Category Archives: Kingdom Matters

A new way to engage with Lent: commit to care for creation

by Karri Munn-Venn

I used to take a lot of sugar in my coffee.

Several years ago, I cut it out for Lent. It felt good to skip the sweet stuff (while remaining highly caffeinated!). But cutting sugar from my coffee didn’t feel like much of a spiritual practice.

Citizens for Public Justice are inviting Canadian Christians to approach Lent a little differently this year. You can read the whole story in the Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today,

I tried a few different approaches. Then, last year, I finally hit on something that helped me to take my Lenten practice to the next level.

I pledged to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging and waste I was bringing into my home. No more cereal boxes – I have teenagers, so there were a lot of those! – peanut butter tubs, or bags of nuts, coffee, or dried fruit. Instead, I washed out a bunch of old canning jars, picked up a few larger reusable containers and made a weekly excursion to the bulk food store.

It was something I had been thinking about doing for a little while and it felt good to have finally made the shift. There was also something quite rich about bringing more congruence to my life; aligning my faith, my environmental concern and my consumption habits.

I did this as part of Give it up for the Earth! – a faith-in-action campaign that I helped coordinate as part of my work with Citizens for Public Justice. It was powerful to know that I was joined by other people of faith across Canada who were also making changes to reduce their personal and household greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Continue reading A new way to engage with Lent: commit to care for creation

Don’t read your Bible the way you’ve been taught: Scripture Union offers guidance this summer

It is Scripture Union’s 150th birthday, a milestone we cover in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today. We thought it would be fun to ask them to do what they do best for blog readers, help us read the Bible this summer. We asked Lawson Murray, Scripture Union president, to give us a nudge in the right direction.

By Lawson Murray

The key to reading your Bible is not to read it … at least not to read it the way you’ve been taught to read.

To help mark its 150th birthday, Scripture Union has published this book, full of Bible reading tips.

The way we normally read is based on three ingrained assumptions:

  • We’re the masters of what we read
  • Texts/content are subordinate to our intellect
  • We have the right to choose what to do or not do with what we learn.

When it comes to Bible reading these assumptions create tremendous obstacles because they place us in control when God should be in control (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

God must direct our reading. This happens when we learn to read the Bible on its own terms. We cannot, and should not, be the masters of what we read. Nor can we stand to one side exercising our cognition and intellect to evaluate or control the text in the light of our own best interests. Rather, the Bible must read us!
Continue reading Don’t read your Bible the way you’ve been taught: Scripture Union offers guidance this summer

Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Jul/Aug Faith Today profiles the work of Wycliffe College professor Glen Taylor, and the four year degree in Christian Studies he helped create in The Gambia, West Africa. We interviewed Taylor (GT) via email, while he is in The Gambia this summer to find out more.

Professor Glen Taylor and his class this summer in The Gambia.

FT: Glen, what have you learned from the Church in The Gambia?

GT: Probably the biggest lesson concerns the depth and vitality of faith in Jesus. More church folk here seem unquestionably faith-full than at home. It is almost like they have extra powers of perception to see the living God in everyday life. One reason for this is that many Christians (and others) make so little money that making ends meet is often a miracle in itself.

FT: What is the greatest need of the Church there?

GT: Probably resources and a greater sense of cooperation across denominations. Regarding resources, the Anglican bishop lamented to me that if capital was available the diocese could, for example, construct an office building to house its diocesan office, rent out space to others and be able to generate revenue. In other words, it takes money to make money. The lack of the former is exasperating to those who can imagine a different economic scenario. As it stands, money is short and church buildings and such seem only to get more dilapidated.
Continue reading Theological education is especially important here: An interview with Glen Taylor in The Gambia

Why the Parent Cafe works so well

Ask most parents what they most need within their busy schedules, and they might say an occasional safe place to talk and share and be supported in what is one of the most difficult jobs in the world: being a good parent.

Here is an early poster for the Parent Cafe, welcoming harried parents to a night of learning and mutual support.

The May/Jun Faith Today features a story about an innovative and effective ministry to meet this need created by New Song Church in Port Perry, Ont., a congregation of the Anglican Network in Canada. In the spirit of full disclosure, that was the church where my husband served for the last five years. I was involved in the Parent Cafe ministry from the beginning, and I’m convinced this elegant idea can easily be transplanted into other congregations, especially in areas where there might not be visible social problems to help solve, but more hidden needs, like support and community for busy parents and families stretched in 100 directions.

