BOARD UPDATE – APRIL 2021
Welcome to another Board/Leadership E Letter.
Someone said to me this week, “Wow, Brian, a lot of moving parts right now! How are you doing?” I thought, “What a great way of summarizing reality – a lot of moving parts!” There ARE a lot of moving parts: staff transitions, the building of a new church, a capital campaign, navigating COVID realities, and an ever-developing on-line presentation of ministry.
Neil Maskery, Kevin Aide, and Chase Bethel have all submitted reports within this email. This is really important information for you as one who attends the bridge. There is an “ask” at the end of this email for members specifically.
Now, back to the “moving parts”:
1. Staff Transitions
Pastor Karen Heppner
Pastor Karen has been leading our LifeGroups ministry for almost 15 years now. As you are aware, Pastor Karen let us know a couple of months ago that she was going to bring her employment relationship with the bridge to an end, effective June 27th. Thankfully, Karen continues to work at LifeGroups and Leadership Development until that time.
I’m so grateful for Karen’s partnership. It’s truly been that, a partnership. In the New Testament, there is a Greek word “koinonia”. The English equivalent would be the word “fellowship”, but it’s a fellowship that includes both participation and partnership in the life and ministry of Christ. This is what we have experienced with Karen, “koinonia”: wonderful fellowship co-participation, that fulfills a deep purpose, through partnerships.
Pastor Emily James
Any time there is a staff change, there is usually some form of re-configuration or re-engineering of a ministry or a role. One of the changes affecting LifeGroups is Pastor Emily assuming the role of Discipleship Pastor. Pastor Emily will be giving oversight to the critical and strategic pathway for discipleship and spiritual growth within the adults of our congregation. Pastor Emily is now an Executive Pastor and sits with Cynthia, Samuel, and me in our executive meetings.
What will Pastor Emily’s influence in LifeGroup Ministries be? She will be hiring and working with our next LifeGroups Pastor. Pastor Emily will be exercising her teaching, training, and strategic design giftings within the ministry, but she will mostly be partnering with the LifeGroups Pastor and LG Cohort, in vision, strategy, whole-church integration, and accountability. So, from an individual’s initial experience and introduction to the bridge, through to their overall growth and maturity, Pastor Emily will be exercising and giving leadership.
Karen, Emily, and I are working very hard at a helpful and healthy transition in this very effective ministry.
Pastor Samuel Mills:
Pastor Samuel came to me, early in April, and informed me that he had accepted a position at Sanctus Church in Ajax. I had the privilege of spending time with Pastor Samuel hearing the story of how God had led him in this direction. He has been with us at the bridge for five years and has been involved in Family Ministries, Worship Ministries, Communications, and Executive Leadership. He has also been a significant and effective contributor in our teaching/preaching. His last day with us will be this Sunday, April 25th.
Every staff member brings what I like to call “intangibles”. Often these are the unexpected but incredibly helpful things…things that they were not necessarily hired for. For me, one of the blessings that I experienced in working with Pastor Samuel is his love for theology. I have thoroughly enjoyed a good number of philosophical and theological discussions with him. So good!
The Board, the Executive, and I will be meeting to discuss and work through our strategy going forward. We will be looking to add a staff member that will be able to assist us in the teaching of God’s Word, and contribute to the ministry objectives of the church.
2. Building of the New Church
Kevin Aide, one of our board members and Chairman of the Building Committee, will update you on the project. He is doing such an amazing job! In a month where we are working through the New Testament value of “generosity”, Kevin surely exemplifies it. He has put so much of himself, his time, his talents, and his treasure into this project. Please keep Kevin and the Building Committee in your prayers.
3. Capital Campaign
Neil Maskery, another of our board members, has given you a written report on the campaign. Neil has given leadership to past capital campaigns at the bridge. He has such a passion for optimizing and maximizing our capital resources for God. Please keep Neil and Pastor Earl James in your prayers as they bring you regular updates on both the capital campaign and the building campaign. You can be immediately updated on our new website, www.buildinghope.ca
4. COVID Response
Honestly, what is there to say about this robust virus? It has truly changed our lives! Only God knows just how much, or for how long. It’s been over a year since we moved online with our worship services and our ministries. I am so grateful and so proud of our staff for how they have translated our vision, our strategy, and our ministries into a virtual context. It has required creativity, planning, and much change for every ministry.
