Around Town: Sam Rocha singing, John Stackhouse leaving, bookstores closing …

Sam Rocha's music was a highlight at Missions Fest.

Sam Rocha’s music was a highlight at Missions Fest.

Every year Missions Fest offers pleasant surprises. This year, Sam Rocha was near the top of my list. I’d heard of him – something about a philosopher/Catholic musician/UBC education prof. People I respect seemed to like his music.

So, though I was a little surprised to see him in the ‘Prelude of Praise’ slot on the main stage Saturday afternoon at Missions Fest, I was not surprised by how much I liked his music. I didn’t take any notes, but what sticks with me are images of a man who combined sincere personal devotion with intelligent lyrics and an eclectic musical style.
 
Sincere personal devotion: Just an impression.
 
Intelligent lyrics: Rocha describes his new CD, Late to Love, as “an Augustinian soul album,” a tribute to St. Augustine – and the reviews I’ve looked at since Missions Fest attest to its depth.
 
Eclectic musical style: He says, “my musical influences range from folk, Latin, funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz, but my roots are in church music and the Mexican folk tradition. I could hear them all; my favourite was a Mexican folk song he had grown up with.
 
A couple of other things I like about Sam: he was playing at Missions Fest and he is not afraid to acknowledge Contemporary Christian Music (for all its many flaws) as an influence.
 
My only regret is that I didn’t manage to get over to the side table in time to pick up both Late to Love and an earlier EP. I’ll be looking for opportunities to hear him again.
 
Other highlights at Missions Fest:
 
hudsontaylorsign* Jonathan Fuller, the head of OMF Canada, leading a group of us to imagine what Hudson Taylor – on the 150th anniversary of the founding of his mission – would have made of the current missionary movement (mixed reviews, most likely).
 
* Jim Methven, local rep for AIM, giving me a copy of We Felt Like Grasshoppers: The Story of Africa Inland Mission. I love missionary histories, especially when they’re about Africa or China. And he reminded me that his mission is called Africa Inland Mission because it was influenced by (Hudson Taylor’s) China Inland Mission.
 
* Ron Pearce of Empower Ministries providing a rather dark yet gripping account of his world travels, from the many signs of increased persecution to the equally numerous signs of hope in some of the darkest spots. In the Middle East, for example, he described people he had seen walking across the desert with nothing, seeking hope and scriptures.
 
* Kyle Neilson spoke on behalf of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver as to whether Catholics believe in evangelization (which equals evangelism). Yes, they do, and they share many beliefs with the average Missions Fest-goer. Difficult issues were necessarily glossed over due to time constraints, but his irenic approach was appreciated. I hope to see the Catholics with a booth next year, as they had last year.
 
* Meeting many old – and not so old – friends and new acquaintances, all enthusiastic about their own projects. And realizing that many young – and not so young – people will have had their lives changed forever due to encounters at Missions Fest.
 
John Stackhouse is moving east
John Stackhouse is on his way to Crandall University.

John Stackhouse is on his way to Crandall University.

The good news is that Regent College has been successful in its presidential search – Jeffrey Greenman took over as president at the beginning of the month. The bad news is that that Regent College is losing one of its best known professors.

John Stackhouse announced recently that he will join Crandall University, effective this summer, as the Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Faculty Development. (For Crandall’s February 3 announcement go here.)
 
His new school describes itself this way:
 
Crandall University is Atlantic Canada’s leading Liberal Arts university devoted to the Christian faith. Founded in 1949 and now celebrating its 65th anniversary, Crandall is an independent university in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Representing 16 different countries, Crandall is home to over 800 students.
 
In a blog post, Stackhouse examines the reasons for his move. Here is a portion:
 
Some have asked about the rationale for this move. I have enjoyed teaching at small Christian colleges before (Wheaton, Northwestern), but moving back to that kind of situation, according to the conventional hierarchies of higher education, may seem hard to understand.

