August 12, 2022
Dear Bonavista EMC Family (and friends & neighbours),
As many of you have heard, BEMC experienced a significant fire in our building early this morning. While we presently await official confirmation from the Calgary Fire Department, it does appear that a window was smashed and a fire deliberately started in the north side of the sanctuary. If you have seen the video I posted on Facebook, you are aware that the damage in the sanctuary is substantial, to say the least. Furthermore, I believe it will be several months before we are able to once again gather in our own building to worship together. That, as they say, is the bad news.
The good news, on the other hand, is that no one was harmed in the fire, and losses are restricted to material items that can, in time and with some effort, be repaired or replaced. What’s more, I remain amazed by what I can only call the miraculous absence of water or fire damage in our basement. It takes a lot of water to put out a fire such as this was, and yet the basement (including pantry, denominational archives and kids and youth spaces) has only suffered smoke damage.
So where do we go from here? Great question! The simple answer is that we do not yet know for sure – but we know who does. Throughout the day I have fielded numerous calls, texts, messages and emails from men and women, eager to offer their help, from finances to facilities to labour. I would covet your prayers for discernment as Elders, staff and volunteers look to make timely and wise decisions about a temporary ‘home’ for our services and begin to press into the matter of repairing what has been damaged.
One question I CAN answer for you at this time has to do with where and when we will meet this weekend. In short, we will meet this Sunday (August 14th) at 10 a.m. in the green space directly across the street from our building. We will have plenty of water, thanks to Richard Gotfried’s office, but we will encourage you to bring a lawn chair (and a hat). Some have asked about bringing coffee or baking or tents or extra chairs…and the answer to all of those offers is yes – if you would like to participate by providing shade or snacks or coffee or seating for others from the church or community who join us, I won’t discourage you. While our time on Sunday will be simple, I understand how important it can be to ‘do something’. So listen to your spirit and the Holy Spirit, and respond as seems appropriate.
Our worship time itself is going to be simple. We will sing a couple familiar songs to remind us that worship is the thing we choose to do, even as we look life full in the face. We will take a few minutes to consider God’s promised faithfulness to those he loves. We will pray. And we will make space for you to ask all the questions that need to be asked. We may not have all the answers, but will work to provide them in a timely fashion.
So that’s it. That’s where we find ourselves in this moment. It may not be where we would choose to be, but it is still a good place nonetheless. Having said that, I fully admit that we will face numerous obstacles along this unanticipated path that can best be handled as a unified family of faith. So please, please, please: Lean in. Step up. Show up. Speak up. And pray that God will powerfully work in and through this event to bring glory to himself, and life and hope to those around us.
Grace and peace to you all,
Pastor John Estabrooks
P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to express my deep gratitude for Bob & Lori G, Edith G, Justin F, Leanne K, Neal G, and each of our interns and elders. Thanks to you, the building is secured, a plan is in place for Sunday, and our Day Camp week finished well. Well done, dear friends and co-labourers!