So, here’s the big question: “When will we be meeting ‘in-person’ again?” The answer is, “As soon as we can!” We all yearn for in-person church. We are a church that gathers for worship, groups for growth, gives for God’s agenda, and goes to a world in need. However, we must do so with respect to governmental guidelines, safe practices, and productive strategies. This would be the case for all 4G’s that we aspire to. At the bridge, we have an added consideration for our in-person gathering: building occupancy. Much of the new building will not be able to provide occupancy until this time next year, but the gymnasium many be available to us much sooner. If we receive the occupancy permit for the gym before the end of the year, we will be looking to use it for providing in-person gatherings until our new building is good to go.
Well, my friends, these are just a few of the “moving parts”. For me personally, an additional one has been our family’s rebuilding and re-entry into our home. As you may be aware, we experienced a house-fire 28 months ago. We have just recently seen the completion of the rebuild and we now occupy our home. We are so happy to be home…to be back in the neighborhood with our neighbors. We feel so blessed! Speaking of blessing, I would like to thank all of you for your prayers, your thoughtfulness, and your generosity towards my family during this crisis. You helped us through, and we are genuinely touched by your love.
One last thing. Please keep in mind that on Sunday, June 6th, we will be calling the church into a congregational meeting to hear and vote on a couple of constitutional matters. We will also provide an update on the building project during this time. Please place this in your calendar.
Love you and miss you so much!!!
Building hope campaign update
On behalf of the Board, I invite you to join with my family and I to build hope by prayerfully considering the role God would have you play in our building campaign. BuildingHope.ca is where you can find all the information on what we aspire to do, and how we plan to do it. (I won’t attempt to duplicate the excellent communication which buildinghope.ca provides. Just do yourself a favour and spend some time there!)
What we aspire to do, how we plan to do it, and why the Board, pastors, and staff are committed to this building project is information that will continue to be put in front of you. It is information that comes your way from “the outside in”.
My invitation is for you to clarify your own why and discover this from “the inside out”.
Integrity of process matters deeply to leadership at the bridge. Prayerfully understanding why giving to this building project matters to you is deeply personal. Each of us has a story, and no story is more important than any other. Your story matters every bit as much as mine. What is the story you hold about the bridge? What is the story you hold about this building project? What are the unspoken dreams you hold about the impact our new building will have on you, your family, friends, and on those who are not yet here? Unwrapping your story is the beginning of understanding why pledging financial support for this project matters to you.
From the why, comes the what, then the how. An inside-out process is meaningful to you, and unique to you. Allow me to share my story. My kids grew up at the bridge. They learned to serve, give, made great friends, and belonged to something much bigger than themselves and their immediate family unit. They learned confidence grounded in God’s unconditional love. I learned leadership and perspective, coped with loss, and built amazing friendships at the bridge. My marriage thrived because Pastor Brian’s transparent leadership style gave us implicit permission to seek counselling when times were tough. All my life’s fundamentally important experiences, relationships, and insights have been possible at the bridge because others chose to create a physical place for me to belong. This is my why.
I invite you to join me, the Board, pastors and staff in this venture. Spend time with the content thoughtfully prepared for you at buildinghope.ca and spend time reflecting on your story. Uncover your why, and prayerfully consider what you will contribute.
On behalf of the Board, committed to building hope.
Board Member and Building Committee Member
Bridge Property Update
After much planning and countless hours invested by the bridge staff, the Board and the Building Committee, our expansion project is well underway. This year’s mild conclusion to winter was a construction blessing as it allowed us to get started on excavation, pouring of the footings and foundation walls, and avoid the additional cost of winter heat sources.
If you’ve driven by the site recently you may be wondering why a significant portion of the original church building still remains. The demolition company was only able to remove up to the point where the existing gas line enters the original church building. We were not able to disconnect the gas line for a significant length of time as the remaining building requires heat to protect it and the remaining contents. As a result, the demolition process was paused until the gas meter could be relocated. All of this was anticipated; however, the relocation process took longer than expected due to coordination and approvals required by Enbridge. The gas meter has now been relocated to its new location and demolition will resume soon, and likely will be well underway by the time you read this.
Once the demolition is complete, look for more foundation walls to be poured and concrete floors laid. Over the new few months, you should also see the steel superstructure begin to go up, providing the skeleton of the new building footprint.
COVID has created some extra work on the construction site as health safety protocols must be followed. We were fortunate that when the first provincial lockdown went into effect, we were permitted to continue with demolition and site work activities so we didn’t lose much time. The same essential construction rules are in effect for the second lockdown. We are able to continue with certain work while being responsible in our compliance. We are hopeful that this second shutdown doesn’t have a significant impact on our project timeline, which currently is on schedule.
