Early in October 2005, after months of team building and other preparations, the Up Town Church leadership team was commissioned. I remember one line from a song, from that service, in particular, “And for our inheritance give us the lost.” It has been a wonderful ride for the past 9 years and God did indeed bring us the lost. Many found hope in Christ with us over the years.
It is now time to turn the page. This Sunday will be our last worship service. This leaves us feeling both nostalgic and melancholy. I remember Donna who was one of the first to make her spiritual home with us. Her death a few years later awoke me to injustices faced by the poor and the mentally ill. The ‘slide show’ at her funeral was particularly sad. There were only two photographs repeated over and over as a tribute to her life. Donna gave me a “Foot Prints” mug. Normally I am quite immune to sentimental merchandise like this, but this mug has become a symbol to me. I see it in the display case as I write.
I remember Ron and his three kidneys. Just this week, as I returned from a trip out west, I learned of the passing of Jean who loved to come to Up Town and always enjoyed her visits to Deer Island. Jean loved to help the ‘down and out’ and I will always remember her fervent prayers for her beloved grandson and his struggles with addiction.
I recall Mark who used to love to sing at our services. I remember how our times at Deer Island were occasions for reconciliation with his daughter. I recall the shock of hearing of his murder and the time sitting with his daughter and his ex in stunned silence and tears. I remember the gentleman at his funeral who shared that Mark had led him to faith in Jesus.
I remember gales of laughter and I recall streams of tears. The echoes of simple and powerful prayers mix with the simple vulnerable sharing, week by week.
Our time, in this stage of our walk, has been memorable indeed. Sunday will be a sad time but as the Preacher says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” There are definite signs that the time has come to close this chapter of our walk together. We do so with sadness but also with a certain hope that there are new and exciting things ahead for all of us.
It was a great joy to visit my friends Tim & Marci in Edmonton and to meet with supporters at St. Margaret’s there. These folks have been a tremendous encouragement and support to our ministry and I was grateful for the opportunity to say “Thanks”.