Beautiful British Columbia, Relationships, and Church Plunge

AND WE’RE BACK from another week of exciting adventure and new learning material!  What an incredible week it was.  Not only did we have the opportunity to continue to experience the wonders of Outtatown, but our group grew to twice its size for a portion of it!  After a long drive from Alberta to BC, the South Africa team arrived at Kawkawa Camp late Sunday evening.  What we were all unprepared for was the beauty that would meet us when we woke up.  This gorgeous little valley in which the camp is nestled has been our home for over a week now and – to the great delight of our team – will continue to act as such for another couple weeks.

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For the first part of our week (Monday through Wednesday) we spent our mornings and afternoons learning alongside the Guatemala group.  Our time was spent learning about being satisfied in the Lord in times of singleness and what it looks like to have a God-centered relationship. The discussion was led by Kevin Snyder and Sharon Peters. On Wednesday, the boys and girls did separate hikes and bonded over laughter, discussion and lots of hard work!

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When asked about what stuck out to him from the three days of session, Malcolm Mitchell said:

“A meaningful part of the message for me was when Kevin spoke about Paul and his outlook on singleness.  For a few years now, I’ve deeply admired Paul, his mission and his writing.  I was excited to hear about being content in singleness and it made me feel empowered.  I was reminded that when you spend time and glorify the Master, that is when things are good, whether in singleness or in marriage.  I feel like society tells us that in order to live a full life, we need to get married, but this week I learned that biblically, marriage and singleness are equals. A lesson that Kevin taught us that really stuck with me was that being in a relationship can potentially distract you from God’s perfect presence.”

Once the two sites separated again (not without exchanging hugs and cell phone numbers, of course!), the South Africa site enjoyed a free day, and then set out for Vancouver to experience different worship service settings and traditions.

The weekend was organized and led by J Janzen who pastors at Highland Community Church in Abbotsford, BC.  First, we were able to experience and learn about a new and small Reunion House Church that was planted by a man named Dean.  We enjoyed coffee and snacks around a table that represented the centre of the community – which is Christ.  The rest of weekend included a Catholic Mass at the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, a contemplative community gathering of several house churches called the Imago Dei community, a Mennonite Brethren Multi-Campus church called Westside, an Intercultural church called Killarney Park Mennonite Brethren Church, a Jazz Vespers service at St. Andrews-Wesley United, and an Anglican Liturgical service at Christ Church Cathedral. Each aspect of the weekend carried a meaningful message for at least one member of the group.

For me, I felt particularly moved by the contemplative worship time at the Imago Dei Community church.  In between songs and scripture passages, we spent a few minutes in silence.  In those moments, I felt like I was free to rest and hear God’s voice.  I felt myself asking him about things and then receiving the answer in the next passage read from the front.  When I go home to Kingston next year and actually start figuring out what I want my worship experience to be like, I think I want to include some aspect of this at least once a month.

As a group, we spent time in between and afterwards debriefing with J and discussing the differences between denominations and whether or not a church is more of a Temple, Body or a Herald, or a combination of all three.

Temple – When a church focuses on the sanctity of the space and of the tradition.
Body – When a church focuses largely on the community within the church and stresses accountability and relationships within.
Herald – When a church focuses on their outreach into the community and if they are bringing people in and/or supporting the community outside of its doors.

As an Outtatown team, we came to the conclusion that it’s crucial to have all three be a part of our church theology.

All in all, it was a very educational and exciting week.  We felt like we were moving lots and learning lots.  It was also very exciting to be in the city of Vancouver for a weekend and we look forward to returning there for our Urban Plunge next week!

With prayer and in God’s strength, we move forward together. 

By Hannah McNeilly

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