Good News: A Double Blessing at Church

I had a fantastic time at church this morning. And it was for two reasons.

The first was that our congregation recognized pastor appreciation Sunday. While they gave me a nice gift, more than that, I felt their encouragement. Queen Street Baptist Church is such a great church and they work hard to support the leadership. I feel so blessed to be their pastor.

The second was that my wife Amanda preached the message this morning. She did a fantastic job, preaching biblically on the nature of anxiety. I so appreciated the honesty and vulnerability that she brought to it.

Interestingly, we have one of our biggest turnouts for church, with lots of visitors. I can imagine that helped Amanda to feel increased anxiety to her only second time preaching at QSBC. But if it did, she seemed calm and in control. I am so enjoying working with her in ministry.

This was a great Sunday and I’m looking forward to more of the same. This is my Good News.


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Good News: Thankful For Everything

Every day should be Thanksgiving and yet it is good that there is an actual Thanksgiving weekend. It is appropriate to take time to be intentional in giving thanks.

There is so much that I’m thankful. I have an amazing family. We are not normal by any stretch of the imagination, but we love each other. And I am so excited to be working with Amanda in ministry.

I have an incredible church and I love my job. I am so thankful to be able to do what I do.

I am thankful for my health. It was just five years ago that I was very sick and thought I was dying. I have had a few rough years since then but right now I am the healthiest I have been in years.

There are so many blessings that I have experienced. I am not just thankful, I am thankful to God. I have seen God working in our lives in the good and bad times. All I have is because of God.


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Good News: Ministering With My Wife

Stephen and Amanda BedardAmanda recently began her studies at McMaster Divinity College. A part of her requirements is doing a field placement and she is doing that at our church, Queen Street Baptist Church.

This week was Amanda’s first week doing the placement. We had the opportunity to do a couple of hospital visits together. This morning Amanda led our congregation in an amazing prayer. She has some great ideas about how to improve our ministry at QSBC.

It has felt so natural for us to be ministering together. Some traditions require spouses to co-pastor and I can see the wisdom in it. Amanda and I complement each other in ministry gifts.

I’m looking forward to this year of placement and what the future holds for us.


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Good News: How I Was Introduced to Tolkien

This past week was Tolkien Week. You may not even be aware that something like this existed. This week included Hobbit Day, which I blogged about here.

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My Mom and 2 of My Hobbits

How is this Good News?

It all goes back to how I first got interested in Tolkien. While I did watch the original Hobbit movie, my real introduction came when my mother gave me Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for Christmas many years ago. I read the whole trilogy during that Christmas break.

That was typical of my mom. She often bought me books, including ones by H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and others. My love for books, including ones by Tolkien, are all due to my mom.

There is something special about Tolkien’s writing and read everything I can get my hands on. But even more, it brings back memories of mom and the legacy she left for me. This is my Good News.


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Good News: My Wife in Seminary

Twenty-two years ago, I began my theological studies at McMaster Divinity College. And now my wife Amanda is beginning her own theological education.

If you are wondering what happened to her studies at Brock University, there is a simple explanation. She was doing an undergraduate degree for the purpose of getting a Master of Divinity degree. But McMaster has a Diploma of Ministry program that gets you the same education without the undergrad degree. This is a good path for her to take.

God has been using Amanda in ministry for many years and this is just the next stage. Like all seminary students, she is still discovering her ministry path. I know I had no idea what I would do at that stage. Amanda is doing her first placement at Queen Street Baptist Church and I’m excited to work with her. Amanda has many natural talents and she has a vibrant spirituality.

Amanda has finished her first week of classes and I am so proud of her. I look forward to what God has in store for her. You can read her thoughts on this journey here.

Amanda Bedard


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Good News: Sweet Sixteen!

Although her birthday is not for a couple more days, we had the kids for a visit yesterday so that we could celebrate Abby’s sixteenth birthday.

It is hard to believe Abby is turning sixteen. It seems like only yesterday that she was only a baby. I remember being able to put her to sleep on command by rocking her in my arms. It worked every time.

We have had a lot of challenges with Abby and our life together has not turned out the way we expected. Turning sixteen should be a major turning point for her, but because of her autism, things are not the way it is for most kids her age. This is really bitter-sweet time for us.

But I choose to focus on the positive. I choose to focus on the fact that we have a beautiful daughter that we love very much and who loves us back. I choose to celebrate that we have a good relationship with her.

We love Abby very much and she is a blessing to all of us. This is my Good News!


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Good News: Labour Day in Merritton

Good NewsA big part of my childhood was going to the carnival in Merritton (a neighbourhood of St Catharines) during the Labour Day weekend. I looked forward to it every summer, it helped make up for the start of school. There were many great times.

The tradition continues as my children also look forward to this carnival. The carnival may be smaller but they have just as much fun.

Good NewsI am a nostalgic person and I enjoy looking to the past. But this brings my past and present together. I get to reminisce and watch my children have fun all at the same time. This makes for Good News.


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Good News: Writing a Novel

I have written everything from biblical studies books to devotionals to scholarly journal articles to magazine articles. I love writing. But one thing I have never tried was writing a novel. Until now.

Am I not too busy to write a novel? The truth is that I need things that are relaxing that are not related to my work. Writing a novel is about as far away from theology as possible.

