In July we will welcome Rev. Blair Odney as our new minister. In the meantime he has the following message for us:
Dear People of Queen’s Avenue United Church:
I am so excited to be joining with you in Ministry. What a beautiful risk you have taken for the sake of the gospel. I’m reminded of the text from the gospel of Mark as Jesus addresses his followers: “All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them.” (Mark 8:35 CEB). You have committed your hearts, your volunteer hours, your willingness to step into, and step out of, leadership, your financial tithes and offerings for something that may or may not look anything like we hoped or expected. That is just how God works.
For the next two years, we will be on an adventure that will fundamentally change how we identify and experience ourselves. We may even experience the Christ event together. This is the risk you have taken for the sake of the good news, as you extend your call to me to be your minister. You want me to lead the congregation as it re-engages its mission and ministry in New Westminster with a focus on growing a healthy and sustainable congregation that is open and welcoming and focused on community, families, and all ages.
I whole heartedly say, I will pursue this call with you. I want you to know that I come with the same commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ as you have made. As I think about my own life, this passage from the gospel of Mark is a very real and lived experience. I add this to the three key messages I bring to ministry:
The first comes from the scriptures at the time when Jesus was baptized. The story says that just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” I believe that happens with everybody. I believe we are all a perfect expression of the divine One, even as we are being called into our belovedness.
The second key message also comes from the scriptures and the first story of creation. On the sixth day when people were made in the image and likeness of God, made male and female and then blessed, it was all declared “GOOD.” The role of the church is to help people remember their goodness.
The third comes from the American theologian John Shea inviting the church to “gather the folks, break the bread and tell the story.” You will experience this in my ministry. The story of the saving grace of God, through the decisive act of Easter, is central to our being followers of the living Christ. There is no other reason for the church to exist.
I’m interested in walking with people on the journey back to themselves, and the story that they have been created in the image and likeness of God, declared good, called God’s beloved. My own experience is an example of the Mark passage; once I decided I would give my life; it came back to me. The call to Queens Avenue United is another step in that very process. It feels more and more that my life is being given back to me.
When that can happen to one such as me, so untimely born; think how true it is for you who have risked your life as community for the sake of the gospel.
I can’t wait to meet you all.
Rev. S. Blair Odney