March 10, 2018 saw the arrival of beautiful, spring weather in Vancouver. In the bright sunshine, a group of 40 people gathered for worship in the courtyard of 1410 Nanton Ave. The morning worship, led by the Rev. Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest for Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship ministry, began a daylong Learning Party exploring Church planting and developing new and innovative ministries.
The Rev. Emily Scott, a Lutheran pastor now living in Baltimore and the founding pastor of St Lydia’s Dinner Church in Brooklyn, NY, was the main facilitator for the day which also included two panel discussions with people from the Diocese of New Westminster and the Diocese of BC who have begun new Church communities over the past 5 years. The ecumenical group of participants heard stories about the joys and challenges of starting new ministries from St Lydia’s Dinner Church, Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship Ministry, St Brigid’s at Christ Church Cathedral, St Hildegard’s Sanctuary at St Faith’s, and The Abbey in Victoria.
As a part of the day, participants were also given tools to aid them in the development of their own new ministries. The afternoon began with a Neighbourhood mapping exercise. Newsprint and markers were distributed, and participants busied themselves with the work of drawing the neighbourhood, either geographical or metaphorical, where they were considering developing new ministries. Maps of neighbourhoods in East Vancouver, North Vancouver, Langley and Marpole, among many others, were sketched and then discussed in small group conversations.
Rev. Scott finished her teaching with an encouragement to keep pushing the boundaries of where we are doing God’s work, even in the midst of challenges, by sharing the following quote from the Rev. Dr. Susan Tjornehoj:
“The prophet Isaiah shouts, ‘Enlarge your tent…lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.’ This God, who knows no borders, invites a community to stretch out, lengthen, strengthen…
“Anyone who has ever camped out in a tent, knows that, unless there is tension, a tent will collapse… This is what it means to be a faithful missional community: to live in tension, always stretching and being stretched, enlarging the ten.”
Finally, the day also included an announcement from Bishop Melissa Skelton and Director of Mission and Ministry Development, the Rev. Tellison Glover that there will soon be even more support in the Diocese of New Westminster for those seeking to develop new ministries. This support will come in the form of the new Missional Learning Cohort that will gather four times per year to share stories and learn new skills for developing new ministry. In addition, the Bishop announced that she will be developing a capital campaign to raise funds specifically for new ministries in the Diocese.
PHOTOS: Cailtin Reilley Beck
A full feature article will be published in the May 2018 issue of Topic, the publication of the Diocese of New Westminster