Update from Deirdre Walters – Inter-Varsity at Queen’s


A Gospel Day

You couldn’t have wedged a single other piece of furniture into our living room, and we didn’t have anything left to wedge in anyways. It was full. We had our dining room table, two housemates’ desks, a card table, and our coffee table all lined up the whole length of our house. Every chair we owned, including someone’s rolling desk chair and the bench we use to take our shoes off in the front hall, was squeezed in. We still weren’t sure if there would be enough places at the table.

It was Easter, and it was time to celebrate the resurrection.

Except we didn’t feel like celebrating. Our friend Ron had just passed away two days ago. We were shocked and sad and exhausted. Sitting in church that morning, I cried. It seemed like the resurrection was very far away. But we knew we had to proclaim Jesus’ power and grace and aliveness even in the face of death, so we reluctantly started cooking when we got back from church.

Six o’clock came. People poured into our house. We didn’t know half of them. My students had been inviting their nonbelieving friends over for dinners at our house for the past six weeks, and now, halfway through exams, they were apparently on top of their game even if Alix and I weren’t just then.

We ate, we laughed, we ate some more. We counted heads. Forty people. We did a little dance. We decided next time we would cook two turkeys.

Two first years came to say goodbye at the end.

“Thank you so much for having us. This felt like home.”
“Everyone here is so friendly.”
“You have a really good thing going here.”

To everyone we said, “We’re so glad you came. You’re always welcome at our house. Come any time.”

After we finished doing the dishes and put all our desks back we collapsed onto the couch, glad we did it after all. Glad that we had made a stand for resurrection, invited people into life with Jesus, where there is a place at the table for everyone, even if it is in a desk chair. Especially when it’s in a desk chair.

Grief and grace all swirled together – this is the experience of our ministry at Queen’s over the past semester. We’ve grown some, we’ve lost some. We’ve weathered some rough times. And yet, that Easter – that was a gospel day. That was a day when Jesus was here and now and present among us, very much alive. That was a time when the Kingdom of God came down into our living room, desk chairs and mismatched plates and all.

“Jesus Is Pretty Cool”
MARKcentral, our conference on the gospel of Mark, was pretty much gospel days all the way through – it was that good. My favourite moment was lying outside and looking at the stars with my nonChristian housemate, who was in my class.

“What do you think of Jesus these days, Cara*?”

“You know, he’s pretty cool. I don’t think he’s perfect or anything, but I think he has really good things to say,” she replied.

“What were you thinking about today when we shared about applying Scripture?” Cara had been silent in our group sharing time. But now she opened up to me more than she ever had before.

“Well, I was thinking about the story of Jesus and the bleeding woman [Mark 5]. She had long-term hurt like me. When I was younger, I got bullied a lot, and I can still hear those voices sometimes telling me terrible things about myself. I need to be around people who will say good things to me, like how Jesus said good things to that woman. I need good friends like Jesus.”

Cara, a professed atheist, could see herself in Scripture and see that Jesus had a good thing to offer to her! Praise God for the change in her life over the course of this year.

To Have Fun
“So, Ahirim*, have you done any fun things since you came to Ottawa?” Raina* asked this question casually one afternoon, filling space between tasks.

“No,” he said. “It’s hard to have fun when you are by yourself.”

Raina’s eyes filled with tears as she told me this story. Ahirim is a Muslim refugee from Djibouti who was living at the shelter where some of us were volunteering during our urban missions project in May. Raina is one of our student leaders at Queen’s.

“I never really understood how lonely people can be before,” Raina said. “But Ahirim knows literally nobody in Canada except the five people he lives with – and now us. And we’re leaving in two weeks.”

So we resolved to have fun with Ahirim while we were still there. We listened to music together. He shared his favourite songs, we shared ours. We baked cookies. And we got to share about our faith in unexpected moments, while we cleaned and chilled dough and ate our lunches together.

Many of our students had similar experiences realizing the dearth of relationships in many people’s lives. At the refugee shelter, at the furniture bank, at the home for men with mental illness, they saw the result of relational poverty. Nobody to help carry a new couch into your apartment. Nobody to go to the tulip festival with. Nobody to give you a drive to your lawyer’s appointment.

I got a text from another student a month after the trip. She had decided to continue helping out at the refugee shelter, babysitting two young children for their mother who is alone in Canada, and visiting with Ahirim. Praise God that the long-term relationships we hoped for are being formed.

