New Wineskins Conference 2019, September 26-29

The New Wineskins Conference is the largest Anglican missions conference in North America and serves as a homecoming for missionaries serving in the field and an equipping experience for laity and clergy from around the world.  With programs for children, youth, and adults of every age, organizers anticipate over 1,000 attendees who will worship, learn, connect, and pray together.

The event features four days full of plenary sessions, networking opportunities, Mission Awareness Presentations (MAP Talks), and prayer and worship services.  Participants come to hear what God is doing around the world, to be equipped for mission through teaching and instruction, and to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  With this year’s theme of “Better Together,” the conference will celebrate partnership and collaboration.  All of this takes place on the campus of Ridgecrest Conference Center with the beautiful backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A new feature this year is the addition of more than 16 pre-conferences. Attendees are encouraged to come early to go deeper in an area of mission about which they are passionate. Topics like Business as Mission, the Persecuted Church, International Student Ministry, and more are on offer. Of particular note is Always Forward, the Anglican Church in North America’s Church Planting Initiative, hosting its fall conference as a pre-conference in alignment with the “Better Together” theme!

“We have such an excited anticipation of how God will use our time together in September to bring breakthrough, healing, repentance, missional calling, and boldness by the power of His Holy Spirit, that we urge you not to miss this opportunity for yourself and your parish!” says Jenny Noyes, Executive Director of New Wineskins Missionary Network.

The mission of the New Wineskins Missionary Network is to empower and equip Anglicans for local and global cross-cultural mission.  Founded in 1974, New Wineskins is dedicated to praying for missionaries, raising awareness, providing resources and being a network of networks to further the cause of Anglican missions worldwide.  The New Wineskins Conference will be a celebration of God’s work among us.  Registration and more information can be found at newwineskinsconference.org.

Vision and Fire: The Impact of Global Partnerships

“Wait right here,” said Getbez*, as he disappeared into a crowd of people.  So, there we waited.  It was my first mission trip. Ever. And, I was nominally in charge.  A small group from my church, Christ the King, had flown into Nairobi and, after a quick nap, began a long drive north. As we circled Mt. Kenya, the landscape changed from lush and green to arid and brown. As Mt. Kenya faded in our rearview mirror, the road, which I found lacking to begin with, disappeared altogether.  For the next six hours, we bounced around in Getbez’s car over washboard dirt roads, around crater-sized potholes, while avoiding thundering “lorries.”  As we continued north, the landscape became more and more strange, and people less and less frequent.  At one point in the journey, as evening was fast approaching, our car began making strange sounds.  We stopped, got out, and discovered that our car, due to one too many enormous pot-holes, was literally falling part.  Undeterred, John untied our luggage and used the rope to lash some parts of the car together. “Bush mechanics!” he said as we climbed back in. 

Finally, much later than anticipated, we arrived at our destination: a little town in north central Kenya.  It was dark.  It was dusty. We appeared to be the only non-locals in the town center. There, Getbez dropped us off saying, “wait right here,” as he drove away to take care of some unknown detail.  So, there we waited, four people, who twenty-four hours earlier had been sipping coffee at a Starbucks in Alexandria, Virginia. I recall looking at my fellow team members one by one and then saying, “I have never felt so far from home.” 

Thankfully, Getbez did return and we enjoyed a wonderful trip. After a few days, we made the long journey back home, but I have returned numerous times, as have many from Christ the King, including my wife and two of my children. 

Getbez is one of the plenary speakers at the New Wineskins Global Mission Conference 2019. He is the founder of an organization, a group of fearless church planters who serve in Northern Kenya - a majority Muslim area with many unreached people groups. Their work is the initial proclamation of the Gospel and humanitarian support as well.

Currently, he is building a community outreach project in the middle of a majority Muslim town north of Nairobi. It will house a library, a dispensary, a tailoring training center, and a much needed maternity ward. Eventually, the facility will host teams visiting from far and wide.

I have known Getbez for the past ten years. He has become a close friend and we have developed a meaningful partnership. As uncomfortable as those first few minutes in Kenya were for me, I am convinced that it is good to occasionally be “far from home.” 

Prior to launching Christ the King, I served at The Falls Church Anglican.  There, I witnessed the many global connections within that church and the positive impact of those connections.  Although I could not have explained why at the time, I knew I wanted these relationships to be part of Christ the King. 

Soon after our first worship service, Barb Nelson, a founding member, and I decided to find one overseas missionary partner for the church.  We thought one was enough for our church in order to be deeply involved with one, rather than broadly involved with many.  This faithful member made a list of potential partners, the first of whom was Getbez. After one cup of coffee, I called Barb and said, “Stop looking. We’ve found our partner.” And we did!

While we have reaped many, many benefits from our partnership with Getbez, two things stand out. First, our partnership helps us develop a “global vision.” Second, our partnership ensures that the fire for evangelism remains lit in our own setting.  So, two benefits: vision and fire. 

