Today we are taking a paddlewheel cruise throughout the Halifax Harbour. It was at the close of World War I that a munitions ship errantly steered off course into another ship and blew up. The explosion was as destructive as any bomb up to Hiroshima. Houses, lands and people, on both sides of the Harbor, were blasted and devastated by the force. Hundreds of people lost their lives and evidence of the tragedy still remains.
Our Pastor's Conference has been phenomenal. There's an intangible, but fragrant flavor, to the Foursquare family that has been evident throughout this week. The Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada began out of a revival sparked by the ministry of our founder Aimee Semple McPherson in 1928. Anna Britton was chosen as our first leader and sent young, zealous evangelistic pastor's across the nation.
It was often because of dramatic physical healings that churches sprung up from Vancouver to Halifax. Over the years that followed, sometimes due more to enthusiasm than business acumen, many of those churches; did not survive. Some became part of the PAOC denomination.
Today we have churches in almost every province including the Yukon. So, once every two years we get together for a Pastor's Conference, and in the other years, for a General Convention. (BTW, I have made a CD on the Foursquare Gospel Church--who we are and what we believe. Please contact me if you wish to purchase a copy.)
This year in Halifax, we are enjoying a Pastor's and Leader's Conference which has several purposes with a priority of relationship. I spoke with a guest at this conference just yesterday. He is a retired pastor in a well respected Canadian Evangelistic Denomination whose son and grandson have become Foursquare Pastors. As a Non-Pentecostal, he had some concerns when his two protégées declared themselves to be Pentecostals. After sitting through two meetings and chatting with a variety of other pastors from across the nation, he said to me, "Now I understand what my son means when he says he's found more than a denomination--he's found a family." He loved the godly, enthusiastic relational, doctrinally sound culture that his son and grandson had found!
The theme of our Pastor's Conference has been Taking Care of Business. That business, of course, all falls under the covering of the kingdom of God, but includes the spectrum of financial reports, the process of transition from the presidency of Tim Peterson to whomever is chosen in 2007, the capital campaign of our National Bible College PLBC to "spiritual" business.
I have served as the plenary speaker and my four presentations have focussed on my life verse, Exodus 18:20, where old Jethro counselled his son-in-law-Moses to prioritize three areas of Ministry:
- Teach the Word
- Teach the Way
- Teach the Walk
In addition to the Plenary Sessions, which included a pivotal message from our President, we have covered a variety of subjects:
1. Connecting with Foursquare Missions in 140 nations
2. Foursquare Care
3. Reproducing Churches
4. Lifeline form Pacific Life Bible College
5. Tweens and Teens
All will be available soon on CD from the Foursquare Canada web page.
To me, the relationships have been the highlight of our conference. I've met my brothers and sisters from across the country. There's nothing I enjoy more than listing to the gripping accounts of what God is doing from Vancouver Island to St. John New Brunswick. I've been fascinated by the stories I've heard and the lunches, coffee breaks and dinners together have been key places to share our passions and interests; as well as to care for each other and practice the healing power of hearty laughter.
Tomorrow, Susan and I will be in Dartmouth and have the honor of speaking at the Foursquare Church pastored by Reid and Bonnie Stairs and then we head to Alma, New Brunswick (a picturesque retreat centre) to meet with Forrest MacArthur's house church in the evening.
I'm so looking forward to meeting several more real Maritimers. I'll write more later about our experiences.