I confess that I cannot claim to understand this move fully myself. But I didn’t understand the move to Regent, either, back in 1998. I went into this profession to teach on the campus of a secular university, and I did that – but for only eight years, at the University of Manitoba. And the very year I was promoted to the rank of professor at Manitoba, Regent and I started talking, and a year later I was in the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair, which it has been my privilege to fill these last 17 years.

Still, I thought that if I ever left Regent, it would be to return to the secular university. And instead I’m going to another Christian institution on the other side of the country. . . .

Stackhouse has been particularly effective at explaining issues related to Christian faith in the secular media. He has also been generous in making himself available to the local Christian community (I hope that the last three sessions of his Is Christianity the Only True Religion? series at Fleetwood CRC in Surrey will be well attended). He will be missed by me and by many others for those reasons and more.
 
He says of the transition:
 
Until the last while, I had intended to play whatever part I could in helping Regent move forward from strength to strength in these challenging days, and I leave Regent not without considerable sadness. It continues to have a crucial mission in the world, and I will always say prayers for its flourishing. I am yet convinced that God has graciously directed me to Crandall University . . .
 
Vancouver’s loss is Moncton’s gain – but best wishes to John and to Crandall University!
 
Bookstores closing: Support those that remain
 
Doris Fleck has written a rather sad epitaph for the Blessings Bookstore Chain. Her report in Calgary’s City Light News was just the most recent in a series of bad news stories for Christian bookstores.
 
Once a thriving chain of over 20 bookstores across the country, Blessings Christian Marketplace has closed its final four stores – all in Western Canada. . . .

In January 2008, Blessings closed 19 stores across the country in an effort to survive in a dramatically changing marketplace. That left them with just the four stores in Calgary, Edmonton, Langley and their head office with a small storefront in Chilliwack.

The last eight years have seen dozens of high-profile Christian bookstores either file for bankruptcy, like R.G. Mitchel Family Books in Ontario, or hold their head high and go out on a positive note, like Christian Publications in Calgary. Christian bookstores have been unable to find an answer to the threat of online shopping that offers lower prices and free shipping, digital music downloads and e-books. . . .

Last fall, Celebration Christian Store, a fixture on King George Boulevard in Surrey for many years, closed down due to financial challenges.
 
There are not many Christian bookstores left in Vancouver, but these two are worth supporting: Regent Bookstore, at the college on the UBC campus, and Pilgrim Book & Bible on Kingsway in east Vancouver.
 

February 5, 2015

Life Lines Art Show – February 5, 2015 - February 12, 2015 at All Day
Glenn Smith: How to Read Your Neighbourhood - 20 Steps for Assessing Your Missional Context – February 5, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
More Than Myth? – February 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Thomas Merton at 100: Public Intellectual and Democratic Dissenter – February 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 6, 2015

Deeper Roots Relationship Conference – February 6, 2015 - February 8, 2015 at All Day
Perogy Night in Vancouver – February 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
More Than Myth? – February 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

February 7, 2015

A Table for Sharing: MCC Winter Banquet – February 7, 2015 at 6:30 am - 8:30 am
Transitions of Life: Healthy Aging, Retirement & the Spiritual Life – February 7, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
3rd Sto:lo History & Culture Learning Day – February 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Gospel Boys Concert – February 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The Power of Music – February 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

February 8, 2015

Alan Matheson / Wade Mikkola Duetti – February 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Don Stewart – February 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Is Christianity the Only True Religion?: Amen & Ahem – February 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

February 9, 2015

C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton: Soul Friends (Four Monday evenings - 4) – February 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 11, 2015

Jazz Evensong: Original Blend – February 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

February 12, 2015

Perspectives (weekly course / Thursday evenings) – February 12, 2015 at 6:45 pm - 9:45 pm
An Evening with Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party – February 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 13, 2015

