Within the Presbyterian Church in Canada
On Sunday, November 20, 2016, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Ontario, bade farewell to Rev. George Anderson and his wife, Audrey, as they retired from full-time ministry after 36 years of faithful service. George was born in George, South Africa, and he and his wife and three of their four children emigrated to Canada in 1989. George had been a math teacher, and had pastored two churches in South Africa, before being called by the Lord to ministry in Canada. George served in the Presbyterian Church in Ille Perrot, Montreal, Quebec, for four years; Moncton, New Brunswick, for five years; Islington, Ontario, for twelve years; and, Huntsville, Ontario, for the previous six-and-half years. George and Audrey have four daughters, four sons-in-law, and nine grandchildren.
Cornerstone Community Church,
180 Nashville Rd.,
Registration is $20 if notification is received by Monday, February 12, by mail, e-mail, online, or telephone. After February 12, the cost increases to $25. Registration deadline is February 26. The registration fee includes arrival snacks and lunch. You can register online (below) by MasterCard, Visa, or American Express, or you can mail, e-mail, or phone your name, address, phone, e-mail, and congregation to the Renewal Office by February 12 for the rate savings. Only cash and cheques will be accepted at the conference door. Credit cards are accepted only in advance and online.
Make cheques or money orders payable to The Renewal Fellowship and mail to:
- Conference Registrar – The Renewal Fellowship,
3819 Bloor Street West,
Etobicoke, Ontario, M9B 1K7
Office Telephone: 416-233-6581
When the Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they found themselves spiritually and morally challenged in a land in rebellion against God and His truth. Similarly, Christians in this uncertain period of a post-truth Canada feel increasingly isolated from culture and their community. Hence the name of the event: Thriving in Babylon. The purpose is to explore the opportunities evangelical Canadian Christians have in our present-day context and how we can thrive within it.
This spring conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, 2018, at Vaughan Community Church, Thornhill, Ontario. It is being held in co-operation with Presbyterians Standing for Apostolic Love and Truth (PSALT). It will be a celebration of the evangelical church in Canada, with speakers, discussion, sharing, and fellowship. This event is open to people from all churches and denominations.
The theme on Friday, April 20, will be “Christian Living in a Secular World” and features Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Executive Director Bruce Clemenger; The People’s Church pastor Warwick Cooper; McMaster Divinity College professor Lee Beach (author of The Church in Exile: Living in Hope After Christendom); author and speaker William Webb; radio host, author, and president of the Presbyterian Laymen (PCUSA) Carmen LaBerge; Open Doors Canada Executive Director Gary Stagg; and Toronto Chinese Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship Chair Wes Chiang.
The theme on Saturday, April 21, will be “Good News for These Times”. Speakers include: David Haskell from Wilfrid Laurier University, John G. Stackhouse Jr. of Crandall University, and Rev. Dr. Peter Bush, Moderator of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Mark your calendar! Registration is online through Eventbrite, allowing payment online by credit card or by cheque through the mail. Early bird cost for both days is $125, Friday only $85, and Saturday only $60.
A block of rooms has been set aside at Sheraton Parkway North Toronto Hotel and Suites (at Highway 7 and Leslie) for April 19-20 at $119 single or double, price guaranteed until April 3. Call hotel directly at 1-800-668-2121 and quote event name or code TIB419.
The Renewal Fellowship’s annual general meeting will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at Cornerstone Community Church, Kleinburg, Ontario. Details here.
Dear Renewal Friend,
Thank you! Your support – both prayerful and financial – is vital to the Renewal Fellowship and is deeply appreciated.
Allow me to turn back the clock 35 years. It was the middle of the week. The sanctuary was full. (Imagine that!) Some had driven over two hours to attend. Others had used public transportation. The place was Willowdale Presbyterian Church. Fitting the importance of the occasion, the meeting began with worship. The theological perspective of most of those present could be described as “conservative” or “evangelical”. They held the perception that some official parts of our denomination were not only drifting from their historic and biblical roots, but were also becoming more hostile to those who embraced those perspectives. In stereotypical Presbyterian fashion, a committee was struck to form The Renewal Fellowship Within The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Since then, the passion for a vibrant and faithful denomination evident in the gathering at Willowdale in 1982 has been the hallmark of the Fellowship’s focus and ministry. Over the years, this passion has been expressed in a variety of ways. One consistent aspect of the Fellowship’s ministry has been the leadership of an Executive Director. They have blessed our denomination and our Fellowship by their gifts.
