Around Town: Free to meet!, churches burning, Missional Certificate . . .

TriCity Church in Port Coquitlam is keen to re-open.

July 1 is a big day:

1. Step 3: BC congregations can finally meet again in person, without restrictions;
2. Canada Day ‘celebrations’ are overshadowed by residential school revelations;
3. On a personal (and arguably less significant) note, my summer vacation begins once this update is posted.

No more restrictions

BC’s Restart page states it succinctly. Beginning July 1,  there are “no capacity limits or restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services.”

(Other indoor organized gatherings are only allowed “50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater”; religious gatherings are treated separately.)

So, we can all attend church again – but individual churches and denominations are approaching the new situation with varying degrees of enthusiasm, often mixed with caution. To give a few examples:

* Midtown Church: “Great news! As you may of heard, all provincial public health orders are being lifted for religious gatherings and worship services starting this Sunday! Here’s what this means for Midtown: Registration for our 9am and 10:45am gatherings is no longer necessary. You can come and attend as you once did, pre-pandemic. . . .”

* Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church: “Our in-person worship services remain on hold but . . . the worship service will be available on July 4, 2021 at 10 am.”

* Tenth Church: Welcome Back! As part of BC’s Step 3 Restart Plan – there are no longer restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services. We are excited and ready to worship together at our Mount Pleasant, East Van and Evening sites! (or three online services)

* Broadway Church: “We have WONDERFUL news!  It’s official: as of this coming Sunday we are back to in-person services with NO ATTENDANCE RESTRICTIONS!! That’s right! Starting this Sunday we can welcome as many as we can seat: no tickets, no contact tracing. Just walk right in and find a place to sit. (Do you remember what that was like?) Join us! Vancouver Campus: 9am, 11:15am, 6pm Port Coquitlam Campus: 9am, 11:15am

* Christ Church Cathedral: Phased return to in-person worship July 4 and 11. Effective July 1, British Columbia is lifting many of the COVID-19 safety protocols that have been in place since the pandemic began. This includes orders affecting in-person worship. The Diocese of New Westminster is, however, keeping safety protocols in place for the time being in order to allow all churches to prepare logistically. A full return to in person worship will begin later this month. 

Several churches, though enthusiastic about welcoming members back to their buildings, made statements similar to that of TriCity Church:

What about those who are still feeling a bit nervous?
No problem – You don’t have to hug and high five everyone in the lobby as you enter. In fact, we have a room available for those who would still like a bit more social distancing when seated. Just talk to one of the greeters or staff when you enter the building. We need to continue to have lots of grace and understanding during this time. Not everyone will be ready to jump into each other’s arms just yet.

Tenth Church posted “several things to note,” most of which were echoed in many church notices:

  • masks are recommended but not mandatory
  • there is no pre-registration required
  • physical distance as you feel comfortable
  • please stay home if you are sick
  • there is no formal kids programming, but kids are welcome to join the service
  • we will be singing and some sites will have live messages/sermon

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver responded to a number of FAQs in more detail. One unique element is that ‘Sunday obligation’ (to attend Mass on Sunday) will be reinstated, not this weekend but the one after.

Late on June 30, Naveen Girn, Director of Strategic Outreach & Stakeholder Relations Office of the Premier John Horgan, confirmed the changes in an email to religious leaders that have been taking part in conference calls with provincial leaders since the pandemic began:

Additionally, this includes:

    • No capacity limits or restrictions on religious gatherings and worship services
    • Singing is permitted
    • Gathering pre and post service is permitted
    • Sharing meals is permitted

Catholics under fire

This is a good time to pray for our fellow Roman Catholic believers. They are suffering under considerable public opprobrium following disclosures about unmarked gravesites at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and elsewhere. Several Catholic churches have even been burned to the ground, to alarmingly muted response.

The church burnings have attracted international attention. Jennifer Singh, a professor at Ambrose University and lay minister of a church on a First Nation in southern Alberta, wrote The Church has Ignored the Pain of First Nations Peoples Too Long for Christianity Today, June 25.

