Mighty Neighbourly

Community Letter: Sept 6th, 2020

“The commandments… are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)

Hello, all! Greetings in the name of Christ, and blessings to you and yours.

This is Alex Jebson, the incoming Student Minister for Brussels and Blyth United Churches. My husband Jean-Luc and I are very excited to be coming to these communities, and I am very much looking forward to serving you all and uplifting all of your varied ministries inspired by our loving God and spurred on in these unanticipated times by the Holy Spirit. It certainly isn’t the easiest time to be moving or making big life changes, but myself and Jean-Luc are thankful for the guidance, kindness, and support that we have already received.

A little about myself: I grew up on a dairy farm outside of Sunderland, ON (northeast of the GTA), with my home congregation being Trinity United in Cannington, ON. I was your pretty typical farm kid, involved in 4-H and curling. Through church and school, I also found my love of music and theatre, which have remained near and dear to my heart. At times, I could be in a different choir or play rehearsal every weeknight!

I did a brief stint in post-secondary studying voice performance, but withdrew from the program as I began to discern God’s call to ministry for me. I did my undergrad at Trent University majoring in History and Classical Studies, and I have recently received my Master of Divinity from Emmanuel College in Toronto. I also somehow found time in the fall of 2019 to marry the love of my life; it may not have been the best idea to plan and have a wedding in the middle of the school year, but at least it provided a lot of sermon fodder!

And so it is that your congregations have called me here, so that I may complete my Supervised Ministry Education, the final two-year step en route to ordination. I am truly thankful that your communities of faith have felt inspired to provide guidance and learning to yet another student. I was drawn into your faith communities by the vulnerability and faith you have demonstrated in sharing resources together, as well as your commitment to service and discipleship both locally and further afield. My own ministry passions include local community initiatives and inter-congregational/ecumenical relationships, so I am very pleased to help serve and foster even more collegiality and relationship-building to these already well-executed parts of your church life. I hope to embody and support the radical hospitality, the local presence, and the openness to God’s will and ways that your churches live out.

In beginning my pastoral relationship with you all, I know that these are uncertain times. There certainly wasn’t a “pandemic planning” class at seminary! But as we move into the fall and discern how our worship and fellowship life will work to ensure the safety and care of those whom Jesus calls us to love and serve, I trust that the hospitality, discipleship, and community will still make itself known. A rowdy gathering, close-up visits with elders, representing the church at Fall Fairs or other big events are some of my favourite parts of ministry. In God’s time, and/or in new ways, we will be able to share in this kind of fellowship once again.

But this is not what we are called to at this time. We are called to care for the vulnerable, for our siblings that God has so lovingly crafted, to live out God’s Kingdom come of care and compassion. So that means that Christian life at this time must look like social distancing and mask-wearing, adapting worship activities, like ensuring that everyone has access to their daily bread and community through errand runs and meaningful conversations. We can take heart in knowing that the Church has often had to change their practices as needs must, even in the most adverse conditions. Yet despite this, the attitude of care fostered by Jesus, the Spirit’s encouraging us towards reveling in God’s presence in life, in death, in life beyond death, never diminishes.

It really comes down to the neighbourly aspects of our faith. To love one another, the family member, the friend, the community member, the stranger, as you love yourself. And knowing that we are loved and valued by God to an incredible degree, that love we extend likewise is total and unwavering. All that we are doing, all that has been put on pause, all that will be done in new and renewed ways, fulfilling these ultimate commandments, in as few or as many are gathered or are serving in God’s name through Jesus Christ. As your new minister, as your new neighbour, I hope to show you all this love, and am truly thankful for such love received in kind.

Be assured that myself and all those among you involved in discerning the worship and outreach of our congregations are doing so faithfully, carefully, and meaningfully. Starting this Sunday (September 6th), we will have pre-recorded services on our new YouTube channel (just look up “Brussels and Blyth United Churches” on YouTube, or click the link). We will also have a new website, at www.brusselsandblythuc.ca; the website will be a work in progress, but there will be posts right away for services, community letters like this one, and updates for projects ongoing in the congregations. We are also starting to look into the possibility of outdoor music services/hymn “sings”, as long as it can be done in a safe and faithful manner. Further conversations are occurring to discern what faith formation will look like this fall (youth participation, bible/spiritual practice study, etc.). Any ideas or comments you have are greatly appreciated!

Beyond my own excitement and desire for serving God and you all in your midst, we are also excited to renew our own discipleship and outreach and celebrate all that has been ongoing this summer. The members spending their time making baked goods for the summer markets have been doing some great work, and their service is very appreciated! As well, both Brussels and Blyth United are joining in a mission project: partnering with True North Aid to provide needed materials in northern Indigenous communities. Starting now, we will be collecting school supplies, which can be dropped off at the Blyth church on Wednesday mornings, or another time can be arranged by talking to Julie Harrison (519-887-9865) or Emily Phillips (519-523-9517).

Before the beginning of the pandemic, the congregations were planning on doing a drive for hockey equipment to send north. This will still happen at some point, but a bit further down the line, when logistics can be better worked out in these pandemic times. For now, these school supplies are a great way to help more of God’s beloved children have the tools they need to learn in these unanticipated times. This is a wonderful way to share what God provides, and to help broaden our definitions of neighbours.

I very much look forward to getting to know all of you, in faithful, careful, and meaningful ways. There is so much that these communities do and so much wisdom and discipleship embodied in its members. As we traverse new and renewed ways to express this, I am grateful for the opportunity to support you all and learn from all of you. Any input that you can provide is of great value, as is the opportunity to drop a line or have a socially distant visit. Blessings for now, and plenty of “hellos” in the near future!

Yours in Christ,

Alex Jebson
Student Minister – Brussels and Blyth United Churches
Email: minister.brusselsandblythuc@gmail.com
Blyth Office: 519-523-4224
Brussels Office: 519-887-6259
Minister Emergency Number: 705-344-3385

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: