Marcia Mantel

Drinking Downstream: The Church and Residential Schools

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

We Drink Downstream from Christian Reformed Church on Vimeo.

Danielle Rowaan, Justice Communications and Education Coordinator for CRC Canadian Ministries, writes the following about the video:

“If there is one single area of Canadian life where Shalom and right relationships are most needed, the relationship between indigenous peoples and other Canadians is certainly in the running. And where there are broken relationships, the followers of Jesus Christ are called to be. This video, developed by several CRC agencies, shows a gathering of CRC members from a number of churches who attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Vancouver. They gathered afterwards to talk about the experience and what it means for the Church. The TRC is a chance for indigenous people to tell other Canadians about their experiences of the residential schools that operated for more than 100 years in Canada.”

Diaconal Ministries Canada collaborates with several CRC agencies in the area of social justice. Browse our web pages for more information and resources related to Aboriginal justice.

Too Busy to Pray? Not Necessarily…

Posted by | Equipping Deacons | No Comments

A few years ago, Willow Creek Church pastor and author Bill Hybels released a cleverly-titled book: Too Busy Not to Pray.  In my mind I know it is true: so many things need to be prayed about, with so much happening in my life and so many needs in the church.  But, in my life, when I am honest, I acknowledge that–too often–I am indeed “too busy to pray.” What to do?

How can we, whatever our role, be a bigger blessing to the people we serve as we strive to deepen our prayer life?  Here is something that has helped me, and I hope (and pray) that it will help you, too: take advantage of moments when you sing, and use a simple song as a framework for prayer.

These moments may include commuting in your car, folding laundry…or my favourite: power-walking on a treadmill.  A simple song that can work is, “In Our Lives, Lord, Be Glorified” (Lift Up Your Hearts #861 or “Lord, Be Glorified” in Sing! A New Creation #43).

The first verse goes like this:

          In our lives, Lord, be glorified, be glorified; In our lives, Lord, be glorified today.

Other verses mention, “In our homes, Lord…” “In your church, Lord…” and “In your world, Lord…”

The verses are easily adaptable to any ministry you would like to pray about.  So, let’s say you are a deacon commuting to work…your singing-prayer could go like this…

          In First CRC, Lord, be glorified, be glorified;

          In First CRC, Lord, be glorified today.

Then, the following verses could go like this…

          Through the deacons, Lord, be glorified…(etc.)

          Through the elders and other leaders, Lord…

          Through our pastor, Lord…

          Through our general membership, Lord…

          As we serve the community, Lord…

With some creativity (and flexibility with the syllables!) you can make the prayer especially relevant to any ministry situation…some examples:

          As I finish my workplan, Lord…

          As we develop our COS, Lord…

Of course, these song-prayers don’t have to be “solo-only.”  Why not sing this prayer at your next meeting?  As the Spirit leads, you can ask for suggestions for each of the verses, up-front or in-between verses: “In the foodbank, Lord!” “Through our small groups, Lord!” and so on.

Yes, we are busy.  But we are too busy not to pray.  May the Lord be glorified (and the people you serve be blessed) as you take advantage of singing-moments as opportunities for prayer.


Doug VandeKamp is a Diaconal Ministry Developer for Classis Toronto, and also a Pastor available for a call in the Christian Reformed Church.

Click here for more information on Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMD) or to find the DMD for your Classis.





Operation Manna Offering: May 4, 2014

Posted by | Engaging Community | No Comments

In many CRCs across Canada, the Operation Manna offering will be held on May 4, 2014.

Operation Manna is a program of Diaconal Ministries Canada. The offering for this program provides an opportunity for CRCs across Canada to support each other as they love their neighbours and bless them through community ministry.

It works like this: the offerings received on May 4 form a fund which provides successful applicants with expertise from staff, support, development help and grant money for community ministry. Each CRC in Canada is eligible to apply to the Operation Manna Program for help and support in creating or growing its community ministry.

For the offering, Diaconal Ministries Canada produces the OM 2014 brochure and a video (posted online on Vimeo, a video-sharing website). These resources help to tell the story of Operation Manna, and to help CRC members learn about the exciting ways their giving directly impacts lives and communities. God is at work! And the CRC is joining Him at work in their communities.

For more information, please visit the Operation Manna section of the website.

World Renew’s Annual Refugee Sunday

Posted by | Doing Justice, Equipping Deacons | No Comments

This Sunday, April 6, 2014, is World Renew’s annual Refugee Sunday. Together with World Renew (WR) and Diaconal Ministries Canada (DMC), CRCs across Canada celebrate the ministry of mercy and hospitality extended to people who have fled persecution and war.  Offerings received for Refugee Sunday support the World Renew program and refugee sponsorship in Canadian CRCs.

