Resurrection: Al Downey

The sun once more climbs high on the horizon.
Grumpy bears stretch their cramped limbs,
Ambling from winter dens in search of nourishment.
Tulips and daffodils poke their inquisitive heads
Through the remaining drifts of snow,
Anxious to display vibrant colors.
Songbirds warble a welcome to Spring,
Announcing that fledglings will soon arrive,
At freshly built nests,
Newborn lambs gambol in the meadows,
Celebrating release from months of confined gestation.
Dormant, decayed grass awakens to life;
The brown of winter yields to verdant green.
All nature joins the frolic of the season,
Proclaiming with the redeemed:
Hope is still alive.
Death has lost its sting,
Christ is risen indeed.”


Ministry Advisors: Al Downey

It is our goal in the ABNWT Pastoral Care Department to assure that there are numbers of ways that our credential holders may receive assistance in their personal, family, or ministry life. At the Ministers’ Gathering in February 2017, we unveiled just one more way that this can happen.  Five names have been recommended by the Pastoral Care Committee and approved by the Executive Lead Team to serve as Ministry Advisors to our Credential Holders.  This policy was approved by the District Lead Team in 2016.

These individuals are selected because of their years and scope of experience in ministry.  They are available for ‘one off’ conversations, where a credential holder would like advise on a personal, family or ministry situation.

They are not meant to replace any existing roles in the District such as the Pastoral Care Coordinator, the District Area Pastors or elected (appointed) leaders in the District. Rather they are meant to compliment and supplement the care that is already provided through those roles.

The Ministry Advisors are not set in place to be Counselors, Coaches or Mentors. They are rather there to help a credential holder through a present, immediate situation requiring advice.

The Ministry Advisors are not in place to speak on behalf of the Executive Lead Team or the District Lead Team on District or Constitutional Matters.

What is shared with the Ministry Advisors will be held in strict confidence, unless further care is recommended and the credential holder is in agreement to pursuing the matter further.

We are confident that ‘any and all’ who choose to avail themselves of this additional resource will be blessed by it.

The appointed Advisors are as follows:


Harvesting in the Winter Seasons: Michael Grant

Michael is the son of Duane and Judy Grant, Pastors of Bethel Assembly in St. Paul, Alberta. This is a prophetic vision Michael received. It was shared with the Pastors of the Eastern Region at their fellowship gathering in March.

I saw this video earlier in the week, of an Edmonton Farmer combining in February.

Tonight at prayer God brought this up in my memory again and gave me a revelation that this also needs to be echoed in the spiritual realm.

Clarence says “Last fall we were in a drought situation, our county was declared a disaster area and everything turned out and everything was just fine. This year, totally different. So much rain, every second day we had rain. You couldn’t get into the fields. Beautiful crops, you just couldn’t get them off.”

Though most of his crop is spoiled by the snow, he needs to get what he can so he can put money in the bank. He says “I had incentive to salvage whatever we can.”

Much of this year’s crop is swathed, lying under snow, making it difficult to salvage come spring. Some of the standing crop was so frozen, the tips shattered, leaving few seeds on the plant.

But when a stint of unseasonably warm weather started to thaw out his fields, he decided to haul his combine out of storage and make the most out of the brutal season.

He says “I hope everybody can get their crop off. If we wait until spring when the ground thaws out, we won’t be able to get out in the field. Then you’ll be combining on water and potholes rather than snow and ice.”

I believe in the spiritual realm, there are times in our lives where we feel we have missed out on the season of harvest. The timing was never right and that we waited too long and now the harvest season is over and we feel like we have lost the crop. We have lost the fruit that was ready for harvest.

In Matthew 21:17-19, Jesus curses a fig tree even though it was not the season for bearing fruit. After seeing this video, I believe Jesus was using this a parable to show us that he is expecting us to bear fruit and continually go after the harvest regardless of what season we are currently in. Whether we are in a rainy/doom and gloom season or in a spiritually dry season or a financial dry season. God wants us to pursue the harvest, he doesn’t want us to wait for the next season. God wants us to salvage whatever we can before the winter consumes and spoils even more of the crop. The fields are ripe and ready for harvest, don’t let your current season prevent you from being fruitful. Don’t let the devil spoil your harvest.

I think we need to be just like this farmer and go against the grain, do something out of season…. and go after the harvest. Father give us a passion for the harvest just like this farmer, I pray that you would give us an incentive to salvage whatever we can in the harvest fields.

God just like you gave this farmer a stretch of unseasonable warm weather that thawed out his fields in the dead of winter, I pray that you would do the same in the spiritual realm. Blow mighty breath of God, blow Holy Spirit, release the chinook winds from thy holy mountain and thaw out the ripe harvest fields. Open the eyes of the Harvesters, let us see the fruit that is so frozen that it is starting to shatter. Give us a sense of urgency so we can salvage as much as possible as soon as possible. Let us drop what we are doing and get our combines out of storage. Help us to focus on the harvest that you have set before ‘each and every’ one of us. Holy Spirit guide us out into the fields and let us be fruitful. Let us be fruitful and bring many people out of darkness and into the light. Let your kingdom be multiplied here on the earth.


The Work of the Week:  Eugene Petersen


When Eugene Peterson first wrote this article for Leadership Journal 30 years ago, we couldn’t have predicted that it would be even more apt now than it was then. He frames the issue of pastoral vocation in sharp clarity.

There’s a distinction between what pastors do on Sundays and what we do between Sundays. What we do on Sundays has not really changed through the centuries: proclaiming the gospel, teaching Scripture, celebrating the sacraments, offering prayers. But the work between Sundays has changed radically, and it has not been a development but a defection.

Until about a century ago, what pastors did between Sundays was of a piece with what they did on Sundays. The context changed: instead of an assembled congregation, the pastor was with one other person or with small gatherings of persons, or alone in study and prayer. The manner changed; instead of proclamation, there was conversation. But the work was the same: discovering the meaning of Scripture, developing a life of prayer, guiding growth into maturity.

This is the pastoral work that is historically termed the cure of souls. The primary sense of cura in Latin is “care,” with undertones of “cure.” The soul is the essence of the human personality. The cure of souls, then, is the Scripture-directed, prayer-shaped care that is devoted to persons singly or in groups, in settings sacred and profane. It is a determination to work at the center, to concentrate on the essential.

The between-Sundays work of American pastors in this century, though, is running a church. I first heard the phrase just a few days before my ordination. After 25 years, I can still remember the unpleasant impression it made.

I was traveling with a pastor I respected very much. I was full of zest and vision, anticipating pastoral life. My inner conviction of call to the pastorate was about to be confirmed by others. What God wanted me to do, what I wanted to do, and what others wanted me to do were about to converge. From fairly extensive reading about pastor and priest predecessors, I was impressed that everyday pastoral life was primarily concerned with developing a life of prayer among the people. Leading worship, preaching the gospel, and teaching Scripture on Sundays would develop in the next six days into representing the life of Christ in the human traffic of the everyday.With my mind full of these thoughts, my pastor friend and I stopped at a service station for gasoline. My friend, a gregarious person, bantered with the attendant. Something in the exchange provoked a question.

With my mind full of these thoughts, my pastor friend and I stopped at a service station for gasoline. My friend, a gregarious person, bantered with the attendant. Something in the exchange provoked a question.

“What do you do?”

“I run a church.”

No answer could have surprised me more. I knew, of course, that pastoral life included institutional responsibilities, but it never occurred to me that I would be defined by those responsibilities. But the moment I became ordained, I found I was so defined both by the pastors and executives over me and by the parishioners around me. The first job description given me omitted prayer entirely.

Behind my back, while my pastoral identity was being formed by Gregory and Bernard, Luther and Calvin, Richard Baxter of Kidderminster and Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding, George Herbert and Jonathan Edwards, John Henry Newman and Alexander Whyte, Phillips Brooks and George MacDonald, the work of the pastor had been almost completely secularized (except for Sundays). I didn’t like it and decided, after an interval of confused disorientation, that being a physician of souls took priority over running a church, and that I would be guided in my pastoral vocation by wise predecessors rather than contemporaries.

Luckily, I have found allies along the way and a readiness among my parishioners to work with me in changing my pastoral job description.

It should be clear that the cure of souls is not a specialized form of ministry (analogous, for instance, to hospital chaplain or pastoral counselor) but is the essential pastoral work. It is not a narrowing of pastoral work to its devotional aspects, but it is a way of life that uses weekday tasks, encounters, and situations as the raw material for teaching prayer, developing faith, and preparing for a good death.

Curing souls is a term that filters out what is introduced by a secularizing culture. It is also a term that identifies us with our ancestors and colleagues in ministry, lay and clerical, who are convinced that a life of prayer is the connective tissue between holy day proclamation and weekday discipleship.

A caveat: I contrast the cure of souls with the task of running a church, but I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not contemptuous of running a church, nor do I dismiss its importance. I run a church myself; I have for over twenty years. I try to do it well.

But I do it in the same spirit that I, along with my wife, run our house. There are many essential things we routinely do, often (but not always) with joy. But running a house is not what we do. What we do is build a home, develop in marriage, raise children, practice hospitality, pursue lives of work and play. It is reducing pastoral work to institutional duties that I object to, not the duties themselves, which I gladly share with others in the church.