So what is my novel about? It is in the fantasy/science fiction genre. It is about a version of our world when not just a few people have superpowers, but everyone does. Or at least almost everyone. What happens when one person is born without superpowers?

The reason I’m writing this novel is mostly for my children. We have had trouble find books to read at night that they all enjoy. So I decided to write my own book. It includes characters named after all five of my children: Logan, Abby, Justus, Emma and Faith. Characters named after myself and Amanda will also make an appearance.

I read the prologue and first chapter to Justus and Emma and they absolutely loved it. Not just because their names were in it, but they really enjoyed the story. They were so excited that I was doing this.

I’m writing this book not with the anticipation of becoming a world-famous novelist. My only goal is to write something my children will enjoy. If it is only for them, that is enough.

The excitement of my children is definitely my Good News for the week.

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Good News: “Go Away!”

Good NewsHow many parents think it is good news when their teenage daughter tells them to go away? This one does.

A couple of days ago, I was visiting our children, Logan and Abby, at their group home. Both Logan and Abby have autism and are considered nonverbal. Abby uses an iPad as an augmentative communication device.

Abby was doing some neat things with her iPad, including pairing different words that belonged together. For example, she paired “guided reading” and “dictionary.” After about two hours, the usual length of our visits, she used her iPad to say, “Go away.”

I was not offended as Abby was not mad at me. She knew that it was about time for me to go and so she communicated to me that it was time for me to leave.

Most parents would not like being told to go away but this was an important step in Abby’s ability to communicate. Communication difficulties are a common experience for people with autism. Abby communicated with me and this is Good News.


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Good News: Vacation Time

My Good News for this week is that of today I’m on vacation. It is nice to have some time off work, time to relax and recharge. Amanda and I were able to enjoy a nice long drive together as we took the kids to camp. We drove through some beautiful country and were able to enjoy quality time together.

One of the reasons that this is Good News is that I don’t have a job I hate. I hear from many people who can’t stand their job and they count down to vacation and dread going back. I actually enjoy my job at Queen Street Baptist Church. It is a great place to work.

Having said that, I know that I need some time to relax in order to be a good pastor. I also need time with Amanda. I will be a husband long after I’m a pastor. I look forward to this week and the rest I will get.


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Good News: A Relaxing Day

ReadingEach week I share a Good News post. Sometimes it is a big thing and sometimes just something small. Today is just a small thing.

Today was a nice relaxing Sunday. After church, I relaxed with a good book. As an introvert, what I enjoy is laying on the couch with a comfortable blanket, a cat laying on me and reading a good book. While my idea of a good book is different from some (I was reading church history) it was still relaxing for me.

Later in the day, we went out for a swim as a family. That was a lot of fun. I had tried for months to teach Faith to dive with no luck. A few lessons by Emma, however, and Faith is diving like a pro. I will claim that I taught Emma to dive.

Overall, it was just a nice relaxing day.


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Good News: A Painful Reminder

That is a strange title. But this is what I mean. I have a disease called sarcoidosis. I have been doing very well with it and have enjoyed the best health I have had in years. It has been so good that my doctor suggested I get off the low dose of prednisone that I have been on.

That is where the reminder comes in. I have been decreasing it at 1 mg per month, which is pretty gradual. But three weeks into it I started getting back the sarcoidosis symptoms I haven’t had in a long time. This includes joint pain, fatigue and some lung issues. I have decided to go back up to my original dose and am already having some relief.

So how is this Good News?

It is a reminder of where I have come from. My experience with sarcoidosis hasn’t been fun. It has been a long journey. There were times that my future didn’t look very bright.

But I have done very well and have come a long way. The symptoms I’m experiencing, that should disappear soon, are a reminder of my recovery. Temporary pain can be a good reminder that there is always hope.


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Good News: Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du SoleilToday we went to see Cirque du Soleil. This was my first time seeing them but Amanda had seen them before. She was quite excited when she heard that they were coming to the city where we lived.

So we went as a family. If you have never seen Cirque du Soleil, I encourage to check them out. It is the best of old-style circus and modern technology. They put on an amazing show. Not only is it entertaining, it is an incredible display of strength and skill.

It was fun to be able to experience this as a family.


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Good News: A Really Great Day

It is difficult to predict what a day will be like but today turned out to be a great day.

It started with Queen Street Baptist Church‘s annual Praise in the Park at Montebello Park. I always love this service. We get lots of visitors, including people just showing up at the park. There is a potluck after and there was lots to eat for everyone. It really was a lot of fun.

My afternoon was laying down with a good book and having an even better nap. There was a time when I napped multiple times a day because I was sick. Now I am relatively healthy and can just enjoy a regular old Sunday afternoon nap.

After supper, Amanda, Justus and I went swimming. It was at the old pool that I used frequent as a kid. It was a lot of fun hanging out together.

The evening capped off with lots of snacks and Justus and I enjoying a good action movie on Netflix. The girls are away at camp and so we can focus on Justus. It was quality time (with lots of violence).

Overall it was a really great day and that is my Good News.


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Good News: Happy to Be Canadian

Today is Canada Day and it is a reminder that I’m thankful to be a Canadian. I wouldn’t say I’m overly patriotic in the sense of having a maple leaf tattoo or anything. But I truly appreciate Canada.

