So much of what God is doing amongst us goes unnoticed. The life of a church often feels a little like our bringing five loaves and two fish—not so impressive until Jesus takes and transforms it by his extraordinary grace into something which cheers, sustains, and gives life to others.
God's work through us extended across the globe in 2016. Two of our young adults left Vancouver to serve God long-term in India. The OK Team is now living among people from nine different nations, learning the Telugu language, so they can better serve Christ among the people there. In April, we had our fourth visit with representatives of the dioceses of Upper Shire in Malawi, as we welcomed Beatrice Kawinga and Enelesi Jailosi. Their love for us, their faith and joy in Christ was a source of genuine refreshment.
The work of Ratanak in Cambodia is remarkable and it is a privilege to partner with this ministry. Two of our members recently travelled to Cambodia to see the work first hand. Sharyn Thompson visited Vancouver in 2016. This was to take a break from leading the work of Bible translation with Wycliffe Bible Translators in four African countries (roughly the size of 1/3 of Canada!). Sharyn has given herself to this work for the last 20 years.
We have also experienced God's work closer to home. In 2016, our Refugee Committee has seen God working through them. The Rashid family from Mosul are now settled with housing and employment in Vancouver. We continue to walk alongside them and another family from Afghanistan. Each year, thousands of seafarers visit Vancouver Port as part of their work. Paul Ratsoy along with others from Lighthouse Harbour Ministries are able to care for and share Christ with these men. This ministry is bearing fruit for Christ. We continue to support our Sudanese church plant, as well as Immanuel Church in Vancouver, which ministers primarily to the marginalized. St. John’s Richmond celebrated their 10th anniversary this year. How thankful we are to God for all that he has done in this church plant.
Within the life of St. John’s, we have had a number of mid-sized gatherings, including Sunday lunches, evening concerts, and the Valentine Variety Night. The evening presented by a number of Christian doctors titled ‘Dying Well’ was practical, biblical, pastoral, and deeply counter cultural. Much of the pastoral responsibility in our congregation is carried by our home group/small group leaders. This year our leaders gathered to encourage and equip each other in mission, care, and a variety of skills.
Our international ministry has grown with a number of new initiatives and regular groups, and the Lord adds to our number those who are being saved from very different backgrounds. Our Building Committee has been active this year, as you will hear at our vestry meeting. Thank you to all those who took part in our parish-wide survey.
This year, I spoke to leaders in New Zealand and the diocese of Cascadia, just across the border. Our parish is supported by the prayers of many outside our congregations. I count it a joy and privilege to have spiritual responsibility among you and to be your minister for nearly 25 years! Sincerely, David Short
As trustees, we continued to ensure St. John’s advanced our mission to hold God-Pleasing Sundays, engage Gospel Mission, and live as a Community of Contrast in 2016. It was a year of exploration, growth, and engagement.
We saw our families nourished by the gospel, formed multi-generational community groups, experienced growth in our Asian community, undertook local and international missional outreach, and increased training opportunities for our leaders and laypeople. Our leaders continued to serve and care for us as a congregation, growing our love for God through robust God-centred teaching.
This year we were keen to engage with you more in our pursuit of a permanent home for St. John’s. We held two informational sessions and facilitated an online questionnaire to gather your input, vision, and financial support. We were able to discern a continued interest and desire to have our own place to call home. The Building Committee continues to explore active opportunities, and we place our trust in God that He will provide for us in His time.
Finally, we as trustees spend significant effort overseeing the finances which you sacrificially give to St. John’s each year. Specifically this year we have been reviewing the trends in giving to see if there are ways we can encourage giving to be spread throughout the year. We continue to trust in God that through your giving we can build up the Church of Christ and draw people to our Lord Jesus Christ.
As always, it remains a privilege to serve in this capacity, and we are grateful to you and God for this opportunity. Sincerely, The Trustees
Our 7:30 am service serves a unique purpose in the life of worship at St. John's. You could say the worship is “straight from the book.” Literally, we use the Book of Common Prayer and little else. The service is “said,” meaning, not much singing for a compact 45 minutes of worship. Far from a fast liturgy, it is a foundation from which all other worship services leap.
Since the size of the community is small, yet stable, the gathering of worshipers includes a high percentage of involvement. It doesn’t take long to find a place to serve, whether it’s setting the table, making coffee, greeting worshipers, reading the Bible, or helping to lead the service. No one is along for the ride in this ship. All hands on deck rowing the vessel and all get to know one another shoulder to shoulder in the service of Christ.
