Usually I look forward a week or two in this Around Town column, pointing out some interesting events coming down the pike. This time I’ll start with one that won’t take place for another year – but it’s three days long, so some advance planning might be in order.
Every spring Regent College holds its Pastors & Leaders Conference. Every year I think, that looks interesting, but until this year I had never gone. It’s not possible to offer an adequate account of all that went on during the three-day ‘Prophetic Voice’ event (May 7 – 9), but here are a few things I took away from my participation:
1. Not just for pastors
I think Regent College designated the event for pastors and leaders some time ago (instead of just for pastors), but I’m not sure the message has gotten around entirely. It seems Regent College is slowly but surely trying to reestablish its early focus on training lay leaders. Thus, for example, the upcoming Practices of Faith in the World of Work Conference and the newly established Regent Exchange: Church for the Common Good.
It’s true that the teaching came from academics and pastors – maybe room for more diversity there? – but the topics were important for all church leaders to engage with. For example, Mardi Dolfo-Smith, discipleship pastor at North Shore Alliance Church, spoke on the topic ‘Don’t Look Away: The Misuse of Power and the Exploitation of Women.’
She asked those assembled not to avoid difficult issues, such as when women are being exploited or objectified. “Jesus repeatedly and harshly spoke against the abuse of power,” she said, and “Jesus valued women.” Her message was valuable for other pastors, of course, but it would also have been good for more congregations to have had women and men leaders there alongside the pastor. (Not that there was a shortage of people, including non-pastors; the chapel was comfortably almost-full.)
2. Regent and the prophetic
Frankly, I had not thought of Regent College as a hotbed of prophetic thinking. That may just point to a lack on insight on my part; I do know that some of the writing and teaching – by Iain Provan, for example, as exemplified in Seriously Dangerous Religion (“The Old Testament is far more dangerous than modern critics even suppose. Its dangers are the bold claims it makes upon its readers.”) – does deal carefully with prophetic issues.
The fact is, though, that we heard convincing presentations on a wide range of issues – violence / pacifism, white supremacy, male privilege, racism, syncretism in Western culture, exploitation of women – from three faculty members (Diane Stinton, Phil Long, who has just retired, and host Darrell Johnson) and six local pastors.
Some topics were a bit surprising, but demonstrated the balance of the presenters. Joshua Koh (Fraser Lands Church) spoke of deliverance from the demonic (along with pointing out that “white privilege continues to have a hold in so much of Western Christianity”). Sandeep Jadhav, pastor of New Life Community Church in Burnaby, responded to Koh by thanking him for having displayed “a proper confidence in the power of Jesus to set people free.”
Norm Funk (Westside Church) said, “I have concern for the church at large – far too many, I fear, are stopping short of sharing the whole counsel of God, and blood is on our hands.” He was referring to matters such as marriage, human sexuality and the rights of the unborn.
I have not even scratched the surface of three days of rich teaching and discussion, but I can testify to its value, and encourage you to consider it for next year.
3. Good pastors
There are some very solid pastors around Metro Vancouver – and many of them have been trained at Regent (Mardi Dolfo-Smith, Joshua Koh, Sandeep Jadhav and one other speaker, Lydia Cruttwell of Peace Church, among them). The others – Norm Funk and Ken Shigematsu, senior pastor at Tenth Church – are well know around town and far beyond.
The point is that Regent College consistently trains, attracts and engages some excellent teachers – and the Pastors & Leaders Conference is an ideal place to hear from and interact with them.
4. Theological banquet
Not every city is as fortunate as Vancouver when it comes to access to theological training. We are so fortunate to have Regent College, the Vancouver School of Theology, St. Andrew’s Hall (see the accompanying story by Andrew Stephens-Rennie), Carey Theological College and St. Mark’s College / Corpus Christi College – all on the UBC campus (not to mention Trinity Western University and ACTS Seminaries just up the Valley).
Regent is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Summer School this year. N.T. Wright’s course is already sold out, but if you hurry you can still get tickets for his public lecture July 24 at Westside Church. Mark Noll, Andy Crouch, Amy Sherman, Wesley Hill, Christine Pohl and Tremper Longman are among the other teachers.
Most of those teachers, and others, will be presenting free evening lectures as well, from now through to early August. A couple of uniquely musical offerings take place this Friday (Bruce Hindmarsh & Steve Bell: Praying the Psalms in Spirit and Song) and next Monday (Jeffrey Greenman & Mark Glanville: Improvisational Leadership – a jazz-talk).
As for the next Pastors & Leaders Conference, I’m not sure what the topic will be, but the dates are May 6 – 8, 2020.
Jazz & Spirituality
Speaking of jazz, later next week (May 23 – 25) there will be an opportunity to think creatively about Jazz & Spirituality at Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby.
Brentwood has developed a strong connection with the jazz community over the past few years, both through its Wednesday evening Jazz Evensongs and through its Jesus, Jazz and Worship Program, “a year-long, in-depth study of the dynamics of jazz worship services.”
