Flyn Ritchie: an appreciation / Church for Vancouver’s future

Flyn and Margaret Ritchie in front of their map of England.

Well, this is awkward – but thank you! (fr)

I want to express my appreciation for Flyn Ritchie and to discuss some potential changes upcoming with Church for Vancouver.

For 35 years, Flyn has been keeping tabs on the efforts and happenings of the church in Vancouver and has written thousands of words to share the stories he has discovered and collected. In this article, I want to mark those years of quality reporting.

BC Christian News

Flyn got his start in this when he became an employee of BC Christian News, where he worked from 1987 to 2010.

He didn’t begin as a reporter though. Following a BA in history and a law degree from UBC, Flyn articled with well known Vancouver lawyer Harry Rankin, was called to the bar, and started a Christian Conciliation Service – which never quite took hold. (Flyn was a bit ahead of his time there as mediation services are now commonplace).

It was at this point in his life that Flyn joined BC Christian News

With no training in journalism, he began as a ‘resource coordinator,’ creating a directory of all the churches and Christian ministries in Metro Vancouver, and then for all of BC. He learned about journalism on the job; in time he became editor and for the last several years was publisher as well.

If you were part of a church during his tenure there, you probably picked up a copy of this newspaper, which was faithfully dropped off at hundreds of churches around the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley (often by Flyn himself, especially in the early years).

Perhaps you browsed a story that captured your interest, looked for a job in one of the few places that Christian organizations advertised or heard about an event that you attended. Just yesterday, a church leader told me the pastor they called found them through a listing on Church for Vancouver.

BC Christian News was one of the rare Christian newspapers dedicated to covering a specific city/region that thrived through this period. We all benefited from its wide purview and on-the-ground journalism.

As Douglas Todd, religion reporter (and more) for The Vancouver Sun for many years, put it: “[BC Christian News] published a lot of useful stories over the decades. Ritchie is a talented, ethical editor, who takes the journalistic code seriously.” I would strongly concur with that statement.

Church for Vancouver

Then in 2013, Flyn created an on-line platform to continue this coverage of the local Christian community. Through the Church for Vancouver website and newsletter, he continues to publish and write stories, collect job ads and share church-related events.

Over the past year, CityGate and then the Centre for Missional Leadership (CML) partnered with Flyn to offer a weekly ‘Creating Conversation’ column, for which we invited a diverse group to write about issues facing our region.

One exemplary marker of CfV is that Flyn has published this weekly newsletter pro bono out of his commitment to keeping the church informed and connected throughout the city. What has added to its ecumenical breadth is Flyn’s broad connection to and interest in many denominations and traditions.

Greatest joys

I asked Flyn about his three greatest joys in reporting about the church in Vancouver. Not surprisingly to me, his engagement with people was at the top of his list:

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet and interact with interesting people around the city and beyond. There are so many of them!

Over his decade at CfV, Flyn has brought particular attention to the shape and goings on in particular neighbourhoods.

I’ve also enjoyed seeing churches waking up to the neighbourhoods around them. As I delivered the first issue of BC Christian News, as a very young Christian, I had a naive vision of churches in the city each looking out for the welfare of the few blocks around them. On a good day, I think some of that is happening.

While Flyn has had a local focus for his journalism, he is also fascinated by world Christianity and maintains a global perspective:

Finding ways to link what goes on here with world trends is something else I’ve enjoyed. I love missionary stories with local connections – Isobel Kuhn in China, Naomi Kato writing about Uchiyama Kanzo’s bookstore in Shanghai, Jan and Fran Boer in Nigeria, just to pick a few that come to mind immediately. The church is not about current trends in North America – it is worldwide and has a fascinating history.

The wide purview that Flyn has brought to his coverage of the church in Metro Vancouver has been enhanced by his voluminous reading. Flyn is a book reader – and collector! If you visit his home, you will find shelves of books covering almost every wall, arranged geographically in sections that cover the entire globe.

He has also collected numerous books written by BC authors – and about Metro Vancouver and the province – and has generously donated a couple of thousand of these volumes to St. Andrew’s Hall. (This collection is available to the general public through its Tuesday openings of the Reading Room and by appointment. I hope that the public will take advantage of this broad collection of BC books.)

Flyn says: “The key thing is research, whether writing or travelling.”

An open future

This fall, Flyn and his wife Margaret will take a much-deserved break. They will spend a couple of weeks in Norway, looking into Margaret’s ancestry, meeting relatives and visiting some significant family sites.

Then they will drive around the coast of England and Wales and visit friends in Cambridge. Finally, they will visit Tunisia (especially Carthage), where they also have family.

One consequence of this trip is that the normal summer hiatus for CfV (beginning this week) will extend into the fall.

This break is also a time for Flyn to reflect on the future shape of Church for Vancouver. As he is no longer 29 years old, the future of CFV is somewhat open-ended. At some point, Flyn would love to hand on the leadership of CfV to another person or group that has a vision for this ecumenical effort.