In 2016, one of our Artizo interns suggested we move coffee and tea out of the Learners' Exchange room into the chapel. This gave rise to fellowship between the 7:30 and 9:00 am services, and with this change we enjoyed a convergence of members and visitors previously kept separate.
The 7:30 am service has enjoyed the reciprocal encouragement between Artizo interns and regular attendees. Interns preach twice monthly receiving formal feedback from three service members and informal feedback from the rest of the attendees who hear their sermons. All grow in the grace and knowledge of our faith in Christ through the Word of God proclaimed, discussed, and integrated into our lives, and we plan to continue all of this in 2017.
From pancake breakfasts to special events, we had many highlights at our 9:00 and 11:00 am services in 2016. Our confirmation service in June was one of those. Bishop Trevor Walters confirmed 11 youth and adults, and Michele Konnert and Shannon Unger shared what it meant for them to commit to a life of serving Jesus. Also at this service, The Marcus Mosely Chorale contributed stirring gospel music — it was all a joyful celebration. Later in the summer, in our combined services at 10:00 am, we had a series of six special Family Services called Luke Street. Our congregation of all ages met week-by-week to see how men and women encountered Jesus and found their lives transformed by him.
We were also blessed to have 40+ students from Trinity Western Richmond campus visit our 11:00 am service on two different Sundays this year as part of their religion class. A number of them had not been to a church service before!
There were many volunteers and lay leaders who made it possible for these services to take place, and their ministries are invaluable to us! Neil Stopforth, who led the large Greeting Ministry for the 9:00 and 11:00 am services, stepped down from this role after seven years of strong leadership. His dedication, wisdom, organizational skills, and vision for welcome and hospitality have been a huge gift to St. John’s over the years. Thank you, Neil! We are grateful and blessed to have Karen Hawley step into this role with wonderful gifts for leading this ministry.
Inter-generational worship at the morning services has been a important development over the last year or so. Our children and youth play an active role in our congregation at the beginning of the service, and every other month they take part in communion. Youth serve at communion, children read the lessons, and there is an expanded children’s teaching time before they go to Sunday School. In this time, we've also made changes in the music so that we learn a traditional hymn at the beginning of the service and then learn a more recent hymn before children and youth go to their classes.
These changes and special events highlight for us the great privilege of meeting as a church family of all-ages to hear God’s word and encourage one another as we mature together in Jesus.
We are grateful to God for the ways he guided and shaped us this year — 2016 was a wonderful year for the Evening Service.
Hospitality was a key theme, with our August sermon series focusing on just that. In addition to the series, we held community dinners in people's homes, a post-service dessert night, and a pre-service book study on the topic. Another big change that facilitated hospitality was our service time change to 6:00 pm. This change has enabled the service to be more welcoming for families and to encourage post-church gatherings (I understand Whitespot in the Oakridge Mall has benefited from this time change!). As a result, we have a delightful group of children (about 10-12 each week) who are now part of our community. The drive to understand hospitality as a Christian virtue spilled over into how we participated as a community in the Easter Project, with members from our service running two separate neighbourhood parties and delivering food to the marginalized in the community.
Other highlights included our Evening Service retreat at Camp Squeah in February — which was brilliant as always — a time of rest and recreation, feasting and fun, prayer and playfulness. In June, we went camping at the Golden Ears National Park. As you can guess, it did rain, but unperturbed by the weather, the talented ES congregants stood around the campfire singing show tunes and munching on s'mores.
This year, we also said goodbye to our curate Jordan Senner. Jordan, Susie, and Annabelle relocated to Scotland so that he could pursue doctoral studies at the University of St. Andrew's. We are incredibly grateful for their loving and dedicated ministry to St. John's.
Lastly, we grieved the loss of Malcolm Ross. My unofficial warden, friend, and a very active member of our congregation. His absence is still keenly felt. But we don’t grieve without hope. Our Revelation sermon series that started in the fall has taught us that because of the radical hospitality of God, we will once again enjoy the company of Malcolm, at the grand supper of the lamb.
From a Ceilidh to Connection Lunches, retreats to variety nights, we had a lot of great things going on in 2016.
In July, in collaboration with Regent College, we held a 90TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION for Dr. J.I. Packer. Although he is not the only one in our church family to have reached this impressive personal milestone, he has perhaps had the most significant and remarkable influence on evangelical theology and practice for the last 60 years, and so we wanted to honour him. We thank God for him and his wife, Kit, and for his humble, consistent, and charitable service to Christ and his church.
