I have developed a unique friendship with my neighbour who is a self-professed atheist. As a Christian who happens to be a minister, it is a surprising and unusual friendship. Like mango and chilli, a strange pairing only until you have tasted it. For many of us who follow Jesus the idea of having a friendship with those who do not share our worldview should not be that strange. Jesus lived relating to people from all walks of life. Yet, our world is growing more antagonistic toward unusual pairings. But what if, like mango and chilli, we fear what we have not as yet ‘tasted.’
For some reading this post, who at this point in time think they know where I’m heading, don’t stop reading. My friendship with my neighbour has not culminated in a conversion in either direction. He still holds an atheistic worldview and I still maintain my Christian faith; but we have both grown in our trust and respect for the other. Our conversations are not always about religion, we talk about sports, cancer, tattoos and he even helped me build a deck in my backyard this past summer. When his partner who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago was undergoing treatment, my family and I provided some home cooked meals during her time of recovery. There are days he does not want to talk to me and there are days that I don’t feel like talking to him. Yet, our friendship continues and to my surprise, my affection for him has grown.
I have learned through my experiences of growing up in racially segregated South Africa, that keeping people apart from those unlike them, creates sufficient space to not think of that person as a person. Such distance leaves enough room to dehumanize people we don’t know, making them into whatever the prevailing culture or our fear says ‘they’ are. The space between us and the other is the place where prejudice, hatred, and discrimination has room to grow. Closing the gap between ourselves and people who do not share our faith through friendship is a needed grace; it has been for me. We need others as much as they need us!
In teaching his followers how to live Jesus said: “If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.”
I encourage you to close the gap and get to know someone unlike you. Not easy to do, but worth it!
 Check out the recipe for a mango salad with chilli powder here: https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/mango-salad-chile-lime-salt
I am saddened by the events in Paris that occurred yesterday. I remember visiting that city and could not help but fall in love with its old world charm and be impressed by its rich history. I mourn with those in France today for their loss is great. What saddens me more is the fact that Paris is but one of many cities that in recent days (not weeks or months but days) was attacked by 'those' who indiscriminately bomb, burn and execute innocent people to advance their cause. These are people who intend to instil suspicion, hatred and fear and to promote divisiveness in a world already fractured by racism, economic disparity, sickness and the unprecedented exploitation of the vulnerable.
Based on the nature of the comments and accusations flying about on social media platforms it would appear to me that 'those' seeking to terrorize and divide are succeeding in what they have planned to accomplish. Their terror extends beyond the brutality of their heinous and cowardly acts and as we rant and rave about whose to blame and what to do with those seeking asylum attempting to escape similar threats - we inadvertently give power to those who by violent acts advance their terror driven agenda.
It should deeply trouble those of us for whom the events of Paris have been unsettling while we remain oblivious and un-troubled by the recent bombings in Beirut and Baghdad just days earlier. It should trouble those of us who only pay attention and care when terror acts in our world threaten to potentially affect our way of life. It should trouble us that certain places receive intense media coverage during times of crisis and others do not - that certain people groups are considered less valuable - hence less media coverage, intervention or concern. It should trouble us that we care only selectively and only when it may affect us!
What troubles me most, is that I am one of those for whom all that has been said above is convictingly true. I ask myself this day, honestly and humbly and I ask you: What does my reaction to Paris say about who I am as a human being?
To our great disappointment, we were notified on Friday, June 19th that Bearspaw Christian School was retracting their verbal agreement to offer us a lease at their property due to factors that they had not considered prior to making a commitment to lease.
Our board and pastoral staff immediately set to work finding an alternative meeting place. Thankfully we were able to re-open our file at the City of Calgary, in cooperation with the Calgary Board of Education, and secure a permit to rent the gymnasium and three classrooms at Simon’s Valley School, located at 375 Sandarac Dr NW, for the summer months. Our board will continue to work towards determining long term plans for the Fall.
We still plan to enter this new chapter in our church’s history with a BBQ celebration on Sunday July 5th 2015, but we will be gathering instead at Shouldice Park. There is a separate announcement included in your bulletin with details regarding this event.
Our first service at Simon’s Valley School will be on July 12th at 10:30 am.