If you think CVF is valuable and have ideas for how we might sustain this work longer term, I invite you to connect with Flyn or myself. We are eager to talk with those who have energy and vision for continuing the website and news service.

Personally, I believe that CFV is a great gift to the church in Metro Vancouver and that it is well worth carrying on. I’m grateful for all the years of humble and thoughtful service that Flyn has already offered to Vancouver. Thank you Flyn!

Rev. Dr. Tim Dickau serves as Director of CityGate Vancouver, as well as CML Associate for the Missional Leadership Certificate Program. Prior to taking on these roles, Tim served for 30 years as pastor of Grandview Church in East Vancouver.

You can reach him at: [email protected]

Flyn is at [email protected]

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12 comments for “Flyn Ritchie: an appreciation / Church for Vancouver’s future

  1. Flyn,

    At the risk of being repetitive, I want to express my thanks for the enormous amount of time and energy that you have put into the craft of writing and the work of publishing. It is not the kind of work that generates public accolades and international acclaim, but I suspect your faithful service is more in step with the gospel and Kingdom work.

    I trust you are the recipient of much wisdom, as you navigate this season of discernment.

  2. Thank you for your decades-long and valuable service to the Church in the field of journalism.

  3. Dear Flyn: When I returned to BC’s Lower Mainland a few decades ago, after decades of lecturing in California and Washington, your publications and your writing very quickly gave me highly valued information about the Christian scene in this region. You have contributed massively not only to the general knowledge about Christian realities in the Lower Mainland but to a real ecumenical sense of goodwill and mutual encouragement for Christians of all persuasions.

    Have a well-deserved and excellent holiday. After that, please miss your service to us all and come back again.

  4. While I’m envious that Flyn gets a long-deserved break (apparently the non-Catholic Christian press has a more balanced work ethic), I wish him and Margaret a blessed journey and period of discernment. I’ve been told by many people that none of us is indispensable, so if the Holy Spirit is calling Flyn to new frontiers, I urge him to listen.

    That said, Flyn is very close to indispensable, and I hope he returns to Church for Vancouver, at least in some capacity. C4V is essential reading, just like BC Christian News was. Flyn has always provided space — sometimes against the wishes of his fellow church members — for discussion of the proper attitude toward Popery among believers. The adage that there is more uniting us than dividing us gets truer every day, and I pray that Flyn, or his Christian journalism philosophy, continue to make an impression on the Church in Vancouver.

    • Thanks Paul. I take some of my inspiration from you – you’ve been faithful as a journalist (and more) for decades now!

  5. Thank you all for your kind words. I really do appreciate it. Margaret and I are very much looking forward to our break.

    I do hope that by this fall it will be possible to share the load of Church for Vancouver – or a more effective new version – with a broader team. We’ll see.

  6. Flyn, what a testimony of faithful endurance and bountiful ministry! I’m so very thankful for you and the connectivity that CfV has blessed the lower mainland with for many years. May your time away be of deep replenishing!

    In prayer for CfV and its path forward.

    With great gratitude . . .

    Rob McKinley
    Manager, Church Relations
    UGM Vancouver

  7. I have great respect and affection for Flyn and Margaret Richie. Flyn’s work on behalf of faith communities through journalism has been untiring, and first class. I taught with Margaret in Burnaby – a wonderful colleague and a great teacher. Blessings on the unfolding future!

  8. Thank you Tim for these well-deserved kudos to Flyn. Flyn, you have been a remarkable resource and treasure to the churches of Vancouver and beyond, with a generous and gracious spirit to the whole church. I’ve also enjoyed your presence at our ministerial gatherings. Have a well-deserved rest and blessed travels.

    • Thank you, Tim, for this very appropriate tribute to Flyn.

      Flyn, you have been a remarkable story-teller and leader in the local church for decades. You have kept us all better informed and prayerful of the issues before us in the Kingdom. I am personally deeply grateful for CfV, keeping our team informed and connected to the wider community. And as been said, you have done this with much grace, integrity and accuracy. A true stateman for the gospel.

      Have a wonderful summer and fall and amazing journey.

      I look forward to how the Lord will continue to provide this vital service.

      Dan Russell
      Union Gospel Mission

  9. I can ‘second’ John Hall’s sentiments and best wishes. Thanks, Flyn, for so many years on so many fronts and your heartfelt commitment to Christian publishing, telling our stories, researching so many topics, gathering information, featuring and promoting others, and for well-balanced analysis and commentary.

    I agree that you are indeed a gift to God’s people and someone whom we esteem. Have a much needed break. Safe travels for you and Margaret and full enjoyment of your planned travel itinerary. I’m blessed to have known you. I look forward to what comes next.

  10. Dear Flyn, I deeply appreciate the hours and hours that you have put into the publication of this amazing resource for the church in Vancouver (and region). I pray that you have an amazing rest and that God makes it clear how this ministry should continue. You are an inspiration.

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