At the beginning of October, over 120 people attended our second annual PARISH RETREAT at Camp Charis. The weekend was filled with fellowship, laughter, fun, and insightful teaching from Bruce and Carolyn Hindmarsh on Psalm 107.
We also continued to reach out to those not apart of the St. John's community through CONCERTS AND SPECIAL MUSIC EVENTS like our annual Remembrance Day and Brass & Organ concerts. We added a choral evensong to celebrate Ascension Day which we plan to celebrate again in 2017.
2016 saw our ministry team say goodbye to Kristen Moore and welcome Jessica Fehr as Children's Ministry Coordinator. Kimberley Graham also transitioned into a newly developed role as Family Ministry Coordinator. Our multi-generational team of volunteers grew to about 50 and enjoyed two training evenings featuring a choice of workshops to help grow as teachers of God's word.
In September, we began training three Artizo interns and one St. John's intern (Arnold Mayorga) as Sunday School teachers and leaders for Family Ministry events. This team of leaders helped host Practicing Advent in November. Practicing Advent aimed to equip people of all ages to "practice" the Advent season through prayer, art, and hospitality. Lastly, 2016 saw the completion of a 3+ year project to develop a Sunday School curriculum for preschool to grade 6 titled "God's Big Story." Our next goal is to adapt this curriculum for family discipleship in the home.
In July, over 40 volunteers of all ages joined about 90 kids on "Luke Street" for our annual summer Bible Camp, as Dr. Luke led us through four days of "walking where Jesus walked." About half of the children came from outside St. John's and many of our volunteers were youth who received training and mentorship in witnessing to the gospel through story, song, snacks, crafts, and games.
As of fall 2016, there are now two multi-generational community groups meeting weekly for all-ages discipleship and fellowship in homes. Our Family Ministry intern, Arnold Mayorga, is providing leadership for one group while Kim and Jeremy Graham lead a second. These groups also seek to share life together beyond their weekly meeting. We are praying for the multiplication of this community group model in 2017!
2016 was a big transitional year for the youth and young adults at St. John's. We said goodbye to Dave Little, after many years of dedicated service. Junior Youth, Senior Youth, and Ekklesia came under the umbrella of Student Ministries, and Tad Inboden was invited to direct the ministry alongside his wife, Nicole. Together their vision for the ministry is for every young person to know God's love and to make His love known.
In June, eleven youth and three leaders trekked to Fresno, California to serve alongside a new church plant in the disadvantaged Jackson Neighborhood. The aim of this trip was to serve a local church community and learn from them about how to engage our neighbours with the gospel of Jesus Christ well. Tad and Nicole plan to take a group on a mission trip every two years.
A special focus for this year was on serving and mission. Senior Youth (grade 10-12) served within the church two Sundays each month and engaged their community once a month with "open door" events to which they could invite their friends. Junior Youth did a series on Jesus' teaching in the spring and finished with a video project where the kids adapted a parable or teaching of Jesus into a skit set in our modern context.
Ekklesia said goodbye to Jordan Senner in August, welcomed Zach Kahler as the new leader in the fall, and continued to build fellowship throughout the year.
DYING WELL: An event with a panel of three physicians resourcing the congregation and visitors to finish well the race set before us, know what quality of life looks like for Christians at the end stage of life, and to care well for those who are dying.
VISITATION MINISTRY: this ministry was created to walk alongside those that are unable to come to church. Eight people were trained and five people are currently being visited.
EXPECTING EMMANUEL: Over 70 people attended this special annual Advent service to bring comfort and hope for those feeling weary or burdened during the Christmas season.
TEN STEPHEN MINISTERS who provide one-to-one Christian care for people experiencing difficulty in their lives, were trained, nine of them from other churches.
We continued our shift to make Community Groups the primary place for care, fellowship, hospitality, and mission at St. John's. In order to carry out this charge, we held two pastoral care training sessions for small group leaders: Distinctively Christian Care by James Wagner and Consulting Up by Dr. David Carter.
Community Group leaders also attended Mission Made Possible with teaching from David Short on how to reach out into the world with Christ's love. These were all fruitful events, and more training workshops and training videos will be made available in 2017.
Book studies are a great entry point to the St. John's community. In 2016, under the leadership of Lyn Unger, we held two book studies. The first group read The Praying Life by Paul Miller in April. The second group read Table Grace by Douglas Webster, and the study was in conjunction with the hospitality sermon series at the early morning and evening services. We highly recommend both books to you, and we plan to do more studies in 2017!
