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January 2018: Let’s Focus on RECRUITMENT!

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It’s a brand new year! A season of fresh starts! A time when we strive to be the best we can be moving forward. Of letting go of our past mistakes and bad experiences and grabbing hold of new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow! Right?! Are ya with me?!!

In the world of churches and schools, it’s been said that we sort of get 2 “New Years”: one in January and one is September, when the summer is over and a new church season begins. And like many teams and committees and boards, with each new year (or new season) we make plans and set goals in order to ensure our work and ministries thrive! But like any ‘new year’ filled with hopeful and helpful ‘resolutions’, things can quickly fall to the wayside as we become inundated with the day-to-day tasks of our work and ministries. And it’s no different with deacons, am I right?!

And that’s where DMC comes in! We exist to inspire, empower AND equip all deacons as you animate (aka. mobilize) YOUR congregations in the areas of Community Engagement, Stewardship and promoting Mercy & Justice. So over the course of the next few months, we’ll be having a monthly theme to help you be the best YOU can be!

To start us off, January’s focus will be on RECRUITMENT! Finding new deacons to join your team can be a daunting task and it’s something you have to do EVERY year! And the sooner you start, the better. Here at DMC, we want to help make it easier to find the right people at the right time to be a part of your diaconate. So for our first post, we’ve compiled our Top 10 Ways to Recruit New Council Members. (Yes, you can share this with your Elder friends as well!)

Read it over and tell us what you think! Did we miss anything? Do you have some trade secrets to share with the rest of us? Put your comments below or send us an email ASAP!

And this is just the beginning. Look for more resources to come out in the days ahead. Things like catchy bulletin announcements, what a recruitment strategy could look like, sample job descriptions and so much more!

DMC – Here to Serve!

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It’s a New Year! A time of reflecting on the past and looking forward to a brighter future. It’s a time to take stock of who we are, what we’ve done (and perhaps not done), and where we want to go in the year ahead. For most businesses or groups, a Mission Statement can be used as a lens in which to see and evaluate all we’ve accomplished over the past year. Mission Statements help us maintain a razor-sharp focus on our purpose; our raison d’être. They can also be the banner we wave to remind the rest of the world of our importance, and perhaps why they can’t live without us!

When we read through the Bible, and especially the Gospels in the New Testament, we can find that even Jesus had a Mission Statement. Yes, He did! These ‘statements’ lay out the reason why He came and lived on this earth and what His ministry would ‘look like’. One of them is in the story of the calling of Matthew (aka Levi). After He says to Matthew, “Follow Me!”, Jesus is invited to eat with a large group of Matthew’s friends. Most of these people were “sinners and tax collectors”. When asked why he would even consider eating with these people, Jesus responds, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Well ‘DUH!’ we all say upon reading this. We are reminded over and over again in Scripture that Jesus “came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). He came to save the sinner, not tend to the ‘righteous’. And before Jesus ascended back into heaven, He left his followers with a Mission Statement similar to His own. We know it as the Great Commission. This gives Christians worldwide their marching orders – their reason for living each day.

As deacons, I think you would agree that, like Jesus, you are in the business of helping people! As you go about living for Jesus and fulfilling your mandate, you too are called to minister to the “sick” among us: the hurting, the grieving, the unlovable and so on. Most of what you do is troubleshooting; fixing what’s broken, mending what’s come apart, healing what hurts – just like a doctor would. Perhaps even coming to the rescue for people. Let’s be honest, a lot of what you do is REACTIVE and this is the way it sometimes needs to be: The food bank’s shelves are getting sparse; let’s hold a special drive. A family in your church needs help paying their hydro bill since the father was laid off 2 months ago and can’t find new work. The church budget is showing a bigger deficit than anticipated and a Call-to-Action is required at the next worship service.

When a need arises, you respond! With love and compassion and generosity.

While I pondered this passage some more, it made me think of DMC and our role among the churches and Classis across Canada.

Why do we exist?

Whom do we serve?

 Here at DMC, we try to do the same. When a diaconate or classis comes calling, we boldly exclaim, “WHAT CAN WE DO FOR YOU?!” In many ways, when something is ‘broken’ or needs attention, our aim is to be available to support you in any way we can.

But at the same time, we also want to help deacons and diaconates become PROACTIVE in their ministry. Things like making work plans and/or setting goals; creating and following generous and sustainable Benevolence Policies; finding and maintaining strong partnerships with community agencies to see them through their ups and downs (not just their downs!); cultivating a culture of generosity among your members so your budget sees surpluses year after year. And so on. Sound impossible? We don’t think so!