We are excited that God has provided Rev. Andy Cornell as new Executive Director. We believe that in Andy, God has provided someone who can help continue the work of renewal within The Presbyterian Church in Canada, helping God’s faithful people bring His truth and grace into fuller expression within our society. On the evening of Thursday, November 2, you are invited to join us, or to extend greetings, to celebrate our 35th Anniversary and install Andy in his new position, with dinner and installation service at Kortright Presbyterian Church in Guelph, Ontario. The cost is $20 and the deadline for registration is October 22. Contact: email the Fellowship at <email@example.com> or call 416-233-6581.
As a supporter, we ask you not only to continue your prayerful and financial contributions to this ministry, but to consider an increase in your giving. Although we are still solvent, current donations do not meet current expenses. Please encourage others to become supporters. We value your prayers for insight and courage as we seek to fulfill our mission to be a positive influence in our church.
Rev. Nan St. Louis, Chairperson
Fellow PCC Elders:
Greetings in the name of our Lord! I hope and pray that you and your congregation(s) are entering a busy new season after a restful summer.
Autumn 2017 is going to be busy. As you are aware, General Assembly is asking its courts and colleges to study eight significant documents and to report back by the end of January. Four documents alone are focused on sexuality. This is a lot of work! Even multi-staffed congregations with gifted lay leaders will find it a challenge to get through.
We at Renewal Fellowship are confident that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, it can be done. The purpose of this letter is let you know that we are praying for every session, congregation, presbytery, synod, and college. Specifically, we are praying:
- for the Holy Spirit to enable church leaders, members and adherents to find time to read each paper and meet to discuss them;
- for the church to see this not as a burden but as an opportunity to bring every believer closer to the Lord; and,
- for those holding contrasting opinions to be able to discuss these issues with mutual respect.
We are here for you. As Executive Director, I am available to provide words of encouragement to any congregation or group in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. If you are not a member or supporter of the Renewal Fellowship, click on the “About” menu item above.
May the peace of Christ and the power of his Spirit be with you!
Rev. Andy Cornell
Rev. Andy Cornell
When you trust in God, life will be a journey. I learned that truth early in my adult years, relying on his Holy Spirit to open doors and provide wisdom and direction.
Life has taken many twists and turns in my 54 years. Now I enter a new door: The Renewal Fellowship within The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
I am honoured and humbled to be called as your executive director.
My birthplace was London, England. I came to Canada as an infant and grew up in the other London, where I attended Western University (history) and Fanshawe College (broadcast journalism) and where I had my first full-time employment, as a reporter at CJBK/BX93 Radio. From there, I felt the call to print journalism and my first taste of small-town life in Tillsonburg, Port Hope and Simcoe. I settled in Chatham to be with my bride, Pam, and where we raised our two sons, now aged 20 and 22 and attending post-secondary education. In 2008, I began part-time seminary studies at Knox College. In August 2011, I resigned as assistant managing editor of The Chatham Daily News to finish my studies and begin work as student pastor at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in nearby Dresden, which called me as minister of word and sacrament in late 2012. I was ordained in early 2013 and have remained at St. Andrew's, growing and learning along with my congregation.
Starting July 1, my time will be split 60/40 between my congregation and Renewal Fellowship. I am grateful that my session, congregation and presbytery have agreed to my amended call.
A cynical person might ask why I left one dying industry to join another. (God does have a sense of humour). However, neither journalism nor the church is dying. There will always be a demand for news and we will always need journalism to keep watch on the abuses of power. And there will always be a great, gaping need for a connection to our triune God and people willing to cut through the lies the enemy has planted. Christ is our only hope.
It's amazing how God prepares us for the next step in our journeys. As I told the Renewal search committee, my 24 years in broadcast and print news helped me understand the need to cut through the rhetoric and be clear in our communication. Supervising and managing news employees – a notoriously rebellious, creative cast of characters – under deadline pressure helped me understand human nature and learn diplomacy. I expect to put this to good use; while the debate in the PCC has been mostly cordial, there is tension and the real possibility of conflict.
I discovered Renewal Fellowship shortly after my ordination and was amazed that such an organization was not fully supported and embraced by the PCC. I am not a lifelong member of the PCC, having been raised Anglican and attending Baptist and Christian Reformed churches along the way. (In fact, I actually left the church from my late teens until my early 30s, but that's another story.) The more I learned about the PCC's gradual drift away from a solid biblical foundation, the more I was drawn to the company of those of like mind. Renewal's existence made sense. At my first annual general meeting in 2016, I was among kindred souls.