SENIORS' MINISTRY Our Seniors' Ministry, under the direction of Margaret Wilson, continued to thrive in 2016. The ministry maintained its focus on discipleship and fellowship and had many great speakers and topics. One of the main highlights, and the most highly attended, was the season-ending event featuring a look at the impact of Queen Elizabeth II's faith on her life. Other topics included leaving fruitful legacies, thankfulness, and stories of the faith journeys of many individuals.
WOMEN'S EVENTS At the beginning of 2016, the Women's Ministry held an event called "Together: Intimacy and Belonging in the Age of Isolation" discussing the ache many of us have for a greater sense of relational connectedness. Connally Gilliam, Carolyn Hindmarsh, and Mariam Kamell Kovalishyn spoke and more than 125 people from numerous churches attended. The women's brunches in April (Bronwyn Short spoke on Prayer) and October (Jean Dunbar spoke about her ministry in Northern BC) and the Women @ 10 Christmas Event served as great opportunities to invite friends, family, and neighbours who aren't involved in our community. Those will continue to be important events in 2017!
St. John's is dedicated to the important task of equipping and training men, women, youth, and children, and there are many ways in which we do that.
St. John's is one of the primary supporters of the ARTIZO INSTITUTE whose purpose is to equip young people for ministry, and 2016 was a tremendous year for the Artizo Program at St. John's.
We had the largest group we've ever had with seven interns helping at St. John's, and they were widely involved in a variety of ministries in the church (Children’s Ministry, Student Ministries, outreach through the ESL programs and missional communities, Bible studies, men’s and women’s groups, a wide range of pastoral visitations, and teaching and leading at all Sunday services). Given the importance and complexity of the work, Rev. Aaron Roberts was appointed to be responsible for the organizing, deploying, and reporting on the work of Artizo interns assigned to St John’s. We are so grateful for all of their service!
LIVEWORD WOMEN'S CONFERENCE is another important training avenue that aims to help equip women to study God's Word, so that they may grow to maturity in Christ. 2016 was the conference's 11th year. Carolyn Hindmarsh, Jan Hobbis, and Kristen Moore spoke on "True Life: Grace and godliness in the book of Titus." Over 130 people attended the one-day event with at least 40 churches represented.
Finally, we continued our CATECHISM courses seeking to help people grow in the knowledge of God and live according to his revealed truth in their everyday lives. We had a total of 40 people involved in those courses in 2016. We held Women’s Catechism Weekends in both the winter and spring, had three 15-week Catechism classes at both the 9:00 and 11:00 am services, taught catechism at the Men’s Wednesday Breakfast, and confirmed 11 individuals.
In 2016 we launched The Easter Project where multi-generational groups from St. John’s carried out different projects to love and serve their neighbours in practical ways over the Easter weekend. There were five projects that took place.
We are looking forward to The Easter Project in 2017.
In April 2016, Beatrice Kawinga and Enelesi Jailosi visited us from the Diocese of Upper Shire, Malawi. St. John's has had a partnership with the diocese since 2003, and we were very glad to welcome our friends and hear about how God was at work in their community and ministries. A team from St. John's will be travelling to Malawi in 2017.
Over the past few years, St. John's has prayerfully considered how we might love and serve our refugee neighbours. Out of this, the Refugee Committee and the Refugee Welcome Team were formed. The Refugee Committee, a small, eight-member group chaired by Owen Underhill, oversaw all parish outreach to displaced people by directing the sponsoring of refugees not yet in Canada. The committee also managed the welcoming, befriending, and assisting of refugee claimants. The Refugee Welcome Team, currently a thirty-member group and open to anyone interested in joining, continues to actively "walk alongside" those who are displaced here and now in Vancouver. We are currently helping two families who were driven away from their homes in Afghanistan and Iraq. LEARN MORE AT SJVAN.ORG/REFUGEE-OUTREACH
In October 2016, we sent Nick and Donna Chapman Jones to visit Helping Point, with the intention of strengthening relationships with our sisters and brothers in India. They are pictured above with a group of young adults who are currently sponsored to continue their studies at the college level, a first in most of their families. Nick and Donna's fondest moments of their trip were spent with these kind, faithful and servant-hearted students!
Our ministry to international individuals, particularly from Asian countries continued to grow in 2016 with a number of new initiatives and regular groups. We look forward to seeing this ministry grow in 2017!