I have had the opportunity to travel all over North America and Europe and I can honestly say that there is no other country I would want to live than Canada. Canada is by no means perfect, but it is a good place to live.

The funny thing is that Canada is known for its cold weather and yet today, it was hotter than Jamaica and as hot as Egypt. One of the surprises of this country.

I’m thankful for being a Canadian and that is my Good News.


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Good News: Having a Ball

BowlingThis weekend the girls were over at a friend’s house for a sleepover. That meant that we just had Justus with us. So what do we do with our boy?

We ended up going bowling. We had not bowled in years. We ended up at the bowling alley that I bowled at when I was a kid. I hadn’t been there in about thirty years. Not much had changed.

We had a blast bowling together. It is true that I only won one of the five games and game in last three of the five games. But it still was fun.

It is funny how simple things like an evening at a bowling alley can be powerful memory making moments. Having that time together is my Good News.


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Good News: A Happy Father’s Day

Father's DayI don’t have big expectations for Father’s Day. I don’t want presents as I have lots of stuff (although I could always use some more books).

Today after church, Amanda had the idea of going to the beach. It was a really hot day and seemed like a good idea. And it was!

The best Father’s Day for me is to be around my family. We had a blast at the beach. It was fun to hang out together. The only downside was that Logan and Abby couldn’t be with us.

Of all the roles I have, the most important are those of husband and father. I’m honoured to have this responsibility and I so enjoy the blessing they are to me.

Today was an amazing Father’s Day.


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Good News: An Exciting Morning at Church

By “exciting,” I don’t mean extra-lively music or extra-dynamic preaching. It was an exciting service at Queen Street Baptist Church in a totally unexpected and unplanned way.

We had a young man come in late to the service. That is not unusual for us. Many people come 5-10 minutes late and it is common for people to arrive halfway through our service. But this was different.

We were just starting our congregational prayer time and I noticed our outreach director moving toward the man. He was quite agitated but was not saying anything. He was making frantic gestures but nothing was being said. He refused our outreach director’s attempts to move to the lobby to discuss what was going on. He then began to pace back and forth up the aisle. He eventually came on the platform with me and sat down in the chair beside the pulpit and increased in agitation. It was a bit scary.

Just to give some context, we are a downtown church and our community includes a lot of people with both mental illness and addictions. It is not unusual to have people with such struggles at our church. It is unusual to have this activity happening during the service.

Thankfully we have some great people in our congregation. Between our outreach director, one of our ushers and another person in our congregation, they were able to get him outside and get him the help he needed. It is not that people with addictions and mental illness are not welcome at our church, but we want to make sure church is safe for everyone, including the person struggling.

The ironic thing is that my sermon was titled, “Do Not Be Quick to Judge.” It was all about the danger of rejecting or dismissing people based on their labels or hasty judgments. The truth is that we have no idea what was happening with this young man. We don’t know what led him to that moment. All of this was going through my mind as he came up on the platform with me.

My Good News is that our congregation responded well. Not only did our people keep everyone was safe, there was also compassion. we prayed for and will continue to pray for this young man.


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Good News: 185th Anniversary!

Gary NelsonNo that is not our wedding anniversary. Today we celebrated the 185th anniversary of Queen Street Baptist Church. We had a fantastic worship service, with guest speaker Dr. Gary Nelson, of Tyndale University College and Seminary. Every part of the service came together nicely, respecting our past and looking toward our future. The service also highlighted our diversity.

Queen Street Baptist ChurchIn the evening, our celebration continued with a Grace Notes concert at the church. Grace Notes always does a great job and I would recommend them to any church.

Today was a reminder of what a great church Queen Street Baptist Church is. I’m so thankful for this church, not just for what has happened in the past but what God will do in the future.


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Good News: A Great Victoria Day Weekend

Stephen BedardThis past weekend was a lot of fun. After church we went up to visit Logan and Abby. We had a great visit with them. We then went to visit some friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. We then stayed at a hotel, just to have a bit of time away. The kids love staying at hotel, especially when there is a pool.

The next day, we went for another visit with Logan and Abby. It is not often that we can visit them two days in a row, especially in their home. After our visit, we went to Twin Valley Zoo. We had a great time at the zoo and this has definitely become one of our favourite places.

Overall, it was a wonderful holiday weekend. It was only a couple of days it but it was good quality time with family.

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Good News: Great Preaching at Church

Amanda BedardI enjoy preaching but I also love listening to good preaching. And we had some great preaching this morning at Queen Street Baptist Church. Our guest preacher was my beautiful wife, Amanda Bedard.

Today was Baptist Women’s Sunday and we had the ladies take over the service. We actually had a number of the ladies do an amazing job. It was so good to see and hear all the talented people we have at our church.

As a part of this, we had Amanda as our guest preacher. How well did she do? I can say that there were many people who told me that my job was at risk because they may have found a better preacher. It was said in fun (I think…) but it is true that Amanda’s preaching was passionate, insightful and moving. Her message will eventually be posted here.

Although this was a part of Baptist Women’s Sunday, I want to state that this was not just a token nod to women. We value all of the women in our church. And Amanda’s preaching was good not just in the context of this particular day. Amanda is a talented preacher. Period. On Baptist Women’s Sunday and on any other Sunday. This is only a day that we can showcase it.