DMC partners with WR to encourage church sponsorship of refugees and to ensure sponsored refugees are well received and supported by Canadian CRCs.

WR and DMC both share a vision of “transforming communities with the love of Christ.” Although the focus of WR’s work is international relief and development, WR works very closely with Canadian CRCs, as does DMC. Through educational and awarenessraising activities around domestic and international issues, both WR and DMC seek to equip churches and God’s people in developing gifts to engage in activities of love, mercy, justice and compassion.

More information on Refugee Sunday and WR’s refugee sponsorship program may be found on the World Renew website.

Following Jesus in the Community: A COS Journey

Posted by | Engaging Community | No Comments

From left: Pastor Dean Kurpjuweit (NEXT Christian Community), Pastor John Luth (Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert), Pastor James Ravenscroft (St. Albert United)

In the spring and summer of 2012, Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert (AB) members began a project to discern how Jesus might be leading us in our community.  The thought of even conducting a Community Opportunity Scan (COS) by ourselves was daunting, so we invited two neighbouring churches (NEXT Christian Community and St. Albert United) to join us.

We developed three inter-church volunteer teams who interviewed a combined total of 14 community leaders and agency staff.  Interview summaries were collated and a final report was written for the three churches. *Another church heard about the COS and did their own community survey in their neighbourhood.

The COS helped us to appreciate the many people in our community who work hard each day to make life better for others.   It helped us to identify themes (mental illness,  housing costs, loneliness) that can help shape our ministries.  And, it revealed a great need in our community, namely the need for a place where those who are dying and their families may receive the medical care and support they need near the end of life.

As three congregations, we recognized that a project of this size was beyond us.  But, we also said that if we had gone into this looking to follow Jesus, we should at least take the next step.  And that is all we have done.   We have sensed strongly that God has been leading the way for us.

An initial meeting for those interested was held at our local hospital in June of 2013, followed by a September meeting and an October town hall meeting to raise awareness and recruit volunteers.  Our local newspaper (St. Albert Gazette) has been instrumental in promoting the cause in our community.  Civic and provincial politicians have also been very helpful.  People have contacted us asking how they could be involved, how they could help, how they could give financially.

To date a Steering Committee has been formed, made up of members from a range of churches and from the community.  The Steering Committee’s mission has been defined:  “Our mission is to establish a space for enhanced compassionate end of life care for community members and their loved ones.”  Five working groups have specific tasks.    We are pursuing incorporation as a society and charitable status.  We have worked hard to maintain contact and communication with key groups in our community.

We hope to learn soon just what shape the project will take, but we are confident the Lord will continue to lead this work in our community.

Written by John Luth, pastor, Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert

Want to learn more about a Community Opportunity Scan? Free resources and guidance are available from DMC.

Operation Manna Partner Profile: Families Living Well Society (FLWS)

Posted by | Engaging Community | No Comments

An Operation Manna Partner since 2011, FLWS (in Edmonton, AB) is an initiative that seeks to support single-parent families by providing hope and addressing needs. This post was submitted by FLWS Executive Director Elaine Mulder.

Sometimes when we talk about outreach, we dwell on big things like going on a mission trip, or putting on a big community event or outreach program. But often God works in other ways, through simple tasks or relational, one-on-one ministry.  Sometimes we forget the amazing people who do so much behind the scenes. Janet Toornstra is one of those people.

Janet has been involved with single parents and their children for many years through FLWS. She came faithfully, every Wednesday, to help a single mom feed her disabled son, Chris. It was a big commitment, but it had such an effect on the family.  And Janet does not even know.

Chris is an adult now (pictured above, with Janet), and does not often come to our meetings. Chris’ mom has also moved on, but in a way we never expected. Because of all the support she received over the many years, she is now just starting to attend West End Christian Reformed church services (after more than 15 years of nudging). We know she is struggling, and we know she is now very close to accepting Jesus as her Saviour. We are praying for her. We know it is in God’s hands and that He is caring for her. And it is people like Janet, with their love and little nudges, who helped to plant this seed.

We often think outreach is about helping people, in some physical sense – making pilas, cooking food, sending out flyers, building houses. And, although God commands us to take care of the poor and the needy,  the real command is to spread God’s love and care to our neighbor. It’s a relational ministry that involves a lot of time and commitment.

So when I think of outreach, I think of people like Janet, who showed compassion and love to Chris and his mom, no matter how broken, desperate, poor, mixed up, and socially disadvantaged they were. I thank and praise God for Janet Toornstra and others like her.