Here at DMC, we’re in the business of inspiring, equipping and encouraging deacons as you animate your congregations to join in God’s transforming work in communities across Canada. This is why we pray for you regularly. This is why we post stories on our blog. This is why we share tidbits and reminders and scriptures on our Facebook page. This is why we have Diaconal Ministry Developers connecting with each Classis and church. This is why we have a website FULL of helpful resources that can be downloaded and used immediately. This is why we’ve led Days of Encouragement and other training events across the country.

This is why we exist.

DMC doesn’t just exist to help you when things are bad, like when the seniors are hoping for better food and entertainment at this year’s annual Christmas dinner and you don’t know where to turn! (But we can help with that, by the way!) We’re here to help diaconates thrive and live out their mission – in their church, their community, and beyond!

So as you go about your important work as deacons, don’t forget that DMC is here to serve YOU; in the ups and the downs! And may you be constantly reminded that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Got questions? Need help with something? Have a story to share? Email us or give us a call at 905-336-2920; we’re HERE TO SERVE!

Classis Learning Event Proves Worthwhile

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On Saturday, November 18th, churches from across Classis Chatham gathered to answer one burning question: Was it time to retire or revitalize their Diaconal Conference. The learning event was titled “The Deacon’s Role: Moving from Standard Version to Revised Standard Version”. A group of about 60 participants gathered at Grace CRC in Chatham to listen, learn and give their input.

Some of you may be asking, “What is a Diaconal Conference anyway?” Article 75b of the CRCNA’s Church Order states: “The Classis shall, whenever necessary, assist the churches in their ministry of mercy. The Classis themselves may perform this ministry when it is beyond the scope and resources of the local churches. To administer this task each classes shall have a classical diaconal committee.” Though not as common as it once was, a Diaconal Conference is an association of diaconates who represent churches within a classis (a group of churches within a geographical area). They gather together to promote and build the church’s ministry of mercy. A diaconal conference would normally take part in:

• promoting mutual learning opportunities for the diaconates within a classis
• providing training for new deacons and leadership roles for deacons in the church
• stimulating support for existing community ministries, especially Operation Manna’s partners
• encouraging diaconates to search for new ministry opportunities
• promoting international relief and development work of World Renew
• communicating with classis on a regular basis where and when possible

So now you may be wondering, ‘But isn’t that what Diaconal Ministries Canada is already doing?!’ Well, yes, we are! DMC was organized by deacons, for deacons, so that the ministry and leadership role that oversees the ministry of the church could be thoughtfully equipped and supported, and resources shared. Much time and effort has been put into listening to deacons and developing a wide range of materials and events to help them fulfill their callings as leaders in the church. Most of this work is done primarily through our Diaconal Ministry Developers (DMDs) who are experienced in diaconal work and are available to help deacons, as encouragers AND coaches.

Something that has impacted our work was a significant change that took place at Synod 2015 when some important principles for diaconal ministry in the 21st century were approved. That 2015 Task Report addressed the role of deacons in congregations and communities as well as the role of elders. Read the full report here. (For more information on the importance of what happened there, check out our blog post from September 2015 here.)

So this is why we gathered in Chatham. The Diaconal Conference of Classis Chatham has begun to wrestle with the implications of this report on their leadership role and their churches. And they are not alone. Conversations are happening all across Canada and also south of the border. Here at DMC, we hope to help YOU shape the answers to this question.

During our morning together, we looked at the history and role of DMC as well as the role of our Diaconal Ministry Developers. We shared what was happening within the churches and their surrounding communities to find common through-lines and themes. All of these stories and ideas and insights were put up against the mandate of the Classis Chatham Diaconal Conference to help the group discover if the mandate was still relevant and could adequately address the needs of the Classis.

By the end of the day, we had covered a lot of ground, met some new friends, and learned a lot of new things. While it would be wonderful to say everything was accomplished in this one, half-day gathering, it was realized that more work was yet to be done. The proposal moving forward was for Classis Chatham Diaconal Conference to host a smaller follow-up meeting in January or February, 2018, to discuss the information shared and collected on November 18th. Once again, DMC will help to facilitate that discussion, with the goal of formulating some longer term plans.