So my Good News is that I’m proud of Amanda and thankful for the ways God has gifted her.


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Good News: A Beautiful Day For a Walk

Stephen BedardMy Good News is that I took a walk to Tim Horton’s. How is that Good News, other than the fact that I really enjoy their steeped tea?

This weekend included a visit from our children, Logan and Abby. They have autism and live in a group home over an hour away. Abby has food issues and much of our visits are intercepting her raids on our fridge. I often will take her for rides to Tim Horton’s (her favourite place) to get her out of the house.

Being a beautiful spring day, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going for a drive, I wanted to go for a walk. Although Abby is fifteen years-old, we had never done anything quite like this before. We were not sure how it would go and I made sure to bring my phone in case I needed Amanda to come to my rescue.

Once I got Abby past the car, she was good with the walk. I even learned some things about her, such as her preference to walk on grass rather than the sidewalk. Abby is nonverbal and so there was not much conversation. But there was plenty of communication.

She held onto my arm the whole way. Every once in a while, she would wrap both her arms around my arm and squeeze tight just to let me know she loved me.

She was pretty happy once we arrived at Tim Horton’s. Although she can be quite unpredictable, she stood in line with me, with just a few squeals of delight. I let her pick her donut and discovered that she preferred sprinkle donuts to the double chocolate donuts that I had assumed.

We walked back to the house with a box of Timbits for the rest of the family. It was a special day for Abby and me. There is plenty about autism that disrupts the “normal” but our little walk was quality daddy-daughter time that I will never forget.


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Good News: Feeling the Best in a Long Time

Stephen BedardLong-time readers of my personal blog will know that I have had some health struggles over the past couple of years. My main struggle is sarcoidosis. The main problems this has caused me include muscle and joint pain. In addition, the treatment for it has at times given me quite bad diabetes.

Thankfully I have seen a steady improvement in my health over the past couple of months. Why is this? There are a couple of reasons. One is that I decreased significantly my prednisone, which decreases my blood sugar so that my diabetes is no longer a problem.

In addition to prednisone, I’m also on a drug called methotrexate. This too has caused side effects. A couple of months ago, my doctor prescribed folic acid for me. This has dramatically relieved me of the side effects.

Finally, I recently joined a gym. This was in part a result of Amanda’s influence. Not only had she joined a gym, she encouraged me to take some time for myself. This was good timing as until recently, I did not have the health to workout but now I’m much better and exercising has only improved things. Before I started going to the gym, I could play basketball for only a few minutes with the kids before getting totally winded. Now I can play a good while with them with no problem. The gym makes me feel better physically and emotionally.

Looking at my health, I would say that I feel the best I have had in years. I finally feel myself. I still have a bit of fatigue and some back pain, but in general I’m doing very well. I know that with sarcoidosis, things can change quickly, but I will take this good health while I can. This is my Good News.


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Good News: Proud of Amanda

Amanda BedardThis past week, Amanda finished her first year at Brock University. It has not been without challenges. Not only did our son break his leg, Amanda also had surgery. She had a lot going against her but she finished her year.

I’m so proud Amanda for completing this year. It takes courage to go back to school as a wife and mother with plenty already on her plate. But she did.

There is the possibility of a change in (but continuation of) her education. There are some exciting opportunities out there. It has been fun to hear Amanda talking about she hopes to do with her life. She is an intelligent and talented woman. I look forward to what the future holds.


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Good News: Not a Typical Sunday

My Sundays usually follow a regular pattern. The morning is spent at church, likely followed by a nap and then an evening swimming with the kids. The only thing hat happened today was the nap.

Here is southern Ontario we had an ice storm. Many of the churches in our area cancelled their services and this morning we decided to do the same. This was typical for me back in my days pastoring in Meaford and Woodford but not at Queen Street. We certainly didn’t expect it in April.

How is any of this Good News? Amanda helped me get the word out and we had some good leaders who made many phone calls. Everyone did their part.

As much as I love church, it was nice to have a morning off. Amanda and I spent much of the day watching the Lost in Space series on Netflix. Sometimes Good News can be just a day with a change of pace.


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Good News: A Visit With the Kids

Good NewsToday was our son Logan’s 17th birthday. I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by. It seems like only yesterday that he was our cute little boy and now he is our handsome young man.

This was not one of the weekends in which Logan and Abby come for a visit and so Amanda and I drove up to them. We had a fantastic visit with them, including a delicious birthday cake and ice cream. It was so good to be with them.

One of the highlights was getting to see Abby with her augmentative communication device. This is basically an iPad with software that allows her to speak. When we got there, she pressed the symbols that created the message, “I feel happy.” She also said, “I want birthday cake, please.” Smart girl that one.

It all made for a tremendous day of visiting with family. Birthdays with autism may look different, but they include just as much love.


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Good News: I Love Easter

My Good News is that Easter is one of my favourite days. This is on a number of levels. The first is about my faith. I understand that not everyone who reads my personal blog is a Christian but my faith is real. I truly believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. That makes Easter very important to me.

Secondly, we had a wonderful Easter service at church this morning. It was communion Sunday plus we had a baptism. That made our service extra special.

Finally, I’m thankful for our family. Logan and Abby came for an overnight sleepover which was great. At first it looked like they couldn’t come but then everything worked out. Today we went to Amanda’s parents’ house for Easter dinner. It was nice to be with them.