Art Spirit Community – February 13, 2015 - February 14, 2015 at All Day
Dr. Michael Rekart: Going the Whole Nine Yards – February 13, 2015 at 7:00 am - 8:30 am
Christian Unity: What's at Stake? – February 13, 2015 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
TheStream Launch Party – February 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tim Bowyer: Finding Home in an Age of Displacement – February 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Family Valentine's Concert with Judi The Manners Lady – February 13, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

February 14, 2015

The Hazeltones Sing-Along Gospel – February 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
A Table for Sharing: MCC Winter Banquet – February 14, 2015 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Handel's Theodora – February 14, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

February 15, 2015

North Vancouver School of the Bible – February 15, 2015 - February 21, 2015 at All Day
Jazz Vespers: Holly Burke – February 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Is Christianity the Only True Religion?: Being Neighbourly – February 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

February 16, 2015

An Evening with Brother Emile of the Taize Community – February 16, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 18, 2015

Jazz Evensong: Darlene Ketchum – February 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

February 19, 2015

6 week Lenten series on Palliative Care and End of Life Issues (I): Michele Smillie – February 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Artists from the Grunewald Guild & the Regent Community: What Sustains Us - Opening Reception – February 19, 2015 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Adoption 101 – February 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 20, 2015

Poverty Revolution Boot Camp – February 20, 2015 - February 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Chapel Tri-Cities – February 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Julia Prins Vanderveen: The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins – February 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 21, 2015

The Beauty From Ashes Gala – February 21, 2015 at 12:00 am - 10:00 pm
Fearless: Promise Keepers Canada – February 21, 2015 at 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Multi-sensory Language Training: Teaching To The Brain – February 21, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
The Word Guild: Evening Soirée - For Love of the Word, with Luci Shaw – February 21, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 22, 2015

Jazz Vespers: Glenda Rae & Miles Black – February 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Jazz Vespers: Henry Young – February 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Is Christianity the Only True Religion?: Blessing Our Sikh Neighbours – February 22, 2015 at 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

February 23, 2015

Faith and Justice Roundtable #2: Settler Colonialism and the Journey toward Justice – February 23, 2015 at 6:45 pm - 9:00 pm

February 24, 2015

Women in China Missions: History and Impact – February 24, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

February 25, 2015

UBC Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum Lectures: Benjamin Perrin - Confronting Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Canada – February 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
The Role of Faith and the Rule of Law – February 25, 2015 at 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Lenten Study 'Reframe' by Regent College (5 Wednesday evenings) – February 25, 2015 at 6:15 pm - 9:00 pm
Premiere Film Screening: Between a Shoe and the Roof – February 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Art and Spirit Lecture Series: Karen Jamieson (Dance) – February 25, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Jazz Evensong: Paul Rushka – February 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

February 26, 2015

The Country They Call Life: A Retreat for Pastors – February 26, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
6 week Lenten series on Palliative Care and End of Life Issues (II): Dr. Paul Sugar – February 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Company of Disciples: Free Speech . . . But? – February 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Engage Meets at Preview Show for The Whipping Man – February 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

February 27, 2015

Family Life Weekend Getaway – February 27, 2015 - March 1, 2015 at All Day
Chapel North Shore – February 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Chapel Vancouver – February 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Clarke Scheibe: Looking for Meaning in a Closed Universe, Part I – February 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Steve Bell Solo Concert – February 27, 2015 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Silent Movie 'The King of Kings' with live organ accompaniment with Edward Norman – February 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

February 28, 2015

Hallelujah Praise: Motown Meets Gospel: 4th Annual Gospel Music Workshop and Concert featuring Louise Rose – February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
It Takes a Village: Nurturing Children in Faith for a Lifetime – February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Multi-sensory Math: Teach Them to love Math! – February 28, 2015 at 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Liveword Conference – February 28, 2015 at 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
There is JustUs – February 28, 2015 at 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Dreams Conference with Bethel Music – February 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Taste of the World – February 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Langley Concert Band – February 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
At the Close of Day – February 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

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