It will hardly do, of course, to stubbornly defy the expectations of people and eccentrically go about pastoral work like a seventeenth-century curate, even if the eccentric curate is far more sane than the current clergy. The recovery of this essential between-Sundays work of the pastor must be worked out in tension with the secularized expectations of this age: there must be negotiation, discussion, experimentation, confrontation, adaptation. Pastors who devote themselves to the guidance of souls must do it among people who expect them to run a church.

In a determined and kindly tension with those who thoughtlessly presume to write job descriptions for us, we can, I am convinced, recover our proper work.

Pastors, though, who decide to reclaim the vast territory of the soul as their preeminent responsibility will not do it by going away for job retraining. We must work it out on the job, for it is not only ourselves but our people whom we are desecularizing. The task of vocational recovery is as endless as theological reformation. Details vary with pastor and parish, but there are three areas of contrast between running a church and the cure of souls that all of us experience: initiative, language, and problems.

Contrast 1: Initiative

In running the church, I seize the initiative. I take charge. I take responsibility for motivation and recruitment, for showing the way, for getting things started. If I don’t, things drift. I am aware of the tendency to apathy, the human susceptibility to indolence, and I use my leadership position to counter it.
By contrast, the cure of souls is a cultivated awareness that God has already seized the initiative. The traditional doctrine defining this truth is prevenience: God everywhere and always seizes the initiative. He gets things going. He had and continues to have the first word. Prevenience is the conviction that God has been working diligently, redemptively, and strategically before I appeared on the scene, before I was aware there was something here for me to do.

The cure of souls is not indifferent to the realities of human lethargy, naive about congregational recalcitrance, or inattentive to neurotic cussedness. But there is a disciplined, determined conviction that everything (and I mean, precisely, everything) we do is a response to God’s first word, his initiating act. We learn to be attentive to the divine action already in process so that the previously unheard word of God is heard, the previously unattended act of God is noticed.

Running-the-church questions are: What do we do? How can we get things going again?
Cure-of-souls questions are: What has God been doing here? What traces of grace can I discern in this life? What history of love can I read in this group? What has God set in motion that I can get in on?

We misunderstand and distort reality when we take ourselves as the starting point and our present situation as the basic datum. Instead of confronting the bogged-down human condition and taking charge of changing it with no time wasted, we look at divine prevenience and discern how we can get in on it at the right time, in the right way.

The cure of souls takes time to read the minutes of the previous meeting, a meeting more likely than not at which I was not present. When I engage in conversation, meet with a committee, or visit a home, I am coming in on something that has already been in process for a long time. God has been and is the central reality in that process. The biblical conviction is that God is “long beforehand with my soul.” God has already taken the initiative. Like one who walks in late to a meeting, I am entering a complex situation in which God has already said decisive words and acted in decisive ways. My work is not necessarily to announce that but to discover what he is doing and live appropriately with it.

Contrast 2: Language

In running the church I use language that is descriptive and motivational. I want people to be informed so there are no misunderstandings. And I want people to be motivated so things get done. But in the cure of souls I am far more interested in who people are and who they are becoming in Christ than I am in what they know or what they are doing. In this I soon find that neither descriptive nor motivational language helps very much.

Descriptive language is language ‘about’ -it names ‘what is there’. It orients us in reality. It makes it possible for us to find our way in and out of intricate labyrinths. Our schools specialize in teaching us this language. Motivational language is language ‘for’- it uses words to get things done. Commands are issued, promises made, requests proffered. Such words get people to do things they won’t do on their own initiative. The advertising industry is our most skillful practitioner of this language art.

Indispensable as these uses of language are, there is another language more essential to our humanity and far more basic to the life of faith. It is personal language. It uses words to express oneself, to converse, to be in relationship. This is language to and with. Love is offered and received, ideas are developed, feelings are articulated, silences are honored. This is the language we speak spontaneously as children, as lovers, as poets and when we pray. It is also conspicuously absent when we are running a church-there is so much to say and do that there is no time left to be and no occasion, therefore, for the language of being there.

The cure of souls is a decision to work at the heart of things, where we are most ourselves and where our relationships in faith and intimacy are developed. The primary language must be, therefore, to and with, the personal language of love and prayer. The pastoral vocation does not take place primarily in a school where subjects are taught, nor in a barracks where assault forces are briefed for attacks on evil, but in a family-the place where love is learned, where birth takes place, where intimacy is deepened. The pastoral task is to use the language appropriate in this most basic aspect of our humanity-not language that describes, not language that motivates, but spontaneous language: cries and exclamations, confessions and appreciations, words the heart speaks.

We have, of course, much to teach and much to get done, but our primary task is to be. The primary language of the cure of souls, therefore, is conversation and prayer. Being a pastor means learning to use language in which personal uniqueness is enhanced and individual sanctity recognized and respected. It is a language that is unhurried, unforced, unexcited-the leisurely language of friends and lovers, which is also the language of prayer.

