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New Normal

Tom Harbour

Tom Harbour

Counselling Pastor

After a whirlwind of activity, and three “big” Sundays, we are now settling into our "new normal" at Emmanuel Church. I so appreciated how seamlessly Pastor Paul moved into our pulpit last week, and I look forward to his focus on “joy in adversity” from the book of Philippians over the next few months.

If you weren’t at last Sunday’s kick-off BBQ, you missed out! In comparison to years past, we were not choked by dust, unable to find the location, or watching our neighbourhoods burst into flame! Instead, approximately 150 people from all ages and stages met at Westbank Town Centre park and enjoyed hamburgers or hot dogs, bouncy castles, crafts, soccer, football, the water park, cotton candy, and popcorn. Many hands make work light, so thank you to the dozens who stepped up for the event to make it a success.

However, our “new normal” is founded on one key word: transition. With that in mind, the pastoral search committee is hosting a town hall meeting at 6:00 this evening. If you haven’t had a chance to read the committee’s excellent work on our church and community profile, grab a copy from the info desk, read it, and then come this evening prepared to help craft the pastoral profile—qualities YOU want to see in our next pastor—this evening.

I’d like to remind you that EHS starts on Wednesday. What is the reasoning behind the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course? Founder Pete Scazzero believes,

Emotional health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. It is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. When we ignore the emotional component of our lives, we move through the motions of Christian disciplines, activities, and behaviors, but deeply rooted behavioral patterns from our pasts continue to hinder us from an authentic life of maturity in Christ.

If this resonates with you, I will be giving an overview of the course this Wednesday at the Johnston’s. See Steve, Leah, Val, or me for more details.

Finally, on a personal note: with the teacher’s strike finally resolved, I am back to work, which means I will only be available evenings for counselling appointments. However, don’t hesitate to call—it just may take a bit longer to schedule some time to talk!


A Smorg of Ministry Possibilities

Jeff Bjorgan

Spiritual Formation Pastor

One of my favourite restaurants growing up was a place called Uncle Willy's. If you've heard of it, please don't judge me. Coming from a small town where we didn't eat out much, it was a treat to show up to the big city of... White Rock... and have my grandparents take us to an amazing smorgasbord.

Okay, maybe it wasn't amazing, but my immature taste buds thought that gallons of corn mixed in with instant potatoes capped with pre-mixed gravy was a little taste of heaven.

My point? A smorg is great for kids because it's that one meal where they have a choice to put exactly what they want on their plates.

Today, in church, we have a smorgasbord of opportunities available for you to consider. We're not saying that you're consumers picking through kingdom work based on your individual preferences. Rather, we're saying that everyone needs to eat, so consider your choices. In other words, in the kingdom of God, we are not saved to sit, but to serve. And it's hard to feel a part of a church community if you are not connected. So eat up.

During the service there will be time give to look through tables of ministry and small group opportunities at the back. While you look through them, consider the different gifts/skills that God has given you and sign up. Putting your name on a piece of paper doesn't mean you're fully committed, but you're interested in finding out more. While going through the different menu items, you may not see something that works for you; that's okay! If you're willing to serve or be a part of small group, sign up on the miscellaneous pages. Let's begin the conversation of connection.

Another great way to connect is by joining us today for our kick-off party at 4 pm. And, of course, make sure you take a moment today to greet our new interim pastor, Paul Cassidy.


Spiritual Emphasis Days

Jeff Bjorgan

Spiritual Formation Pastor

I grew up in a church climate where Sunday evening services were a must. Tears would form in my eyes when we saw the commercial for “The Wonderful World of Disney” come on, knowing that we would be off to church right before the show started. Sometimes there was a church full of people if there was a guest speaker or special event, sometimes it was the Bjorgan family, sitting in the front row, listening in on a passionate (if a little disheartened) sermon.

Those evening services grew on me, becoming part of the substance of who I am today. Unlike Sunday mornings, evening services were less structured, there was more time to sing, pray, and be present to the move of God. It was during these services where time seemed to stand still, faith was formed and strengthened, God-sightings became prevalent. And there was no pressure to get on with the evening. (Well, except that we were always guaranteed an opportunity to eat open-faced cheese buns and stay up late after the service was over. But that wasn’t pressure; it was pure reward.)

The hectic pace of our world has virtually removed the value of “tarrying”. Tarrying is staying in a place longer than intended; it’s delaying leaving a place. It’s being unhurried and allowing time to stand still. Tarrying is not overly efficient, so it tends to be undervalued.

And yet tarrying is vital for practicing the presence of God. That’s why this weekend, we’re having Spiritual Emphasis days, which include Sunday and Monday evening services. We’re entering a busy fall: why not start things off right? I encourage you to lay down your calendars and clocks, come out to the services, and expect to tarry in God’s presence. I can’t guarantee cheese-buns afterwards, but I know that time spent committing our lives to God is never a waste and is always rewarding.

See you tonight at 7 pm.


Derrick Hamre

Jeff Bjorgan

Spiritual Formation Pastor


Saying Good-Bye

Derrick Hamre

Derrick Hamre

Lead Pastor

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

CS Lewis

This week and next is all about saying good bye. I find my emotions near the surface, tears come quickly and my voice breaks, heavy with feelings too strong to express. The reason I find this so difficult is because of love. I have loved you as a Shepherd and loved this place. For 17 1/2 years we have walked life together. It has included prayer, counsel, friendship, vision, ministry, hospitality, leadership, worship, services and special events. I have been in many homes and you in mine. We have shared in the grief of life and in the rejoicing of new days. We have laughed and cried. We have worked together to advance the Kingdom of God. I have disappointed you and there have been times you have disappointed me. We have held on to a common goal, Jesus Christ. We've never allowed small things to spoil the environment.

Now that love is tested. Can God, in His sovereignty, extricate the Hamres from Emmanuel without damage? I believe He can. A broken heart is not damage but the sign and evidence of love and deep relationship. I weep over you as Jesus wept over Jerusalem. You will always be a part of the fabric of my soul. My children have known no other home, no other church, no other family. I arrived here at the young age of 30 and have experienced more life than most people enjoy in a life time. To part is a deep sorrow but God's grace is sufficient and His power is made evident in my weakness.

God has great things in store. Emmanuel is healthy. Emmanuel has excellent leadership. The family is ready for this change and in God's mind, needs this change. This is Christ's Church and He has wonderful things in store. I will share more at next week's farewell but please know, God is with us. The tears are a healthy sign of love and friendship well lived.