s short story, “An Advent Narrative,” which imagines God contemplating how to reach out to his child (humanity) and restore her.

    I love a child
    But she is afraid of me.

I want to help this child so terribly in need of help. For she is hungry; her cheeks sunken to the bone; but she knows little of food, less of nutrition. I know both these things. She is cold and she is dirty; she lives at the end of a tattered hallway, three flights up in a tenement whose landlord long ago forgot the human bodies huddled in that place. But I know how to build a fire; and I know how to wash a face.

    I love a child.
    But she is afraid of me.

Then how can I come to her? To feed and heal her by my love?

    Knock on the door? Enter the common way?

No. She holds her breath at a gentle tap, pretending that she is not home; she feels unworthy of polite society. And loud, imperious banging would only send her into shivering tears, for police and bill collectors have troubled her in the past. And should I break down the door? Or should I show my face at the window? Oh, what terrors I’d cause then. She would not receive my love, but might likely die of a broken heart. I’ve called from the hall. I’ve sung her name through cracks in the plaster. But I have a bright trumpet of a voice, and she covers her ears and weeps. She thinks that each word is an accusation. I could, of course, ignore the doors and walls and windows, simply appearing before her as I am. I have that capability. But she hasn’t the strength to see it and would die. She is, you see, her own deepest hiding place, and fear and death are the truest doors against me.

Then what is left? How can I come to my beloved? Where’s the entrance that will not frighten or kill her? By what door, can love arrive after all, truly to nurture her, to take the loneliness away, to make her beautiful, as lovely as my moon at night, my sun come morning.

    I know what I will do.

I’ll make the woman herself my door — and by her body enter in her life. How could she ever be afraid of her own flesh, of something lowly beneath her ribs? I’ll be the baby waking in her womb. She’ll have the time this way to know my coming first before I come. Time to get ready, to touch her tummy, touching the promise alone, as it were. When she hangs her head, she shall be looking at me, thinking of me, loving me while I gather in the deepest place of her being. And then, when I come, my voice shall be so dear to her. It shall call the tenderness out of her soul and loveliness into her face. And when I take milk at her breast, she’ll sigh and sing another song, a sweet Magnificat, for she shall feel important then, and worthy, seeing that another life depends on hers. My need shall make her rich!

Then what of her loneliness? Gone. Gone in the bond between us, though I shall not have said a word yet. And for my sake she shall wash her face, for she shall have reason then. And the sins that she suffered, the hurts at the hands of men, shall be transfigured by my being: I make good come out of evil; I am the good come out of evil.

I am her Lord, who loves this woman. And for a while I’ll let her mother me. But then I’ll grow. And I will take my trumpet voice again, which once would have killed her. And I’ll take her, too, into my arms. And out of that little room, that filthy tenement, I’ll bear my mother, my child, alive forever.

    I love a child.

    But she will not fear me for long, now.

    Look! Look, it is almost happening. I am doing a new thing — and don’t you perceive it?

    I am coming among you a baby.

    And my name shall be Emmanuel.

-Joe Welty

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Looking to…

“Looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

-Hebrews 12:2

What we “look to” matters. A lot. If you ask two witnesses to describe an event or two referees to call a game or two travellers to describe what they see, it matters that they are looking at the same thing. It matters what they are looking to or looking towards.

In the same way, for anyone who is on this journey with Christ together, it matters immensely what we are looking to. It matters immensely that we are looking in the same direction. After all, what we have in common is not simply a shared culture or background. It is not simply shared family ties or personal histories or political or intellectual or artistic points of view. We all come from diverse points all over the geographic and demographic maps. But, while our starting points may be different, what we hold in common as Christians is that we are all looking to the same place. We are all “looking to Jesus.” 

And this matters. A lot.

This matters because, if we aren’t looking in the same direction, we will find ourselves getting turned around and lost along the way. We will find ourselves mistaking what is good with what it best, what is important with what is ultimate, and what is a means for pointing us to Jesus, who is our “end,” with the end itself. We will find ourselves turned around and heading in the wrong direction, mistaking the wayside and road signs meant to give us rest or point us towards our destination for the destination itself. And this confusion leads to disagreements as we take our eyes off the ‘why and where’ we are heading and focus on the ‘what’ we are doing and ‘how’ we are getting there. It leads to disagreements because the focus shifts from Jesus, who we share in common, to personal tastes and preferences, which are as diverse as we are. And these disagreements that are a challenge to our unity can give way to open fighting which is a challenge to our love and to our mission. Looking to the same place – looking to Jesus – matters. A lot.

But when we look to Jesus, all these other things fall into place. There becomes room for a strange prayer or a strange song or a strange preacher at the pulpit or strange plate at the potluck because we aren’t looking to these things. Instead, we are looking to Jesus. And seeing Jesus as he is, helps us to see everyone else for where they are too.

-Joe Welty