I mentioned in my last update that I had moved; my new address is 146 Clergy St E, Kingston, ON K7K 3S3. I now live in a big old manse owned by a very generous Presbyterian congregation. Praise God for this new partnership for Alix and I in Kingston.

Many blessings on you and yours during these summer months!

*Names changed to protect privacy


Please pray…

  • For our student leaders’ retreat next weekend – that our planning for next year would go well.
  • For my fundraising this summer. My goal is to raise $10,000 by August 31! If you would like to give to our ministry, you can do it here.
  • For our future first years coming from across Canada and even the world.


CRNA Request for Survey for Covenant CRC

CRCNA Church Survey. The denomination is seeking input as it continues to make plans for the future through the visioning process called ‘Our Journey 2020’. Covenant church has been randomly selected as one of the congregations for which they are asking that no less than 30 members complete this survey. More than 30 is better. This is an on-line survey only and can be accessed at crcna.org/survey/9010 Survey will take 20-30minutes to complete. CRCNA requests that the survey be completed by March 10/17. Please see Jake Veenstra if you have any questions.

New Mission Agency Update – for Home Missions and World Missions

New Mission Agency Update

Home Missions and World Missions will be completing this fiscal year (ending in June 2017) as two separate agencies with two separate budgets. Both agencies still have financial and ministry commitments this year, and Synod 2017 is expected to give final approval of the transition to a new mission agency. Behind-the-scenes work to bring the two agencies together is continuing, but a lot of important steps need to be completed before making the “official” transition—such as selecting a name, designing a logo, finalizing new ministry leaders, and searching for new ministry opportunities.

We see this joining as a time to work together in new ways and identify new ministry opportunities that may not have been possible before. We hope to continue current ministry and grow new ministry, and we pray that churches and individuals like you will join us in supporting that growth through your continued prayers and financial support for Home Missions and World Missions ministries.

Home Missions and World Missions have identified as opportunities to expand ministry as a result of joining together: Arab/Muslim outreach, partnering with local ministries, and diaspora ministries.

Initative 1: Arab/Muslim/Middle East Outreach
Missionaries in the Middle East and staff in North America who work among Muslim groups have been meeting regularly to share best practices, experiences, and struggles. Together they are finding common themes and applying what they discuss for more effective ministry. 

Initative 2: Partnering with Local Ministries
We recognize that grassroots ministries led by national leaders have a better understanding of the needs of their community. We see opportunities for partnership with these local organizations by complementing their strengths and working toward a common goal where possible. Mission Montreal is one such example of how this partnership can work.

Initative 3: Diaspora Ministries Outreach
Many opportunities to start new churches and ministries with people groups from different countries exist right in North America. We hope to use the gifts and knowledge that missionaries gain while living in the international mission field to more effectively reach out to immigrants from these countries who want to partner in ministry in North America. Immigrants like Pastor Siang Lian Hup.

Church Resources for your local ministry

Serving your ministry in Southern Ontario

Your Southern Ontario Connections Project team is here to provide tools and resources, coaches and learning events, to support and assist congregations in classes Hamilton, Huron, Niagara and Toronto.
Below you will find highlights of what is already taking place, and opportunities for you and your ministry leaders to become part of this shared-learning journey with other Christian Reformed churches.

To learn more about the Connections Project in Southern Ontario, please visit:
or contact:
Ken Bosveld, Resource Catalyzer, Southern Ontario
Lesli van Milligen, Resource Coach, Classes Huron and Toronto
Marian Lensink, Resource Coach, Classes Hamilton and Niagara

Hamilton and Niagara

Conversations have taken place with a number of pastors and churches in both Classes, and I still arranging to make connections in a number of Classis Niagara churches. I welcome conversations with anyone who is interested in learning about a specific aspect of ministry, through new resources, connections with others, and coaching. Here is a sample of what is beginning to come together:
Strategic Planning Group:  A group of four pastors/ministry staff have been sharing stories of what God is showing them as they engage in new ministry plans.  As strategic plans have been developed, this conversation focuses on the ongoing learning in the midst of adapting to the dynamics of change.
Small Group Ministry:  A group of ministry volunteers and staff from a number of churches are gathering together periodically, in person and on-line video conferencing, to learn more about small group ministry.  Each gathering focuses on a segment of group learning as well as opportunities to share what God is doing in local ministry.
Young Adult Ministry:  Some Classis Hamilton pastors have expressed a void in the area of young adult ministry.  Initial conversations are focused around gathering leaders together to encourage each other in the development of a ministry for this often overlooked demographic in our churches.
Please let me know if you are interested in joining in any of these conversations or have an idea for something that would enhance your ministry.  I am happy to engage in one-on-one conversations, provide coaching, suggest resources or connect you with others on a similar journey.
Marian Lensink, Resource Coach (Hamilton/Niagara)

Huron and Toronto

Youth Ministry Cohort – Part peer mentoring and part peer learning group, Youth Directors/Pastors in Classis Huron meet monthly over lunch to share ministry best practices and program ideas.  This group also reflects on books and articles about youth ministry in order to keep current.  Leadership themes and spiritual health round out our regular discussion topics. This group is suitable for both volunteer and paid youth workers.
Please contact Lesli van Milligen if you would like to know more, or join this group.

