In January we invited churches from across the country to submit the names of their pastors for a contest, offered in partnership with spiritual retreat centres from coast to coast. We wanted to invite churches to show their appreciation for the hard and sometimes thankless work done by our pastors.
And wow, did you ever respond!
All nominees were given a social media salute at www.facebook.com/FaithToday, thanking them for all they do and quoting from the nomination. Every pastor whose name was entered will also receive a two-year complimentary subscription to Faith Today.
We are very happy to announce the winners for each province, drawn randomly, along with the participating retreat centres, who have generously donated the use of their facilities for this contest. Winners have the option of bringing a family member with them and of declining the retreat prize in favour of a $100 gift card if they choose.
British Columbia: Stillwood Camp & Conference Centre, Lindell Beach. Winner: Sandro DiSabatino, Glad Tidings Church, Vancouver, B.C. The person who nominated him wrote: “Pastor Sandro and his wife, Rebecca, lead our congregation in some deep studies of the Word. They not only teach it, they live it. They care about the members of their congregation.”
Alberta: Either King’s Fold Retreat & Renewal Centre, Cochrane, or Kerith Creek Retreat Centre, Priddis. Winner: Cary Thiessen, First Alliance Church, Calgary, Alta. The person who nominated him wrote: “Cary is a not the lead pastor but one of many in this big church. Cary and his wife Shirley lost their son in a tragic workplace accident three years ago, and the grief must be ever present for them. A retreat would be a lovely way for them to catch their breath as they have asked God to leverage their grief for His glory.”
Saskatchewan: Shekinah Retreat Centre, Waldheim. Winner: Dennis Camplin, Wawota Free Methodist Church, Wawota, Sask. The person who nominated him wrote: “He was hired at 3/4 time, but works more than full time. Caring, sincere, gracious, diligent, gentle leader, visionary, humble. This man and his wife are such loving, caring, concerned, and respectful Christians who just give and give and give. If, by way of this contest, we could give something back to them in the form of some R & R it would indeed be wonderful.”
Manitoba: Kerith Pines Retreat Centre, East Braintree. Winner: Jason Hodson, CrossRoads Community Church, Kenton, Man. The person who nominated him wrote: “Jason Hodson is a full-time farmer [and family man who helped found our non-denominational church in] April 2000. Jason preaches from God’s Word but also interjects his sermons with personal life experiences. He deserves a retreat with his wife from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, farming, ministering to the church, and caring for and loving his family. He is a God-filled, Spirit-led Christian man who takes his vocation very seriously.”
Ontario: Muskoka Bible Conference, Huntsville. Winner: JD Mallory, Stone Church, Toronto, Ont. The person who nominated him wrote: “JDMallory came to Stone Church Toronto last February from Naples, Florida. He has rolled up his sleeves and pitched in with a hammer and saw and helped to make a new stage for the young children. A new wind is blowing, and we believe our pastor deserves a break.”
Quebec: Capernwray Quebec, Chertsey. Winner: Randy Barrington, Franklin Centre Church of the Nazarene. Franklin, Que. The person who nominated him wrote: “He has been doing a great job. He has been with us for over eight years, and we have grown from about 40 up to about 80 regular attenders. We have also grown spiritually under his leadership, with a strong Sunday school, and several ministries aimed at feeding those in need from our food pantry and our monthly trips into Montreal to feed and clothe the homeless.”
New Brunswick: Hampton Bible Camp, Hampton. Winner: Mark Brewer, Crosspoint Wesleyan Church, Fredericton, N.B. The person who nominated him wrote: “As lead pastor of the church, Mark encourages members of the congregations to actively live out the church’s mission to ‘Make Jesus famous for the good of the city and the hope of the world.’ He does this by suggesting practical ways people can get involved in the city for the sake of Jesus, not for the praise of the church. People do it! People get involved locally and globally for the sake of Jesus.”
Prince Edward Island: Healing Presence Christian Retreat, Point Pleasant. Winner: Gordon Walker, Springfield West-O’Leary Baptist Church, O’Leary, P.E.I. The person who nominated him wrote: “From inspiring sermons, Bible studies, work with teens, and participation in the community at large, he does an awesome job!”
Newfoundland & Labrador: His Secret Place, Rocky Harbour. Winner: Ralph Benson, Evangel Pentecostal Church, Gander, NL. The person who nominated him wrote: “Very forward and dynamic pastor who leads a great team. In his forward thinking we are building a new facility that will have a gym and other much needed room. Under his leadership we have a program called Heart Matters that is seen nationwide on NTV. Have built houses in Village of Hope in Malawi, Africa, supports home and overseas missions. He is a people person who is very involved in our community.”
Nova Scotia: Between the Hearts Renewal Center, Amherst. Winner: Sweis Ubels, Emmanuel Congregational Christian Church, Middleton, N.S. The person who nominated him wrote: “Sweis and his family moved from Three Hills, Alberta, to our church almost four years ago. Since he came, he has been like the Energizer Bunny, visiting everyone, [building relationships and] partnerships with the other local churches, [encouraging a] men’s ministry, [expanding our music resources, and helping revise] our mission and vision statement. Our church has started to grow through his efforts.”
Here at Faith Today, we are thankful for all the names sent in (over 100!) and all the love it shows for Canadian pastors.