The idea is simple: When parents get better, the whole family gets better. Parenting is one of the most difficult (and most rewarding!) things in the world and it’s easier and better when parents support each other and freely share their knowledge and experience.
Continue reading Why the Parent Cafe works so well

How a correspondence ministry helps inmates know Jesus

by Rosemary Redshaw

After 27 years of working inside as a chaplain, I wondered what it would be like overseeing a correspondence ministry. Would I miss the face to face contact? Would it be the same impact?

Read about New Life Prison Ministry and more great stories in the May/Jun Faith Today.
Read about New Life Prison Ministry and more great stories in the May/Jun Faith Today.

One of the first emails I received was from Raymond in Nigeria, “Dear People of Christ, My name is Raymond Ajagbe, from Nigeria. I was once an inmate at the Don Jail in Toronto between the year 1996-1997. I am very happy to tell you that your prison Bible courses were of help in developing me spiritually while I was there. I still have about 10 certificates in different bible courses your ministry gave to me. After leaving Don Jail in 1997, December I had to go back to my country Nigeria to start a new life. Today, I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a ministry that rehabilitate alcohol and drug addicts.”

Looking up Raymond, I saw he was featured in the Nigerian Tribune in March 2014 for his work with those who suffering with drug and alcohol issues.

This sealed for me the impact of a Bible, a study and the power of the Holy Spirit in the cell of an offender.
Continue reading How a correspondence ministry helps inmates know Jesus

The Proof in Kingdom Matters

By Robert White

Much has been written recently about the death of the Canadian church. With overall attendance or religious affiliation numbers on the decrease, and those without any religious affiliation on the increase, it certainly seems like churches are in trouble.

Robert White has been writing for the Canadian faith media for a long time. He is optimistic about the Canadian Church because of the great stories he has worked on.
Robert White has been writing for the Canadian faith media for a long time. He is optimistic about the Canadian Church because of the great stories he has worked on.

A careful parsing of these statistics has been missed in some analyses. While mainline denominations are on the decrease, even they’re trying to stem the tide. Since returning to Canada a couple of years ago, Lakeside Downtown pastor Graham Singh has shared his experience as a church planter in England. Now seconded part-time to Church Planting Canada, Graham was part of Holy Trinity Brompton’s (the home of ALPHA) ministry to re-open a number of shuttered churches. (Disclosure: I attend Lakeside Downtown and Graham is my pastor).

Also missing in the analyses of Canadian church life is an acknowledgement of the vibrant growth and ministry found across the country. A scan of Faith Today’s pages provides this proof, especially when you read the stories told in the “Kingdom Matters” section.

I have to admit to some bias in that last statement because it’s been my privilege, over a number of years, to provide some of those “Kingdom Matters” items. Sometimes because I’ve come across something I think Faith Today’s editors would be interested in. Following a short e-mail conversation with Bill Fledderus or Karen Stiller to work out the details—word count, deadline, angle—I begin researching, interviewing and writing. Others have their genesis in an e-mail I’ve received from Bill or Karen about an assignment so intriguing I agree to work on it.

These assignments have led to articles about:

  • Good Seed Sunday, part of A Rocha’s three-pronged approach to environmental stewardship: conservation science, education and sustainable living.
  • A musician’s project to create worship songs based on the Heidelberg Catechism.
  • The Messy Church experience that provides a multi-generational, multi-sensory form of Christian education.
  • A Winnipeg filmmaker who takes well-known parables and places them in a modern context.
  • A church plant in the Ottawa area that uses kickboxing classes as a way of building relationships and bringing in needed funds.

I enjoy writing “Kingdom Matters” articles for a couple of reasons. First, I never know, from one assignment to another, what I’ll be exploring. Second, every article is an adventure in getting to know what’s happening with the Church in Canada.

With apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of the death of the Canadian Church have been exaggerated. Hopefully, I’ll continue to be assigned more “Kingdom Matters” articles, giving me a chances to let Faith Today’s readers know how alive and vibrant the Canadian church is.

Robert White is a veteran journalist who specializes in reporting on faith and spirituality. He lives in Guelph and writes a regular faith column for the Guelph Mercury and hosts Arts Connection on Faith FM radio. You can check out Faith Today‘s Kingdom Matters here. 

Inspiring Ideas from Canadian Churches May-June 2015

Bible reading challenge
Gloucester Presbyterian Church in Ottawa resolved to increase Bible reading with a New Year’s challenge. Congregants were invited to sign up for a New Year’s resolution to read all of Luke, Acts, Romans and Colossians in January. After a February service the church threw a party, serving a cake with the names of everyone who completed the challenge written on it. “We get so busy doing all the other things around Christmas that the habit of reading the Bible gets shoved off. The discipline of this gets you back on track. It’s like getting in shape for the soul,” says congregant Geoff Matthews.