Easter is definitely one of my favourite days of the year. This is my Good News and I hope your family had a blessed Easter as well.

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Good News: Loving Our Church

A number of years ago, I though it would be neat if I could pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church. My original thinking was that it made sense since St Catharines is my home town and QSBC is part of the Baptist group that I’m ordained with. A couple years later I found myself the pastor of QSBC.

However, it no longer a matter of convenience. I so appreciate Queen Street Baptist Church. The people are amazing and we have such great diversity. I look forward to joining together for Sunday morning worship. Not only that, I look forward to showing up at work each day during the week. I have had jobs that I dreaded each day and so I’m thankful for this job. My intention is to stay here until I retire.

This is my good news.


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Good News: First Draft In

For the past number of years I have been working on my Doctor of Ministry degree at Acadia University. The truth is that I should have graduated a couple of years ago. But between some health problems and some other issues, I have been delayed.

I can’t quite announce my graduation yet. But I’m thankful that I have at least submitted my first draft of my thesis. There will still be plenty of work to as I edit according to the comments of my supervisors, but it is a start.

A lot of people ask about the subject of my thesis. It is on the faith questions of Christian students at Canadian students. The goal is to eventually come up with a curriculum that will help churches to prepare students for university.

Prayers are welcome as I finish things off and eventually graduate from this program.


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Good News: Churches That Get It

As a pastor and a father of two children with special needs, I know that it can be challenging for churches to minister to special needs family and challenging for special needs families to feel welcome in churches.

I have had two recent experiences that have encouraged me.

A week ago, I had the opportunity to speak about disability ministry at Kipling Avenue Baptist Church. Their pastor invited me to this event because he understands the importance of this. I appreciated the initiative he took to invite me.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with the pastor of Rice Road Community Church. They have taken some impressive steps toward embracing people with disabilities and their families. We were able to discuss the needs of these families and ways in which th e church can help.

Both of these experiences encouraged me that there are some churches that get it. This is Good News.


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Good News: Sunday Night Fun

Sunday nights are one of my favourite times of the week. Over a year ago we started a tradition of going swimming on Sunday nights. This is something that breathes life into me in a number of ways.

The swimming is good exercise. Between my sarcoidosis and diabetes, exercise is very important for my continued health. Certain exercises don’t work for me but walking and swimming are prefect.

It is also quality family time. We have lots of fun racing and throwing a ball around in the pool. It is something that the kids look forward to every week. They play the best together in the pool.

We go for two hours at the pool but I only swim for an hour, letting the kids swim by themselves for the second hour. This gives me an hour to have some “me time” as I read at the poolside. I love time with my family but I also love time by myself.

The only thing that would make this better would be if Amanda could join us. She is still recovering from surgery and hopefully will be able to rejoin us in a few weeks.


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Good News: Better Health

The past six months or so have not been great for me health-wise. My sarcoidosis has been acting up and with that, my diabetes. I don’t say this to complain.

My good news is that I have been feeling much better. I have started swimming with the kids again on our regular Sunday night swim. I have also been able to return to my long walks. This is quality time with my dog and my podcasts. Better health leads to more exercise which leads to better health.

Health is one of those things that is easy to take for granted. In some ways an illness can be a blessing. Sickness helps us to be thankful for the health we have.

I’m thankful that my health allows me to do the things I want to do. We never know what the future holds but we can appreciate what we have now.


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Good News: Family Day Weekend

Family Day is the newest holiday in our neck of the woods but it has quickly become one of my favourites. It’s not just a day off work but it is a time to reflect on and enjoy family.

Family Day is actually tomorrow but that is not the only thing. Tomorrow is my 18th anniversary being married to my beautiful wife Amanda. It is appropriate that those two things are happening on the same day.

I am a blessed man and my greatest blessing is not the money in my bank or the possessions I own. My greatest blessing is my wife and children. I love each and every one of them so much. There are days that I can’t believe that I’ve been blessed so much.

I thank God for my family and this is my Good News.

Stephen Bedard

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Good News: Amanda is Recovering Well

Stephen BedardMy wife Amanda had surgery on Friday. The surgery she had was a gastric bypass, which is fairly serious surgery. Thankfully the surgery went well and Amanda is recovering. I haven’t seen Amanda since before the surgery and I’m eager to bring her home, but not until she has recovered enough for it.

My Good News is that Amanda is doing well. But my Good News is also that Amanda chose to go through with this surgery. This was completely her idea and it was a big step for her to do this. This is something that Amanda did for herself, something she doesn’t often do, as she focuses on other people’s needs.

I’m glad that Amanda is doing this and is making good decisions. I’m very proud of her. You can follow her journey on her YouTube channel. In the mean time, keep praying for Amanda and her recovery.


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Good News: A Restful Day

Stephen BedardOne of the best things I’ve done recently is to start observing a Sabbath. By Sabbath, I mean a day of rest. I’m not legalistic about it, but it is designed to be a dedicated time of guilt-free rest. Obviously as a pastor, I can’t take all of Sunday off. But I do attempt to take Sunday noon to Monday noon as my Sabbath.

I’m a fairly driven person. I want to both consume and produce as much content as I can. It is difficult for me to slow down. That’s why I need a Sabbath.

