2023 ANNUAL IMPACT REPORT
Our Board of Elders invites you to join them for lunch followed by our Annual General Meeting.
For details, meeting resources and to RSVP for lunch and childcare (during the meeting) visit the event page.
Please help us plan well for the lunch by RSVPing by February 21 online (anytime) or at the Information Kiosk (Sundays).
As I bring my report to a conclusion, let me also share part of my personal plans in the coming months. Following some personal discernment with Leanne, along with processing with our Board of Elders, our Board has graciously provided me the opportunity to take a sabbatical from May 26 – August 24. While my spiritual and emotional “tanks” have been refueling the past six months, the past couple of years have been incredibly exhausting and draining. Too long in that kind of space is unhealthy for anyone. For one called to shepherd a church family, it is doubly so and unfair to the congregation whom they serve. I am grateful that Westwood Church enables sabbaticals for the purpose of rebuilding and renewing for our pastoral staff. In that spirit, the primary focus of this sabbatical is personal renewal which involves a pulling away from the daily rigors of organizational and pastoral leadership to attend to my own body and soul through spiritual disciplines, counselling inputs, reading, and just plain old recreation like camping on a weekend! We’re open to invites on the camping! Additionally, I look forward to a week long seminar on a study of the book of Philippians with a group of 25 other pastors from our BC Mennonite Brethren family hosted by Fairhaven Retreat centre in Vernon. One of the outcomes of this week will be a teaching series through Philippians that I will develop. So you can anticipate a sermon series in Philippians at some point in the next year! While I look forward to this sabbatical and “stepping away” it is also an opportunity for others to “step in or step up” in ways they have not yet experienced. This will involve both paid staff but also the congregation as a whole so I invite each one to consider how they can do that part which God calls them to do. And I look forward to seeing how God works in and through each one during this time.
Thanks to each member of our Board of Elders for their leadership and service to this church family. Amy Dobson, Keith Warkentin, Rob Larson, Lisa Sukkau…you are not only co-workers in the Lord but friends who love your church family deeply and desire to serve her with passion. Thank you! Bob Gammer, you have faithfully served as Moderator for four years and through it all, you have persisted and persevered. Thank you for your friendship and service to our congregation. It is greatly appreciated. Thanks also to our pastoral and administrative staff who invest so much time and effort into what has been asked of you in your roles. It does not go unnoticed. THANK YOU! And to our church family, thanks for your many words of encouragement and affirmation for me and Leanne, especially over the past year. It is greatly appreciated and has gone a long way in persevering as we strive to serve you and our city with love, truth, and grace.
Here are a few lovely snapshots:
So… please pray with us for God to produce what is beautiful to him, and for us all to cooperate with his plans for healthy discipling. Please pray for Westwood’s leaders and pastors to know how to best equip and release people in ways that are life-giving.
microChurch and Congregational Care Pastor
Pastor Ryan Beer
Go Ministry and microChurch Pastor
What a joy it has been to see the missional heart of Westwood Church blossom, grow and bear much fruit this year. 2023 has been a year where Westwood has joined Jesus on mission in so many ways and areas that it could not be contained in a report like this but here are a few highlights to give you a taste of some of what has happened.
Locally Westwood has two church plants in Pine Glen and Park Village Apartments. Nolan and Emily Hanson, who serve in Pine Glen have had a year of showing much hospitality to their neighbours and have become embedded in that community. They have also seen a Bible study made up of people from different cultural and faith backgrounds emerge and are having the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus with people. Tom and Chris Lavigne in Pine Glen have really poured themselves into getting to know their neighbours in greater measure since Tom’s retirement from being the MCC Community Development Coordinator. They have had open houses where they have invited many of their neighbours into their home and are showing the love of Jesus to people in that community.
Speaking of Tom’s retirement, we have had the privilege of adding Kojo Kyei to the apartment ministry team as the new Community Development Coordinator. Kojo joined us starting in August and has hit the ground running. He has such a heart for people and has quickly become an integral part of the ministry at the apartments. We are currently in process of hiring a second Community Development Coordinator so that we can expand the ministry to all eight apartment complexes that MCC owns. We are hopeful to have someone in place by the spring.
One final highlight on the local front that I will share is the start up of Oasis ministry, led by Rose Tohme. God is doing incredible things through this ministry as Rose and her team of 50 volunteers have shown the love of Jesus to over 80 newcomers to Canada who are seeking to make Prince George home. We have seen two people give their lives to Jesus so far and look forward to seeing all God will do through this ministry in 2024. Please see the Oasis Ministry report for further details on the ministry.
On the global front it is exciting to see continued partnership develop between Westwood and our global partners in the gospel.
One of our partners, the Sinclair-Peters, provided the following details on the expansion of the Kingdom in Thailand and Myanmar:
What an incredible testimony of what God is doing! Westwood further partnered in the ministry by giving $4500 towards establishing a foundation in Mae Sot to support church planting and relief and development work among the Myanmar people living in both Thailand and Myanmar. Praise God!
Westwood also had the joy of sending a team including two elders and a pastor to Thailand to see what God is doing and how we can further partner with Khmu church planting and ministry. There was much testimony of miraculous healing and spiritual transformation as we visited several church plants. Many people are choosing to give their life to Jesus and God is at work in incredible ways amongst the Khmu people.
Finally, it was a joy to hear from the Baergs how their holistic ministry of seeing shalom grow in a community through the growth of trees, hospitality and their involvement in the local church. Please pray for partners for the Baergs as they would love people to partner with in the present and leave the ministry to in the future once they retire.
So, there you have it! What a year it has been on mission with Jesus as a church and we anticipate much more kingdom fruit in 2024 as we continue to partner with Jesus on mission both locally and globally.
Go Ministry and microChurch Pastor
Jesus has called his followers to GO and make disciples of all nations. The call is to do this both locally and to the ends of the earth. This is what our Go ministries at Westwood are all about; seeing the transforming power of the gospel change peoples lives as they come into a relationship with their Creator and choose to give their lives to him.
This year, for the focus of my Go report I would love to share the story of what God is doing both in our own city and with one of our ministry partners abroad.
There are a few churches that are interested in exploring and supporting this ministry more fully such as First Baptist Church, College Heights Baptist Church, Lakewood Alliance Church, the Christian Reformed Church, and Overcoming Faith Church to name a few.
People are getting to know more about Jesus, experiencing His love and asking Him into their lives. We had our first baptism this past month. It was a private one for the safety of the participant’s family who lives in a country where her family could face persecution due to her faith in Jesus. We anticipate more to come to the Lord, in Jesus’ name.
There is joy and encouragement evidenced with those who are serving while we witness the joy, the change, and the appreciation in our newcomer friends’ lives.
The beautiful interaction between our congregation and our newcomer friends.
- That more people will come to know the Lord Jesus
- Job opportunities for newcomers
- Teachers and teacher assistants for ESL classes
- Extra pieces of furniture
In Jesus’ Name,
Oasis Ministry Team Lead
2023 was an encouraging year in the Worship Arts team! While we didn’t see a lot of numerical growth in the team, what we did experience was an appreciation for the commitment from our steady volunteers, seeing friendships deepen, and growth happen in a more focused season. We’ve had times when volunteer availability was less, and we have been so grateful for what we learned throughout the pandemic, about how to work effectively with just a few people. Funny enough, we get more positive feedback from those attending our worship services when the team is smaller, than when we have a full stage, and that’s actually an encouragement to us!
A couple of fun moments from 2023 were when we did a hybrid worship song with parts in English and Ukrainian, with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who have been settling in and finding ways to be involved at Westwood. Additionally, the few times when the youth team has joined us on a Sunday morning in leading worship has been an encouragement and blessing as we continue to develop younger leaders.
On an individual level, many are probably unaware that I’ve been on an educational and formational journey, which will see completion in June of this year. Since the fall of 2021, I’ve been working my way through a 3-year program with an organization called Emmaus Formation Centre. Their certificate programs are in spiritual formation and spiritual direction. In 2023, I completed the certificate of spiritual formation, and began working on my certificate of spiritual direction. This final year is a deep dive into the practice of spiritual direction and includes a practicum component whereby each student accumulates several hours of spiritual direction. It has been a huge learning experience, and I’ve been stretched in ways I didn’t know I needed to be. Westwood has supported me through this journey and, for that, I am truly thankful!!