Religious News Service (RNS) reported June 29 that Canadian churches on First Nations land are burning:

A slew of church burnings across western Canada have left six churches on First Nations land badly damaged or destroyed as of Tuesday (June 29). Four of the churches are within an hour’s drive of one another in southeastern British Columbia.

Chris Selley wrote a column in The Vancouver Sun June 30 (“If politicians can’t condemn Indigenous church burnings, ‘reconciliation’ is a pipe dream”). Here is a portion.

At time of writing, exactly one federal party leader [Erin O’Toole] has publicly condemned what is now a quite astonishing church-burning epidemic in Indigenous communities in four provinces. . . .

They certainly wouldn’t keep their powder dry if a single mosque, synagogue, gurdwara or other minority religion’s house of worship was deliberately torched, never mind a succession of them. On what principle can they justify silence with respect to another minority: Indigenous Christians?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made a none-too-forceful statement condemning the arson June 30, following overnight destruction of two Catholic churches, one in Alberta and one in Nova Scotia. He said, “This is not the way to go. The destruction of places of worship is unacceptable. And it must stop.”

Some Indigenous leaders have made the case well. A recent Global News report quoted several of them. The accompanying article began:

A 90-year-old Kamloops residential school survivor said she is “devastated” by the loss of Saint Ann’s Church in a suspicious weekend fire near Hedley, B.C.

Elder Carrie Allison of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB), who has lived in the Similkameen Valley for more than 70 years, said she attended the Kamloops residential school at the age of 8 for three years.

Allison condemns the destruction of the Catholic church, saying in a statement that it was a historical landmark built before 1908. . . .

“I think of all our ancestors that helped to build Saint Ann’s looking over us and watching all their hard work and the place they cherished burn to the ground.”

USIB Chief Bonnie Jacobsen said the community suffered a “huge loss” that can never be replaced.

“There are still many members of USIB that follow the Catholic and Christian faiths who are grieving after these events,” Jacobsen wrote.

“While I understand the hurt and anger following the recent discoveries at several residential schools across Canada, I don’t believe this is the way. This is not our way, as violence and destruction are never the answer, and we don’t condone this.”

Go here for the full article and to watch the news clip. Other Indigenous leaders, including Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc, have expressed similar views.

But some First Nations leaders have very strong words for the Catholic Church. Chief Jason Louie of ʔaq̓ am (Lower Kootenay Band), reported June 30 that 182 unmarked gravesites have been discovered near the location of St. Eugene’s Mission School. He wants the Catholic Church to be held legally accountable for operating the schools.

In an interview with Sarah Penton on CBC Radio’s BC Today, Louie said:

[This news] is deeply personal. They’re my relatives; they’re people from my community that went to that school, and some of them lost their lives because they were Indigenous. Let’s call this for what it is; it’s a mass murder of Indigenous people.

The Nazis were held accountable for their war crimes, and I see no difference in locating the priests and nuns and the brothers that were responsible for this mass murder to be held accountable for their part in this attempted genocide on Indigenous people.

Go here (starting at 1:30) for the conversation, and here for the ʔaq̓ am statement.

There is some positive news. A June 25 CBC News article reported:

The Catholic religious order that operated residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia where hundreds of unmarked graves have been found has made a formal “commitment to transparency” to disclose all historical documents in its possession that are related to the schools.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate operated 48 schools, including the Marieval Indian Residential School in the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and the Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C. . . .

Earlier this week, the Sisters of St. Ann, who staffed the Kamloops Indian Residential School among others, agreed to release all its remaining documentation on the running of the school.

The organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal B.C. Museum on June 21, with the agreement set to come into effect July 1. The memorandum will stay in place until all the documents are reviewed, audited and made available to the B.C. archives in 2025. The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation may also request documents.

The Sisters of St. Ann had previously refused to release its full records due to claims that they were not all directly relevant. But the order has now changed its position.

