We recently had our annual Ontario Regional Vineyard Pastors Retreat. As always it is wonderful to see dear friends, pray and worship together, and just be refreshed. There are always some churches doing really well and others struggling along - this year my own congregation was amongst the strugglers. The format this year allowed each of our churches to share just where they are at - and to have the whole gathered community surround them in prayer. It was incredibly encouraging. I am struck by a few strengths of our region, I want to highlight them here.
Did you ever have someone you respect embrace you and tell you honestly that they loved and appreciated you? The amazing thing is that I get that a lot from these Vineyard leaders. And I feel the love for them right back. The feeling of family is what brought me to the Vineyard, and it has been well warranted. This year I was able to bring my wife and a couple co-leaders, to see them also embraced as family is incredibly enriching. It isn't that these folks are interested in what we are doing, but they are interested in us as individuals. There is something God-like in love like that.
The thing about family is that family is not about everyone being the same. Sometimes even I feel like quirky uncle Phil experimenting with what it means to be Vineyard in Ottawa. But wouldn't family without quirky uncle Phil be so boring? Regardless, I need to say that, despite my own flavour of Kingdom risk taking, I have never felt anything but support from this family. I really appreciate that each church is unique. Take it from someone who has pushed a few boundaries (and made more than a few mistakes) the willingness to not reign everyone into a box is amazing. The diversity that flourishes in this environment will ensure that we will continue to be a testimony to our great God for generations to come. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve such a rich and diverse community of churches.
You don't get this far by not being faithful. Not only are we genuinely committed to each other, this region is full of leaders who are committed to the long haul in the communities God has led them to. Year after year the same core group of leaders faithfully come and share. Sure there are new faces and a few that drop off, but there is a consistency. It is not all new every year. And what's better still, the new ones that arrive are brought in through the model of faithfulness already present in the group.
I want to end by echoing a proclamation God has made over our region: God is not done with the Vineyard in Ontario. I look forward to seeing God's plans unfold in our region and I couldn't dream of a better group of people to enter into that future with than the folks who lead our Vineyards.
Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard (Ottawa)