We find ourselves starting 2024 with some new faces on the team, and an excitement for making the Worship Arts team a place where we can experience personal growth and discipleship.
Worship Arts Ministry Pastor
You may wonder who is watching? Me too! Occasionally I hear stories of those who are on the other side of the screen such as:
- A family who lives three hours away and doesn’t have a local church.
- Westwooders who, due to various limitations, are unable to leave their homes but feel connected online with the familiar faces and current updates.
- A local man who didn’t attend church but found Westwood Church Online in the last few months of his life.
- The family who is sick but not wanting to miss out.
For each unique device connected on a Sunday morning there is a unique individual/family/group, loved by God, with a unique story. We don’t know who all is on the other side of the screen, but we know they are there, so our Production Team shows up every Sunday to push buttons, select camera shots, work through tech issues, and grow together.
Throughout the year we also live streamed funeral services so that family members from around the globe could attend when they would not normally have been able to. This past year we saw connections from Australia, the UK, the United States, and even Sri Lanka. It is a privilege to provide a connection point for families walking through grief.
If you are interested in becoming a part of the Production Team please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I need to be transparent with you…I started last January with a very “Gideon like” attitude. The Children’s Ministries Leadership Team was excited and wanted to run a “full Vacation Bible School (VBS) week” in July, like we had done years ago. Many of you know what an endeavor this is and how many volunteers it takes to make it happen (Over 85 in case you were wondering…many of whom had to be here every day for a week.)
I was not happy about having to “go out in faith” and “hope” that it would all somehow come together. Even though I had three beautiful, smiling faces staring back at me from around the table, I just couldn’t get as excited as they were. I needed God to show me that this was what He wanted. So, I prayed about it…a lot! And then I came to the congregation asking you to show me that you would support this with not just your giving, but with your time and efforts. And, in presenting this to you I said very sternly, “If I don’t have enough volunteers signed up to help by March, we will not be able to offer the VBS this year.”
And as so often happens, when I turn into “Negative Nelly’” God laughs at my doubts and says with delight, “Let me show you what I can do Twyla! You want volunteers? I will give you more than you have asked for, and I will bring forward those to help with problems you haven’t even considered yet! You need supplies? I will give them in abundance! You want this congregation’s support? Stand back! You are going to see what I can do!”
We had a wave of people get involved in every aspect of the camp. The response was overwhelming! The talent and generosity in this church never ceases to amaze me. He gave me an incredible team of Prayer Warriors that lifted myself, my team, and the kids and families in our church in prayer each day. He provided the funding for a summer student. And not just any summer student. He brought me Kendra Shauer, who had grown up serving in this church in both the Sunday School and the Youth Programs and knew them well. She was a fun, smart, energetic ray of sunshine that boosted my spirits daily, and who worked so hard to not only get me ready for VBS, but the summer Sunday School Program and the fall kick off as well. And even though the arrival of September meant that I lost Kendra to her new calling in Abbotsford, our regular Sunday School volunteers returned, renewed and ready for the year ahead. This is the first time in all my years in this leadership role, that we had an almost full roster of volunteers to start the fall programming. I am incredibly grateful for the goodness of God. Praise Jesus!
The increase in new volunteers this past year buoyed the spirits of our existing team. The arrival of many of the students from the Youth Group who have now joined the Sunday School Team, has been such an added blessing. They brought with them a great attitude, lots of patience with the kids, and very willing hearts. Please pray for our Leadership Team, our Sunday School teachers, and all the people who help in the classrooms to make this church a safe place for your kids and grandkids.
I am excited for Children’s Ministries going forward into 2024, and excited to see what the future will hold for me as well.
As you know, I have given my notice of retirement to the Board of Elders and will be finishing up in the months to come. I truly feel that God has someone wonderful waiting in the wings to take it over! Someone with lots of energy and fresh ideas. Someone new for you to partner with as they work on behalf of your kids and families. Although this doesn’t feel like it is enough, “Thank you!” Thank you for believing in me, and for giving me this opportunity. It has changed my life, and I will carry this experience with me forever.
