on the week that was – Calgary

A few more thoughts from last week…

The first two days last week were spent at a meeting in Calgary, AB, sponsored by Foundation Baptist Church and Cornerstone Baptist Church. These churches are pastored by friends of mine from my student days in Greenville, SC: Bud Talbert at Foundation and Rod Alsup at Cornerstone. The conference featured the preaching of Dr. Bob Jones III and Dr. Stephen Jones, both of Bob Jones University, our alma mater.

We all profited from the preaching of the Joneses. Dr. Bob is very familiar to me, and his messages ‘felt like home’. I have heard him preach countless times over the years. This was my first occasion to hear Stephen preach – he was ‘just a lad’ when I was a student at BJU. My wife, when on staff at BJU, frequently was asked to take care of Stephen and his siblings when their parents were away. Thus, to hear Stephen preaching now as president of BJU was a special treat for me. He gave us a fine message on the confidence we can have in the Bible as our sure Word from God.

I guess about fifteen or twenty preachers managed to attend the conference meetings. Most were from Alberta, with a few from as far as Manitoba and me representing the opposite extreme in British Columbia. The distances between towns [something I exulted in with my earlier post] is a factor in the difficulty of ministry in Canada, especially in the West. From the ferry to the meetings is almost 700 miles for me. If my kids had not been attending camp, I would have been unlikely to attend. I am sure others considered the distance too great to make a special trip.

The camaraderie in such meetings, even regular fellowship with like-minded preachers in a local coffee shop, is a great encouragement in the ministry. Our geography makes this difficult. The work of several fellows to build the fellowship of preachers on the prairies is commendable and a great help to them. Of course, distances make it prohibitive for some, but I appreciate the effort that is being made. I want to make it a point to support at least the major meetings of the fellowship and to encourage younger fellows coming up to do the same.


A few words about church planting in Western Canada:

The two churches I mentioned in Calgary both meet in Community Centres. Property of their own would be a great blessing, but property isn’t easy to come by in Calgary. Land costs are high. Even with congregations that are becoming self-supporting, the necessary funds are long in coming. To build churches in such an environment requires long term vision and diligent effort.

There are similar challenges to church planting in Victoria. The people of Calgary will tend to be less left-wing politically than those in Victoria, but they are just as secular. Calgary is a city of over a million people now. Yet it has only a few really solid fundamental churches. It has a few other churches in the evangelical camp, but most of these wouldn’t be considered conservative evangelicals.

The dearth of solid fundamental churches in Calgary is replicated in every city in Western Canada. We need more churches and men who are willing to spend years in small, difficult works. Occasionally God will bless with tremendous results in a particular church, as has been seen in Meadowlands Baptist in Edmonton, pastored by Jim Tillotson. Yet the usual pattern is slow growth which requires long-term commitments.

In the real estate world I was told that Japanese mortgages are sometimes taken for terms of 100 years. Their view of the family is that the investment is not for the first generation, but for the third generation. In some ways, ministry in a secularized culture (from a formerly ‘Christian’ culture) must take on this same outlook. Our labours are not in vain, they are not for ourselves, they are for the Lord and for the future, if He tarries. May God find us faithful.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3