Today has been a reminder of how good this could be. On a dreary day, I was able to relax on our couch with a good book, one of my mom’s knitted blankets and two of our three cats. This resulted in not one, but two naps. All guilt-free.

Have a relaxing Sunday afternoon is not only good, it is Good News.


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Good News: Theology and Disability Paper

Two of the areas that I’m most interested in are theology and disabilities. When these two come together, I’m in my sweet spot. Some time ago I responded to a call for papers for the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability. This is an event that I have wanted to attend for a long time. I was pleasantly surprised when they accepted my proposal.

I will be presenting a paper on how the resurrection of Jesus informs our understanding of disabilities. This will be happening in Raleigh, North Carolina in June, 2018. I’m really looking forward to this.

This is my Good News. But I will confess that this will be an extra expense for us. I intend to drive there to cut down cost but it still will be an expense. I still have to get a passport, not to mention the gas and hotel. If you are interested in helping out, there is PayPal donate button in the sidebar of this website. Every little bit will help. If you can’t help that way, please pray for me as I prepare the paper and that my DMin these will be finished before that. Thanks!


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Good News: The Final Test

FamilyMuch of my Good News lately has been about moving into our new home. Does this make me materialistic? Am I too focused on possessions? This weekend was a reminder that our new home was a blessing in the way that really counts.

This weekend was our first visit from Logan and Abby at this house. Our oldest children live in a group home because of their autism. Having them home would be the final test as to the quality of our home.

In our last house, our TV was downstairs and Logan and Abby would spend much of their time away from us. We could not be down there, because we had to guard the kitchen from Abby. Our visits were not as fun as they could be.

While we do have TV downstairs now, we have one on our main floor as well. We were able to sit with Logan and Abby and watch the kitchen all at the same time. We ended up having one of our best visits in a long time. Logan and Abby gave their seal of approval for the house.

FamilyTo top things off, Logan came with us to church this morning. This was his first time at church in a number of months. He really seemed to enjoy it, and not just because of all the cookies he ate after the service.

This has been a great weekend and this is my Good News.


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Good News: Getting Settled In

Things are coming together in our new home. This past week, our children started at their new school and are already making friends. They seem to be comfortable with our new house and our new neighbourhood.

I have moved most of my books to my office at church. Previously I only kept my biblical commentaries and ministry-related books at my office. Now most of my books are there and it is feeling much more like me. Even my fish tank is there.

There is a real sense that this is a new chapter of our life. I have just completed my second year at the church. I have accomplished a lot of what I wanted and am looking forward to many more years of ministry there. I feel as if I have begun the relationships that will lead to real spiritual growth.

In addition to this, my health is starting to get better. My blood sugar is closer to normal and I can now go on walks and get exercise again. I really feel much better than I did a couple of weeks ago.

In general, things are going well. I’m thankful for the way life is going. This is my Good News.


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Good News: All Moved In

Stephen BedardThis has been a great week for the Bedard family. We moved into our new home. We have been renting for the past two years and have been hoping to buy. Things worked out and this week we moved into our new home as owners rather than renters.

Why was buying a home important to us?

I’m currently in my fiftieth year and I have more working years behind me than I do ahead of me. Our family needs to be building equity and preparing for our future. Six months ago it looked unlikely that we would be homeowners and yet here we are.

I’m thankful for all those who have helped and supported us through this. There are people who have helped by bringing over meals, helping to pack, helping to clean and many other acts of assistance. We feel very blessed.

Our new home is smaller than our previous home but that’s what we like. There is something satisfying about downsizing. There are still boxes to unpack and a few things to bring over from our old place. But we are pretty much moved in and it already feels like home.

This is my Good News.


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Good News: A Great Year

This is my final Good News post for the year. I have already posted about the year in review. But as 2017 comes to a close, I’m still reflecting on what this year has been like.

Our family had some pretty rough years, especially 2013-2015. I was often only semi-employed and I became extremely sick with what was at the time a mysterious illness. We had numerous other serious challenges that I don’t want to get into.

This past year has been much better. I’m just completing my second year as the pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church. I have accomplished the goals that I had set out for this year of ministry.

More than that, there have been some really encouraging things happening within our family. Some of it is more personal than what I want to share here, but it is pretty amazing. Things have worked out far better than I could have imagined.

I want to thank God for a great year in 2017. We have had some challenges but overall, it has been one of the best years in a long time. I look forward to another great year in 2018.


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Good News: Candlelight Service

CandlelightOne of my favourite parts of Christmas is the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. We had a wonderful service tonight at Queen Street Baptist Church. Not only is the image of lighting candles meaningful, it is a joy to sing the traditional Christmas carols.

One of the highlights this year was the participation by much of my family. Amanda sang in the choir, Justus helped with sound and lit some of the advent candles, Emma did some of the advent reading and Faith helped me light the candles. Faith even sat with me on the platform, making sure I kept the service moving at a good pace.

This service was a reminder of two of the blessings in my life. I blessed with both an amazing home family and church family. God has blessed me in both areas and I’m thankful.

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Good News: Blue Christmas

Advent is one of my favourite seasons of the year. It allows us to prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Last year we started at Queen Street Baptist Church to observe something called Blue Christmas.

Blue Christmas is about acknowledging that Christmas is not joyful for everyone. For many, Christmas is a reminder that some of our loved ones are no longer with us. They may have died close to Christmas or at least their absence is felt more deeply at this time.

With Blue Christmas, we take an opportunity to light a candle as we remember those we miss. This is not about lighting a candle for the dead, it is about lighting a candle for the living. It is an invitation for God to shine his light in our darkness.

It is a powerful experience for me to watch my congregation participate in this. It is also meaningful for me personally, as I think about my parents. Christmas is a time that I really feel the absence of my mom and dad. The years have not taken that away.

Blue Christmas is an emotional experience but it is also a good one. It helps me to refocus my emotions and to be able to dwell on the good memories.

This is my Good News.


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Good News: Take Me to Church

Our son Justus has been trying to figure out his own way when it comes to faith. We have purposely not pushed him. We don’t want to pressure him to be a certain way just because he’s the pastor’s son.

Some might disagree with us, but we have not even made him come to church. (Read Forcing Our Children to Go to Church) We have felt that forced attendance will not necessarily help his faith. We have offered and encouraged but never forced. We have taken the position to just love him and pray for him.

Yesterday, Justus came with me to our men’s breakfast. He enjoyed himself and felt like the men were happy to see him but were not overwhelming. He told me at that breakfast that he wanted to come back to church.

This was a Logan and Abby weekend, so Amanda stayed home with them. That meant that it was just me and Justus going to church. He wanted to attend to continue to learn how to run the soundboard. So he sat with the sound guy and had a blast. People were happy to see him but again didn’t make him feel uncomfortable for not having been there.

It is hard to just let go and not force things on your children. Trust can be hard. But patience and faith are winning out. To us, it felt like a parenting winning. Watching Justus take communion with the sound guy during the service really made my day.

This is my good news.


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Good News: Feeling a Bit Better

For the past number of months, I have been experiencing a sarcoidosis flare. This has been frustrating because my respirologist increased my dosage of prednisone to try and knock it into remission, but instead of relieving the symptoms, they actually got worse.

In addition to not helping the sarcoidosis, the prednisone brought me back into full-blown diabetes and increased my cholesterol. My diabetes and cholesterol are bad enough that I’m now on additional medication for both.

The good news is that as I wean off prednisone, my blood sugar and cholesterol should come down and I should eventually be off those medications.

But that’s the problem.

I began to wean off the prednisone according to the doctor’s instructions but it was too quick of a decrease. Even though I was excited to decrease my prednisone, my body was not ready for the drastic drop and I crashed. I may have felt the worst I have ever had. Breathing in particular was really difficult. I will admit to you that I was rather scared. It almost felt like I was dying.

Consulting with my wife, I increased my prednisone again to just under what I was originally taking. I almost immediately felt some improvement in my health. I’m now on a schedule of decreasing the prednisone at a much slower rate and that is going well.

Most of last week I felt terrible but the last couple of days I have felt much better. I was able to do some things that I hadn’t, such as taking a walk and having a bonfire in the backyard. The whole experience has helped me to appreciate the health I have.

I’m thankful for my church, which has been very supportive. Even more, I’m thankful for my wife Amanda. My wife has really been there for me, especially considering we are in the process of moving and our son has a broken leg. I don’t take it likely. (See The Importance of Having a Supportive Family When Living With Chronic Illness)

This is my Good News.

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Good News: Perhaps Pushing 50

As I write this, it is the night before my 49th birthday. Typically I have described myself as pushing 40… from the other direction… with a running start. Perhaps it is time to admit that I may be pushing 50.

Stephen BedardMy birthday has not officially happened yet but I still have had a great time. We haven’t seen Logan and Abby for a number of weeks due to a number circumstances. But yesterday I was able to drive up to their group home and spend time with them. It was a fun and pleasant visit that brought joy to my heart.

When I got back, Amanda took me out for dinner and a movie. We watched Justice League, a movie I have wanted to see for a long time. You can read my review here. It was a long overdue date and I very much enjoyed being out with my beautiful wife.

Today was church and they sang happy birthday to me, which was fun. They even had a birthday cake! Queen Street Baptist Church is such a great congregation and I feel blessed to be their pastor. They are so encouraging.

In the afternoon, I watched a movie with Justus and Emma. I introduced them to the Matrix, one of the best science fiction movies ever. It was just fun to hang out with the kids.

As I turn 49, I’m not stressed out by my birthday. I’m simply reminded of the many blessings in my life. I have so many good things happening and I have experienced far more than I ever imagined.

This is my Good News.

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Good News: Break a Leg

My son Justus broke his leg on Friday. What? How in the world is that Good News? What kind of dad am I?

Let me back up. On Friday, we received a call from the school that Justus had been hurt. We live just around the corner from the school so we hurried over. Justus was still laying on the field and the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet. Justus had been playing football with his friends during recess and something had happened and everyone heard a loud snap.

FamilyJustus was taken to the hospital and x-rays confirmed the sound that he had indeed broken his leg. His leg was set, a cast put one and he was sent home with crutches.

So where is the Good News?

The Good News is that it is bringing the family together. I have seen some neat things happening between Justus and his sister Emma. They don’t always get along but Emma has a tender heart and she is being a great sister to Justus. And Justus is letting her.