Contrast 3: Problems

In running a church, I solve problems. Wherever two or three are gathered together, problems develop. Egos are bruised, procedures get snarled, arrangements become confused, plans go awry, temperaments clash. There are policy problems, marriage problems, work problems, child problems, committee problems, emotional problems. Someone has to interpret, explain, work out new plans, develop better procedures, organize, and administer. Most pastors like to do this. I know I do. It is satisfying to help make the rough places smooth.

The difficulty is that problems arrive in such a constant flow that problem solving becomes full-time work. Because it is useful and the pastor ordinarily does it well, we fail to see that the pastoral vocation has been subverted. Gabriel Marcel wrote that life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be explored. That is certainly the biblical stance: life is not something we manage to hammer together and keep in repair by our wits; it is an unfathomable gift. We are immersed in mysteries: incredible love, confounding evil, the creation, the cross, grace, God.

The secularized mind is terrorized by mysteries. Thus it makes lists, labels people, assigns roles, and solves problems. But a solved life is a reduced life. These tightly buttoned-up people never take great faith risks or make convincing love talk. They deny or ignore the mysteries and diminish human existence to what can be managed, controlled, and fixed. We live in a cult of experts who explain and solve. The vast technological apparatus around us gives the impression that there is a tool for everything if we can only afford it. Pastors cast in the role of spiritual technologists are hard put to keep that role from absorbing everything else, since there are so many things that need to be and can, in fact, be fixed.

But “there are things,” wrote Marianne Moore, “that are important beyond all this fiddle.” The old-time guide of souls asserts the priority of the “beyond” over “this fiddle.” Who is available for this work other than pastors? A few poets, perhaps; and children, always. But children are not good guides, and most of our poets have lost interest in God. That leaves pastors as guides through the mysteries. Century after century we live with our conscience, our passions, our neighbors, and our God. Any narrower view of our relationships does not match our real humanity.

If pastors become accomplices in treating every child as a problem to be figured out, every spouse as a problem to be dealt with, every clash of wills in choir or committee as a problem to be adjudicated, we abdicate our most important work, which is directing worship in the traffic, discovering the presence of the cross in the paradoxes and chaos between Sundays, calling attention to the “splendor in the ordinary,” and, most of all, teaching a life of prayer to our friends and companions in the pilgrimage.

(This article first appeared in the Summer 1983 issue of Leadership Journal as “Curing Souls: the Forgotten Art.”  Used by permission of Christianity Today, Carol Stream, IL 60188.” (If quoting from this article, please carefully acknowledge the source as it is copyright material – 2014)


The Root of Leadership:  Gordon McDonald

Recently, my wife Gail, and I had a chance to visit Yosemite National Park in California. We brought home a picture of us standing at the foot of some of those 3000 year old trees that rise a zillion feet into the air.

Think of it: 3000 years to grow a tree. And think again: given modern machinery, the same tree can be (perish the thought) cut down in just a few minutes.

Those trees prompted a thought about pastoral leadership and the issue of TRUST – the kind of trust pastoral leaders desperately need from their people but sometimes do not possess.

No Biblical leader that I can think of struggled with trust issues more than Moses. Leading a generation of people out of 400 years of slavery must have been like herding cats. Every time the man turned around someone was questioning his judgment, his veracity, his sense of direction. You could argue that they finally broke him with their patterns of suspicion and defiance.

The Apostle Paul cashed in on trust when he asked people to give him their money to aid in the relief of suffering Christians in Jerusalem. He must have leaned on the trust factor when he convinced Timothy’s family to release him to mentorship.

Trust was in play when Paul gave strict orders to the Corinthians to discipline a known sinner. And – trust again – when he convinced them to take the man, now repentant back. Trust won the day with Philemon, who was asked to receive a runaway slave back into his home – no longer as a slave but as a brother. No doubt about it: Paul’s word in most places was like gold. Trust backed that currency.

I learned quickly in my youngest pastoral years that people would follow only so far if I traded exclusively on my natural gifts: words that came easily, personal charm, new ideas and dreams. I was tempted to think that just because I had a seminary degree, because I was ordained, and because I was more knowledgeable about Biblical ideas, people should have unlimited faith in me.

That stuff works well for a while, but in crunch time deeper questions begin to emerge. Did I have integrity and wisdom, or was it all froth?  Was I reliable? Could I take people into unknown territory spiritually? Organizationally?  Charm and charisma are like a glider; they fly, but not indefinitely. And they don’t do well in turbulent times.

Crunch time might come when a leader asks people to come up with a staggering amount of money for a building, a staff addition, a project of generosity that benefits the poor. Crunch time might come when people are asked to abandon an old program and embrace something entirely new. Or crunch time might happen when a pastor has to confront the congregation with a blind spot or hardened spirit about something that requires repentance and new direction.