During our morning, five (5) table conversations took place to help evaluate the role of a Diaconal Conference in Classis Chatham

For those of us who have read a bulletin announcement or been handed a pamphlet about an upcoming seminar or training event, we can probably agree they are easy to dismiss and/or ignore. Life is full and one more day away from home, especially early on a Saturday morning, can be unappealing and almost dreaded. So DMC Staff were delighted to hear positive feedback from those in attendance. Many were appreciative of the gathering and commented that “the day was great even in just being together” and that the “interacting was rich” and “engaged the participants”. They saw much value in exchanging ideas and hearing what was working in the various churches/diaconates. One complaint we received was that it should have been a full-day meeting(!).

So, what about YOU?

Would your church or Classis see value in holding a similar gathering? Do you have some ‘hot topics’ you’d like to discuss? Are you wrestling with the value and purpose of a Diaconal Conference? Do your deacons need training on some specific matters like finding your church’s or Classis’ passion or making benevolence policies or orientating new deacons? Let us know how we can support you along in this journey at Classis or at your local church.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Paying it Forward: A Refugee’s Story

Posted by | Doing Justice, Uncategorized | No Comments

Fred received the honor of cutting the ribbon, along with John and his mother, and Royce & Pietie Boskers

Here at DMC, one of the great privileges we have is hearing YOUR stories of how God is at work in your church and community. Below is a story that was shared by Mr. Fred Abma, a Deacon at Bethel CRC in North Edmonton, at the recent Day of Encouragement held in Edmonton.

John Lendein is a friend of mine. He came from a tiny village in Liberia, Africa, called Bettesu. This was home for John and his parents before the rebellion war. During that time, John’s mother, Hawa, was very instrumental in bringing the Christian faith to her village. Of course this came with many detrimental consequences: she was even thrown in prison for her faith. Fortunately for John, he was sponsored by his uncle and was able to leave the war-torn country. He came to Canada by himself in 2003 and started attending Bethel CRC. Tragically, John’s father had been killed by Rebels in the Rebellion War, but John’s wife and children and his mother were able to flee to a Refugee Camp in Ghana.
After letting some members of Bethel know his story, plans were set into motion to sponsor John’s mother, wife and family as refugees to Canada. In 2005 John was reunited with his family and they were all able to come to Edmonton.
But the story doesn’t end there; for John this was just the beginning! As a boy, John had to walk a couple of hours to attend school. He had a dream to build a school in his own village of Bettesu and by sharing that with some of the members at Bethel CRC, that dream started to become a reality. Funds were raised for not only the school, but a church building also! The school was built to educate 100 children and the members of Bethel also sponsored individual children to help them purchase uniforms and books. Two years later the school was expanded to accommodate 260 students! A proper latrine was built and a well is currently being worked on for clean water. ALL of the work was done by the local people of that village.

In total, Bethel CRC raised $150,000 for Bettesu with the intention that one day, the village will be able to support the school itself. In order to do this, the village has started various micro-projects. These projects include planting palm trees for the production of palm oil and rice fields.
Two years ago, I (Fred) had the privilege to go to Bettesu with John and his mother, Hawa, to officially open the school and the church and be a part of the community for a time. It was an experience of a lifetime. It was great to see God’s Spirit working through us in a different part of the world.

What an incredible story! This gives us a wonderful picture of a family finding refuge here in Canada but still wanting to bring hope and a future BACK to their village where they came from.

As the story states, there were no other agencies helping this village out with this extensive building project; just the people from this little village and other nearby villagers – from making the bricks on site to painting it. All of the materials used were from their own village or brought from the nearest city; a real trek to get it to Bettesu. This was truly an amazing community effort.

To many, Bethel is known as the “helping church”. They are a very active church located in a lower income area and their Deacons are very involved with benevolence. This story demonstrates beautifully how churches can help people help themselves. Providing assistance in a way that creates sustainable solutions is how churches and diaconates can move beyond good intentions to providing lasting change! (Find out more here.)

John is back in Canada along with his mother, wife and 4 children and still attends Bethel CRC. He was also a delegate to Synod last year! Praise God as He continues to work in us and through us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him! (Phil. 2:13)

SO WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Does your diaconate have a story they’d like to share? Where is God at work in your church and community? Email Erin today.

Does #GivingTuesday bring #GivingFatigue?!