Blessings to each of you in the coming year.
Children's Ministry Director
The goal of Westwood Youth is to have a safe place for youth to come where they will be accepted for who they are, build relationships with each other and their leaders, and most importantly, get to know God. We want to create a place where kids can ask questions and learn more about who they are and what Christ has for them. We average about 65-70 grades 6-12 students and leaders each week at Junior and Senior Youth Groups combined.
At the beginning of 2023 we continued to focus on who we are and what God has for us. We had fun together playing, laughing, eating, and spending time with our microChurches. The summer is always a slower time for youth, but we did meet a few times to connect. A huge thank you to the leaders that were around so we could make connections throughout the summer.
As we entered into the fall of 2023, it was time to dig deeper into what Jesus has for us. We have looked at how we can reach our friends and ways that we could be more like Jesus through the Gospels.
Some highlights for 2023 included: microChurch nights, our youth band leading us in worship, celebrating graduation together, and our year end BBQ and bouncy Castles. In November we had a chance to spend some extra time together at a retreat. It took lots of planning and organizing but was totally worth it! It was great for youth and leaders to have a little extra time together. I think though that some of our leaders would have liked a little more sleep! We also brought back our annual Christmas Banquet. This was a great time of leaders and other servant volunteers working together to pull off an amazing meal. It is also a highlight for me to see our youth taking care of each other.
Something else super substantial that has happened this year has been the number Westwood School youth who have been joining us regularly. This is a direct correlation to the Westwood partnership with Ness Lake Bible Camp that year. It has been a privilege to see these kids be welcomed in by our youth and our leaders. What an opportunity to serve our neighbours.
It has been a blessing to me to work with the families that bring their youth weekly and provide snacks, the youth who share their lives with us, and an amazing team of volunteer Youth Leaders that God has brought together! I love to watch them connect and love on “our kids.” I am excited for what God has in store us next.
Please join us in praying for the following:
- For wisdom in conversations with our youth, that God would direct us as leaders
- That our youth will take what they learn to their schools and the places they go and be Jesus’ light
- That God would raise up more adults (especially men) who love youth to join with our Senior Youth ministry
- For Sam Chisholm - one of our youth we pray for regularly who is battling cancer
- For wisdom, grace, and understanding for the team and students as decisions are made in the absence of a full-time youth pastor.
Thank you to all those who have supported me personally as well as our youth ministry. It is muchly appreciated.
By His Grace,
Interim Youth Lead
Did you know that Men’s Ministry has been active in Men’s Breakfast for almost 10 years now? Every Wednesday morning at 7:00 am there is a dedicated group of cooks who prepare breakfast for 12-15 men. We eat together, we do a video devotional and discuss what we’ve watched. It’s been a blessing to all of us and we would love to see more men become engaged.
Did you know that Men’s Ministry started planning the Women’s Winter Wonderfest (held on January 17, 2024) in September? Headed by Phil Pudlas and Del Reinheimer, plans were put together to bless the less fortunate women of our city living in shelters and on our downtown streets. They had many meetings with other organizations to blend the gifts of Westwood (both spiritual and physical) to ensure that these ladies felt God’s Love in a tangible way. What a blessing to be a part of this event.
Did you know that Men’s Ministry has blessed men and their children for the past five years (COVID-19 excepting) with a Camp In. Where men of all ages, single or with kids, can get together and spend time with other men from our church, playing, talking, and interacting with each other and then camping in the church sanctuary in tents and sleeping bags. It’s a highlight for all the kids that attend!
Did you know that there is a group of Westwood Men who travel to Ness Lake Bible Camp (NLBC) every week to help in the maintenance and upkeep of this blessed facility? They give of their hearts to ensure that attendees enjoy a safe and maintained camp. This year this help extended beyond NLBC. We had a family where it was impossible for required work to be done. This was a major outdoor project that had been started and needed to be completed – the call went out and men showed up.
