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Baptist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Baptist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
of Western Canada.
A very modern appearing building set in beautiful park-like
surroundings. A circular driveway brings you to the door,
which opens into a large auditorium. The backdrop of the sanctuary
is painted burgundy with an illuminated cross the full height
of the sanctuary. The sanctuary was decorated with a panda-like
theme: Chinese pagoda and backdrop, bamboo shoots all over.
Apparently that was the theme at the boot camp that the children
had attended (today's service marked the conclusion of Boot
According to the pastor, it is the children who bring their
parents to the church and not the other way around! Gateway
Baptist sponsors a very active Sunday school and youth programs.
They are also very much into prayer, with a monthly day of
prayer, healing teams, and intercession for spiritual breakthrough.
They encourage members to join care groups, which they say
are the primary place to experience pastoral care, support
and love. There are also men's and women's ministries.
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located at the
southern tip of Vancouver Island and is one of the oldest
cities in the Pacific Northwest. It is an attractive city,
with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers,
and is a popular tourist destination. The church is on Royal
Oak Avenue in a very upscale neighbourhood.
The Revd Dan Rutherford, lead pastor; the Revd Aaron Dyck,
associate pastor. Both wore slacks and a sport shirt. Ken
Needham, founder of the worldwide ministry known as Trans-Mission,
was the guest preacher.
The date & time:
July 23, 2011, 11.00am.
What was the name of
Panda Mania Celebration Boot Camp.
How full was the building?
I would estimate the building holds about 400 people. It was
about 95 per cent full very few empty seats. There
were about 50 young children up at the front in matching t-shirts.
The majority of people entered about 10 minutes after the
scheduled start time. Many women wore cut-offs, jeans or slacks;
a few wore dresses. I did not see any three piece suits. The
attire, in short was casual.
Did anyone welcome you
A lovely lady named Eileen came and spoke to Mr Peeb and me.
We had a fairly long conversation, as we had arrived early.
A retired pastor, the Revd Peter McRaild, who had been instrumental
in forming this congregation and who has been invited back
to lead a series that they call Legacy, also spoke with us
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable, especially for someone like me with arthritic
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
There were many, many young people clustered outside of the
church as we entered. A table had been set up at the entrance;
three kinds of coffee were available on the table. The atmosphere
was very joyful and uplifting. A great deal of chatting and
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
The lead singer/guitar player said: "Good morning, kids!
Good morning, everyone!"
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
What musical instruments
Piano, guitar and drums.
Did anything distract
Because the service was about boot camp, the whole thing was
very uproarious. Little children ran all around up at the
front, climbing up on the piano, etc. I didn’t really mind
because I am used to it, but it might have distracted anyone
who was expecting a high Anglican style service.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Extremely happy clappy. There were PowerPoint presentations
of Bible stories, with the kids miming the stories. They had
gone to boot camp to learn about Jesus: "Getting in shape
to go with Jesus" was the general theme.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 Ken Needham bore greatly in mind that he was speaking
to many children, so he tailored his sermon for everyone to
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
He said that his students once challenged him to turn water
into wine, as Jesus did. Of course he couldn't. The Pharisees
were always demanding signs of Jesus, but Jesus said there
would be no signs (Mark 8:11-12). Ken also said that many
times his students will tell him that Christianity is "a
lot of bull" and that they want "something new".
But Paul was accused of causing trouble by preaching new doctrines
(Acts 17). There is nothing new about the Cross. There is
nothing elevating to our finite minds about the Cross upon
which Jesus died. Jesus said: 'I am the Way, the Truth and
the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." Nothing
has changed in 2000 years.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The joy and happiness of the whole congregation.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I wouldn’t call it being in the other place, but the music
was very boring and repetitive, of the "Lord, you are
cool and neat" variety. The verses were repeated multiple
times. Could not at least one
hymn from the 2000 year tradition of Christian hymnody have
been included? Unfortunately, all too many churches have adopted
this kind of "music."
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
There was no hanging around looking lost. I had heard Ken
Needham preach before, so Mr Peeb and I went directly up to
him. We chatted, and it turns out that both he and Mr Peeb
had done their national service in Catterick, Yorkshire (during
the 1950s all young men had two years of compulsory military
training to complete). So we had a good conversation. He thanked
us for introducing ourselves and then we all went into the
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
There were various blends of coffee, tea and juices, vast
amounts of brownies, carrot cake and lemon cake. I had the
carrot cake, which was delicious. The coffee was very hot
and excellent. Several people came and sat beside me and I
had a lovely conversation with each one.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
10 This is the kind of church that welcomes all and
has a great outreach in its community. They make disciples
as Jesus commanded us to do.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Ken Needham’s exegesis on Christianity: how the same objections
arise now as arose 2000 years ago, but the Cross has not changed
and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ have not changed.
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