Posts Tagged ‘Winnipeg’

Restore Our Core

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There’s so much talk in exercise circles about our CORE. It’s that set of oft-neglected midriff muscles that are responsible for holding our innards together, stabilizing our bodies, and making sure that shovelling snow once doesn’t signal an entire winter of low back pain and ice packs.Cleaning Selkirk back lane

Cities have cores too. And like our bodies, a city’s core can become neglected, creating an unhealthy doughnut hole in the city’s centre, and generating a vast array of chronic social ills. You don’t have to be a city planner to know that when our core suffers, the whole city suffers.

Winnipeg is a city like that. Over the years, our core area has suffered neglect, and has ultimately become a kind of wilderness that one drives through from one suburb to the other, making sure the windows are rolled up and the doors are locked. We all know that something must be done to get our core back in shape, but whose responsibility is it? It’s about here that the fingers start pointing.

Happily, there are Christian ministries and community service organizations that skip the finger-pointing part and just do something about it. They have been working steadily and thanklessly in Winnipeg’s core for years and, understandably, they could use some encouragement.Cutting the lawn

Well, some encouragement came on May 29th and 30th with “Restore Our Core”. Interestingly enough, “Restore Our Core” was the brainchild of none other than our city’s police chief Devon Clunis. Chief Clunis, who himself grew up in Winnipeg’s core area, envisioned a grassroots restorative gesture involving a city street in the Core – Selkirk Avenue – and hundreds of volunteers from the Winnipeg Police Service, city Churches and ministries, and service organizations, cooperating to accomplish one mission: beautify Selkirk Avenue from stem to stern, that is, from Main to Arlington.

Actually, it was a crazy idea. First, it had never been done before. Second, it had never been done before on that scale. Third, it had never been done before with police officers, Church congregations, inner city ministries and other service organizations working together. The logistical challenges alone were enough to deep six the project.Nicole

But we did it. I was there, and it was a good thing, because I may not have believed it if I had only heard about it second hand. A hearty group of volunteers from WECC and a host of other Churches were there to represent the Church in Winnipeg. On the Friday, we worked hard to clean the back lane on our designated block of Selkirk Avenue, and on the Saturday, another team from our Church prepared and painted a whole building! Other teams from other Churches, mixed with police officers and others, worked in similar fashion, and by Saturday afternoon, Selkirk Avenue looked pretty shiny. People from the neighbourhood came out of their homes and businesses to thank and encourage us, and some cleaning teams even got a chance to pray with people. All in all, our Core experienced a touch of restoration, and those in it for the long haul were blessed and encouraged by the helping hand.On the ladder

Of course, Restore Our Core was only a start. But we’ve got to start somewhere. And having Churches led by pastors with work boots and brooms lockng arms with police officers, led by a chief with jeans and a shovel, isn’t a bad place to begin. Hopefully this effort will generate many other new and healthy connections with our core.

The next day, my own core was a little sore, but it was more than compensated for by the way Selkirk Avenue sparkled on Sunday, along with the knowledge that we all got together did something crazy to help make it that way.

God loves Winnipeg, and it was a privilege to bring that message in a unique way to our city’s core.

May the Lord bless you,


One Heart

January 7, 2010 1 comment

We live in a funny country. Somewhere along the way, our nation picked up on the concept of cultural diversity – the importance of recognizing the uniqueness and individuality of the cultures forming the social fabric of Canada, which we proudly characterize as “a nation of nations”.

That’s not the funny part. The funny part is that, in our zeal to emphasize the unique distinction of the many cultural communities in our country, we have all but forgotten that we actually form one nation – Canada. An easy demonstration of this national half-blindness is found in simply asking Canadians who they are. Invariably they will answer, “I am Dutch” “I am Irish” or “I am Ukrainian”, even if their family has been in Canada for over a century, and their knowledge of their culture of “origin” doesn’t go much beyond perogies. And if one is asked what it means to be Canadian, the frozen stare that results is like a moose in the headlights. The truth is, our obsession with individualism has damaged our self-awareness as a nation. So while it is good to recognize the fact that many cultural “parts” form our country, it becomes a liability to a nation to limp along with an awareness of only half the truth about itself. Many cultural communities, yes. But one nation, no less.

This national overemphasis on uniqueness and diversity has affected our minds, and in some ways this thinking has even leaked into the Church in Canada. As the Body of Christ in our nation, we have gotten really good at identifying, separating and categorizing ourselves as local fellowships, according to minor doctrinal quirks, preferences in musical styles, Sunday dress codes…even (surprise, surprise) cultural backgrounds. In other words, we excel at seeing the differences in the body of Christ, and we have become experts at distinguishing ourselves as many diverse parts – hands, eyes, feet, spleens, anterior cruciate ligaments, etc.

