Sharing Good News Stories
The 2013 General Assembly introduced a special section to the agenda devoted to telling good news stories from the church. This discussion time was designed to share rich resources for renewal in large and small ways, and creating vibrant connections to help us re-energize and re-imagine our common ministry.
The Rev. Dr. Emily Bisset, who led the 2013 General Assembly in the process of sharing good news stories, offers an excellent resource for congregations to share their good news stories.
The information below, listed by theme, is taken from notes posted by those attending General Assembly describing good news from their local areas. The hope is that these conversations will plant seeds of new life, as we seek to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, each in our own context.
In our centennial year, our project was to celebrate our past. We researched our baptismal records. On the first Sunday of each month the names of all persons baptized in that month were read aloud during worship. Then a special prayer was said for seeds of faith planted, thanksgiving for those still with us and their ministry among us, prayers for those who have moved away that God might bless them in those other places, prayers for those who have fallen away that they might sense God’s call in their lives and God’s work in loving redemption. Congregation members were encouraged to contact those they knew and to tell them we prayed for them to help them remember their baptism.
—Laura H., Knox PC, Port Alberni, BC
Breaking Bread Together
Hot dog Thursday events for high school students invite the teens to the hall of the church for lunch (60-70 teens attend). We also hosted the Teen Challenge from Sault St. Marie (drug and alcohol rehab), which met at the high school, then Teen Challenge and 35 high school students met in the church hall for a pizza evening. We believe the teens felt more comfortable entering the hall because they were used to the church hall environment. Very worthwhile event.
—Kathleen S., Eaglehard, ON
God has created within this community an openness to others to witnessing the incarnation among us by developing a “food ministry” by sponsoring a refugee family from Congo through preaching that engages us and music that inspires, and so much more!
—G. W., St. Columba-by-the-Lake, Pointe Claire, QC
St. Andrew’s, Nanaimo, has a weekly “no cost” lunch to which they invite the high school students across the road and the seniors living in nearby apartment towers. Volunteers from many area churches share in the work. Between 80-120 people are served. Lonely people have new friends to eat with and the generations interact at St. Andrew’s.
Our church building is truly a community centre in the centre of town. Not only do we have two Sunday services, we provide support for CAS visitations, Fishes and Loaves monthly dinners for those who need nutritional and moral sustenance, various addiction groups, T.H.E. (a toy and resource exchange) bus, and other outreach initiatives in Goderich. Sometimes we are so busy, our congregational groups need to find a small corner in which to meet. At Knox, we are truly blessed!
—Annie C., Knox PC, Goderich, ON
Our church building (1961) is one of our best assets and now recognized as a convenient and suitable meeting place for community events. Two church congregations share it on Sundays (am and pm) and during the week, from early morning to evenings. Each weekday it is also rented to community groups: Tai Chi, Bridge, AA groups, writers, rock hounds and potters, it is also a voting station when needed, to name a few, who fit in spots available.
We support a good number of missions: cook for “Our Place Society” (100 servings), support a teen mom’s program next door and a mental health drop-in house program, plus a number of seasonal street programs who are invited as our guests. The teen girls especially join us with children for a Christmas party and pancake lunch. They invite us to their teas/celebrations.
Our minister holds services at two care facilities. The congregation is welcoming and caring to all in and out of our own flock. There are several farms in our area who annually supply us with vegetables, corn stalks, etc. to decorate our sanctuary for Thanksgiving and pass along to Our Place Society and enjoy our connection. Our Korean partners (Grace church) join us in collecting and delivering the produce.
—Loraine Whiting, Knox PC, Victoria, BC
Health and Wellness Ministry
“Kilmartin Cares” caregiver group is a monthly support group for those who offer personal and professional care giving, especially for aging parents. The group has a spiritual focus and educational events for the community re. pastoral issues/care-giving (i.e. CCAC, Alzheimer’s) once or twice a year. This group was formed out of a specific need in the church and has been together for 2 years.