Taking a little bit of the sermon home
Côte-des-Neiges Presbyterian Church in Montreal is using simple, tangible reminders to help their congregants live out the Sunday message. On the last Sunday of a sermon series about worrying, the pastor, Joel Coppieters, displayed a collection of riverbed stones. Tying the display into a chorus they sang about “peace like a river,” he invited congregants to take a rock home as a reminder of a concern they were entrusting to God. “One single mom keeps a stone for each of her two little ones on the windowsill, where she looks at them while working in the kitchen. Several of the stones are now sitting next to people’s computers at work and a few are apparently kept in the console armrest of a car,” Coppieters says.

Continue reading Inspiring Ideas from Canadian Churches May-June 2015

The Day I Went To Church in a Strip Club

By Patricia Paddey

I’d never been to a strip club before. And so I admit that even as I forced myself to put on my fearless journalist’s hat (for the sake of my husband and daughter who accompanied me) my heart was Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.09.43 AMbeating just a little bit faster as I walked through the doors of The Manor strip club in Guelph, Ont.

I remember wondering, for a fleeting moment, how my 98-year-old mother-in-law would react if she knew I had invited her son and 18-year-old granddaughter to accompany me on a work-related assignment to a so-called “gentleman’s club.”

But this was church, after all. And reporting on the Church at the Manor would not only offer the novel opportunity to get my first ever glimpse of the kind of space where women disrobe for men’s entertainment, but it would allow my husband and I to worship with our youngest child – who had moved away from home and into residence at the University of Guelph a few weeks earlier. Even if that worship would happen in a dark, windowless room adorned with mirrored walls and glass “bubble pipes.”
Continue reading The Day I Went To Church in a Strip Club

An Immigrant to Canada Grapples With Residential School Legacy

by Esther Leung

For 120 years, over 150,000 Aboriginal children (Metis, First Nations, and Inuit) in Canada were forcibly separated from their families to attend Indian Residential Schools run by churches and funded by the government. They were stripped of their culture and many suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 10.10.26 AM

As an immigrant, I certainly did not know about this when I first moved to Canada in 1990 from Hong Kong.

The effects of residential schools still impact societies, cultures, and families today. These residential schools were designed to “kill the Indian ” and to assimilate them to become English-speaking Christians.

As I settled into my new Canadian life, I learned more about the history of the Aboriginal people from first-hand experience when I served in an inner city church (New Beginnings Baptist Church) for over 10 years through worship ministry.

As a Christian, I was shocked that this kind of injustice was done to the First Peoples of this land by churches. Can you imagine? If you were one of the residential school children, these may have happened to you:
Continue reading An Immigrant to Canada Grapples With Residential School Legacy

Stop Being So Meek About Euthanasia! Charles Lewis Interview

Charles Lewis is a familiar name to many Canadians as a veteran journalist with 33 years of experience in the newspaper industry. For the last 15 years he was with the National Post, often covering religion.Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 1.12.36 PM

Since his recent retirement, Lewis has turned his attention to the issue of euthanasia in Canada. He speaks to churches and other groups about his own experience with chronic pain and the dangers of legalized euthanasia. The Nov/Dec issue of Faith Today has a short story about Lewis’ passion for this issue and his concern for Canada. We decided to go further with Lewis and interview him about why he is so concerned – and why we all should be.

 FT: You are a well-known Catholic Canadian. Fighting euthanasia together would seem a place where Catholics and Evangelicals can work together.

CL: First of all, having spent about 33 years in media, 15 of those at the National Post covering religion, what I found out was that of course Evangelicals and Catholics have many things in common, many social issues. That shouldn’t be a surprise. We are in the camp of orthodox Christians.

What we have in common is a belief that life issues are extremely important. That goes for abortion and end of life care, as opposed to end of life killing, which is what euthanasia is.

The other thing similar is that both groups have not been very quick to pick up on this.

Both groups suffer from some Christian shyness; this is from my perspective as a reporter. I don’t have studies to base it on. We have become afraid. We don’t want to admit we are Christian because a lot of people find that off-putting and frightening. We want to keep our friends from getting irritated. Also, we fear that if we come out on an issue officially, people will write it off as another one of those Christian things trying to shove our morality on people. That has been a common theme in this debate on euthanasia.

Continue reading Stop Being So Meek About Euthanasia! Charles Lewis Interview