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Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

A very happy thanksgiving to all!

What are you thankful for?  How often do we ask ourselves that question?

Thankfulness is a feeling or expression of gratitude.  It means we’re appreciative of what we have been given, or the people in our lives, or the situations we find ourselves in.  When I think of my church family, a few things come to mind that I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful for an amazing group of volunteers who have poured in hours and hours to this place called Emmanuel.  When I think of the building project, I think of the building committee, the church board, carpenters, electricians, painters, carpet layers, graphic designers, and I think of the sacrifice they have made to make this place special for future generations.  When I think of our ministry programs and Sunday morning celebrations, I think of nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, ushers, greeters, set-up teams, sound technicians, media personnel, worship leaders and musicians, coffee bar staff, info desk helpers, youth volunteers, small groups leaders… the list goes on.  I am so thankful for a church that journeys well together.
  • I am thankful for the great gift our church staff is to me.  I am thankful that it is a joy to come into work each day, share life together, dream together, pray together, and share the burden together.  Working in a church is a unique experience.  Staff becomes family on so many levels.
  • I am thankful for my family, for my wife and my four kids, for the ways they bring purpose and focus to my life, for the gift of their uniqueness’s, and the joy that their presence brings me.

And the list can go on!  I am thankful for God’s presence in my life, for the gift of being born and raised in Canada, for the beauty of the Okanagan, for chocolate, and for hockey, and for laughter, and music, and fresh air and pizza, and peach pie…

You know, all this thankfulness would put anyone in a great mood.  Studies have shown that thankfulness is directly related to our health.  I encourage you on this Thanksgiving weekend to take some time to write out what you are thankful for.  It could be a life changing, and mood-altering , God-encountering experience!


Life Happens

Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

Life happens while you’re waiting for life to happen.  I was thinking about this while we were in staff meeting this week.  Much of our attention as a church has been focused on gearing up for the completion of our auditorium and what happens after.  It has consumed much of our time, resources, and focus.  But in the midst of waiting for the building to “happen”, life—that regular ministry-focused, roll-up-your-sleeves and get to work kind of life—has continued on at quite a pace.

In this light, a couple stories need to be shared.

The story of youth ministry.  Our Fall season is off to a surprising start, with an average of 90 students connecting on Tuesday evenings.  Many of these teens come from the community with no church experience.  They sign up for events like youth alpha and ministry outreach, and are inviting their friends out.  The high attendance is a fun problem to have!  We have also seen our youth Sunday school with over 20 students on a Sunday morning, Sunday night youth services with over 20 kids, and our Route 456 program have over 40 children attend on a weekly basis.  Our kids Sunday School program has between 70-90 kids each Sunday morning.  These are exciting times.

Of course numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Our vision is not to create a crowd, but to develop disciples who hold on to the faith all the days of their lives.  We’re working at a staff level to make sure we have mentors and teachers and curriculums and opportunities in place in order for our students to come to terms about what it means to live the Christian life.  We continue to rely on the whole community at Emmanuel to help make this vision a success.

Would you specifically pray for our youth and children’s ministries?  Pray that community kids connect with Jesus Christ.  Pray that the church’s kids grow deeper in their faith and understanding of who God is.  And pray that God brings forward workers (we’re still looking for Grade 1 teachers in Sunday School, for instance, and help with Route 456).

Because, while we’re waiting for life to happen, it’s happening all around us.  Let’s celebrate what God is up to in our midst.



Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

I was in shock this week to hear that Inge Funke had passed away.  In shock because she had just come in to visit me on Wednesday.  She wanted to book some time with me to discuss doing some more ministry.  Although 87 years old, Inge was a vibrant personality, who had a twinkle in her eye, and a very sharp mind.  She was hoping to open up time to minister to people by listening to them and praying for them. 

And with ministry on her mind, God called her home.

We also heard word this week that Lydia Peters died.  Lydia was a warm and joyful person, great at making people feel comfortable and remembering names and stories.  She was the mother of Ralph Peters, who used to pastor here at the church and was recently a missions partner of ours.