The B.C. Catholic noted in a June 24 article that

The Archdiocese of Vancouver has said all records it holds regarding residential schools were submitted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013 and remain available for review. Archbishop J. Michael Miller repeated his commitment to transparency of records June 2.

It has also been confirmed by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) that national Indigenous leaders will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December to set the stage for a formal papal apology in Canada for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

CBC News reported on the CCCB statement June 29, adding this portion:

Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBC News Pope Francis will speak to the Indigenous delegates directly about the painful legacy of residential schools.

Gagnon said the Pope is open to delivering an apology in Canada at an “opportune time.” He said the Pope is expected to take a path similar to the one that led to his formal apology in Bolivia in 2015.

Go here for the full article. Archbishop Michael Miller of the Archdiocese of Vancouver has apologized more than once for the Catholic Church’s role in colonial policies which have caused such harm to Indigenous communities.

Certificate in Missional Leadership

Tim Dickau oversees the Certificate in Missional Leadership program.

The Centre for Missional Leadership (CML) at St. Andrew’s Hall will welcome a new cohort to the Certificate in Missional Leadership in September. They are encouraging congregational teams to sign up, though it is open to individuals as well.

The three-year program has the overall focus of, ‘Forming and Reforming Communities of Christ in a Secular Age,’ with the first year specifically exploring ‘Missional foundations during Covid and Beyond.’

Leading the certificate program for the CML will be Rev. Dr. Tim Dickau, who is also Director of CityGate Leadership Forum. Here is some of his background:

Prior to joining CML, Tim served for 30 years as Pastor of Grandview Church in East Vancouver. Widely recognized as a highly effective missional leader, Tim’s congregational work helped established a deep connection in the neighbourhood, birthed economic development through social enterprises, built a 28 unit community housing project and nurtured a ‘thick community’ of disciples who shared life together and deepened their faith in Jesus through confession and repentance.

Tim’s work with CML is to design and lead monthly equipping sessions for congregational teams in the Certificate program, that helps local congregations engage their neighbourhoods in mission, evangelism and seeking justice through prophetic ministries.

Tim holds a Master of Divinity from Regent College and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Carey Theological College. He is author of Plunging into the Kingdom Way and Humility and Hope: Forming Christian Communities in a Secular Age.

Here is a look at what is being offered:

The aim of this program is to resource, strengthen and widen the ministry of the churches across denominations or networks. We will meet for four Saturdays (9:30 am – 2:30 pm, over seven months) as a learning community with church pastors, leaders and community developers.

Our premise for these learning sessions is that Covid has exposed and accelerated the need for shifts in our models of church developed during Christendom. For most churches, these shifts will involve a return to the local and toward a thicker and more porous shared life that takes the issues of your context seriously.

We believe that this course of study for congregational teams of clergy and lay people can be a way of a helping your churches to envision a hopeful future. Topics to be discussed and explored (both in the session and through assigned exercises during the month that follows) will include:

September 18 – Understanding your Space and Place / Learning from Grandview’s 30-year Journey

Practice of reflection and prayer

    1. Understanding secularism and the powers we are up against – Tim Dickau
    2. Restoring your missional vision / the best of Darrell Guder
    3. Sharing Grandview’s journey of forming porous, thicker community. Dialogue with your neighbour or cohort.

November 20 – Developing a Thicker and More Porous Shared Life / Exploring Housing and Home

Meditation for Reflection: “Why I Still believe in the Church – Hope in the aftermath of Covid.”- Ross Lockhart

    1. Building a Theology of Community and Place – Tim Dickau
    2. Loving your Neighbours – three creative expressions
    • Interview with Barry Jung, Karen Reed and Bernard Tam
    1. Housing and Home

Learning about Co:Here housing and community houses

January 15 – Seeking the Kingdom of God / Making a Difference in your Context

Meditation: (Prayer for Justice)

