Here we go again with another year of possibilities stretching out before us.  In the Northern Spirit Region we know that those possibilities hold celebration and lament, excitement and uncertainty.

Some of our Communities of Faith enter into this time knowing that their particular story may have run its course and now they must celebrate what was and let God help them move forward on new paths. It is very hard to let go of buildings, to recognize that congregations have grown so small as to be unsustainable. The release of the old can lift weight away from the weary and offer someone else the opportunity to find their dream. We have a strong heritage of being churches that have helped grow and sustain many communities and we should always celebrate that – even when our work is done.

Some of our Communities of Faith enter into this time having already begun dreaming about and journeying in new ways of living their faith in God’s world. There are exciting projects happening in our Region, collaborations between United Churches and also Ecumenical discussions that hold the hope of God’s people working together to keep faith alive and thriving in their communities. The myriad of discussions between multiple Communities of Faith reaching out to give and find support is inspiring to me.

There have been, and sometimes still are, many times when we as Communities of Faith have functioned on our own. We have not felt the need to ‘be partners’ with our neighbouring United Churches because, in those times of abundance, we flourished by ourselves. Now, however, we find ourselves in a different place in time and context. We need each other.

No longer the center of Community life, we find ourselves on the margins, stretched to our limits. We need each other more than ever to tell stories, to join in new adventures, to seek new ways of being God’s hand, feet and heart in the world. We need to find ways to share resources, we need to offer what we have to be part of the bigger picture of support and story that will help us be our best. We often speak of sharing our time, talent and treasure to look after God’s creation, God’s world. I think that we underestimate the profound effect that sharing our time and talent can have.

In the Northern Spirit Regional Council we currently have 91 Pastoral Charges — about 55 of which do not have clergy serving with them and need supervisors. Some of the Pastoral Charges are searching for their next minister, others simply cannot afford ministerial support on their own. This can be especially hard for places that are in rural areas where neighbouring churches are far away from each other.

I often hear the question “Why isn’t the Region helping?”. Well, the truth is that the Region isn’t able to respond to all of the needs for Supervisors and Liaisons because we don’t have enough folk sharing their time and talents with us.

Our committees are stretched to their limits to the point that when another congregation comes to us for support we are almost in a triage situation of choosing who gets our attention and who doesn’t. It doesn’t feel good to say we don’t have time. It doesn’t feel good to hear it. So, what can we do?

I know that there are ministers who are overwhelmed and feel that they don’t have extra time to share and that congregations don’t always support time spent away doing work with other communities. But…do congregations remember that, as named in the call and covenant you agreed to with your minister, support of the Region is part of the job? How can time be freed up for Supervision, Liaison or Dreaming work?

It is impossible for the approximately 36 Ministers that are currently serving in the Region to take on all the tasks that are needed. I know that there are Lay people who have the skills to support congregations, to guide them through processes with patience and compassion. I refuse to believe that I am the only one who can follow The Manual — as it and the companion handbooks really can help us through these moments. Who do you know in your congregation that has the skills and talents to help neighbours engage in good processes and discussions?

Does your congregation have an experience of changing directions, of letting go of buildings that could inspire your neighbour? Would you share this wisdom with us?

There are resources for sharing. There are ways that we can help each other. Now is not the time to choose not to speak or play with our neighbours.  We need each other.

Go to our Regional website.

Check out the “About Us” tab.

There are descriptions of all of our committees and what they do. Can you contribute to these? Can you walk with a Pastoral Charge as they discern the direction that God needs them to go next?

Under “Get involved” there is a form called “Expression of Interest and Nominations Form”. It would be such a blessing to our Nominations Committee to receive a plethora of offerings of time and talent to be shared with each other.

I look forward to working with you and supporting you in this year of possibilities.