A young pastor goes off to an innovative church seminar, comes home with a head of excitement about new ideas, and, overnight, seeks to change just about everything. Soon after that the congregation goes on strike. The pastor learns the hard way that good ideas and promising strategies are not enough. They can’t make it without trust.

When trust really counts:

More important – over the long haul – is how trust comes into play in the personal encounters of pastoral life.

Years ago I had the privilege of leading a young man to faith in Jesus.  At the time he was living with a girl who was the daughter of one of our church leaders.  His family had despaired that she (or he) would ever walk in biblical light. Then one Sunday (for reasons I have forgotten) the two of them came to worship. At the end of the service, I met this couple, conversed with them, and eventually witnessed this young man’s conversion and change of life.

The young woman, raised in faith, but obviously drifting, came back to spiritual life as a result. It wasn’t long before the two of them – recognizing the importance of biblical obedience – asked if I would marry them. I was delighted.

They then cautioned me. Her father and mother, they said, would likely be hostile to their marriage. On behalf of the couple, I would have to approach the parents and gain their permission. I agreed to do this.

I recall sitting in the living room of this long-time Christian mother and father. The drama of the moment is such that even now, many years later, I can recreate my words to them. I said, “I’m going to ask you to trust me. It is my judgment that your daughter and her boyfriend should marry. I believe that he is ready to be a loving and responsible husband and that she is prepared to assume the disciplines of marriage. I want you to support their desire to get married.”

There was a short quiet pause as the parents took this in. Then the father said these words: “Pastor, we trust you. And if you think they are ready to be married, that this is a good decision, we’ll give them our blessing.”  And they did.

The couple has now been married for more than 25 years, and the judgment we all made has been vindicated over and over. It would not have happened, however, if I had not been able to trade on trust.

The great Victorian physician, Sir William Osler once said to his medical students:

“The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish.  To you, as the trusted family counselor, the father will come with his anxieties, the mother with her hidden grief, the daughter with her trials, and the son with his follies. Fully one-third of the work you do will be entered into other books than yours” (italics mine).

With very little change in wording, Osler could have been talking to those in pastoral ministry. Trust makes possible “an exercise of influence.” Oh, by the way, trust makes it possible to fail occasionally: people forgive a failing moment if their overall perspective is of great trust.

The Leadership Connection

I have been impressed with the new breed of pastors who have a passion to launch great church-based evangelical endeavors. I admire them, and I value their friendship. They certainly have surpassed anything I (or most pastors in my generation) could have dreamed.  And they write well about the skill sets of leadership: things like vision, passion, cultural sensitivity, developing leaders, and lots of other things.

There is one thing, however, I don’t hear enough about, and that may reflect a tendency to think that leadership is mostly about skill and instinct.  What don’t I hear enough about?  Trust: that almost indescribable quality of relationship in which a leader builds and then enjoys the confidence of the people.

“We make our money the old-fashioned way: the Smith-Barney company once declared in its commercials, “We earn it!”   Similarly, one gains trust the old-fashioned way: it is earned. It cannot be demanded or assumed.

One of my theories of ministry has been that a pastor really does not begin to enjoy the leadership ‘bite’ or ‘traction’ that is necessary to get things done until he or she has been leading for about five years.  Therefore my logic: the fifth year of ministry and beyond are years where trust is all important because novelty and newness no longer exist, As my father used to remind me: people will follow you for a while because they picked you. But they’ll follow you over the longer term because they have learned to trust you.

Back to the gigantic trees in California: they’re not hard to cut down in a short period of time. Like them, trust can be forfeited in a short amount of time. I know. I once forfeited the trust of people I care for very much. I lost some very precious friendships. And I lost my honor. To regain any of what was lost took a long time.

How to build trust:

Now here’s the big question. How is trust generated? Here are seven sources I have observed over the years.

Trust builds with consistency. Consistency of message, of vision, of the management of circumstances. People are constantly watching. They wish to know: will you be the same person when things are going wrong? Can you hear a thoughtful “no” from the board?  Will your personal responses be in alignment with the things you’ve preached from the safety of the pulpit?

Trust builds with dependability. Are you a person of your word? If you make an appointment, are you there on time? If you commit to doing something for someone, does it get done as promised? If you make a promise, make sure it is kept.

Trust builds with openness. Are you truthful about yourself? About what is really happening behind the scenes of the organization?  In trustworthy people, there is an absence of slickness, slogans, and strategies that do not offer the full message. People do not feel tricked or duped.

Trust builds with a reputation for hard work. Sermons reveal a craftsmanship of serious study. The pastor gives the congregation just a bit more than what it thought it paid for. Board and committee meetings are marked with thoughtful presentations and explanations. There is a sense that the pastor is on top of the job of congregational leadership.