We realize that some may have concerns regarding the impact that this change in location will have upon our church family. Our staff and leadership team share this concern and understand that a move to a new location will not be ideal for everyone. Knowing that change is not without challenge we intend to do all we can to enable our people to make the transition well. It is our hope that no one who desires to remain a part of our church family will be missed in the transition and welcome hearing from you if you or someone you know will have any difficulty with this move.
We understand that some may have questions as to why we are moving. Please feel free to contact us any time to ask these questions.
I would like to offer a sincere word of thanks for your patience and prayers during this time of transition. May God continue to grant us courage and strength as we pursue that which he has called us to accomplish.
Most pastors have had this question posed to him or her at one time or another during their career. I suspect that some, in particular those who are new to the church and her work, are simply at a loss as to what the work of a pastor entails beyond what they see on a Sunday morning.
Two factors contribute to me writing on this particular subject. First, as we continue to move ahead as a church we have given a considerable amount of time and effort to defining our vision and values as a community of faith. We have done this in order to make clear what we are called to do by God and to determine how we will set out to accomplish it. As a part of this process we re-evaluated the role of our church staff in order to align our roles with the clarity that has emerged from this process.
Second, it is a significant contributor to the health of our church to have our staff work not only toward the common goal for which the church exists, but to employ our gifts and strengths, as far as possible, toward that end. It is important to clarify that, in a congregation like ours, the work of the church cannot be completed by the paid staff only. Healthy churches exist where strong lay ministry roles are fulfilled by people with a passion to serve and who possess the necessary gifts that fit various ministry roles. In combination with the pastoral and administrative staff, the lay ministry team forms the foundation for leadership within a church community and together are able to pursue her vision while maintaining health.
Below is an overview of the roles and responsibilities of both pastors and that of our administrative assistant.
Senior Pastor (Stuart Williams):
Preaching and teaching:
Preaching and teaching ministries include the following: prayer, research and study, writing and presentation. This extends to weekly sermons, weekly pre-service Bible study, weekly discipleship class, once a month board devotional, weekly staff meeting devotionals, and occasional request to preach and teach in other venues.
Pastoral care involves pre-marital counseling (6-8 sessions per couple), marital counsel (as needed), crisis counseling, hospitalization visits, follow up with new believers, visitation of seniors, mediation, spiritual direction, pastoral counsel, drop in care, officiating weddings & funerals.
Leadership development includes: Quarterly meeting with all ministry leaders for training and development, bi-monthly meeting with respective ministry leaders; annual church board and ministry leaders retreat; one on one consultation with and mentorship of lay persons and leaders, & overseeing practicum and internship students preparing for ministry throughout an academic school year when requested.
Church administration includes oversight of all ministries of Skyview Church. This requires preparation for and scheduling of monthly church board meetings, review of church finances, overseeing the process of election of church board members & ministry leaders, the establishment and oversight of various sub-committees, annual reporting to the district assembly, oversight and administration pertaining to church staff, and the daily correspondence pertaining to the work of the church in general.
Our denomination encourages all of its pastors to be lifelong learners. In order to do so I attend seminars, take seminary courses when possible, and commit to studying and research to keep growing in my understanding of pastoral leadership, organizational health, culture and mission.
Associate Pastor (Geoff DeJager):
Children’s Ministry Coordinator/Pastor:
Children's Ministry includes leading and coordinating the children's ministry team, working towards a collective vision for our children's ministry. The ministry structure will remain the same with a lay-leadership team maintaining the primary classroom leadership.
Discipleship ministry includes overseeing and implementing programs and initiatives on a yearly basis based upon the overall discipleship plan of the church. This will include offerings in the areas of: a) Spiritual formation, b) Evangelism and Mission, c) Introduction to the church and its vision & values, and d) Spiritual leadership, etc.
Preaching and Weekly Service Planning/Leadership:
The Associate Pastor serves as a support role to the Senior Pastor, who provides overall leadership in this area. Roles include preaching when the Senior Pastor is away, to give a different perspective during a series, or to enable the Senior Pastor to focus elsewhere during a demanding week. The Associate Pastor will plan and coordinate the Intergenerational service every month that has a 5th Sunday throughout the year.