Did you know that the Men’s Ministry helps in the Oasis Ministry in picking up, moving, and delivering furniture that you and the community donate to new and grateful immigrants and refugees in Prince George? What a blessing to see the joy in their eyes and faces? New to Prince George with nothing and being blessed with the essential furniture in their new place?
Men’s Ministry is a safe place where men can share their lives and come into relationship with God and searching men. A group of guys wanting to share and to help. A group of guys Christ centered, wanting to share in discussion, work and outreach. Do you know someone who needs to be involved in Men’s Ministry?
Purpose of Ministry
2023 Ministry Update
Throughout the past year the Library and Resource Centre team has worked to:
- Provide a diverse selection of theology, biblical studies, spiritual formation, and Christian living books for the Westwood congregation. Notable additions include:
- How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People, Pete Greig
- The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament, Sandra Richter
- Flood and Fury: Old Testament Violence and the Shalom of God, Matthew Lynch
- Embodied: Transgender Identities, the Church, and What the Bible Has to Say, Preston Sprinkle
- The Bible Unwrapped: Making Sense of Scripture Today, Meghan Good
- Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes, Patronage, Honor, and Shame in the Biblical World, Randolph Richards
- Curate non-fiction teaching books to be in alignment with Westwood sermon series
- Partially digitize the library collection, with plans to go fully digital in 2024
- Continue to bring in new adult fiction, teen, junior, and children’s books to engage all ages and interests of the Westwood congregation
We have seen many new faces enter the Library and Resource Centre, asking for certain books and topics. Earlier in the year the Library and Resource Centre team sponsored a book club that saw a regular group come together for discussion. While this group did not continue in Fall 2023, future plans to renew it are being considered.
2024 Ministry Goals
- Continue to expand the non-fiction collection of the Library and Resource Centre
- Intentionally curate fiction and non-fiction resources for Teens and Juniors
- Expand and renew Children’s collection items
- Go fully digitally! (This will allow us to automate book checkout, due dates, reminder emails, overdue items, and manage Westwood patrons).
We are trusting God for an increase in engagement from the Westwood congregation to exhilarate their spiritual journey through self-study and in small groups. We hope to launch a Westwood Library & Resource webpage to help promote the latest collection additions.
Library & Resource Centre Team Leaders
There are many practical acts of care - often that I get to hear about after the fact – happening through the congregation all the time. Walls built, cars repaired, children babysat, gift cards provided, temporary housing made possible, flowers given, yard work done. Please contact me (Robin) if there is a need we should be aware of that requires more than just your own network to respond.
Good work also to those who have joined in caring by visiting, praying with, and especially just listening well to those suffering – at home, in hospital, in hospice. This is invaluable. There are so many of you. This is, of course, the body being the body, and it is precious. Additionally, the pastors are available in such times, but also our Elders count it an honour to respond, along with Phil and Arlene Pudlas (retired pastor/social worker and nurse).
When we gather together for Sunday worship, Bes Gagnon continues to ably organize and train the ushers. We have had a number of people join in ushering this year – young and older. Thanks! It is part of helping people feel welcome. Likewise, some new Greeters this year have started taking turns welcoming at the doors; it is not a complicated role, but it matters a lot! Contact me (Robin) if you would like to be a Greeter. As of December, a delightful new aspect of connecting on Sunday morning has been the return of coffee, and a sweets and fruit table! A big thank you to Sandra Boulianne who is ably leading out in this, knowing how food warms up our community. There are now at least twenty-five people working every month (and having fun!) to make sure this happens. You can sign up to help too! Watch for potentially quarterly congregational lunches in 2024!
microChurch and Congregational Care Pastor
The Finance Team is thrilled to report on God's abundant provision for Westwood Church. Here are some key highlights from the past year:
Mortgage Paid Off: We are delighted to announce the successful repayment of our mortgage, marking a momentous financial milestone. It was great to celebrate as a church family last spring over a pig roast.
Financial Surplus: Through the generosity of our members, we have achieved a surplus of $80,000. This surplus has come from donations above and beyond what we had budgeted for.
We are thankful for each of you and for your generosity! As a church we want to continue to use these resources God has given us for his purpose and glory.
On behalf of the Finance Team
Finance Team Chairperson