Trust builds with a belief that the pastor has an impartial pastoral eye for everyone. The rich (major donors), the attractive, the young, or the influential are not uniquely favored. The pastor engages with the children, with the weak and the struggling, with the old, and with the more common person who serves in the congregation in places where recognition is scarce.

Trust builds with longevity. This simply means that the pastor sticks in there for an extended time. Relationships are built; the buildup of ministry episodes (funerals, weddings, baptisms, etc.) occurs; people see the pastor sharing their passages of life. And when that crunch time comes, they are more apt to say, “The pastor was there for me; I’ll be there for what he believes “God wants for us now.”

Trust builds with an ever-deepening spirit. Somehow the congregation wants to feel that their pastor fixes his or her eyes on Jesus. They will gather confidence because they sense that the pastor’s life and leadership reflect a person who seeks the heart of the Father and speaks out of a certitude that is humble yet convinced, fully repentant yet graced, self-effacing yet competent through the power of God.

More than once I asked my congregation for second offerings which would be given in-total to people in some part of the world who had sustained a great tragedy. Trust made it possible for people to dig deep. More than once I asked my congregation to step out in faith on a new budget or building program or staff addition. Trust made them willing to do it.

And more than once I asked my congregation to swallow hard and accept something that was new or even against the grain of their instincts. Only trust made it possible.

Trust eludes a complete definition. But, as they say, you know it when you see it. And I think about that when I look skyward at an enormous California sequoia. How long to grow; how quickly destroyed.

First published in the Leadership Journal – Winter 2003 –  “ Used by permission of Christianity Today, Carol Stream, IL 60188. If quoting from this article, please reference the source.”

Al’s Note:  Because Gordon MacDonald had created an environment of trust, when he breached that trust, he was able to turn back to the congregation and trust them as they nursed him back to wholeness.  It is important to realize that we may have to reach back for personal sustenance from the very systems we have laboriously created for other. Read more of his story in Rebuilding Your Broken World.

Important Announcement:

 The Following Email was sent from the Executive Leadership Team of the District on March 31, 2017 at 2:00PM.

Dear Ministry Colleague,

District Superintendent, Pastor Ken Solbrekken, met with the District Leadership Team in a teleconference meeting earlier this week. At the meeting, he informed the DLT that upon his Doctor’s advice, he will be unable to let his name stand for election for the position of District Superintendent at the upcoming District Conference.

Please continue to keep Pastor Ken, Lena, and their family in prayer for God’s strength and presence to surround them and lead them in this season. For the Solbrekken family and the District Family, we declare Psalm 62 as a foundation for our future: 

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sending you more information for preparation for your involvement in the District Conference.

On behalf of the District Leadership Team,

Pastor Dave Hall

Assistant District Superintendent


Natural Church Growth:

  • Ian James Jackson, son born to Dan and Teresa Jackson on December 22, 2016. Dan and Teresa are the pastors on Alexis Reserve near Onoway, AB.
  • Navy Grace Mason, daughter born to Tim and Deon Mason on December 22, 2016. Tim and Devon are the Tehillah Pastors at First Assembly, Calgary.
  • Joshua Michael David Morgan, son born to Joel and Joanne (nee Wells) Morgan on February 4, 2017. Joanne served in our District Office and together they are now actively involved on the Lead Team at City South Church in Edmonton.
  • Zane Conner Jory Young, son born to Chantelle (nee Harick) & Jory Young on March 14, 2017. Chantelle remains involved with the ministry of Camp Makaway, a Camp for under-privileged children, held annually at Sunnyside, Sylvan Lake.


With the Lord:

 We pray comfort for Pastor Doug Crouse and his family. Doug’s father passed away on March 7th in Ontario. We are thankful for God’s sustaining grace. Doug and Wanda are Lead Pastors at Southside Pentecostal Assembly in Edmonton.


Ministry Changes:

  • We are happy to announce the appointment of Pastor Mike Hinger as our Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Mission’s Coordinator.  Mike and Lori recently returned to Alberta from Saskatchewan. Mike is on the part-time staff at Lighthouse Church in Stony Plain. Lori is working as an accountant at the ABNWT District Office.
  • Dallas and Heather Siggelkow have moved to Nanaimo, B.C., where Dallas will be working in Pastoral Ministry with his brother Darcy. (The position of District Mission’s Representative, which Dallas held, is being filled on an interim basis by Pastor Mark Running of Lacombe)
  • Pastor Jim and Marylin Gardiner have moved to Yellowknife to assume the Pastoral responsibilities in Cornerstone Pentecostal Church. Their installation service was held on March 12, 2017.
  • We welcome Pastor Steve and Christianne Williams to Vegreville, Maple Street Worship Centre. They have joined us from the Maritime District. Their first Sunday there was April 1.
  • We welcome Pastor Arlen and Kristy Johnston to Empress, Family Worship Centre. They come to us from Saskatchewan.
  • We welcome Chaplain Donald (Jim) Sutherland and his wife Lorri to Edmonton where Jim will be working as Chaplain at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The Sutherlands are joining our District family from Ontario where they have previously ministered.
  • We welcome  Chaplain Adam Mattatall to Edmonton where he has assumed duties as our Pentecostal Chaplain on the University of Alberta (Edmonton) Campus. Please pray fervently for this strategic ministry.  We have the opportunity to welcome and win the world on this cosmopolitan campus.
  • On March 5, Pastor Lorne and Shauna-Lee Young resigned as Youth Pastors at Evangel Pentecostal Assembly in Edmonton.
  • We were saddened to farewell Pastor Ron and Betty Osmond, who have moved from Calgary, where they served on staff at First Assembly.  They have located in Ottawa. While in Alberta, they were such a great blessing to our District.


Church Changes:

  •  We are happy to announce that Valley Worship Assembly in Drayton Valley held their first service in their new facility.  It was an exciting Sunday with 117 in attendance.
  • New Church Plant:  Calvary Revival Church, 11525 – 23 Ave NW, Edmonton. This brand new Church Plant, pastored by Boniface and Happy Mgonja, is meeting in Stencel Hall at the Taylor College and Seminary.  Please pray that this Assembly will have a great impact in South Edmonton.


Special Events:

  •  Governor General Awards were presented to Jessica DiSabatino and her father Rob Ellis for their work with MySafeWork.  This outreach promotes safety for youth in the workplace in Canada. Jess is co-pastor with her husband, David at Church in the Hills, Calgary.
  • Rev. Daniel Jackson (Teresa) was ordained December 18, 2016. Daniel & Teresa serve as pastors on the Alexis Reserve in Lac Ste Anne County. He is the Senior Pastor/Executive Director of Infused Ministries.
  • Rev. Robert Penny (Chelsea) was ordained February 19, 2017 at West Edmonton Christian Assembly. Robert serves as the Young Adults and Senior High Youth Pastor there.
  • Rev. Jordan Clarke (Jessica) was ordained March 19, 2017 at Evangel Pentecostal Assembly. They serve as Youth Pastors there.


Prayer Requests:

  • Pastor Ken Solbrekken:  Please continue to pray for our District Superintendent and his wife Lena.  Please see the note from Assistant Superintendent Dave Hall, included in this Newsletter.
  • Sharon Donnelly:  Please pray for Sharon as she battles ALS. Pray also for her husband Bill. They have served as Chaplains in the Alberta District.
  • Phyllis Fisher:  Please pray for Phyllis who battles cancer.  Pray also for her husband Bruce.  The Fishers pastored at the former Central Tabernacle in Edmonton and Phyllis served for many years as Chaplain at the Alberta Hospital in Ponoka.
  • Len Rosenfeldt: Please pray for Len who has significant, ongoing health issues. Pray also for his wife Emmi. The Rosenfeldts pastored a number of Churches in our District over the years. Len’s latest appointment was on staff at Lighthouse Church in Stony Plain.
  • Church Needs: Please pray for a number of our Churches experiencing disharmony and difficulty. Pray for numbers of Churches adversely affected by the sluggish economy. Pray for a sovereign, powerful move of the Spirit of God in our Churches and through our Churches in to our Communities.
  • Evangelistic Ministries:  Please remember the following from our District who are ministering in Evangelism and roles at home and around the world: Pastor Tony and Marj Abrams; Pastor Jeremiah and Mabel Abel; Travis Holownia; Jack and Debbie Jackson; Marc and Wendy Brisbois; Matt and Kerry Blacklock.
  • Global Workers from ABNWT District: Elmer and Sherry Komant (Burundi); Brian and Val Rutten (Ethiopia); Jeremy and Teresa Feller (Regional Directors Africa); Ryan and Ashley Salomons (Ukraine); Jared and Cindy Hildebrandt (Thailand); Stefan and Barbara Sos (Mission’s Evangelists); Gary and Kathy Heinrichs (Costa Rica); Ian and Tiffanie Rowley (Cambodia); Dave and Julie Wood (Vanuatu); Steve and Patty Hertzog (Regional Directors – Eurasia); Greg and Lynne Swinamer (Russian Europe); Nish and Kristin Kandangama (Sri Lanka); Dr. Catherine and Alan Pysar (Uganda); Jordan Dowbush (Malawi); G. and R. D. (Restricted Access) JJ and R S. (Restricted Access); Marvin and Elinor Dynna (Short Term Mission’s Teaching)
  • Chaplains: Please pray for our part-time and full-time career Chaplains who serve in a vast number of Community and Institutional settings around our District.  These people make a huge difference and we greatly appreciate them.
  • Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Missions:  Pray for all our workers in the Mission. Please use the report below, submitted by our PSAM Director to inform you of the people and needs:


Here are the missionary outposts the Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Mission owns and operates in the NWT:

  • Kugluktuk: (1,490 people) We have a church and house, but, at present have no resident workers. Please pray that this long-standing need will be met.
  • Fort Good Hope: (569 people) We have a very nice church and house here and Lance Jaques has been pastor here for eighteen years.  At his request, we delivered 20 more chairs to add to the 40 already in the Church.
  • Tulita: (520 people) We have a church and a house there and Troy and Connie Russell and their two girls have been serving there for three years. Both the Church and the house need extensive repairs.
  • Fort Simpson: (1200 people) We have a church with the house attached where Jerry and Annette Chiasson have been serving for several years. Both the Church and the house need extensive repairs.
  • Fort Resolution: (500 people) We have a very nice church there. The house needs some repairs. Ozell Borden works with the youth and adult women of the Community.
  • Fort Providence: (740) We have buildings there, church and house, but no workers.

At this present time we are asking for prayer support.  If you have a prayer chain with an email address we would love to get connected with you.  We need the prayer support for ongoing work in the north. Pray for financial provision, the cost is high to support and maintain everything we have.  We need guidance from the Lord to know what God is directing us to do in each community. There are opportunities for other communities up north, which have invited us to come. Please pray also for protection for the PSAM workers and the believers in each Community. The lies of the enemy are strong and destructive in each community. Pray against fear that comes from religion and animistic beliefs. Our goal and prayer is to reach each person in each community with the love of Jesus and to set them completely set free.

Contact PSAM Coordinator, Rev Michael Hinger as follows


Praise Reports:

  • Mike Hinger:  We praise the Lord for Mike’s quick and complete recovery from a major heart attack several months ago.
  • Alan Pohl: We are thankful to God for sparing Alan’s life after he suffered a heart attack in March. He is doing well.
  • Janet Borzel: In the early winter of 2016/17 Janet was told that the next step for her was dialysis. She was told that the condition was irreversible.  In direct answer to prayer, she has defied all medical prognosis and now has a kidney function that is steadily improving and is nearly completely normal.


Great Quotes on the Resurrection:

  •  “The Gospels do not explain the Resurrection; the Resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith.” (John S. Whale)
  • “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”  (Martin Luther)
  • “The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence.  Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” (Clarence W. Hall)
  • “Our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” (Watchman Nee)
  • “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.” (Harvard Law Professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf)


Laugh Lines:

  • As church secretary, I prepare the bulletin for each week’s services. One Sunday morning, I heard snickering from the pews. Quickly grabbing the bulletin, I found the cause. The sermon title for that day was: “What Makes God Sick: Pastor Joe Smith.”
  • A kindergarten teacher was walking around observing her classroom of children while they were drawing pictures. As she got to one girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”
  • The Sunday School teacher was describing that when Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom she turned into a pillar of salt, when Bobby interrupted. “My mommy looked back once while she was driving,” he announced, “and she turned into a telephone pole.”
  • There is the story of a pastor who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: “I have good news and bad news.The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program.The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.”


District Pastoral Care Resources:

  • Counseling: In consultation with the Pastoral Care Coordinator (780) 977 2179, or the Director of Leader Development and Care (780) 426 0018, counseling can be approved and accessed for Credential Holders and their immediate dependent family members. We maintain a current roster of qualified counseling professionals for the purpose of referral.
  • Clarence Counseling Centre owned and operated by Simon and Ruth Clarence provides Christian Pastoral Counsel on an appointment basis. They may be contacted at or (780) 289 6112.
  • Kerith Creek Retreat:  This Ministry of Focus on the Family is endorsed by the ABNWT Pastoral Care Department.  Marshall and Merrie Eizenga, Credential Holders in our PAOC District direct this ministry centered in Priddis, Alberta.   You may contact them for more information in the following ways: Phone: 1.800.550.5655, Email:
  • Life Coaching: In consultation with the Director of Leader Development and Care (780) 426 0018, Life Coaching may be approved for Credentialed Ministers.


Contact Information:

  • You may contact Al Downey at:, (780) 977 2179
  • You may contact Yvonne Downey at:, (780) 966 9873
  • You may also contact them through the ABNWT DISTRICT OFFICE at (780) 426 0018. West Wing, Second Floor, 12140 – 103 Street Northwest, Edmonton, T5G 2J9 
Al Downey

Al Downey

Pastoral Care Director at ABNWT District Office
Al Downey