This is a time of great uncertainty in the PCC. We are deeply divided over our theological positions on sexuality and marriage – among other things – and the actions of our congregations and decisions of our General Assembly commissioners over the next few years will set our course. These are not "ordinary times." Renewal Fellowship will have a vital role to play in the coming debate. I pray that we can be a source of encouragement and strength for congregations, elders and ministers – some of whom are feeling increasingly alone in a changing culture. We need to tell them it's OK, you have many friends from coast to coast to coast.
With thanks to our Father God for setting the course, to Christ for our salvation and foundation and to the Holy Spirit as our guide, the words of the Apostle Paul come to mind: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:8 NIV)
So, my new journey begins and my seatbelt is fastened. I look forward to meeting you, working and praying together to advance the Kingdom. To God be the glory!
Rev. Andy Cornell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There has been a request for resources that come from an evangelical/conservative point of view. Here are a few that have been forwarded to us by members and board members of the Renewal Fellowship. We welcome your comments and suggestions on these resources and any others you would suggest. Please email Linda Shaw, Board chairperson, at <email@example.com>.
A Letter from the Committee on Church Doctrine: This commentary is in response to the Body, Mind and Soul Study Guide. Responses may be sent directly to the Convener of the Committee on Church Doctrine, The Rev. Ian Shaw, at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or forwarded to the Committee through the General Assembly Office.
Speaking Truth in Love: A Forum on Human Sexuality: The Presbytery of Hamilton hosted this day-long forum on Saturday, January 30th, 2016, at Chedoke Presbyterian Church, Hamilton, Ontario. Besides the videos, there are transcripts of presentations by Clyde Ervine, Kevin Livingston, Hugh Donnelly, Wes Denyer, and Karla Wubbenhorst.
Channels Articles: 13 articles on human sexuality have appeared on this site in the past. Read More
Links following the titles are where e-books or hard copies may be purchased.
The Uncomfortable Church: Can Gays Be Reconciled to the Body of Christ? – Dr. Lawrence Brice [ Amazon ]
Human Sexuality issues are front and centre for The Presbyterian Church in Canada. There will be study and dialogue at every level of the church and eventually decisions made concerning the numerous overtures forwarded to our General Assembly this past June.
There will be votes by commissioners in the coming years together with votes in sessions and presbyteries. The majority will express their will on the church. It is the way we are governed.
If our church's practice is changed so that LGBTQ individuals who are in relationships can be ordained as ministers of word and sacrament and LGBTQ couples can be married in and with the full blessing of our church, there will be some measure of discomfort, dislocation and pain among those who oppose these changes based on their understanding of God's Word and the Gospel.
If our practice remains the same, there will be a similar consequence for those who believe it is time to provide full inclusion for the LGBTQ community.
In the meantime, we are in a time of discernment. There will be study guides provided this fall by the joint efforts of The PCC Justice and Doctrine Committees: work given to them by this past General Assembly. There will be small and large gatherings promoting everything from mutual understanding to promotion of a particular position on this debate. There will be many talking about "what ifs" as they try to picture the significance of things either staying the same or changing radically over the next few years in the life of our denomination.
I need to let you know that there continues to be passionate discussion at every level of the Renewal Fellowship's constituency and leadership. We have also had input, sometimes very passionate input, from some who hold views contrary to the Fellowship's orthodox position.
In this period of time, how do we live out our call to seek God's renewal for us all? I would humbly respond that just like four years ago when I came to this ministry, our call is to serve God and our denomination the best we can.
Official 'Call to Prayer' logo
Our belief that encouraging, organizing, and facilitating prayer is our clearest priority. Please send me an email at <email@example.com> indicating how many "A Call to Prayer" postcards you can use. Our vision is for a movement of prayer to spread throughout all our churches.
We continue to serve as agents of connection. We exist to connect the unconnected. We seek to encourage the discouraged and share resources with those who need help and healing. We also serve to connect like-minded people together. This has been accelerating over the past months as many who hold orthodox views seek to connect and share with others of similar understanding.
We also are pleased to connect those that seek resources on the issues of faith and human sexuality with an orthodox position with some excellent books and videos. We also refer people to the current list of suggested resources on the denomination's website.
As previously reported, we are still in the planning stages of a conference that will give in-depth presentations of the orthodox view. Our original goal was for this to happen in the fall of this year. As we continue to weigh speakers and possible locations, we are aware that spring may be a more realizable time.
