Monday, 26 October 2015

Smoky Lake AB, pop. 1022

My wife and were at a fundraiser the other night for Smoky Lake Baptist. They have bought a new building, an old milk plant, and are making it their new church building. Below are the 'before' and the proposed 'after' pictures.

From this:
 
To this:
 
 
As mentioned, the population of Smoky Lake is 1022 - I have that directly from the Mayor, with whom we sat at the fundraiser. The church's new sanctuary will seat approximately 400 people, over 1/3 the population of the community. Interesting.
 
They are converting the building in stages, so it will not instantly look like the second picture, but Eva and I were so encouraged by their vision and their willingness to step out in faith for this project. Here is a link to their own video page on the project
 
And guess what... they run Alpha like crazy! In fact, two of my most loyal coaches are from there. I don't think I can claim this as the church that Alpha built, but I like to think that Alpha might have played a part.
 
Blessings,
 
John

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bonnyville, Lakeland District, Northeast Central Alberta

Once again I was invited to the Pastors' Appreciation Lunch at Bonnyville Community Church. It's about a three-hour drive from home, but well worth the trip. This is my third.

Pastor Ken Jagessar has such a heart, not only for the Lord, but for his fellow labourers for the kingdom as well. The event seems to attract more and more church leaders each year and each year I have been allowed a bit more time to talk about Alpha. This year there were 50 or 60 church and ministry leaders and their spouses, and Amy Croy, our Alpha Youth Coach for Alberta, were allowed some exclusive, "stage time," to communicate some of the new products and initiatives coming down the pipe this year and next. Amy shared her passion to see young people equipped to share their faith with their friends especially in schools.

New and coming soon from Alpha include:
  • Nicky Gumbel's latest talks, shortened from 45-50 minutes down to 30 or so;
  • Next year's global media campaign featuring Bear Grylls, who has lent his name and brand to Alpha for one year beginning fall 2016;
  • A new Alpha Film Series for twenty-something young adults, following the fast-paced format of the Youth Film Series.
  • The fact that pretty much all Alpha materials; talks, training and promo materials, are available online for the low, low price of... free!
I was so busy otherwise that I forgot to take any pictures. So did Amy, whom I usually rely on to do so. I have emailed Pastor Ken to see if he has any, and if I get some, I will add a picture to this post.

I have been asked as part of my feedback to Alpha Canada, whether I would do it again. YES, in a heartbeat, mainly because I love the free (and excellent) food, and I love seeing Pastor Ken, but as I mentioned, each year I have attended I have been given a bit more opportunity to raise Alpha's profile in the area. After our 15-20 minutes with Power Point presentation, I'm afraid the only way to do more might be to present a feature film.

But that decision doesn't have to be made for another year.

Blessings,

John

Monday, 19 October 2015

Catching Up

The second week of October was our annual Alpha Canada retreat at beautiful Loon Lake Lodge in BC. Here's the whole gang in one of our less serious moments:
The final 'A' seems to be hiding. We are not 'Alph."
It was a time of wonderful sharing, wonderful speakers, learning and praying together, in addition to spending time with such a wonderful team, many of whom we are in touch with only by e-mail or conference call for most of the year. I was in the business world for over 45 years and this is the best team, under the best leadership I have ever experienced, (and that includes when I worked for myself.) Shaila Visser, our National Director, is holding the 'H'. I'm thinking we didn't want to emphasize too much our Canadian identity, so we hid the final, "eh?"

Last week I travelled with Amy, our Alpha Youth Coach for Alberta, to Ponoka Alberta for a Youth Champions meeting she helped organize with a number of Youth Unlimited reps at First Baptist Church there.

And here we are there, all except me (I took the picture) and one youth worker who went upstairs for a minute:
 
In the group, in addition to the Youth Unlimited folks, were a young teacher from a Catholic school in Camrose who plans to run the Youth Film Series for her grade 10's and a young lady from Stepping Stones, a group who reaches out to single moms. On the left is the Rev Donna Willer, Rector of St Mary's Anglican Church in Ponoka. Last I spoke with her, a year or two ago, she was in Barrhead Alberta.
Barrhead is the northernmost parish in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Ponoka is the southernmost, so we joked that she has nowhere else to go, unless she wants to hit Jasper in the west and Cold Lake in the east (the Anglican church in Lloydminster is in the Saskatchewan side of the city).
 
 
It's off to Bonnyville Community Church tomorrow for Pastor Ken's wonderful Pastors' Appreciation Lunch. Pastor Ken is giving Amy and I time to make an Alpha presentation. I expect I'll have a good report on that event. 
 
Blessings,
 
John

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Pretty Good Weekend!

Well, it wasn't technically a weekend. It was a Thursday, a Friday and a Saturday, but I lose track of days anyway, so I'm taking the liberty of calling it a weekend.

After picking up Wanda Ho, Alpha's National Chinese Coordinator, we hosted 11 guests from 3 Edmonton area Chinese Churches at Transcend Coffee Shop. There was a slight mixup - I thought I had reserved an entire upstairs room; they understood I had just reserved a table, but staff there were very gracious, things were resolved and we had quite an encouraging meeting - sharing, listening and planning for future Alphas within the Chinese community. I may have posted before, but many of the larger Chinese churches have three congregations (Cantonese, Mandarin and English-speaking) with as many as 9 services on a weekend.

Then it was off to Calgary on Friday for a fast meeting at Tim Horton's with Rich, who along with his wife is coordinating an Alpha in his home through Eastside City Church. Our lunchtime appointment was for 11:45, and having left Leduc for a 2 1/2 hour drive, we arrived at 16th Ave and 9th Street NW at exactly 11:40. Pretty good timing I think. Later that afternoon we met with the South Calgary Chines Evangelical Free Church and heard encouraging stories of how they have run Alpha for at least eight years, and still have at least 60 guests on every course - some as many as 160.

Saturday morning we had a meeting at Waves Coffee Shop where Elaine Young (4th from the left, below), Alpha's Coordinator for the Atlantic Provinces, and National Coordinator for the Marriage Courses joined us for a get-together of local Calgary Marriage and Parenting Course coaches and coordinators.

And here we are there:
 
Saturday afternoon we were at Westside Calgary Chinese Alliance Church (WCCAC)for a presentation on The Marriage and Parenting Courses, and Alpha in Chinese. I was able to give a brief talk, with translation by Wanda, on the importance of evangelism in the post-Christian world before Wanda gave her own talk on the principals and practicalities of Alpha itself.
 
And here we are there:

There we had a crowd of over 50 people from just that one church. they are committed to running a Marriage Course and Alphas for various ministries within their church, both Chinese and English, Youth and Adult.

I have said before that I love driving in Calgary when traffic is good, hate it in rush hour. But WCCAC is just a stone's throw from Stony Trail, Calgary's ring road, so we had no trouble hitting the highway for our ride back home to Leduc.

It was a bit of a whirlwind tour, but as I said, it was a pretty good weekend.

Blessings,

John