At Synod in October, we were charged by Bishop Charlie Masters to steadfastly pray and seek open doors for the Gospel. He wrote:
"I have become more and more convinced that we must pray for an open door for the gospel. We just don't have the ability but he does; and in the gospel we have what everyone needs. If there is a reason for our existence, as I believe there is, it is to be vehicles through which gospel ministry and church planting is available to any and all – and is provided in an Anglican setting.
I believe the five priorities are all about providing a platform for life and ministry through which the word of God is honoured and obeyed, and the name of Jesus and the gospel of Jesus are lifted up. As we work on these priorities we are preparing for an open door for the gospel and ready ourselves to go through as those doors are opened and reap the harvest which he will most certainly bring."
St. John's had five lay delegates, three lay observers, and five clergy representatives attend Synod. Dan Gifford and Matt Strolz were elected to serve on the ANiC Council, and Jeremy and Kimberley Graham continue to lead the Loving Children priority. In 2017, we will continue to develop the five priorities and steadfastly pray and seek open doors for the Gospel.
What a great privilege it is for our church family at St. John’s to be called to praise God, to follow Jesus, to share the gospel, and to make disciples.
In 2016 we witnessed once again the remarkable hand of God over our finances. We ended the year with a deficit of $12,199, within 0.5% of our total offerings, and a positive closing balance in our General Fund at year-end of $14,058 (carried over from a record surplus in 2015). This outcome was beyond imagination and truly an answer to prayer as we faced the daunting task of having to raise 25% of our offerings (compared to 22% in the prior year) in the month of December.
In 2016, we also raised $101,467 for our Restricted Funds including $80,688 to the Building Fund and $20,779 to the Short Term Mission and Refugee Fund. So, it is with a great sense of gratitude to God and the generosity of each and every one of our church family that we can rejoice and witness God’s provision for our needs. Thank you for your generosity and for responding with the giving of your time, talent, and financial resources. May you experience abundant, overflowing joy as you give and as you invest “in seed that bears fruit for blessing.”
The new British Columbia Societies Act came into effect in November 2016, designed to better govern how societies are created and run in the province. The Act aims to increase societies’ flexibility, modernize legislation, and increase transparency and accountability. As a registered charity, St. John’s has already begun the process of transitioning to the requirements of the new Act.
In the Financial Report, you will note that our Outreach Expenses amounted to 22% of total offerings in 2016. This commitment of our financial resources to ministries outside of St John’s, considered together with the percentage of our staff resources devoted to outreach, highlights our desire as a church to invest in the work of the gospel beyond St. John’s.
Thanks be to God for all of our staff, for serving and caring so well for us, especially to our clergy for leading us in the faithful preaching and exposition of God’s word and for building us up as a community of contrast by the grace of God. May we as a congregation continue to grow in our dependence on God as we, individually and together, cherish this treasure of faith we have in Christ Jesus and as we seek to do His will and delight in our fellowship as a church family.
CHRISTINE KLUKAS, TREASURER
We have been looking for a new church home since 2011. Despite much hard work and prayer, our search has not been successful. Although we do not know exactly why God has answered our prayers in the way he has, we do know that his purposes for us are paramount, and we can continue without a property. Even while we are engaged in many good things, it is possible to lose sight of our mission: that God has placed us here to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to be a community of contrast gripped by the gospel of God’s grace, reaching out with that gospel. This mission has important implications for our priorities in 2017.
We depend on God completely for all blessing and life. We are so very weak and when we pray we demonstrate our dependence on him to work. Without prayer, we should all go home. Prayer is the life and soul of our lives with God, and though we pray in many ways and on many occasions, we still need to learn to pray. We have dedicated our quarterly family prayer meetings to learning simple and practical ways to pray. We look to deepen our communication for the sake of deepening our communion with God.
We need to grow in this area of worship. Stewardship is a key area of being a ‘community of contrast’: driven not by fear or anxiety but by the example of Christ and love. We will form a Stewardship Committee to help us as a congregation into experiencing the grace of God more deeply, resisting the practical atheism of the economic worldview, and replacing investment strategies with joy and generosity.
The book of Revelation has taught us that God is sovereign in his world, working all things in accordance with his ultimate purpose of uniting all things under Christ. God is doing this in answer to our prayers and as his weak and suffering church bears witness to the cross of Christ. God saves people by the heavenly message of the eternal gospel, and he does it through those who faithfully represent him in his world. Each small group/home group has the task of thinking through their own opportunities. We have a new Christianity Explained course offered three times this year. God has placed us here in Vancouver to testify to the glory of sins forgiven and the living hope of seeing his face. This is our priority.