—Charlotte B., Burns PC, Glencoe, ON
Ministry to Seniors
Praise the Lord. A team of church members led by Ada Con were successful in their application to Human Resources and Skills Development, Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program. The grant supports a variety of programs for seniors, delivered by church volunteers to the local community in the loving and caring environment that is the Chinese Presbyterian Church.
—Garland C., Chinese PC, Vancouver, BC
We bought a bus with a lift to help the elderly and disabled get to worship and church activities.
—G. M., Knox PC, Welland, ON
As in many congregations, we have many single seniors still living alone in their own homes. Proposed and organized by a retired elder, each Wednesday they are invited to bring lunch to the church. After this fellowship, a different activity occurs each week of the month: chair exercises, prayer and share, videos, presentations or games. They invite friends who share in these rather informal gatherings, providing support as well as mental and physical exercise.
—Sandra C., St. Giles PC, Calgary, AB
Calgary-Macleod presbytery has a new position: General Presbyter. It is a half-time role, 3-year contract. The role includes:
- coaching clergy to help them up their game
- helping congregations become more future-oriented, missional and hopeful
- conducting annual presbytery visitations to all congregations along with Elders
- being the first responder in crisis.
—Peter C., Calgary-Macleod, AB
Reading the Bible
Read the Bible in a Day was an event organized by the ministerial association in Pembroke. Each church had a Book or two to read. Our church is on Main Street and we read outside from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, for all to see.
—Ann T., First Presbyterian, Pembroke, ON
A Biblical proclamation, sponsored by local ministerial, planned by a committee of lay people and ministers, was held for 10 days before Palm Sunday. 186 participated to read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelations, in many languages and from several denominations. We ended on Palm Sunday with an Ecumenical worship service in the evening.
—Arlene O., Timmins, ON
Stewards by Design Successes
Our church building is 158 years old and set beside a small pond in the village. In 2009, with the help of Kennon Callahan, we stopped “survival thinking” and started “forward thinking.” Celebrate God always. We have community events around yard/plant/bake/rummage sales, Christmas cookie trays, Charles Dickens, Mother’s Day Breakfast, Father’s Day breakfast, a “Festival of Praise,” Sunday every month as well as birthday celebrations. We also have a new church sign, conduct food bank collections and we have a float in Santa Claus parade. Amazing!!
—Alice F., St. Andrew’s PC, Stirling, ON
Worship Beyond Church Walls
The ministerial of our town hosts a Sunday in the Park, mid July when we all take our lawn chairs and join together to worship as one.
—F. H., Geneva PC, Chesley, ON
Our local “Egremont Optimist Club” has an annual Maplefest in a sugar bush on the north end of our village of Holstein. This spring, at their request, we held a Sunday morning worship service in a big tent back at the bush. We cancelled our Sunday morning services at our three-point charge so members could attend. The offering went to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
—Brenda C. Knox PC, Holstein, ON
Rather than our main Christmas celebration be “in house,” for the last two years we have had “Christmas in the Community” where our celebration was centred in a school gym, in a poorer part of the city, where the majority of the people were from the community.
—John H., Coquitlam, BC
We have our Junior Youth G.A.F.F.Y. (Games and Fun For Youth) events. We meet 4-6 times a year for a time of fellowship through games, movies, events, plus a time of devotion around themes like family, friendship, burning questions, Advent, Easter and a time of sharing. The blessing of this group for us is it is community wide, all churches but also young people not involved in church on Sundays. Thanks be to God for the youth that have been and are involved.
—Michelle B, Paisley, ON
Our church has a committed youth worship band who play contemporary songs in the service and revitalize the older church members with their music.
Murray H., St. Andrew’s Kitchener, ON
Monthly breakfasts are served to 300 homeless people by volunteers not only from our church but by people from other churches in our city. Our assistant minister does outreach in the University, working in a variety of ways with the students and the other pastors/chaplains there. We also host prayers and pints for young adults.
—S. G., St. Andrew’s PC, Victoria, BC
Share your good news story today! Send an email or call 1-800-619-7301 ext. 225.