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I spent last weekend in Saskatchewan.  The occasion was the annual one day conference for all the congregations in Saskatchewan that align with the Baptist General Conference of Canada.  Saturday took me to Wadena, about 2 hours east of Saskatoon for the entire day.  Then on Sunday I spent the day with our church in Midale, about 90 minutes south of Regina.

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Observations?

1.  Saskatchewan people take responsibility seriously…they turn out for events.  The coverage was not deep but almost every church was represented by pastors and / or delegates.  Even those that could not attend due to conflict sent people in their stead with notes of explanation and apology.

2.  Sasktachewan as a province is experiencing a “lift” right now…economically, attitudinally, culturally and societally.  This translates into the attitude and morale of local churches as they set themselves to “do better” in growth, gospel work, attention to community needs and world concerns.  Churches are hopeful and expectant. Well over half the churches in Saskatchewan showed postive even dramatic indicators of growth in the past year.

3.  Change–whether it is because of the above growth or not, but there is a current for change blowing through the collection of churches.  A fair number are visiting the idea of organization and structure and asking how it needs to be adapted to the realities of the 21st century.  My role as a denominational leader intersects with their musings.

4.  Politeness–the goodwill generated by relationships between pastors, churches, people etc. allows discussion to occur freely and widely.  I didn’t sense tension or rancour as people brought up the idea of change.  The moderator of the group explained the sentiments for adjustment and invited people over the next year to enter into conversations about it.  It was well received.

5.  Support—though each church is independent, there was a multiude of anecdotal stories told about how one congregation had helped another over the past year or two.  The communal nature of the agrarian province lends itself to sharing and churches have learned to ask for help and give it when asked.

6.  Risk–nobody was doing anything crazy, nobody suggested doing anything crazy, nobody hinted at anything crazy…it was a pretty tame bunch.  I think it is because it is Saskatchewan and because it was Baptist General Conference Churches but craziness was not on the agenda.  There are crazies in Saskatchewan but they aren’t in our churches.  Having said that, in order fo real progress to occur there will need to be some risk (faith?) even craziness suggested.  Otherwise we’ll stick with status quo and simply tighten our circles.

7.  Hospitality–it felt like a family gathering where pretty well everybody knew everybody.  The food preparation was outstanding.  Somebody put a lot of work into making sure people were well fed.

8.  Anything missing?  Probably the only thing I can think of is that in previous years we invited pastors to step up and “report” on their congregations life over the previous year.  This time we simply recorded it in a booklet and let people read at their leisure.  I kind of missed the verbal reports.  They were always good, and I think even a little more effective.  I remember as a kid my dad would say to me at the supper table “what did you learn in school today?”  Sometimes I didn’t have much to report but it shaped me.  I realized that life is to be a learning experience.  I still periodically ask myself “what did you learn from all this?”  Churches need to be able to articulate and communicate “what happened last year”.

9.  Thanks—Lorne, Dan, Mogens, Conrad, Angie, Priscilla and a ton of others.

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