The three-day Jazz & Spirituality gathering will begin with a concert by Tom Reynolds, vice principal and associate professor at Emmanuel College, part of the Toronto School of Theology – who also happens to be a talented jazz musician.
Reynolds will then help to guide conversations about ‘digging into worshiping in jazz’ for the next couple of days.
Brentwood’s minister, Brian Fraser, presented a paper about the church’s journey at the Christian Witness in Cascadian Soil conference, May 10 – 11 at St. Andrew’s Hall on the UBC campus. (I’m posting a paper by Andrew Stephens-Rennie this week which was also presented there.)
Fraser’s paper states, in part:
Over the past 10 years, the congregation reformed its vision of its mission and ministries. Early in this discernment, we became aware of the remarkable acoustics that graced our sanctuary. Combined with the congregation’s love of music, that realization led to focused efforts to connect with musicians and other performers to nourish souls to flourish in the grace of Jesus Christ in our sanctuary.
In particular, we have established deep relationships with the jazz community. Over this past year, we have been digging more deeply into the dynamics of the connections formed, and are exploring how they are being used by the Trinity to sow and cultivate seeds of the Commonwealth of God.
The pattern that has emerged is one of welcoming, listening, witnessing and collaborating. Surprising opportunities have surfaced, such as:
- regular sessions with a few musicians to explore the music they love and the theology that might be found in it;
- founding a big band with a focus on hymns, spirituals, sacred jazz and worship services;
- a ‘Reflective Jazz’ service on the first Sunday of each month that focused on exploring a psalm musically;
- a ‘Tap Before the Lord’ service on the third Sunday of each month with the artistic director of one of Vancouver’s leading tap dance studios;
- supporting other congregations interested in trying jazz worship services.
In all of this, we see ourselves engaged in a ‘dialogical evangelism’ with a community that is filled with people who are passionate, disciplined and attentive to the Spirit.
Rolheiser and Higgins
Two high profile Catholic leaders will lead a Toolkit for Spiritual Survival Retreat May 25 at St. Mark’s Catholic Church on the UBC campus. Organizers describe the event:
Our desire to grow deeper in our faith is real but can be eclipsed by family, career and other pressing demands. We all need spiritual refreshment in order to better understand and to enliven our relationship with God. How can we understand His love, forgiveness and hope? How can we deepen our connection to God?
The retreat will be led by world-renowned spiritual authors and speakers Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, and Dr. Michael W. Higgins. The author of more than a dozen books on spirituality and prayer,
Fr. Rolheiser is President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, and his syndicated column on faith is carried in over 100 newspapers worldwide.
Also the author of numerous books and a regular contributor on the CBC and the Globe and Mail, Dr. Michael W. Higgins is one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals. He is past President of St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo and St. Thomas University in New Brunswick and presently serves as Distinguished Professor of Catholic Thought at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Focus areas for the retreat will have two main themes:
- silence and contemplation
- spirituality for steadiness and sanity: opening our lives to God
Higgins and Rolheiser will also form a panel with Sr. Sue Mosteller and Dr. Angus Reid at UBC May 27 for an event titled: The Role of the Laity in the Reform of the Church: A Modest But Urgent Proposal.
May 2019Xtreme Theatre: Les Misérables School Edition – May 16, 2019 - May 18, 2019 at All Day
BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast – May 16, 2019 at 7:15 am - 9:00 am
Book Launch: I'm the Bob & Cathy's Kid – May 16, 2019 at 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm
Journey 101 (Thursday evenings) – May 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Brave Love Women's Gathering – May 17, 2019 - May 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
A Garden Green CD Release Party – May 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
African Children's Choir: Just as I Am Tour – May 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Bruce Hindmarsh & Steve Bell: Praying the Psalms in Spirit and Song – May 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
spirit(us) - Exploring Pathways to Art, Earth and Us – May 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
African Children's Choir: Just as I Am Tour – May 19, 2019 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
African Children's Choir: Just as I Am Tour – May 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jeffrey Greenman & Mark Glanville: Improvisational Leadership – a jazz-talk – May 20, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Miriam Kovalishyn: Thy Kingdom Come – Exploring a Biblical Vision of Justice – May 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Long & McQuade Presents Rashid Williams – May 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Multiply: Let's Celebrate Together – May 23, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz & Spirituality: Digging into Worshiping in Jazz – May 23, 2019 - May 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Tom Reynolds in Concert – May 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
BC Home Learning Conference – May 24, 2019 at 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Historymaker 2019 – May 24, 2019 - May 26, 2019 at 6:00 pm - 12:30 pm
The Sojourners – May 24, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
From the Old World to the New: Concert with Cathedral Organist Denis Bédard – May 24, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Revitalize: Your Church and You – May 25, 2019 at 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Walk for Life – May 25, 2019 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
WMI Spring Conference – May 25, 2019 at 9:30 am - 6:30 pm
A Toolkit for Spiritual Survival Retreat with Fr. Rolheiser & Dr. Higgins – May 25, 2019 at 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir: The Return of Soul Gospel – May 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Ember – May 25, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Worship Invasion – May 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir: The Return of Soul Gospel – May 25, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Seven Women in Jazz – May 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers – Sunday, May 26 at 4 pm – May 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
