It was an absolute privilege to be part of the preparation for the One Church Beamsville community worship service this past weekend. The more I heard some long-time residents make statements along the lines of how this was something that had never happened in Beamsville on this scale before, the more it felt like I was part of history in the making.
This month's blog gives Faith News readers a chance to see the preparation process from my perspective.
It all began over a year ago, when the Beamsville ministerial had its usual monthly meeting. (In my travels, I've seen ministerial groups made up of pastors, but ours has representaion from other ministires in the area.)
During this meeting, the notion of an area-wide service was introduced. The initial idea was to have the service in the then-brand new Lincoln arena. A number of factors meant we would have to modify the idea somewhat; rather than the arena, it was decided to have the first service in Great Lakes Christian High School. A second service one year later could be held in the arena.
The decision was made to have the service on the Sunday before Mother's Day. With that decided, we began planning. As we met, we also came to the conclusion that we needed to make it clear what the vision for this service was. Verses found in passages like John 17 and Psalm 133 were used to keep us focused with the reason behind this, and to explain to others why the ministerial was behind it.
The night before the service, I came to the Great Lakes gym to help with setting up chairs, etc. Mics and video cameras, along with other technological toys, were set into place as well. Ministerial members came togther to make sure every potential problem had been addressed.
At 10 am the following day, a year-long dream became reality.
A personal highlight for me would be the sermon by Rev. Steven DeBoer from Providence Christian Reformed Church, who pointed out that "our shared unity is not in the way we worship, but in who we worship. It's not in how or when we baptize, but in who the baptismal waters point to." What a line.
So what's next? We're going to continue building relationships with each other as churches, leaders, and Christians. We're going to continue looking for ways learn about one another, and to help other Christians learn about one another. I can say this with 100% certainty: we have way, way, way more in common than than not in common. I know this, because I have meant all kinds of Christians from all kinds of backgrounds, I've sat with them, had coffee with them, and listened as they told me their stories. In many cases, I recorded those strories with their permission. I had to; it was the best way I could ensure accuracy for the satory I would ultimately write for this website.
If you've been here at our online location for any length of time, then you're familiar with many of these stories I'm referring to. The people whose stories are highlighted every month on Faith News Niagara have all kinds of distinctive backgrounds, but they all love Jesus. Just like the 500 people that met in a gym in Beamsville recently. They all have stories too, and Jesus is entwined in all of them.
Faith News is going to keep doing its part to help bring the body together in Jesus by continuing to bring you stories of what God is doing our region. And if you have any stories, or know someone who does, let us know, so we can share stories of what God is doing through his people to other believers.
And while I'm recommending websites, let me direct you to onechurchbeamsville.com, the Beamsville ministerial's website. One reason why, is because the entire service can now be viewed at that site. You can relive the day, or experience it for the first time.
By the way, the One Church site is highlighting, and will highlight, all the great things God is doing and will keep doing through Beamsville's churches, as they come together in Jesus. This recently completed service will be just one of a list of things the collective will be involved with.
So if you haven't done so yet, do the following: 1) read the article on the service. 2) If you were at the service and enjoyed it, share the article with a friend, especially if they didn't go. 3) Bookmark the One Church website and stay up to date with what God is doing through his shepherds and leaders in Beamsville. And 4) pray this prayer Jesus prayed: "that all of them may be one, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, Father, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."