Day 2 – Oasis 2017

The second day started out with a meal. I got to sit at the table with observers like me from other denominations, as well as with leaders within the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (CBAC). While we ate, we shared stories of call that brought us to the ministry or to the work of leadership within the church, we shared our experience of the church over the years, and we shared our struggles – similar struggles – as we seek to be the church today moving into tomorrow.

One topic that we circled and spent some time on was around bring churches and faith communities together who separately cannot afford full time ministry. We talked about the A-word (amalgamation), shared ministry, building new homes, and sharing old ones. Coming up with few solutions we came to the conclusion that many of you know too well: that this kind of work is delicate, heart-wrenching for many, and needs to be centred on pray as we are led by God to where we are called to be.
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Day 1 – Oasis 2017

Shepherding God, lead me through this time. Speak to me your guiding word and show me where you would have me go. May I find the green pastures of learning where I come to know my brothers and sisters better. May I find the still waters of worship, where we come before you in praise, seeking revitalization. Shepherd me in these days,

I arrived at Crandall University pretty early yesterday, eager to get started. Turns out that things didn’t really get going until the afternoon. This meant I had a lot of time to walk around the campus taking in the beautiful summer day, spend some time in prayer and reflection in my room, and get to know a few people before the larger crowd arrived.
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In the Wake of Charlottesville…

This morning, while many of us were getting ready for worship across the Maritimes, news reports came across TV, tablet, and cell phone screens speaking of tragedy in Charlottesville. The news wasn’t that one group or another marched in hate; sadly this is not news anymore. What caused many to stop what they were doing was hearing or reading that a woman, Heather Heyer, outraged by racist rallies held in her hometown, was killed while taking part protesting against hate in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Day 2 – Spirit Pride

Day 2 didn’t start as early as day 1, but I was up before the sun. It meant for a nice walk around the residence this morning before breakfast.

In the dining hall as I sat to eat I was greeted with a wonderful view of the residence grounds and a blue sky. It was a great way to get the morning started. As I soaked everything in, I gave thanks for the food, the time, and the space that was that moment:

God of the dawn, each day is an opportunity for creation to be born anew. Each moment is a chance for the kingdom of love to break into our lives and shake us up. I praise you God for all the ways that you try to lead your children to that kingdom. Walk with us again this day as we move ever closer to one another and to you. Amen

After navigating the Vancouver transit (which was way smoother after getting used to it yesterday) I gathered with other attendees at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United. After some socializing in the narthex I took some time in the sanctuary to center myself for the day ahead. Shortly after I grabbed a seat, prelude music began to play.
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Day 1 – Affirm AGM/Spirit Pride

The first day was a full one. To be honest, a lot of it was spent in travel, but time in the air and on the road gave me a lot of time to reflect on where I was going.

I began at 5:30 a.m. (really 5 but I got to the airport in Fredericton, NB at 5:30) and it was a goodbye to my kids. It’s always hard, even if it is just for a few days, and not just for me. Though Jacob is very much a go-with-the-flow kinda kid, Aimee takes our time apart pretty hard. That means I do to. So that’s where the day started.

As I sat in the terminal waiting for the plane to board, and always being anxious about flying, I tried to focus on the Affirm AGM and the Spirit Pride conference.I began writing in a journal given to me by a colleague. The idea for chronicling my time as President came from my predecessor, the Rev. Catherine Stuart. And in my reflection, and in my writing, and in that quiet moment, as I often do, I prayed:

Shepherding God, guide me on my way. Speak to me that I might hear your voice because it calms my troubled spirit. Empower me for the days ahead as I, with others, share in and celebrate your limitless love. With Christ I walk this road. AMEN

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Follow my adventure as President

It’s been a while since I’ve used this space for anything, ministry, D&D, or anything. My hope is to make use of this as a place for reflection and prayer as I make my way through the year as President of the Maritime Conference of The United Church of Canada.

I’ve linked my personal twitter account which will have a more or less a highlight of my moments on the road meeting with people and sharing the Gospel.

Stay tuned for my adventures!

Rev. Richard

Cruxing it up!

So for this week I’m attending a gathering of the Cruxifusion group. This is a movement within the United Church of Canada seeks to support Christ centered leaders and lay people and hold Christ up as the head of the church, the focus of our faith.

I’m not new to the group, which has a great home on Facebook. I’ve been a part of the group for the last year. This, however is my first time attending the annual meeting of the organization, and to be honest it was only lately that I started sharing in the group on Facebook.

In truth, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the group in the beginning, when I first heard about it. I knew nothing about Cruxifusion other than what others had told me. Some said it was a supportive faith-filled group. Others said it was a staunch conservative group that would hold up harmful theology and exclude people based on sexuality among other things. So I avoided the group for a while. I avoided the group based on the negative perspective and didn’t give the positive perspective any merit, or not the merit it deserved.

A friend of mine who is a part of the group was persistent though, and eventually invited me to the Facebook group about a year ago. In the last year I have found the people in this group to be faithful, supportive, caring, and great to laugh with. What I’ve found to be true of the people in the Cruxifusion group is actually a truth that holds for the whole of the United Church of Canada. We are a diverse group of people with a spectrum of theology as wide as the national church. It would be impossible to say that the group is more “right” or “left” as a whole because we each bring a unique perspective to the focus of the group, which is Christ-centeredness.

It’s strange that confessing a Christ-centered theology automatically gets people thrown into a box, categorized as, “conservative” or “abusive in theology”. It’s strange because Christ was a radical seeking change in a world that was standing still. It’s strange because Christ had a mission of love, compassion, healing, and reconciliation. It’s strange, and yet it is.

I won’t suggest that similar confessing movements haven’t been abusive, oppressive, and exclusive. All I can say is that I have not found this group to be any of these.

I’m a Cruxer. And I’ve got the mug to prove it 😉