Canada Day was a very good day for the Church of Vancouver. When 10,000 Christians from across all denominations gather in one of the city’s major public spaces, you have to recognize it as a good sign. Voices Together was a tremendous success.
1. Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael Miller reading three scriptures about unity. He blessed the event in advance and encouraged his flock to attend.
2. Seeing worship leaders from many churches playing together. Good music – a little loud for some – played in unity. Hallelujah!
3. The peaceful, fun-loving, multicultural ‘congregation.’ Everyone was there to worship, but they were also there to have a good time. Watching them troop in and out of Rogers Arena was a treat in itself.
4. Darrell Johnson’s preaching. Many have heard he’s a good preacher; now he has thousands of new converts.
5. Shared leadership. It was moving to see the way leaders took turns on the stage – Dave Koop (Coastal), Giulio Gabeli (Westwood), Ken Shigematsu (Tenth), Yani Lim (Bethesda), Michael Miller (Archdiocese of Vancouver), Mika Kostamo (Cedar Grove), Aldrin Navo (Jesus Rock of Ages), Darrell Johnson (First Baptist) . . . I’ve probably missed a couple but they’ll forgive me because their humility was on display.
6. Mission Fest’s role. Executive director Dwayne Buhler was recognized for his crucial work behind the scenes.
7. Singing ‘Oh Canada’ with Mark Donnelly – in Rogers Arena! The musical voice of the Canucks was in fine form, and so was the congregation.
8. Praying in a small group with included a Filipino family of four who have been in Vancouver for just a year, a Japanese woman who’s been here for 15 years, my wife (35 years) and myself (born and bred).
9. Hip hop dancing and a Korean choir from 30 churches (not together!).
No doubt there were things that could have been done differently, but the gathering was very significant. Congratulations and thanks to the Voices Together core team and to all the volunteers and prayer warriors who made it happen, with God’s blessing.
Time will tell what the legacy of Voice Together 2013 will be. At the least it will stand alongside the Charles Price healing meetings of the 1920s, the Billy Graham Crusades of 1965 and 1984, and the March For Jesus, at its height, as a highwater mark of interchurch cooperation.
But the time is right, I believe, for much more. The time is right for sustained ongoing cooperation between churches. Not just a willingness to meet again next summer at Rogers Arena, as good as that will be.
Is there a Church of Vancouver? There are so many signs of cooperation already. As Dave Koop said, the church is much more united now that it was 20 years ago. May it continue in that direction, and may the signs be visible to everyone in the city – as they were July 1 – all year long.