First-of-its-Kind National Gathering Shares Stories to Spark Vibrant Congregations
Church leaders from communities across Canada will meet in Calgary this fall to gain valuable, practical insights into a priority close to their heart: ensuring their churches are doing all they can to thrive.
Registration is open for Shared Stories: Promising Practices in Canadian Congregations, to be held on Nov. 26, 2018, at Ambrose University — the first annual ecumenical national gathering presented by the University's Flourishing Congregations Institute (FCI).
“Hearing from people whose congregations are flourishing, those good-news stories from across religious traditions and spaces, from people many church leaders may not have the opportunity to interact with regularly, offers insights that can translate into real, concrete actions,” says Dr. Joel Thiessen, Professor of Sociology at Ambrose and Director of the FCI.
“We hope people — pastors, ministers, priests, bishops, denominational leaders and others — will share stories about their experiences and also learn from others. Through networking and hearing about flourishing congregations and parishes, we hope to equip people with knowledge, tools and resources, and encourage practitioners in day-to-day ministry.
“Every congregation has a story to tell,” Thiessen notes. “And even though the narratives may sound different, many common threads are woven among them and this creates an avenue to help with ministry.”
Launched in 2016, the FCI is undertaking research in partnership with churches nationwide to develop a more-comprehensive understanding of the health and vitality of Canadian congregations. Central to this work is gathering, analyzing and sharing data so church leaders can make evidence-informed decisions.
Shared Stories builds on the FCI's momentum by showcasing preliminary findings from the most-recent national survey of Canadian congregations, and will be a forum for learning, discussion and network-building.
Keynote speakers and panel conversations have been intentionally designed around the story theme, which will create a tangible link between the research and what is happening on the front lines in churches.
In addition to the thought-provoking and inspiring conversations, Thiessen hopes the speakers — and the day itself — will also be a catalyst for more churches to take part in the FCI's national survey research, currently underway.
“You can learn a lot about your own congregation if you take part in this survey,” he says. “And that will only increase the stories that can be told in the future.”
Shared Stories speakers include the following two keynote individuals and themes, alongside panel conversations with influential church and denominational leaders from across Canada and Christian perspectives (additional information about speakers and topics is available on the Shared Stories website).
Rev. April Yamasaki, Lead Pastor, Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C.
Rev. Yamasaki’s address is titled “Congregations and Change: Inward, Outward, Godward,” and explores how you introduce change and bring people along with you, especially when moving from a more inward-looking church to an outward-looking one? This is the story of one congregation told by one pastor – what’s worked, what hasn’t, and why we’re all still very much in process.
Don Bolen, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina
Archbishop Bolen’s address will centre on “Vital and Viable Congregations: Reaching Out — Together.” The address will propose some guidelines by which Christian communities can get to know each other better, and point to the great blessing and value to the churches themselves, and to the communities in which they live, when they are able to join together in outreach.
Join us at Shared Stories: Promising Practices in Canadian Congregations
Friday November, 26, 2018
9am - 4pm, including lunch
Ambrose University, Calgary
** Limited space available!!
Presented by the Flourishing Congregatrion Institute