When I think of these two women, I can’t help but think of the concept of legacy.  Earlier this week I heard a story about how science has discovered that each of us have a microbe cloud that follows us wherever we go, and each cloud is distinct to the individual.  That means, with sophisticated mapping, we can discover who was in a room even long after they had gone.  Legacy kind of works that way.  Both Inge and Lydia brought a presence into whatever room they were in.  Their presence was marked with an inner joy and a welcoming peace, and a love for Jesus.  Long after they are gone, their names will bring back memories of fondness, a comfort that good people are still found in this world, and a challenge to celebrate their legacy by working on establishing our own.

What is your legacy?  What will you be remembered for?  What would you hope someone would write on your tombstone?  These are great questions to ponder in the midst of remembering some of the dear saints in our midst who have gone on to meet Jesus face to face.  Well done Inge.  Well done Lydia.  You have fought the good fight.  Your presence will be missed. 


Our Auditorium Opening

Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

There have definitely been twists and turns to our journey towards moving into our new auditorium.  On one hand, we have been very excited about seeing the auditorium taking shape: concrete being worked on, carpets being prepped for installation, shelves being built, and windows being installed.  On the other hand, some areas of construction have slowed down the pace, and some key materials, like our sound system, is on back-order.

Although it’s very difficult to make this decision, we have decided to post-pone our Grand Opening.  Here’s why: 

  • Although we are still aiming for a soft-launch on Thanksgiving Sunday, we cannot be assured that we will have occupancy in time even for a soft-launch.  It is much better to postpone now, rather than a few days before a big Grand opening bash.
  • We want to represent ourselves well.  Even if we do get in for Thanksgiving Sunday, there will be little time to troubleshoot our sound system, work the lights, figure out our media, and create a warm and friendly environment in  our foyer.  When we are having out of town guests, former pastors, local and provincial politicians joining us, we want to present our best.

We are sorry if it has affected anyone’s plans, particularly those that are coming from out of town.  We have decided that we won’t set the date for the grand opening until we are actually in the building having services, so that we can plan well without the added pressure of occupancy.  Deadlines are important: the deadlines we set for the fall helped us aim for an end date, and we are still oh so close!  In many ways, the only thing that changes is that we won’t be throwing a party quite yet.

Emmanuel has been incredibly resilient as a congregation.  Thank you for your understanding, grace, and patience in this matter!  In the meantime, the process doesn’t slow down –we still need all hands on deck to help with pledges, work bees, and prayer.  Stay tuned.  God has been immensely faithful, and great days are ahead.


Patience and Faith

Jeff Bjorgan

Lead Pastor

Patience and Faith.  I think those two words go hand in hand.  One definition of patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.”  Faith is “confidence or trust in a person or thing.”  Over the last few months there have been many times that we as a church have had to deal with delays.  We begin to plan things, deadlines or due dates are put into place, only to have new information hit us that requires a change in direction, or pushing off dates, or waiting for other decision makers to get back to us.  Patience has been very necessary to help us suppress restlessness or annoyance!  I am very grateful for a congregation that has been exceedingly patient with the building project.  Emmanuel is a flexible church, and that’s been a wonderful value to have in the midst of all that is taking place.

I think the flexibility that I’ve seen over the last few months is directly related to how our faith influences our patience.  We have been able to suppress restlessness or annoyance because we have confidence in Jesus Christ.  This is God’s church.  Long ago we invited Him to orchestrate what we do here, animate us by his Spirit, and set the tone, pace, and direction of our lives.  He has been exceedingly faithful.  So let’s continue to practice our faith!  And let’s continue to respond accordingly with patience.

It’s Kick-Off Sunday, which means we start our Sunday School program, and we have our Kick Off Party at the park down the street.  Starting at 4 pm, we’re having food, fellowship, and some fun activities for the kids.  What a great way to start the Fall season!  Also, small groups launch this week, including Newcomers (this Tuesday) and Prime Time (Thursday).  Prime Time will be finishing off the book of Genesis by looking at the life of Joseph.  Looking forward to a unique and wonderful Fall at Emmanuel.