It is easy for us to let the fire for evangelism at home fade. We need good global partnerships to help us develop a global vision; good global partnerships that inspire us to remain faithful to our own evangelistic work by exposing us to the church’s primary evangelistic work to the nations.  Your church may be small - many are in our young movement.  So, start intentionally and remain focused. You will find, as we have found, that you receive far, far more than you give.

The Rev. David Glade is the founding Rector of Christ the King in Alexandria, Virginia.
*To protect the identity of this front-line evangelist, a pseudonym has been used here and his name has not been listed on the New Wineskins Conference speakers webpage, though he will be there.

To learn more about how you can build global mission partnerships, attend the New Wineskins Conference at Ridgecrest in Asheville, North Carolina this September 26-29. Visit NewWineskinsConference.Org for more information and to register.

Christ the King in Chinatown: Serving Tea and Spreading the Gospel

Crimson Teas is a small teashop in downtown Toronto, nestled along the very busy Chinatown stretch of Spadina Avenue. They boast the “Best Pu-erh Tea in Town” and serve green tea noodles, dim sum, and desserts among other things. Inside, one wall is painted bright crimson red and large sketches of unnamed faces hang there. Tree trunk stools surround a long, angular wood table which runs the length of the narrow room. And if you just happened upon this unique, little establishment it might not be where you’d expect to find an Anglican church. But it is where you’d find Christ the King, Toronto (CTK) — a growing, Bible-based, Christ-centered, multicultural parish in the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).

“We had to get a few ducks in a row,” Sandra Guinness, member of the church council, said when asked about finding a place to meet in the busy and expensive downtown Toronto. “The challenge of both finding a suitable location and the financial cost of renting—let alone buying— a place downtown was daunting.” 

Christ the King launched as a church plant in 2009 under the name “Toronto Centre Project” and met in a leader’s living room. In 2010, they began meeting in the afternoons at a local Baptist church and chose the name Christ the King Anglican Church. In 2016, they joined with another ANiC church plant in the city, Christ the Redeemer, to experiment with holding some services together.  In early 2017 the two congregations officially merged with the Rev. Keith Ganzer as rector.

“Back in 2016, we were a very small church with about 20 members coming each Sunday,” Ganzer said. “We felt it was important to move to a location closer to downtown Toronto and the university context.”

Then, God opened a door through a small business owner named Phillip Chan. Passionate about the benefits of tea, Chan opened Crimson Teas in Chinatown and happily opened his doors to CTK for their Sunday services free of charge.

By God’s grace, Chan’s generosity gifted the small congregation with a wealth of opportunities.

With access to a commercial kitchen, food quickly became a big part of life at CTK. Before services, you can get a cup of milk tea (Hong Kong-style, minus the sugar) and homemade muffins. Afterwards, the congregation has lunch together every Sunday.

“Phillip graciously prepares lunch for us each week, and the food is just great every time - tasty and nutritious!” said Jerry Gu, who joined the church in 2017.

As well as the financial freedom and fellowship opportunities, the teashop has made CTK more known in the city and visible to the neighbourhood. On Sundays, anyone walking the busy, downtown street can see their service through the floor-to-ceiling teashop windows. Chan makes a point to invite his customers through the week and some have begun attending on Sundays.

“The number of times — since we started meeting in Crimson Teas — where there have been no visitors on a Sunday can be counted with the fingers on one hand,” said Ron Bales, the church treasurer.

The large windows have also blessed the congregation while they worship. Roger Ong, the assistant minister explained: “The snow falling, people walking by, the street car, curious onlookers, a homeless man and once the Chinatown Festival float parade! It is a great reminder that the church exists for the world and that we are called to be on mission.”  image

Positioned now in Chinatown and near universities with many international students, CTK has a beautiful variety of people, young and old, worshiping and fellowshipping together. With some space limitations at the teashop they are looking at adding a third Sunday service, finding more room for a children’s program, and prayerfully considering the possibility of a new church plant in the future.

Of course, being such a diverse congregation isn’t without its challenges. “Where messiness increases, His grace abounds all the more,” Ong answered. “God could have chosen to stick with one people… But He didn’t. Making disciples of all nations? That sounds a whole lot more messy and less efficient. But when it all comes together - what a thing of beauty to behold!”

In a world getting smaller and more interconnected every day, more and more churches face the challenges and wonderful opportunities of drawing together people from all backgrounds and cultures. And as society continues to shift and change, our models for church planting, buildings, and growth may need to find new shapes and strategies as well. In some cases, it may look like meeting in a teashop on a busy street in Chinatown.

“One of the things we have been sharing,” said Bales, “with some of our visitors who were keen to church plant is, ‘Don’t pray for a church building; pray for a Phillip Chan!’” 

Scott Hunt is the Communications Director for the Anglican Network in Canada.