The stories we tell ourselves–the narratives we share do a great deal to shape our communities. At the 2012 installment of the Alberta Northwest Conference we told ourselves a story of woe–of shrinking numbers and resources. We told a story of a declining denomination, of having to let go of cherished things, that things would only continue to get worse, and we not given much in the way of hope. Three years ago when I left Conference I felt the weight of that story even though I didn’t really believe it–we are after all, a resurrection people. The installation of Leigh Sinclair had also given me reason to hope–a light in the midst of the darkness. Her leadership these past three years has helped to bring us to a different place–she tells a very different narrative of hope and joy and excitement even in the midst of “the hard and good work” of being God’s people.
I just returned from the 2015 version of Conference with a very different feeling. It was the most uplifting I have ever attended. We use words like “realistic” and “pragmatic” to camouflage our pessimism and cynicism–but negative is negative–we can’t really hide it. This time the spirit was very different and I didn’t hear “realistic” once. Thanks to the Comprehensive Review we are in a time of reconstruction. Even if we disagree or are concerned about this or that detail we are moving into the future through the lens of hope and that makes all the difference. We are finally recognizing but not settling for the circumstances we find ourselves. We are on our way to being converted into something new and we are being led by the Spirit to that new thing.
And Paul Walfall is our new President–he is another sign of hope. He is someone who will serve and lead and help us shape and new and hope-filled story.