Why an Abbey?
Its time for another update and some thoughts and informations. A couple of things have happened over the last month. As we were thinking about all the prep needed for the work permit application, we realized that Carinas passport needed to be renewed and that Jake needs one for himself. So we got that going December 1st and they should arrive in a couple of weeks. The other thing that was missing was the official job offer from Urban Abbey, which we got just last week. As soon as we have the passports we will apply for all the necessary documents and move into the next waiting period, woohoo 🙂
The finances look good and as soon as this busy month is over we will do some more fundraising to get the rest locked in.
This time I wanted to introduce you to the church we will be joining and were I will be pastor of preaching and evangelism.
Why an Abbey? You may have asked yourself why the church is called Urban Abbey and how it might differ from other church forms. The first time I heard Scotland talk about their plans for the church I was very intrigued. Thinking of abbeys my first mental pictures were of old men in robes, growing your own food and making your own beer. The later might just be my german coming out. But seriously why would someone take this ancient form of community and try to bring it into the 21st century?
An abbey used to be a societal hub. Everything was found there. They were the center of spirituality, learning, art and culture. And for that matter a church used to be that as well. So people gathered there in search for help, guidance, wisdom, creativity and entertainment. Nowadays churches have held on to the spiritual and charitable part but society has won over every other aspect. Cinemas, theaters, universities, galleries and so on have divorced God and the beauty of the Gospel from everything other than faith. Although faith might be next on the agenda.
In the form of this ancient institution we aim to bring all of what makes up our humanity back in close relationship with the God we believe and trust in. We believe that God doesn’t just want our „spiritual“ life to be in contact with him, but all of life. God creates human beings as a complex but united entity. If we start to compartmentalize our life or even try to make certain aspects of it spiritual and others secular, we do a disservice to Gods idea of what someone made in his image is.
Bringing spirituality, learning, art and culture together in the form of an abbey will inspire a closer dialogue between people of every walk of life. This will enable us to literally feed the soul, mind, heart and body. Many different programs, events and places will be available to make this happen. At the moment Urban Abbey has a weekly worship service. They are already treating individuals in recovery who live full time in the Abbey. In addition to the worship service they do 6 prayer services daily. They reach out to the community with a weekly program helping them better understand who they are as whole persons and who Jesus is in relation to this teaching. Almost 1,000 meals per week are currently served to the poor. Office space (free of charge) is provided to Birthright – a group who helps women who are seeking abortion to consider other options and then offers support and love to moms and their babies as they journey forward and to UGM Canada – the Christian Evangelism radio station in Thunder Bay. The team has a great vision and an even greater passion.
It is my passion to infuse everything we will be doing with the gospel of grace, because I strongly believe wether you preach, serve a meal, paint, teach math or help someone kick an addiction, everything must be viewed and understood through Gods grace displayed on the cross. This will not only provide the opportunities to serve the city but more importantly give you the motivation and endurance to keep going.
And this is a testimony of how all that translates into the real life of real people:
Jamie Voth came to the city as a broken man. Living in Manitoba, hooked on drugs, Voth headed to Thunder Bay in May looking for a place to recover. Six months later, he’s washing dishes after serving a meal at Urban Abbey. “When I first came here I really felt like I was pretty broken down. I felt very worthless and I met people here that treated me like I was somebody and I was someone of value and that meant a lot to me. To be treated that way and it really helped me get to a better place in my life,” he said. “My life’s going a lot better ever since I ended up here.” (tbnewswatch.com)