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Truth be told, this article actually began back in late September. While listening to talk radio as I drove into work, the topic of discussion was Disaster Fatigue. The talk show host was asking his listeners if they had ever heard of this and/or if they had ever ‘suffered’ from this. What he was referring to was the multiple natural disasters that we were seeing and hearing about everywhere we turned. It began (mostly) with Hurricane Harvey, then we found out about Hurricane Irma and her devastating blow, and then soon after Hurricane Maria seemed to steal the spotlight as she hammered down and absolutely demolished Puerto Rico. And more recently, devastating earthquakes seem to be coming one after another! In a world where news and information are literally at our finger tips, we have the amazing privilege of hearing about things happening across the globe almost immediately. And this is great, right? It makes us all feel a bit more connected, right? It helps raise awareness, right? It helps educate us on things outside of our little bubble, right? And these are all GOOD things, right? Well, yes!

And, no perhaps.

So what is “Disaster Fatigue”? Where did this phrase even come from? Did this small-town talk radio host come up with it? With a quick Google Search, I discovered that this local radio host may have been citing an article posted September 12, 2017 on the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s website, written by Robert G. OttenhoffIt. Find the full article here.

Since then, our society has been bombarded with other urgent needs from around the globe. From the refugee crises to mass shootings to political strife, the hits just keep on coming! And along with these come the needs of our own family members, our neighbours and co-workers and our community. Your sister can’t pay her hydro bill and now her car just broke down. The boy down the street is selling you-name-it to help local kids play sports. The local food bank needs more peanut butter and men’s underwear, STAT!

And now they’ve come up with #GivingTuesday! Sheesh! So many important causes and so little funds/resources. Right? And who is in the centre of it all? YOU! Poor, little old you, trying to figure out which cause is greater, which need is more urgent and where my dollar can be stretched the furthest. So, perhaps, here is where we arrive at experiencing fatigue. Wrestling with the notion of ‘how can 1 person help every cause?!’! As Robert points out in his article, some of you may have heard this dilemma referred to as “Donor Fatigue”.

But let’s step back a bit and look at this from a broader perspective. What the local radio host was actually referring to was the level of empathy (or compassion) we, as everyday people, can have (or not have) when these ‘disasters’ strike, especially one after another. Do the hurricanes and mass shootings just become redundant news stories and yes, while we feel badly for the people who have gone through them, it doesn’t impact us tangibly (except those higher gas prices we had to endure; ouch!) so they are easily forgotten. Or do we blame the news for confusing our consciences as their focus continually turns to the latest, greatest ‘storm’ and tends not to follow up on the aftermath of the Harveys and Irmas when Maria just came to town! No one can do everything and the hits just keep on coming.

Another quick Google Search landed me upon the phrase “Compassion Fatigue”. Yikes! Another fatigue! I’m getting fatigued just reading about all the fatigues I can experience in this lifetime! Now while these articles dealt mostly with those who are caregivers and the struggles they can experience when they no longer take time for self-care, etc., I think it can apply to many of us, especially when thinking about the above. A phrase that jumped off one website’s homepage was: “Caring too much can hurt”. Hmmmm… chew on that for a minute. Have you or your fellow deacons ever experienced this?

What’s a Christ-follower to do?!

In all of this, how do we, as followers of Christ, hear those words: “Caring too much can hurt”? When we read the Bible, do we hear similar warnings being doled out? Are we cautioned as we take up the cause of mercy and justice to ‘be careful or you’ll get hurt!’? Are we told to “not get in too deep” with the woes of this world? To set clear boundaries in order to protect oneself!?

No, we don’t! Instead, as Christians, are we not called to pursue mercy and justice and have compassion on all those who are suffering? (Zechariah 7:9)

Giving our all should never hurt when done with the right motives. We should never have to experience any sort of “fatigue” if our sole reason to give is to reflect our loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving. (“Don’t Give Until It Hurts”, posted on www.focusonthefamily.com, by Harvey Nowland). And God promises it will be returned to us (Luke 6:38). Something along the lines of ‘you reap what you sow’. Let us take heart and remember one thing: we simply can’t out-give God. Therefore, we needn’t worry about becoming spent or fatigued or getting hurt. Mr. Nowland rightfully reminds us that we simply can not go broke (emotionally, physically OR spiritually) by being generous with our time, energy or resources.

Our sole reason to give is to reflect our loving and generous God who gave His Son, Jesus Christ, so that we would have the opportunity to be blessed and to bless others by giving.

(For further study, take some time to work through 2 Corinthians 9; it’s a great passage on why AND how we are called to show generosity to others!)

No matter what you or your church or your diaconate have experienced thus far, may you never become weary in doing good because we know that at the proper time you will reap a harvest because you never gave up! (Gal. 6:9). Our prayer here at DMC is that as your diaconate seeks to promote mercy and justice, and wrestles with things like benevolence and offering schedules, and as you engage with your broader community, that you will never experience any sort of fatigue or lack of empathy towards the ones God is calling you to serve.

