This is my last weekly message as the Canada West Mission Centre President. (My apologies that it is a bit long!)
On November 1 the new Mission Centre President Team will assume their responsibilities – and among those responsibilities will be this column for next week and for each week thereafter. Watch for it!
The focus of this column is to express to all readers how much I have enjoyed being your mission centre president since July 2014. It has been a wonderful seven years for me with many blessings of God’s spirit to assist me.
This ministry has given me many fulfilling opportunities to interact with members from across the mission centre. I have worked with and supported Pastors, Financial Officers, and other leaders from all our congregations from Winnipeg to Victoria. Let me affirm the welcoming and accepting congregations that comprise the Canada West Mission Centre. It has been a privilege to meet with members in all congregations multiple times over the years. Similarly, the chance to enjoy the fellowship of our annual reunions and family camps at Hills of Peace and Samish Campgrounds have been true highlights. Let me also affirm the beauty of God’s creation exhibited in the Canadian landscape from the prairies to the mountains to the ocean coast.
I need to express my sincere appreciation to the staff of the Canada West Mission Centre for their work and accomplishments over the years, for their true professionalism, and for their enthusiasm for the mission of Community of Christ. If it were not for the work of Lisa Neudorf, Debra Donohue, and Sandra Rodriguez, we would not enjoy the quality of programming, communications, and creative expressions of the church that we might take for granted. If not for Sam Smalldon as mission centre financial officer our finances might not be in good order, and they would not be in the strong position they are now. If not for the work of Linda Klughart as our recorder and inputting contribution data, our membership rolls would not be up to date and our tax receipts would not arrive on time. I also want to acknowledge our now-retired mission historian, Anita Bates, who promoted the significance of maintaining congregational and mission histories each year and developed a truly positive impression for the mission centre in the eyes of the World Church Archivist and Librarian. Let me also acknowledge the significant role of Parker Johnson for his five years of service to the mission centre and the Calgary congregation in so many different ways.
The support from our Apostle, Art Smith, and the Bishop of Canada, Dar Shepherdson, has been fully appreciated and accepted in more ways than can be adequately stated. And thanks to John Glaser, our President of Seventy, for his enthusiastic support and encouragement.
My thanks to the members of the Mission Centre Advisory Council for serving in that role (Carl Bolger, Shannon McAdam, Caitlyn D’Esterre, Denise Esch, Corleen McLean, and Stan Freer). I am only sorry that I did not use their skills more frequently. That is my loss.
There are many other volunteers who I cannot adequately recognize here who contribute their time, expertise, and enthusiasm as event directors and staff to ensure that camps, retreats, and reunions are planned and operate effectively and safely. Others work in congregations doing work that is somewhat invisible, even to the rest of their members, that keep buildings operating, ensure worship and other programs happen, and undertake communications methods to keep members informed about what is happening from week to week and month to month. The same appreciation must be expressed to our campground board members and staff who ensure that those facilities are available for our use and enjoyment.
My prayer for the Canada West Mission Centre is multi-faceted. I pray that congregations can find ways to strengthen themselves, to be of true service to their surrounding communities, and to avoid further decline in membership or participation. I pray that the next seven years will show growth in the church in western Canada. I pray that we can find relevancy in the lives of young adults and young families and enjoy the vibrancy that they can bring to congregations and camps and reunions. I pray that the lessons learned during the pandemic of the usefulness of technology in our congregational and mission centre operations will be reinforced and continue to be implemented.
Mostly I pray that each of you will find meaningful ways to support your new Mission Centre President Team: Shannon McAdam, Kat Goheen, and Gwyn Beer. They have taken on the role in a truly experimental manner: trying to divide the MCP role between them as volunteers while carrying on other commitments to their employers, families and home congregations at the same time. Please watch for ways to support these energetic and creative people as they begin to lead the Canada West Mission Centre in new and exciting ways.
My friends, with the strength and assistance of God’s Holy Spirit, it has been my pleasure and my privilege to serve with you in pursuit of the mission of Jesus Christ. I look forward to continuing my relationship with many of you in the years to come. I may be retiring as Mission Centre President, but I am not going away!
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President (Retired)
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537