If you’re like me, you’re probably looking forward to the day when we can gather together again. While gaining partial occupancy of our building involves a number of factors including approval by the City, we’re hoping that we will have access to the gym in August/September at which time I am hopeful it will be safe for us to gather again in some fashion. Sometime after we gain occupancy to the gym, we expect to gain occupancy to the new auditorium.
If the project continues to remain on schedule, next summer we should be putting the finishing touches on the building, landscaping and preparing for full occupancy.
What an exciting day that will be for all of us!
Board Member and Chair of the Building Committee
Bridge FINANCE Update
=GODIF(range, criteria, [sum_range])
(This is not a typo!)
Last summer, when I, along with the other members of the Finance Committee, set out to create a financial forecast for the current fiscal year, it appeared to be a very daunting task. What economic environment would we be living in given the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic? What were realistic expectations for finances? What measures of faith would need to be exercised by the committee, and ultimately by the Board, to approve the final budget? I reflected on many of these questions as I looked over the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet showing the church’s finances from September 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021. This, ultimately, served to give inspiration for the title of this financial update “=GODIF(range, criteria, [God_range])”.
My wife, Jessica, jokes that I can turn anything into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: our household budget, a vacation calendar, you name it. Guilty as charged! Admittedly, I’m fascinated by the many so-called functions in Excel. For example, I can type “=SUMIF(range, criteria, [sum_range])” and tell the program to add up all of the numbers in a given row or column that meet a certain criteria. Coming back to the financial update, and while we are only at about the mid-point of the fiscal year, I can’t help but think “=GODIF()”. God, if only we would not lean on our own understanding when it comes to so many aspects of life. God, if only we had ‘mustard seed’ faith, and unreservedly trusted you to provide in all situations. God, if only we had an even bigger imagination of what is possible through you, and actually asked you for what we are dreaming of instead of what we think is reasonable to ask. When it comes to function, what could be more functional than having this type of a relationship with our Almighty God? The range of His love and His power is boundless. The criteria are comprised of faith and hope. How fitting given that hope was the focus of our recent sermon series leading into Easter!
We are truly blessed and grateful for God’s continued blessings on our church’s finances. #=GODIF()!
For our fiscal year-to-date (i.e. from the beginning of September through the end of February), General Ministries Giving has totalled $915,319, which exceeds the budget of $804,070 by approximately $85,000. For all but one month (i.e. September 2020), giving has exceeded monthly budgeted amounts. Beyond General Ministries giving, the church’s OnMission fundraising campaigns have also been strongly supported, including a record Christmas Eve offering to benefit our community partners.
Through February 2021, expenses have been managed diligently. Total Expenses of $822,635 have come in below forecast of $906,112, resulting in a favourable comparison of roughly $83,000. It is noteworthy that while many expense areas have come in below budget (e.g. Communications, Worship Arts, Pastoral & Resources), ministry spending on areas such as Care, Life Groups, Seasonal Groups are right in line with budget. Moreover, OnMission support has been greater than originally budgeted.
Overall, the church has an operational surplus of $180,515 for the fiscal year-to-date. This surplus is significantly better than the deficit of ($35,042) that was budgeted for this point in the fiscal year. Making reference to the above, both giving and disciplined expense management have contributed to the better-than-expected operational surplus. As of the end of February, 2021, operational cash on the balance sheet exceeded $650,000.
On behalf of the Board, we deeply appreciate your faith and trust in God as demonstrated through your faithful giving. Thank you for being engaged in what God is doing in the Markham community and the world around us through the wonderful church called the bridge.
Finance Committee Update
Thanks to the members of the Finance Committee: Tim Jenkins, Kevin Aide, Ken Mo, Sonia Tan, and Cynthia Yoon, who are always generous with their time in helping to serve the church.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sonia Tan, in particular, for her many years spent on the finance committee. Sonia recently informed the Board of her feeling called to serve in other ministry areas. Accordingly, she has stepped down from the Finance Committee. Chrissie Shum, who also serves on the Board, will be joining the Finance Committee. The committee will be meeting in a few weeks for a mid-year review of the church’s finances. We ask that you continue to pray for the church’s finances and thank you again for your continued partnership in fulfilling the bridge’s mission.
Board Member and Chair of the Finance Committee