Erin Knight

A Deacon’s Experience

Posted by | Engaging Community, Equipping Deacons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Rene (back centre) with fellow deacon Amanda Blaauwendraat (front left) and their team for Coldest Night of the Year, in support of the Truro Homeless Outreach Society

As part of our mission to inspire deacons in the work that they do, Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) works to share various deacons’ experiences. Our hope is that these stories from across the country will help deacons learn from each other and feel connected to a broader group beyond their own church.

This month we are highlighting an interview we did with Mrs. Rene Wall from John Calvin CRC in Truro, Nova Scotia.

MEET MRS. RENE WALL

Rene works as a Web Application Developer for the Nova Scotia Government. Rene and her husband Jamie were blessed to celebrate their 25th Wedding Anniversary this past summer. She is one of those rare people who love committee work and is happiest when she is organizing/coordinating something. Her interests include singing, reading, crafting and playing with her kitties.

What did you enjoy about serving as a deacon?
I am an organizer at heart, so I enjoyed working on projects with the other deacons; whether it was cooking dinners for seniors at Christmas, preparing the annual Community Dinner for the needy in our town, setting up the apartment for our interim pastor, or organizing the Maritime Day of Encouragement.

What was one of the most positive experiences you had while serving as a deacon over the past few years?
I think perhaps it was leading a team in the Out of the Cold Fundraiser the last few years. It met a few of the goals that I tried to achieve: it was inter-generational (youth and adult participants), involved our church in the community, was something that people new to church could easily participate in and, of course, it was for an excellent diaconal cause – Truro Homeless Outreach Society.

What has been a challenge your diaconate faced over the past few years? How did you navigate this challenge?
We really struggled with how to answer cold calls (people we don’t know). The existing practice was to give out grocery cards, but at the start of my term it became really clear that people were taking advantage of that practice: hitting up all the churches in the area, selling the grocery cards for money, people not being who they claimed they were, etc. We tried a number of different things, and in end we decided to ask for ID, and then offer them a bag of groceries. In the bag is a list of all the local resources for help (eg. local Food Bank, Salvation Army) and free lunches and dinners in the community. When we do have extra money in the diaconate we look for ways we can help existing local organizations like the local Food Bank or women’s shelter.

“Get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.”

What words of advice or encouragement would you offer to future deacons?
Don’t just define the role of a deacon as what you might have seen/perceived growing up in the church. It’s changing and covers a lot more than “counting money and giving out grocery cards”. Then find something in the role of deacon that resonates with you and do the best you can! If you can, get involved with a community organization – it extends how far you can help and it introduces the community to your church.

What has your interaction or experience with Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC) been like? 
Hmm – this could have been my “positive experience” too. I worked very closely with DMC’s Maritime Diaconal Ministry Developer (DMD) to organize the Maritime Day of Encouragement (MDOE) in 2015 and again this year. As I mentioned in the previous question, it was a way for me to use my “organizing abilities” in the role of deacon. Through DMC’s support of the MDOE over the years, we’ve been able to bring a lot of excellent speakers to the Maritimes to encourage and support our leaders.

What do you think other diaconates should know about DMC and its resources?
DMC has a lot of resources for you to tap into – talk to your DMD or visit their website. You don’t have to go it alone! I finished my role as deacon this spring and am currently mentoring two new deacons. I found a lot of great training material/devotions on the DMC website for them to use. Thank you!

Are you a deacon? Do you have an experience you’d like to share with us? Then we want to hear from YOU! Email eknight@crcna.org today

Virtual Conference Held in Port Alberni, BC

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

On September 12, 2017, Port Alberni hosted a virtual “meet the denomination” meeting facilitated by Pastor Curtis Korver, Rich Braaksma and Jessica Boy from Resonate Global Mission. Attending live and on-screen were people from many different ministries in the CRC – Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC), Resonate, Faith Formation, Aboriginal Ministries, BCLDN (Leadership Development Network) and the National Director of Canadian Ministries, Darren Roorda. More than 20 people from the church came out for this event – impressive for a community of about 100 adults! There was a palpable sense that the denomination sees the local church, cares about the local church and is present and ready to help and serve.

The meeting was structured to:

  1. Live into the denominational posture of wanting to serve and help the local church; and
  2. Specifically address three areas that Alberni Valley CRC was connecting with – discipleship, leadership development and collaboration (community engagement)

Rachel Vroege, the Western Canada Regional Ministry Developer for DMC, partnered with Karen Wilk from Resonate and Shannon Perez from Aboriginal Ministries to lead the break-out session Collaboration. In this break-out, the leaders helped those present to see deacons as leaders providing opportunities for congregations to be bridges of reconciliation in their neighbourhoods through community partnerships. Karen Wilk talked about the call to love our neighbours by welcoming them into our homes and Shannon Perez talked about the ministry of reconciliation with our Aboriginal neighbours and how to use the Declaration of Indigenous Rights as a framework.

After the break-outs, everyone gathered together to come up with 6 or more directions to pursue for follow-up. All participants committed to taking time in the coming month to sit in a coffee shop on a busy corner or walk through their neighbourhood with one prayer on their hearts: “What, Lord, do you want me to notice about this city?”

This virtual conference was the first of its kind in a local CRC congregation in Canada. It was one way to show all of the resources available to a church from the denominational agencies as well as act as a catalyst to open up the eyes and hearts to what God would have the church do to be as a presence in their city.

Interested in doing this in YOUR church or Classis? Email dmc@crcna.org today to find our more!