Need some help?

Visit our Resources Page on our website for more about making offering schedules, designing a Benevolence Fund Policy and related topics. You can also contact your local DMD or one of our DMC Staff – we’re here to help!


Help US help you!

This #GivingTuesday, consider an extra donation to Diaconal Ministries Canada, as we do our best to inspire, equip and empower deacons so that they can animate their own congregations to join in God’s transforming work! We offer countless resources and workshops and are available for one-on-one coaching and consultation through our Diaconal Ministry Developers and our Regional Ministry Developers. We exist to serve you as you engage in your communities, promote stewardship and pursue mercy and justice. May God bless each one of you as you participate in His Kingdom causes!

#GivingTuesday coming up November 28, 2017

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Have you seen this video recently? It has been making its way around Facebook and other Social Media platforms. It’s not a new video (it came out December 2016). It’s also not a new concept: being grateful for EVERYTHING we have! If you haven’t seen it, we’ll give you a minute to watch it now.

All done? Wow, that was good, eh?

Each fall, with the celebration of Thanksgiving weekend in October and through to Remembrance Day in November, we are given ample opportunity to stop and take stock of what we have. From the sun rising and setting each day to indoor plumbing to hot coffee and a mug to drink it in. Wow, we are #blessed, right?

Something I’ve tried to drill into my kids’ heads and hearts (and truth be told, my OWN head and heart!) is to have “An Attitude of Gratitude”. Of course that is consistently met with groans and eye rolls from my two boys, but if we’re serious for a moment and really think about this, isn’t this just a great way to go through each day of our life?! There will always be the “big” things in life that some of us will never have or be able to afford, but don’t we have a TON of little things that are just as important (and likely a lot more necessary) to be grateful for??

I think I’ll bookmark this video and go back to it whenever I need a little ‘gratitude boost’, or a dose of Vitamin G, as some people call it! I challenge you to do the same.

So what does this have to do with #GivingTuesday? (Or perhaps you’re asking what IS #GivingTuesday???) “Following Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and the widely-recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year” (taken from www.givingtuesday.org). This movement marries the power of social media with the innate generosity of people around the world in order to impact local communities. Organizations and individuals have raised over a million dollars in almost 100 countries since its inception. And what an incredible contrast this is each year, coming out of a weekend of gluttony, over-indulging AND over-spending.

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here at DMC, our focus is to inspire, empower and equip Deacons in order that they may animate their congregations. One of our focus areas is to help churches “To Live Stewardly”. Over the next year, DMC will be increasing our capacity to serve you and your diaconates by gathering appropriate and relevant resources in the area of stewardship. Remember to keep coming back to see what’s been added!

Our prayer is that God will continue to bless each one of you as you and your churches choose an “attitude of gratitude”, able to see and appreciate ALL of His good gifts. And out of this gratitude, that God may increase your generosity.

And if you feel led to participate in the #GivingTuesday Campaign this year by giving an extra donation to a ministry you already support, or by organizing a service project in your community, or you name it!, we know that “you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.” (2 Cor. 9:11 NLT)

Church Holds First “Serve Saturday”

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Members of Brighton Fellowship CRC (BFCRC) are ready to tackle some yardwork for a local senior at their first “Serve Saturday” event.

This past weekend, a total of 60 participants came out bright and early on Saturday morning for Brighton Fellowship CRC’s (BFCRC) first-ever “Serve Saturday”. Members of all ages were encouraged by the Diaconate of BFCRC to come and help out some local seniors, both inside and outside their congregation, with their fall clean-up. The morning began at 8am with a devotion and prayer followed by participants enjoying a delicious breakfast. Groups and worksites had already been formed prior to the morning and by 8:40am, everyone was off and ready to get to work.

Roxanne Ewing, Chair of Deacons at BFCRC, said the idea to hold a “Serve Saturday” was primarily inspired by BFCRC being a host church for a SERVE Youth Mission Trip. This is a program run by Youth Unlimited who works with local churches to help them share the love of Christ with those in their own backyards. The week-long mission trip welcomes teens and youth leaders from across North America. Worksites are arranged for each day, lending assistance to various community agencies and individuals. The feedback from those who received assistance from these SERVE groups over the past 3 years in Brighton was tremendous. After the week was over, many would ask the church, “Hey, where did all those wonderful teenagers go to?”

