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August 2010
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October 2010

Ground Zero

I don't intend to be flippant about the use of "Ground Zero" as a descriptor for the state of our house. But long before it was synonymous for the 9/11 WTC tragedy, it was simply understood to be the term used for a location on the earth's surface where an explosion occurred. If you walked into our house right now, that's exactly what you might believe had happened.

We recently announced our family plans to relocate to Medicine Hat, Alberta to assist in planting a new church. And with that plan has come the process of preparing our house for sale. Built in 1977, 6324 Atherly Crescent, has been our home for nearly 9 years.  In that time, we have done quite a bit to upgrade and beautify, but as we take steps toward putting it on the real estate market, we realize that there are some critical things that need to be taken care of in order to get the highest possible price for it.

It's no secret to those who know me that I am not necessarily a "handy guy" around the house. God's blessed me with some great gifts and talents, but I excel much more with amplifiers and drum heads than I do power tools and torque wrenches. This lack of gifting obviously makes the long list of to-do's rather intimidating (and expensive).

Fortunately, for the last week or so, we have been blessed by a small - but dedicated - group of guys from Grace who have pitched in to help us knock out some of our list. So far, we've retiled two bathroom floors, removed and rebuilt 80% of a front porch balcony (including that of our neighbors attached), replaced a few light fixtures and repainted a couple of rooms. There has been quite a bit of dust flying for the last 5 days.

We are so grateful to those who have helped us. It's amazing when God's children use their time and talents to bless others.

So, the plan, as of today, is to spend the next two weeks preparing the house for market. We have another volunteer work day happening this Saturday, October 2. Hopefully we will have the house listed by October 15.  We will aim to sell and close in either mid-December or early January.  Once the house is sold we will make our way westward.

More to come soon!

Rob and Peter from Grace working on the balcony with my neighbor, Sorin. 

Same Hat, Different Day

(click photo to enlarge)
As I have for the last few years, I share with you our "first day of school" photo.

Big changes for the boys this year as they are no longer studying at St. Jude's Academy. They are entering grades 3 (Silas) and 1 (Ephraim) at the public school in our neighbourhood.

For a nice laugh, take a look at the post from last year's first day of school [CLICK HERE].


Where the Wind (Spirit) Blows

Alberta Bound

I first met Oliver Shane Edwards in the summer of 2007 when I traveled to Surrey, B.C. as part of the Great Canadian Adventure mission supporting the launch of Community of Hope church. Oliver was a part of the team planting the new church.

Our paths crossed again in the summer of 2008 at the FGBC National Conference in Tampa. It was soon after that meeting that I heard Oliver and his wife Cheryl were hoping to plant a church in Alberta.

At the time I heard that news, there was a strange resonance in my spirit; kind of like God ringing a bell to get my attention. I still remember the thought that crossed my mind was something like, "Maybe you should go do that, Bart."

As quickly as that thought entered my mind, I ushered it out. I have never had any plans, dreams or intentions of being a church planter. Not my cup of tea.

I have served as the worship pastor at Grace Community Church since February 2002. I began attending Grace in the early part of 1999 and began leading worship at the church in the summer of 2000. Grace has been my church home for a long time; the only church my sons, Silas and Ephraim, have ever known. And it's the only full-time ministry job that I've ever had. So over the past year or so, as I've had this odd internal struggle, a restlessness, about my future at Grace, I've been very challenged by how to handle it.

For the better part of the last year I have had a sense that my time at Grace was coming to an end, but I really had no clue as to how things were going to write themselves out. I seriously considered leaving full-time ministry and rejoining the secular work force. But after a short time of pondering that idea, I realized that was clearly not what God wanted from me. I mentally entertained the idea of finding another ministry job in another church somewhere else, but it just felt wrong - nothing about it seemed to be God-honoring. After all, I was so invested in the ministry at Grace. And I had been invested in so much by the leaders of Grace and GBCanada.

Then, early in the summer, seemingly out of nowhere the thought popped back into my mind, "Maybe I should go to Alberta and help with this church plant." 

Since the initial announcement of plans to plant in Alberta, the Edwards family had determined Medicine Hat to be the city. And subsequently our church, Grace, had sent a team of people out to assist them with some pre-launch activities.

With slight hesitation I mentioned to my wife, Elizabeth, the thought that was in my mind. I asked her what she thought about leaving everything behind here in Ontario and heading west - into the middle of nowhere - to start a new church.

Fully expecting her to balk at the idea, she surprised me by saying that she thought it was perhaps a good idea and worth exploring. So we did just that.

We've spent the last couple of months praying, talking, conferring with the Grace leadership and ultimately travelling to Medicine Hat to see the city and spend face-to-face time with Cheryl and Oliver. The overwhelming sense that we have walked away with is that this is to be the next step in our life mission. Soon - very soon - we are to move to the prairies and plant a new church. 

To be continued...