African Children's Choir: Just as I Am Tour – May 26, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Duncan Africa Fundraiser – May 26, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Religion & Violence: Inter-Religious Studies Conference – May 26, 2019 - May 28, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Focus on Life 21st Annual Gala Dinner – May 27, 2019 at 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
The Role of the Laity in the Reform of the Church: A Modest but Urgent Proposal – May 27, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Wesley Hill: Retrieving Asceticism – how contemporary Christians are retrieving an ancient theme – May 27, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
12th Annual NightShift Charity Golf Classic – May 28, 2019 at 9:30 am - 7:00 pm
Jesuit Scotch Tasting Reception – May 28, 2019 at 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Maxine Hancock: Costly Grace & Severe Mercy – theological resonance in Louise Penney's 'Three Pines' mystery novels – May 29, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Thy Kingdom Come – May 30, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Cake – May 30, 2019 - June 8, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation – May 31, 2019 - June 2, 2019 at All Day
Hillsong United Tour 2019 – May 31, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Jun 2019HomeStart Foundation Garage Sale – June 1, 2019 at All Day
Canadian-American Theological Association (CATA) Conference – June 2, 2019 at All Day
Peter Craigie Memorial Lecture 2019: Rethinking Samuel – June 2, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Gordon T. Smith: Christ Centred or Spirit Centred? Why the Question Matters & Why the Answer Makes All the Difference – June 3, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
ARC Canada Conference: Family Vibes – June 4, 2019 - June 5, 2019 at All Day
Near-Future Evangelicalism: Anticipating the Next 10 Years – June 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm
Roots: Shaping a Deeper Life (Wednesday evenings) – June 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:15 pm
Vancouver Formosan Singers – June 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mark Noll: 'Liberty' Has Been Precious for Canadians & American, But Have They Meant the Same Thing? – June 5, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Welcome to Worship – June 6, 2019 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Starfield: The Reunion Tour – June 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Vance Nelson: The Brief History of Mankind – Evidence for the Tower of Babel – June 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Ellisa Sun & Ursidae – June 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Memorial Service for Pastor Tom Cheung – June 8, 2019 at 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Artisan Fair – June 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Alzheimer's Café – June 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Vance Nelson: Monumental Monsters / The Brief History of Mankind – June 8, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Creation Science Association of BC AGM Dinner Meeting & Dire Dragons: the Missing Link in Dinosaur History with Vance Nelson – June 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Hymn Festival: I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord – June 8, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Leave a Legacy – June 9, 2019 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Jazz Vespers in the Valley: Kristian Alexandrov Trio – June 9, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
African Children's Choir: Just as I Am Tour – June 9, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
VOS 2019 Spring Concert: A Psalm for Our Time – June 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Redefining Healing Seminar – June 10, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
1,000 Women in Religion Edit-a-thon – June 12, 2019 at 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
UGM Summer Connect – June 12, 2019 at 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Memory House by Kathleen Tolan – June 13, 2019 - June 15, 2019 at All Day
SongStage with Ivan Boudreau – June 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Pastors Forum: Pastors for the Common Good – June 14, 2019 at 9:15 am - 11:30 am
The Practices of Faith in the World of Work – June 14, 2019 - June 15, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Notes of Freedom – June 14, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Journey Home Refugee Support: Basic Training – June 15, 2019 at 8:45 am - 3:00 pm
Step Up! Speak Up! Freedom Rally – June 15, 2019 at 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration – June 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Golden Threads from Heaven: Weavings by Debra Sparrow – June 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
The Porter's Gate Worship Project: featuring Isaac Wardell, Audrey Assad & more – June 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Prayer Rally for Hong Kong – June 16, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Beulah AZ Café (third Tuesday of each month) – June 18, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
EFC Webinar: What Churches Can & Cannot Do During a Federal Election – June 19, 2019 at 9:00 am - 9:45 am
Leaving a Legacy: a seminar on wills, estates & legacy gifting – June 19, 2019 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Indigenous People's Day Celebrations – June 19, 2019 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Jazz Evensong – June 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
We are the Body by Andrew Kooman – June 20, 2019 - June 22, 2019 at All Day
World Refugee Day – June 20, 2019 at 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
The Welcome Table: A Summer Solstice Soiree: a fundraiser for Journey Home Community on World Refugee Day – June 20, 2019 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
One Heart B.C. – June 21, 2019 - June 22, 2019 at All Day
Emerging Artist Showcase – June 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Teddy Bear Picnic – June 22, 2019 at 10:30 am - 2:00 pm
Join us for FEED (Family Empowerment Enrichment Day with Kids) – June 22, 2019 at 11:00 am - 2:30 pm
Candid: An ACTS Seminaries Storytelling Open House – June 22, 2019 at 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Kevin & Julia Garratt – June 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Ember – June 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Marty Franklin Jazz – June 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Somerset Trio – June 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Laila Biali – June 22, 2019 at 9:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Point Grey Fiesta: Ecumenical Worship Service in the Park – June 23, 2019 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am