As the Sr. Pastor provides oversight of all care ministry within the church, the Associate Pastor will give priority to families with children as well as lay ministry workers within children’s ministry and their families. Where necessary the Associate Pastor will also be called upon to a) provide spiritual care to people in crisis, b) pastoral follow up on new visitors or members leaving, c) pastoral guidance through rites of passage such as baptism, membership, births, weddings and deaths, and d) leadership in our prayer ministry.
Continuing education/Spiritual reading/Soul Care:
As with the Sr. Pastor, this includes utilizing courses, workshops, or conference offerings, reading material, and other spiritual exercises/activities that foster professional and personal development.
Administrative Assistant (Melaina Graham):
The primary role of the administrative assistant is to be responsible for the general administrative duties pertaining to the ministry of the church.
One of the key functions of the administrative assistant is to ensure that information is passed along efficiently and accurately throughout the various ministry structures and leadership within the church and to the church constituency at large. This takes place via written and electronic communication, telephone, via social media, church website and our weekly worship bulletin and monthly newsletter.
As a church who rents space the task of requesting and ensuring that space is available for church events, meetings, and programs is done via the administrative assistant. In addition to requesting and booking meeting space, the admin assistant is also responsible for maintaining a church wide calendar to ensure that booking and programming conflicts are avoided and proper planning and scheduling of church related events take place.
The administrative assistant is also responsible for the recording of tithing and offering contributions, cheque writing and distribution, reconciling church Visa payments with invoices, and the annual distribution of tax receipts. The administrative assistant also serves as the recording person at the monthly church board meeting and is responsible for the gathering and distribution of respective ministry reports for these meetings.
General administrative task
On a weekly basis the administrative assistant ensures that a worship bulletin is prepared, printed and published. She also assists with the online submission of the annual pastors report to the denomination, the preparation and organization of our annual general meeting, preparation of ballots for election, photocopying and filing of information, and attends a weekly staff meeting. She also sends out cards and flowers on behalf of the church where needed.
Special projects include producing various printed materials for specific events, church directory updates, and responding to specific requests from the pastoral staff regarding sermon series information and promotion.
I encourage you to continue to pray us as staff. It is our sincere desire to lead well and serve the Lord faithfully through our respective roles. If you have any questions concerning the content of this article, please do not hesitate to contact me.
God works through simple opportunities and often in unexpected ways.
Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting with Ann (Annona) Corbett and her son Gary in her hospital room. It would be our last conversation as she passed the very next morning. For those who knew her, as far as people are concerned, it does not get any sweeter than Ann Corbett.
I first met her when I arrived at Skyview in September of 2009. Excited and anxious to begin my first ministry assignment as a senior pastor, Ann quickly became a trusted friend and mentor. Our friendship began unexpectedly when I became aware that she needed a ride to and from church. I offered and she humbly accepted. Little did I realize how invaluable this time spent with Ann would be. God works through simple opportunities and often in unexpected ways. Though I was helping Ann get to church by providing her with a ride, she was helping me in ways that have made me a better pastor, friend, and follower of Jesus.
Whether we experienced a good, average or excellent Sunday morning service, each drive home with Ann left me encouraged and hopeful. Much like my mother, who passed away 18 years ago, Ann conveyed a love for people that left everyone she came into contact with feeling loved and cared for. I often wondered, after a pastoral visit with her, who the ‘real’ pastor was between the two of us. Her wisdom shone through her humility and she became both a mentor and a trustworthy friend and confidant. It goes without saying that today as I write this note my heart is saddened by her death. Men like me need people like Ann, perhaps we all do.
As a man of faith I understand that death is not the end for those who have placed their hope in Christ. For this I give God thanks. I also take great comfort in knowing that Ann is no longer suffering but awaiting the resurrection our scripture promises. Yet, I mourn today because I will miss my friend. Her gentle spirit, humble heart, and sagely wisdom will continue to impact me. So, perhaps as we enter the season of celebrating God’s presence with us, we pause to give God thanks for those who have gone before us. Thanks be to God for the men and women who have passed on their faith by loving us and setting before us an example of His love and grace. Thanks be to God for Ann Corbett.
May the peace of Christ be with you and you family this advent season.