First News

Alpha

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In the busyness of life, we don't often take time to ask the deeper questions or to wonder if there is more to life than the narratives presented by our society. Is God real? Who is Jesus? Alpha provides an opportunity to discuss these questions, to hear the perspectives of others, and to reflect on our own. 

Sometimes it's hard to share our faith with friends or family. We worry that people don't want to hear it, or that we'll come across as being pushy.  Alpha creates a welcoming space where people who are interested in discussing questions of God and faith can ask their questions without pressure, and share what they think without fear of 'getting it wrong.' Guests are welcome to try out the course for a few weeks without committing to the whole program. 

The structure of the evening is simple: a dinner, a short video on different topics relating to Christianity, and a discussion in small groups. 

Alpha will be hosted at St. James Community Square on Monday nights from 7-9pm from April 15th to June 17th. 

Weekly topics:
April 15th: Is there more to life than this?
April 22nd: Who is Jesus?
April 29th: Why did Jesus die?
May 6th: How can I have faith?
May 13th: Why and how do I pray?
May 20th: Why and how should I read the Bible? 
May 27th: How does God guide us?
Saturday, June 1st (day retreat): Who is the Holy Spirit? 
June 10th: How can I resist evil?
June 17th: What about the church?

The best way to advertise Alpha is through word of mouth!  Would you pray about whether God might be prompting you to invite someone (and attend with them at least at first)?

If you would like more details, or if you are planning to come with a friend, please email me at 

Warmly,
Rebecca Thornber
Minister of Discipleship & Community

Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC)

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Did you realize that for more than 100 years, First Baptist Church, Vancouver, has been a part of a wider family of churches known as the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada (CBWC)

The CBWC is made up of about 170 churches across the four Western Provinces, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It's a huge geographic region with plenty of uniqueness and diversity both in the landscape and our churches. Prior to becoming the Executive Minister of the CBWC in July of 2017, I served as the BCY Regional Minister for nine years. As I toured churches in my first year as the Regional Minister, in almost every congregation someone would come up to me and say, "you know, we're not a typical Baptist Church!" After a while I began to realize that there is no such thing as a "typical Baptist church," which is one of the reasons why we celebrate a diversity of ethnicities, ages, leadership and worship styles, all the while keeping Jesus at the centre of who we are and all we do. 

About a year ago, after a time of prayerful discernment with the churches and the CBWC Board, we put forward three key priorities for the next season of ministry for the CBWC. Let me give you a glimpse into these priorities. 

The first priority is Cultivating Leadership. The CBWC used to have a one-year leadership training program known as the Baptist Leadership Training School (BLTS). Until its closing in the late '90s, BLTS helped to train both pastors and congregational leaders for our churches for more than 50 years. We are in the process of creating a new "gap year" program to help raise up the next generation of leaders for both society and our churches. Please pray for wisdom for our team in creating this program and for financial resources to help us make it accessible to all. 

The second priority is Investing in Relationship. Ministry is all about relationship and we are spending our time building relational bridges with our churches and church leaders, as well as our ministry partners across Canada and around the world. Jesus has called us to love God and to love one another. That love can truly grow when we intentionally take the time to invest in one another. 

The third priority is Engaging in Mission. Our mission as the church into God's world is never-ending. For this next ministry season the CBWC will be emphasizing church planting, helping to settle more refugees in Canada, and continuing to learn how to best walk alongside the Indigenous community. 

Please pray for the leadership of the CBWC and I encourage you to look for ways to become involved in your broader church family. One way to stay in the loop about CBWC events and initiatives is by signing up at cbwc.ca for our monthly e-newsletter, Making Connections.

The peace of the Lord be with you all.

Serving with you, for Him!

Rob Ogilvie
Executive Minister, CBWC.

Posted by Rob Ogilvie

Getting to Know John Tsang

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 What is your role on staff at First Baptist Church?
My role is to give leadership to the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan for the caring ministry of FBC, so that we can provide good spiritual care to as many people as possible.  Apart from the above, I try to help out Team Tea > Team Coffee on the staff.       

What excites you about this work?
As I start to hear stories of FBC, I hear that the caring ministry was one that many people enjoy being a part of.  I'm thrilled to be able to develop, train, grow, and support a team of caregivers here at FBC.    

Tell us about your family
I have 3 other siblings, one older brother, one older sister, then there is me, and a younger sister.  I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home.  One of the enduring images I have is of my father and mother reading their well-worn Bible sitting on the edge of their bed.  My father passed away about three years ago and towards the end, he was starting to lose his memory, perhaps an early form of dementia.  My mother is here in Vancouver and she lives with my younger sister.  

I met Karmie at her Baptist church (also the church where I was baptized).  We were married in '91 in another Baptist church, the one where I served my first pastoral ministry as Youth Pastor.  Good things happen to me in Baptist churches! Josiah, my oldest was born in Toronto and unfortunately, he is a Leafs fan.  He works in the construction industry for a consulting firm.  My other two, Hannah and Noah were born in Richmond.  Hannah is a 3rd year nursing student at Trinity Western University.  Noah is in Grade 11 and he enjoys golfing and running. Noah is a member of the youth Mexico Missions Team.   

What three words best describe you?
When I asked Karmie, she said: fun-loving, adventurous, and couldn't come up with a 3rd.  When I asked my daughter, she said: humble, wise, and attentive.  Personally, I think I am: reflective, competitive and calm.      

What in your life brings you the most joy?
Time with family, enjoying a nice meal, a nice long ride on my road bike.  Sleep.  Seeing others deepen their experience of Christ.  Seeing others find their God-given calling in life.  Not having to worry about learning a new iOs would bring me a bit of joy.  And sleep, did I mention sleep (Ps 4:8)?  

What is your favourite movie?
Two recent movies that left an impression on me were Silence, a messy, untidy story of missionaries and the Christian faith in Japan during the 17th century.  The other movie is called The Innocents and it is a thought-provoking complex story of faith and goodness in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. I also really enjoyed The Shack. I love that scene at the end where the tears of the main character were used to water the vibrant garden of his life.  That was a powerful image.   

What sort of music do you enjoy listening to?
In my USB in the car, I have Hillsong, Bethel Music, Tomlin, Salt of the Sound, Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper, Camila Cabello, Imagine Dragons, and Ariana Grande ... I know, very eclectic.  

How can we pray for you?
Well, first thing that I ask for is wisdom and discernment as I get to know people, listen to the stories of members, and to understand the story of FBC. 

Secondly, it appears that God is not finished with my training from St. Paul's.  I was there for 6 months as a spiritual caregiver but the Lord needs me to learn one final lesson, namely, what it means to be a patient and to receive care. I had a test done in mid-January and it revealed some blockages in my arteries.  I am still waiting for a follow up consult with a specialist for treatment options.  So I'm in that space of knowing something is not quite right but not knowing what the next step is.  

 But on that note, I am kind of serious in that I feel good about being in the position to offer help and care and I am not very good on the receiving end.  Giving implies that I am strong and able whereas, receiving care implies weakness.  I think God wants to show me that in my weakness is His strength.  And as we enter into the season of Lent, we focus on the part of Christ's life which truly demonstrated this.

Posted by John Tsang

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