We are also cooperating with and encouraging a conference in Ontario in the next six months or so to provide a balanced set of presentations and responses that will help all of us be more informed and conversant in the full width of understandings of these issues present in our church today.
In the meantime, I continue to minister to many of our ministers and am looking forward to more Encouragement Road Trips in the next couple of years. I am already seeing and hearing higher stress levels and more profound isolation as some congregations and presbyteries have experienced heightened conflict. Remember to pray for all our ministers and congregations.
Lastly, there is an elephant in the room. Many of the Renewal Fellowship membership, and I might add many that do not align themselves as Fellowship supporters but do hold orthodox views, have expressed their expectation that we do more to support the status quo and resist the changes sought. When we try and drill down to determine what is expected, it takes many forms. Some say it is not clear where we stand. Some believe we should be louder and tougher. Some believe that these issues should command all our time and resources.
I can't speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself. I hold orthodox biblical views with respect to marriage and the totality of human sexuality. I also confess my own brokenness and the need for healing and forgiveness in my life. Also, I believe there is a greater issue that is at play today with respect to Scripture, doctrine, and culture. But I also believe that the church has at most times failed to practice Christ-like love and understanding to the LGBTQ individuals and communities in our midst and at our doors. I am hoping that this time in the church will result in huge gains in our mutual understanding and love for one another.
Whether you agree with me or not, please remember me in prayer. I seek to serve the God that calls me, the church that adopted me, and the ministers who trust me for community and connection. There is so much at stake. There is so much to do.
Brenda couldn't come, but she said she'd pray for good weather. Her prayers, along with many others, were answered as the snow forecast for March 7th did not appear. A frivolous prayer perhaps, but God answered, and over 100 people converged on Westminster Presbyterian Church, Barrie, Ontario, for the Renewal Fellowship's Renewal Conference and annual general meeting. The theme for the conference was "Family First Renewal". Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris spoke to our hearts with a "God first" message, timely, since in this day, one often hears "the kids come first", an attitude that sometimes leads to many distortions (as a recent Presbyterian Record article that referenced narcissism indicates). Thank you, Dr. Farris! Keeping God first puts everything else on the right track.
Worship was such a blessing with Fred Stewart, host minister Matthew Ruttan, David Moody and his family, and Alex Douglas lending their talents in word and music. Fellowship was enjoyed over lunch and coffee breaks, with friendships renewed and new ones forged (half of all participants were new to Fellowship events!). Matthew, David, and Alex encouraged our hearts with their accounts of the work being done at Westminster and Heritage Green to renew the church, bringing families closer to God. As we came away with much to ponder, the most common refrain heard was "We should have brought more people with us". Our thanks to the Renewal Fellowship Board for providing their organizational gifts to bring it all together.
Part of the day's agenda was the annual meeting, of course, and we welcome new members to the Board: Miss Janie Robertson, Mr. Leslie Ruo, and Rev. Germaine Lovelace. Karin Cowan comes back for a second term. Chairperson Linda Shaw has currently served two terms but is staying on for a one-year extension. We appreciate her willingness to continue. Our treasurer, George Myers, was thanked for his years of faithful service as he retires from that position. Fred Stewart gave his summary of the year's work (included as the first article in this issue of Renewal News). The road trip west that Fred took last May generated a lot of interest in renewal and the Renewal Fellowship while ministering to leaders along the way. He is planning a trip east in May. We are blessed to have Fred serving in this ministry. It has meant a lot of sacrifices on his part and Ruth's, and we are grateful for their faithfulness.
These are days when renewal is on a lot of Presbyterians' minds. Not everyone is aware of the overtures being brought to General Assembly this year but there is a serious need for earnest prayer by God's people. The Board is launching a prayer initiative based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to encourage: "7:14 FOR THE PCC", to get people to pray daily at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m., or otherwise, either as individuals, households, or church groups. Join us in praying for The Presbyterian Church in Canada, for wisdom, unity, grace, courage, love, and faithfulness to God's Word and Spirit.
With Fred as Executive Director part-time, the previous year's deficit was reduced. While we have lost some long-time members, we have been encouraged by the addition of some new members and partners. While we have support all across the country, the majority of our support is from Ontario. Total membership has increased to 591.
We do not know what 2015 will bring, but we pray for renewal in churches, families, and individuals. May the name of the Lord be lifted high!