First News

Sermon Series: The Gospel of Mark

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This week we are beginning to read the Gospel of Mark together as a church.  

Mark was an extraordinary book when it began to circulate among the churches of the First Century. Nothing like it had ever been written before, so the early Church had to coin a new term for the kind of book it was. They settled on "good news" drawn from the opening verse. It's not a book of philosophy, a play, or a history; it's a good news.

Its substance is equally puzzling. It contains some of Jesus' life (but not much), some of His teaching, a few of His actions, and an extended account of His death. 

It has the most surprising ending; seeming to stop mid-sentence and not including a single resurrection appearance of Jesus. So confusing was this ending to Christians in the early centuries that not only were additional endings written for it, but many copies also removed the last verse, so that the Gospel did not end with Jesus' followers left bewildered and afraid.

Further, it was written for the benefit of an audience, most of whom could not read; with a focus, not only on who Jesus is, but also on what His followers should be like.

 As we read and study the book over the coming weeks and months, we will take two or three weeks to look at each chapter, and we will particularly concern ourselves with these two questions: Who is Jesus? And what does it mean to be His disciple?

Good further resources to help you as you read and study in your Connection Group or at home:

  • Mark For Everyone by N. T. Wright

  • Mark (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) by Eckhard Schnabel 

  • Mark (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series) by Larry W. Hurtado

Or for more detailed study:

My prayer is that as we read we will recognise in new and deeper ways the joy and the challenge of following a saviour who is headed for a cross. 

In the love of Jesus,
Anthony Brown
Senior Minister

Posted by Anthony Brown

Welcome Anthony!

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It is with joy that we welcome Anthony Casson Brown, our new Senior Minister! As you have been, continue to keep Anthony and Helen in your prayers as they settle in at First. 

We also want to express our sincerest thanks to our Pastoral and Support team members. They have faithfully and joyfully carried the extra load over the past 32 months. 

Introducing Anthony C. Brown

Anthony came to faith in Christ at age 12, through a group of Christian students and staff in his school in Northeast England. Anthony began participating in church life at an evangelical Anglican church at age 15 and has worked continuously in the Church since leaving high school 30 years ago. His work in the Church has primarily been in the roles of evangelist, preacher, professor, and pastor.

In addition to studying theology at Oxford and Regent College, Anthony has completed comprehensive courses through the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Anthony has devoted much of his time to helping local churches to explore their vision, mission, and outreach, through non-profit organizations that he founded in the UK and Canada. Since coming to Canada in 1999, his primary focus has been on training church leaders (Lindisfarne Community, Forge Missional Training Network) and ministerial students (Regent College, North Shore School of Mission), with an emphasis on seeing the missional nature of the church realized in practice.

For over 9 years, Anthony served in pastoral leadership at Hillside Baptist Church in North Vancouver.

Personal and Family Life

Anthony is married to Helen (for 24 years) and they have an 18-year-old son, Joshua. He values his family life - eating meals together daily and observing a weekly family day. He seeks to remain healthy both physically and mentally by walking, exercising, being with friends, reading, and observing Sabbath. Reading, Sabbath, listening to sermons and lectures, daily prayer, time with a mentor, family time, time with colleagues (particularly other pastors serving on the North Shore) help to keep him spiritually fit. Sabbath rest and personal hobbies include playing and listening to music, bird watching with his family, watching films, and writing.

Preaching and Teaching

Anthony’s greatest joy in ministry comes from preaching and teaching others to preach. He finds the work of wrestling with the Word of God to be challenging and profoundly satisfying. To him, teaching others to find the same joy in the Scriptures is very rewarding. Anthony is committed to expository preaching and has been regularly preaching since he was 18 years old. Anthony received the John Maxwell Baxter Prize in preaching when he graduated from Regent College. In addition, teaching has been a key aspect of all of his work, including 14 years teaching applied theology part-time at Regent College and 3 years as the director of the North Shore School of Mission.


Anthony is a strong leader. He prefers not to emphasize hierarchical leadership but will take direct responsibility when necessary, particularly in order to provide a secure environment for other leaders. Preferable terms to him would be empowering, encouraging and challenging. In every ministry setting, he looks to draw out the full potential of others.

Anthony sees the ministry the Lord has given him as one of encouraging and empowering local churches to walk more faithfully with the Lord, particularly through the training of leaders and the teaching of the church. He believes all church leaders are called to (i) set and maintain the church's priorities, (ii) identify and nurture other leaders, (iii) guard the flock, and (iv) help to shape the church's on-going process of listening for the Spirit's direction. The practice of these rests on prayer, example, and the teaching of the Word, and the gifts the Lord has given him to do these things include preaching and teaching, organizational leadership and an aptitude for the formation of new ministry strategies and structures.

Anthony has particular experience and skills in navigating organizational change. He established non-profit organizations in Canada and the UK to help churches transition from a maintenance orientation to a missional emphasis. Based on these experiences he taught on organizational behaviour for Regent College and Forge Missional Training Network.

Team Ministry

Anthony has always worked in a team setting, generally forming and leading those teams. He believes in empowering and encouraging others, and in seeking consensus whenever possible. His role has been to prompt ideas, provide energy, initiate change, and take particular care of those on the team.

Over time, Anthony has become aware of those areas of ministry for which he is not called and gifted by God. Often this has been by recognizing areas in which others have greater strengths. He is an encourager. Consequently, he is always on the lookout for those more able than himself in any given area.

Anthony has always emphasized a team approach to ministry and cannot imagine not doing so since this has consistently been such a positive and beneficial experience for him, and since it accords with his reading of the New Testament in passages such as Ephesians 4:11-16. He finds joy in laying down a task for which he is not gifted and in seeing someone else released into it and thriving. Ultimately, his hope is to be able to equip the congregation for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up.

Life of Prayer

Anthony sees all fruitful ministry as emerging from prayer since the work of the Church is to cooperate with the Living God in the work He is doing in the world. For twenty years he has had on his desk this quotation from Samuel Chadwick, which sums up his convictions about prayer: “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” Anthony is particularly refreshed by solitude. His aim in prayer is an hour a day, an afternoon a week, a day a month, and a week a year.

Missional Focus

Anthony has been intentional about shaping the strategies and structures of the local church in order to transition it to more missional ways of being. Through his work as director of Forge Canada he has been a significant voice teaching pastors in Canada and the US about Missional Church. For Anthony, being missional involves joining the Lord in His mission in the world; loving our immediate neighbours; forming neighbourhood groups in the church to provide glimpses and foretastes of the Kingdom in their local communities; and strengthening the Church to be the salt and light it is called to be.

Anthony has served for five years on the board of Jacob's Well in Vancouver's DTES and two years on the start-up board of Shalom Seekers (now CityGate Leadership Foundation). Presently, he gives pastoral and organizational support to the board of Reachout to Africa, a ministry serving AIDS orphans in South Africa.

Anthony has been active in support of global missions since the summer of 1985 when he first encountered missionaries from Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Subsequently, he participated in the Evangelical Missionary Alliance in the UK (now Global Connections) and the Lausanne Consultation on Nominalism. The focus of his graduate work at Regent College was in missions. Currently, he is co-teaching a course on issues in global mission alongside John Hall (Director of Missions Fest and Mission Central).

Anthony views local and global missions as a single continuum, with increasing challenges as we reach across additional cultural barriers. Much of his teaching for Forge Canada and Regent College has focused on enabling churches and leaders to understand the Church as the agent of God's mission in the world and, consequently, on local mission.

Baptist Convictions

Anthony has been a Baptist by conviction since he began ministry in a Baptist church at 18 years of age. As a long time Baptist, he has a good understanding of our Baptist heritage and distinctives.

Anthony is eager for the local church to understand the importance of the Baptist distinctives and for each church to play a full part in the voluntary association which is the CBWC. In the present climate, in which denominations are struggling with personnel, funding, identity, and other issues, Anthony believes that it is particularly important for churches to play an active role in shaping their associational structures. One particular matter he hopes the CBWC will consider in the coming years is the formation of a doctrinal body to advise local churches on issues of theology and practice, better equipping them to navigate the challenges presented by our rapidly changing culture. Should the opportunity arise, Anthony would be happy to expand his involvement in denominational life.

Anthony is a Licensed Pastor in the CBWC and was previously licensed in the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Like many Baptist ministers through the years (e.g., Thomas Helwys, Charles Spurgeon) he has chosen to be commissioned by his previous churches rather than ordained. This is not a criticism of others who are ordained; rather he has found that it has been an advantage to him, as he challenges lay people to serve wholeheartedly in the church, not to have the title “Reverend.”


  • Baptist Union of Great Britain - Completed a full range of courses on Baptist history, theology, Bible interpretation and identity.
  • Oxford University - MA in Theology and post graduate work research for the Baptist Union of Great Britain (1990-1993).
  • Regent College, Vancouver - Masters in Christian Studies (2000-2003). Recipient of the John Maxwell Baxter Prize in preaching, the Evangelism and Missions Prize, and the Interpretation Prize.
  • Anthony has undertaken many other courses and training programs over the last 30 years.

Canadian Ministry Experience

  • Senior Pastor Hillside Church (2010 - 2019). Pastoral leadership of a church initially in significant trouble following repeated division over failed pastoral settlement processes. Renewal of the church’s sense of call to God’s mission through church-wide discernment processes, preaching, restructuring, and the development of a strong staff team. Presently navigating change necessitated by numerical growth. (See
  • Director North Shore School of Mission (2016 - 2019). Establishing and leading a theological school serving Christians across the North Shore. Particularly focusing on young adults through an accredited undergraduate ministry training program. In partnership with Columbia Bible College, multiple North Shore churches, and several global missions agencies. (See
  • Pastoral Tutor (later Adjunct Professor) Regent College (2004 - 2017). Writing courses, lecturing and leading seminars in a variety of applied theology and missions courses. Redeveloping and directing Regent’s Supervised Ministry program. Serving on the MDiv Committee, particularly on curriculum review. (See:
  • Co-founder/Director Forge Missional Training Network (2007 - 2017). Teaching missional leadership courses to groups of pastors and emerging leaders in cities across Canada and the US, and teaching at denominational assemblies and pastors’ conferences. (See:
  • Founder/Director Lindisfarne Community (2005 - ). Supervising guided studies, teaching, preaching and leadership courses, and directing a one-year training program for MDiv graduates. The community also operates a substantial church leadership library and acts as an umbrella for leadership training with other organizations.
  • Dunbar Evangelical Lutheran Church (2007 - 2009). During their interregnum, he supported the congregation by teaching the weekly Bible study, preaching, leading the Alpha Course, and running the church’s fellowship evenings.
  • Itinerant preaching and teaching, principally in the Lower Mainland (2000 - 2010).

Celebrating the Graduates

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These past few weeks have been a special season for some of our youth. Lily Arndt, John Jiwa, Sarah Lim, Hannah Mitchell, Naomi Kawamura, Jien Ng, Natalya Porter, Maria Walchuk graduated high school! We rejoice with them and their families for what they have accomplished. We praise God for the many ways that all of them have blessed our youth group and our church! We all know that school plays a very important role in their lives. And so, we want to celebrate this milestone. 

To the FBC community: 
I encourage you to keep Lily, John, Sarah, Hannah, Naomi, Jien, Natalya, Maria in your prayers. Whether they stay with us a little longer or venture out to study at a university beyond the boundaries of BC, let us bless them, trusting that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in them. We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in every decision that they make.

To our Graduates: 
You might be feeling like you only have one chance to make the right decision about what you are going to do with your life after high school. I would say: try your best but rest assured that God is with you in whatever you do. If you are already set on what you are going to do, may you know that God is with you. If you need time to think about what you are going to do, remember that God is gracious and will guide you as you discern. 

Remember that, in the end, your choices, university programs, and profession do not define who you are, but Christ is the one who tells you who you are! 

I would like to close by praying the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians:

"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." - Philippians 1:3-6 (The Message)

 In Christ, our hope!
Filipe Balieiro
Director of Youth Ministry

Posted by Filipe Balieiro

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