    1. How a theology of the Kingdom holds together what has been torn apart (eg. prayer and justice, healing and prophetic action, faith and work)
    • Communal Meals / Sharing Life with the Poor – Karen Giesbrecht
    • Creating Employment through Social Enterprise – Russell Pinson / JustWork
    • First Nations Reconciliation – Jodi Spargur
    1. Empowering Leadership
    • Building a Theology of Leadership – Jason Byassee
    • Cultivating Theological Vision in a Culture of Pragmatism – Tim Dickau

March 19 –  Evangelism and Discipleship

    1. Meditation: Theological Fuel – Reenergizing Worn Out Words – Darrell Guder
    2. Gaining a Canadian Picture of Evangelism / Lessons to Learn – Ross Lockhart
    3. The story of Alpha / Finding your own creative forms to introduce people to the Way of Christ – Shaila Visser
    4. Discipleship – Forming a Community of Persons – Tim Dickau

Next Steps for Your Community:

    • In Evangelism
    • In Discipleship
    1. Next year

Go here for more information about the program and how to register.

Off for the summer

Though I will be taking something of a holiday during July and August, I will update the Jobs and Events pages regularly. And there may even be a reason for me to write a story or two – but I hope not. Have a great summer; look forward to being in touch again in early September.


Jul 2021

Voices Together Online 2021 – July 1, 2021 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Kickers Soccer Camp – July 5, 2021 - July 9, 2021 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
FLO Summer Soccer Camp 2021 (two camps) – July 5, 2021 - July 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
John Walton: The Hand Writing on the Wall – Deciphering the Narrative of Daniel – July 5, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Miroslav Volf: Debt of Gratitude? How (not) to be grateful to God – July 6, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Mariam Kovalishyn: The Brothers of Life – How Reading James May Help Us Hear Jesus Better – July 7, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
SIM Canada: Building Resilience in Stressful Times – July 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Christine Bochen: Come, Dance in “the water of life”: Thomas Merton’s Call to Joy – July 8, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
BC Christian Ashram Retreat (online) – July 9, 2021 - July 11, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 12:00 pm
Wesley Hill: Logs and Specks – Culture Wars & the Imperative of Christian Self-Examination – July 12, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
John Swinton: The “Hidden” Side Effects of COVID 19 – July 13, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Bruce Hindmarsh: 'You Have Never Talked to a Mere Mortal' – the Implications of a 'Negative' Theological Anthropology – July 14, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Rikk Watts: Paul – Theologian, Historian or Something Else? – July 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Diane Stinton: 'Universal Sister' – Dynamics of Spirituality Illuminated in St. Josephine Bakhita – July 21, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP) 2021 (application period for November 1 - 2 event) – July 22, 2021 - August 1, 2021 at All Day
Bullies & Saints: A Conversation with John Dickson – July 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
GROW (Summer Edition) – July 25, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Gordon T. Smith: Communities of Hope –Sustaining Hopeful Resilience – July 26, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Malcolm Guite: River Deep, Mountain High – the Gospel in the Psalms – July 28, 2021 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Aug 2021

The Whale Without Jonah: An Exhibit by Douglas Coupland – August 1, 2021 - September 5, 2021 at All Day
Together at Midday: Laurel Gasque – August 4, 2021 at 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm
Vancouver House of Prayer: Women's Conference – August 8, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Vancouver House of Prayer: Boys 2 Men Conference – August 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Youth Ministry Online Summit (Staff) – August 11, 2021 at 10:00 am - 1:30 pm
The Gatekeepers Dialogue – August 12, 2021 - August 13, 2021 at 12:00 am
Life Shared Live Stream (Wednesday mornings) – August 18, 2021 - September 1, 2021 at 9:00 am - 10:00 am
A Rocha Talks: Stories from A Rocha’s Conservation work across Canada – August 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Defend Dignity: Info Forum on Prostitution – August 19, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Clothes 2U – August 21, 2021 at 10:00 am - 12:15 pm
Lausanne Diaspora Summit – August 25, 2021 at 5:00 am - 8:00 am
Just 1 Day: Cambodia, Exploitation and Beauty – August 28, 2021 at 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Week of Prayer for Canadian Colleges and Universities – August 29, 2021 - September 3, 2021 at All Day
Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *