B.C. Renewal Conference

Bob and Olive McBayBob and Olive McBay have been active members of The Renewal Fellowship for years and attend Coquitlam Presbyterian Church.

"Living Stones for God's Use" proved to be an inspiring theme for the Spring Renewal Conference at Coquitlam Presbyterian Church in Coquitlam, B.C., on April 1, 2000. A program planned by a Renewal Committee chaired by Liz Birnie (West Vancouver Presbyterian Church) provided three key speakers, Rev. Richard Moffatt, co-pastor of St. David's Church in Kelowna, Rev. Terry Hibbert, pastor of the host church, and Rev. Cal Brown, Executive Director of The Renewal Fellowship Within The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Small group discussions and prayer times followed their talks and fellowship times were enjoyed at the muffin break and at the delightful luncheon provided by the ladies of the church for approximately one hundred people.

To emphasize the theme of the day and to enhance the value of the fellowship time, little stones were provided before lunch. The chairperson, Lori Sinclair (Abbotsford Church), encouraged people to exchange their stones with others in order to learn new names of friends of the Fellowship. A cross and the words "You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5), had been placed on each stone. The little stones were to be kept to remind us that we as living stones are all different but God is shaping and polishing the rough edges of our characters to make us more useful in the great work of building his church.

In the morning session Richard Moffatt spoke on the "Vital Signs of a Healthy Church." Some memorable challenges were centred around his six vital signs of a healthy church:

  1. Worship in church should help us to see worship as a way of life. Does our church worship cause us to want more of the Living God?
  2. Passionate discipleship requires the discipline of spending time with God, with his word and in fellowship with others.
  3. A servant-based ministry flows from understanding the principle of the priesthood of all believers. Pastors are the equippers and the people are the ministers. Each member has a vital role to fill in the church. Encouragement is often the key to a growing participation in our church life.
  4. Loving fellowship is the heart of the ministry. There is a need to express unconditional love and acceptance towards others and also a need to develop a burden-bearing mentality.
  5. An outward focus involves changing the attitude of desiring only personal satisfaction from our faith. The challenge becomes one of learning to share our faith naturally, then going where the unchurched are. Outreach planning may involve special events to meet community needs. Christians are to be the good news.
  6. Fervent prayer is the basis for all church growth and therefore should be seen as the top priority in all phases of church life.

Cal Brown provided us with an interesting update on the Renewal Fellowship in other parts of the country. Situated as we are in the West, we are often unaware of happenings in other parts of the country and Cal's presence with us and his reports of significant events and conferences throughout Canada enlightened us in B.C. and gave us a broader picture of the national Presbyterian Church. We can see the continuing need for renewal as well as the encouraging signs of the Lord's working.

In the afternoon we were blessed with an address by Terry Hibbert, pastor of the host church. He spoke on "Laying Strong Foundations." His theme centred on the need for a church to establish and seek to bring to reality a clear vision for its future. He used the example of Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:23. Joshua was commanded to lead the children of Israel in to the new land and God promised to be with him. God had a plan for the conquest of the land. God's way of victory, as exemplified in the case of the conquest of Jericho, was quite different from what we would expect. We need to move forward in God's way.

Terry described the process of discovering, developing and implementing a vision and used Coquitlam Presbyterian Church as an example. A Vision Team, after much thought and prayer, had drawn up a Vision Statement. Meetings with church elders, various ministry groups and the congregation contributed to the Vision Statement with its resultant values, assumptions and implications for future plans. The Vision Statement was printed and distributed to church members and was also given to those who visit our church and are interested in becoming part of the church family.

The vision which a church adopts will effect decisions on training, type of programs, utilization of space and allotment of church funds. Some of the programs may need to be dropped if they are not in line with the vision. An effective vision will generate enthusiasm, provide valuable guideposts and outlive the present planners. God's vision is beyond any one generation.

Music for the special day was provided by the worship team of the host church led by Worship Director Lori Berry, and at the end of the day by Rev. Dr. Bobby Ogden and his team from Whalley Church.

Evaluation Forms indicated that the day had been a special blessing to many.