This got the Deacons at BFCRC thinking. How could they take the concept of a SERVE week and make it a part of their own church’s regular rhythm? They understood that this would not only be a practical way to help people inside and outside their church walls, but also build on the relationships that began with the SERVE groups. It also fit well with their mission to “show love, kindness and mercy to all members of BFCRC and surrounding community.”

The Mission Statement of the Diaconate of BFCRC

One of the key reasons the Deacons decided to focus their efforts on seniors was because of a Community Opportunity Scan that the church completed a few years ago when they were doing some re-Visioning as a church. One of the discoveries made was the large amount of seniors living in the Brighton area.

Afterwards, Roxanne said they “had an amazing day!!! The feedback was very positive…. Those we served… were blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude; some even brought to tears…. It was [also] quite a buzz the next morning in church!!! Everyone is looking forward to doing this again and I think this will be contagious!!”

Moving forward, it is the hope of the diaconate to hold another Serve Saturday in the Spring. It is through these small but intentional steps that as a diaconate and church, they hope to “show the love of Jesus to everyone… with open eyes and a prayerful heart.”

So what about YOUR church?

Has your diaconate found ways to encourage intergenerational serving, inside or outside your church? What doors has God been opening up for you as a church? Share your story with us!

Need inspiration? Not sure where to start? Contact the DMC Office to speak to one of our staff members and we’d love to chat with you!

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

2017 OM Summer Blog

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Camp Shout 2017 is over… but its mission continues!

The final blog post by Aydan Schat, Camp Leader at OM 2017 Partner Camp Shout

Camp SHOUT* 2017 is complete. It was, by my definition, incredibly successful. Relationships blossomed between campers, staff, and volunteers. We were able to share God’s love with so many well-deserving children, and I think that is about as beautiful as anything gets. The week after camp ended we had an event at the church to thank some of our volunteers for their work at Camp SHOUT. A couple campers saw us as we were hanging out and next thing we knew, there were 7 or 8 former campers arriving at the church to see us all again. The relationships don’t end after camp is finished. They continue for weeks, months and years. Some of the campers will be attending again next year. Former campers will come back as Leaders in Training. Staff will return to work. Camp SHOUT 2017 is complete, but its mission continues with the people who are involved.

Thanks so much to Operation Manna for their support and to everyone else who has supported Camp SHOUT through their time, resources and prayers. We look forward to more good years in the future!

~Aydan Schat~

*To watch highlights from this year’s camp, click HERE.

*Camp SHOUT (See Him Open Up Truth) is a high-energy, low-cost day camp that gives local kids between grades 1-6 a fun, safe place to play and learn about Jesus. It runs for four weeks at Jubilee Fellowship Church in St. Catharines, ON. Jubilee Church views Camp SHOUT as a way for their church community to build bridges with their local community by providing safe, affordable camp for neighbourhood kids. A typical day at camp involves games, crafts, songs, chapels, smiles, and fun. Because Camp SHOUT is low-cost, it is designed to give kids who might not otherwise go to camp a chance to develop the character, teamwork and friendships that a camp experience generates. 

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Here is Aydan’s first blog post from the beginning of Camp Shout!

My name is Aydan Schat. I’m the Head Counsellor at Camp SHOUT, an outreach ministry in the form of a day camp, run by Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. My job is to plan activities and recruit campers for 4 weeks of camp, ensuring that it’s a fun and safe place for the campers we’re entrusted with.

I first worked for Camp SHOUT 4 years ago. I worked as a counselor, helping to lead the activities each day. I absolutely loved it. I got to play with kids and lead activities and I got paid for it. It was the dream for 16-year-old me. So I came back all of the following years.

In those years, Camp SHOUT has undergone some huge changes. It has grown in attendance, in the amount of planning required, and has added new job positions. In those same years, I have also undergone some huge changes. I’ve gone to university. I’ve become more aware of the realities of the world. As a result, Camp SHOUT is no longer quite the same “play with kids and get paid” experience for me. It is something much greater. Camp SHOUT is a chance for me to impact the lives of children with all kinds of different stories, to get to know them and to care for them. There is so much good that can come out of it. And I still do get to play with them. It’s just way more than that.

I’m excited for this year at Camp SHOUT. I’m excited to see the impact that we can have on campers’ lives, as well as the impact they have on ours.

~ Aydan Schat is working this summer at Camp SHOUT*, a 2017 OM Partner and Grant recipient.

Virtual Conference Held in Port Alberni, BC

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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!