So what? Having only half a revelation about who we are as the Church amounts to no more than a gruesome pile of disconnected body parts. Paul lays out the whole truth in 1 Corinthians 12:20. In reference to the Church, he says, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  And in Ephesians 4:4-5, in his plea for unity in the Church, he says, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Our Lord Jesus Himself, as he prayed for us as His future Church, said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23b). As much as it is important to work at understanding that the Church is made up of diverse parts, it is just as important to work at understanding that the Church is one connected body. Jesus thinks so. That must count.

So what have we done lately to recognize the other half of the truth about us as the Church – that our various local fellowships form one connected body? If we are honest with ourselves, our answer would probably be “not much”. Why? I suppose because it’s more work to join ourselves together than to separate ourselves. But at the same time, it is work that the Head of the Church – Jesus – wants us to do.

Here in Winnipeg, the Lord has been speaking to many Churches in the city about the importance of practically recognizing the fact that, although we are many parts, we are one body – so much so that on this Sunday, January 10th, a significant number of our fellowships in Winnipeg will be closing their local doors and gathering at the MTS Centre to worship TOGETHER, in a city-wide service called “One Heart”.

It has been a wonderful challenge to put this celebration service together, but why would it be easy? First, we’re not used to this kind of thing. All the Tin Man could do when he met Dorothy was to plead for oil through clenched teeth. But once his joints were loosened and exercised, he could sing and dance (and beat up bad guys)! As we get together and exercise the connections that have been established, we too will be able to move together more smoothly. Also, getting together is challenging because the Church has an Enemy who does not want us to realize who we are – a large, powerful body of believers in Jesus in this city. Satan has been comfortable in “divide and conquer” mode for a long time, and our awakening to the fact that we are one Body of Christ amounts to the waking of a sleeping giant in the eyes of the Enemy.

So FireLight Christian Fellowship, LivingStones Christian Fellowship, and many other local fellowships will be at the MTS Centre this Sunday, presenting ourselves together to the Lord Jesus, and pleading for oil.

The “One Heart” service is at 11. Doors open at 10. We hope to see you there.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (

So we loved Winnipeg…

May 31, 2009 Leave a comment

So we loved Winnipeg today…


 Love Winnipeg is a city-wide multi-Church initiative where we join forces and express God’s love for our city in practical ways – helping neighbours with their yard work, hosting free barbeques, giving away water & pop…you name it. This year was particularly good, because our Church had the opportunity to fan out and Love Winnipeg in more than one way.

In our Hampton neighbourhood, Vic, one of our elders at LivingStones, spearheaded a team of about 20 adults, along with many children, who volunteered to help people on our street with their Saturday projects. They donned their red Love Winnipeg t-shirts and worked hard alongside the neighbours, helping them get jobs done in a fraction of the time. It was an excellent opportunity to make contact with our neighbours, and to express God’s love to them in down-to-earth ways. Come to think of it, Jesus came down to earth to express the Father’s love for us in down-to-earth ways, so it’s fitting for the Church to treat the world like Jesus did. He said, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve…”. So, great job, Vic & crew! Thanks so much for the many hours of cheerful work that you did. The neighbours are grateful, and our Father in heaven is pleased. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!



Meanwhile, across town…

LW_Rob.jpg Brad, Jake, John and I were part of the musical entertainment at a gala free neighbourhood pig roast out in the parking lot of Mission Baptist Church, hosted by a number of Churches and ministries. The pigs were being cooked in GIGANTIC roasters, and about 100 people were there to enjoy the food, the people, the music and the sunshine. We had great fun playing two half hour sets of music, mostly popular songs that were rewritten to be all about Jesus. Brad and I both had a chance to preach the good news of Jesus Christ between songs. It was a privilege to proclaim the good news of the Father’s love and salvation in Jesus in a neighbourhood that all too often has experienced the bad news of the Enemy’s grip on people’s lives.

The pigs weren’t the only things that got roasted. Even though the air was cool, I think it probably would have been a good idea to put on sunscreen… my face hurts (insert joke here).



 As I watched people today, it was obvious to me how beneficial it is when the Church does what it was created to do. I saw it in the smiling faces of red t-shirted people who were working hard to bless their neighbours, I heard it in the cheerful words of those who were happily sweating over the pig roasters, and I even felt it – a warmth – not in my face, in my heart – as we blessed people with music that had a message of hope in Jesus. When we as the Church love the world by blessing, serving and bringing a message of hope in Jesus to it, WE COME ALIVE! Even though there is hard work involved in relating to the world as Jesus did, there is abounding energy and joy that comes as the Lord empowers us to do His work. It seems that the Church here in North America is too often fatigued, lethargic and distracted – we often feel maxed out. Perhaps it’s not because we are just too busy. Perhaps it’s because we are busy doing the wrong kinds of things, and need to focus on doing the kinds of things Jesus did while He was here, the things that bring joy to the Lord, and to us as His Church. Love Winnipeg gives us a taste of that. I think we’re on to something… 

May the Lord bless you,

Rob (  

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