Other fledgling cohort groups that are just starting up include a group on strengthening congregational prayer practices and a gathering of churches interested in navigating “staff-led ministry in a council-based system.”
Please contact Lesli van Milligen if you would like more information on either of these groups.

Turn Ministry Volunteers into Leaders

We have received feedback from churches that are struggling with volunteer leadership development, particularly with aligning volunteers around areas of giftedness or replacing long-time ministry leaders who are retiring, aging or possibly taking a break.
Churches were asking for ideas, suggestions and best practices on how to ensure volunteer leadership can be successfully transitioned to the next generation.
If your church finds itself in a similar situation, here are some resources you may find helpful:

  1. Next Generation Leaders
  2. Reach More Volunteers
  3. 50 Ways to Increase Active Engagement
  4. Lessons on Engaging Young Adults Effectively
  5. Creating Transformative versus Transactional Volunteer Experiences
  6. A great book your church may want to purchase is called “The New Breed – understanding and equipping the 21st century volunteer” by Jonathan McKee and Thomas W. McKee. It will help you understand the differences in recruiting and engaging Millennials for ministry as opposed to Baby Boomers.

If you are interested in additional resources, coaching in the area of Volunteer Ministry Development, or in being part of a Volunteer Ministry Cohort where you can learn from others and share best practices, please contact:

Carol Sybenga, Program Manager, ServiceLink
800-730-3490 ext. 4249

FREE resources from Faith Alive

The Digital Library makes hundreds of books and resources available for free to CRC members.

This includes such informative titles as:

and hundreds of additional titles and resources to support your local ministry.
It’s easy to register.  We invite you to start browsing the Digital Library to discover all of the great resources available to you!

Congregational Updates about Timothy Christian School

The Annual Christmas Bazaar update:  We are thrilled to announce that our bazaar raised over $35,000 this year thanks to an incredibly supportive community!!  A sincere thank you to all of you who participated in our Bazaar Fundraiser, it was an amazing day and our school has been blessed with another successful accomplishment….thank you!

TCS Annual Drive is ongoing for this 2016-2017 school year
Timothy Christian School is currently running it’s Annual Drive and allocating these funds to operating costs that run over and above our tuition revenue. If you are considering donating, this is a great time of year before fiscal year end.
Our goal for our Annual Drive this year is $160,000. Would you please consider supporting TCS, your donations will help next year to be a great success. Thank you in advance!

 UPCOMING TCS EVENT: Scrapday 2017
If you love to build memories through photos, crafts and scrapbooking, join us on SATURDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2017 from 9am to 8pm for a day devoted to gathering with friends, collaborating great ideas, enjoying some meals together and getting some scrapbooking DONE!  Tickets are on sale now for $45, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, gift bag, raffle & door prizes!  Tickets are selling fast, so contact the office at 705.726.6621 or email: scrapday@timothychristianschool.ca

INSPIRE Bursary Campaign has been launched!
Within the Strategic Plan of Timothy Christian School, it has been determined that a Bursary Plan was an important part of making Christian Education more accessible to everyone. We need to build that fund, so we can assist families in the future. Global tuition assistance can only cover a portion and further bursary funds may be necessary.
Would you join us as we develop our Bursary fund through the” INSPIRE BURSARY CAMPAIGN” ?
Our goal for this Campaign is $250,000…join us as we build our children’s legacy.


Christmas Eve – Memorial Square


One Church Barrie Christmas Eve Service at Fred Grant Memorial Square at 7 p.m. This Christmas tradition was started by Bethel Community Church some 27 years ago as a result of their not having a building to celebrate Christmas Eve service. Bethel has always been open to having others celebrate with them, and so last year the evening “officially” becaome a One Church Barrie event.

If you have any questions, please contact Bethel Community Church by telephone at 705-722-5221 or Stephan Bauer via email at pastorstephan@bethelbarrie.ca