Amanda is doing a fantastic job with Justus. Justus feels a lot of anxiety about his injury and he could easily withdraw to doing the least possible. Amanda pushes him within reasonable limits and it is amazing to see Justus thriving minutes after loudly complaining that he couldn’t do what Amanda had just told him to do. At this moment Justus is wheeling around the house in a wheelchair, pretending he is driving some motorized vehicle.

Many people have expressed their well wishes and prayers for a quick recovery. Of this we are thankful. This is our Good News.

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Good News: Mental Health and Addictions Workshop

Brandon

Brandon

We had a young man named Brandon as a part of Queen Street Baptist Church. Brandon was intelligent and friendly. He also suffered from mental health and addictions. Unfortunately, Brandon died of an overdose a couple of months ago.

Mental health and addictions was already on my radar, both as a pastor and in the context of our own family. Brandon’s death was the push that made do something tangible about this. I just couldn’t let life go on as usual.

With some dreaming and talking together with Amanda, we planned a mental health and addictions workshop at QSBC. We ended up partnering with Start Me Up Niagara on this. This workshop took place yesterday.

Start Me Up Niagara

Susan from Start Me Up Niagara

The workshop had a broad reach in that it was use to help train people volunteering with Out of the Cold, as well as anyone interested in mental health and addictions.

We had a number of speakers, talking about mental illness and/or addictions, some from personal experience and some from the perspective of a care provider. Amanda was one of the speakers and she did an amazing job.

As I stood at the back of the room listening to the speakers and the conversations among the participants, I was blown away. It was far better than I had ever expected.

We had modest goals. There was no expectation that we would solve all of our community’s problems. But we want to get the conversation going. The church has not always done a good job of dealing with mental illness and addictions, sometimes we have reinforced the stigma rather than breaking it down. But we started in the right direction yesterday.

We addressed the issues, but more than that, we looked at mental health in terms of the real people rather than as just as theoretical topics. We asked questions and wrestled with complex responses. There is so much more to do but I was encouraged with what took place.

I hope to make available some of what took place to those who were not there. I also hope to have something like this again in the future.

Yesterday’s workshop on mental health and addictions gave me hope and encouragement for the future. I’m so thankful to all those who spoke, helped out and came out to listen.

This is my Good News.

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Good News: Blessed With a Great Wife

Stephen BedardI have been experiencing a flare in my sarcoidosis in recent months. A month or so ago my respirologist increased my prednisone to try and knock it back into remission. While the prednisone has brought back my diabetes, it has not improved my sarcoidosis symptoms. In fact, my sarcoidosis is actually worse now than it was on the low does of prednisone.

I thought this was supposed to be a Good News post? It is and I will get there.

Last night when I went to bed I was feeling pretty rough. This morning I was feeling even worse. This is a problem because today is Sunday and I’m a pastor and this is the one day I have to go to work.

As I was laying on the bed feeling quite ill, Amanda asked how she could help. I have been stubborn in the past and refused help. But I was ready this time.

I asked Amanda to lead the service for me at Queen Street Baptist Church. She didn’t have to do it. It’s not her job. But she did it without a word of complaint about it being last minute. So Amanda led the service this morning, while I preached my sermon. I had enough strength to preach but was wiped as soon as I was done. I couldn’t have done it without Amanda. Amanda did a fantastic job leading.

I recently had a post published at The Mighty titled The Importance of Having a Supportive Family When Living With Chronic Illness. I’m truly blessed to have Amanda as my wife and as my support. She is the best!

And that is definitely Good News.

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Good News: Thankful to Be Pastoring Again

It is hard to believe that only three years ago, I didn’t think that I would ever pastor a church again. It is not that I had a bad experience at my previous churches. I pastored for nine years at Woodford Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Meaford and I have extremely fond memories of my time there. Those congregations treated my family and I very well and were tremendously supportive.

But I thought that after my time there that I might be done with pastoral ministry. I definitely needed a break, I just didn’t know if there would be an end to the break.

During my three years after that time in ministry, I considered applying to churches. At some points it was simply because that was what my education and experience qualified me for. But I didn’t want that to be the real reason for me returning to ministry.

Then I applied for the pastoral position at Queen Street Baptist Church.

This did not feel like applying for a position because I needed a job. The moment that I met the search committee, I felt a connection with these people. Was it it because QSBC was in the city that I grew up in? Was it because I had a couple of connections with congregations? I don’t know.

What I can say is that as I approach the end of my second year at QSBC, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I feel energized for ministry and I greatly appreciate the people in this congregation.

Today as we were in church, I really enjoyed being there. I felt like I was with the people I’m supposed to be with, doing the things I’m supposed to be doing.

Despite the fact that I’m pushing 50, I’m keenly aware that there is still much for me to learn. I’m very much still a student of ministry and I’m trying to grow and develop each day.

My Good News is that I’m enjoying ministry and enjoying my church. I look forward to what the future holds for us together at QSBC.

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Good News: 17 Things I’m Thankful For

Since I’m writing this the Thanksgiving weekend of 2017, I thought I would share 17 things that I’m thankful for. The short mention given to each does not represent the depth of my thankfulness. I feel extremely blessed by each.

  1. My wife Amanda.
  2. Logan and Abby being able to live together.
  3. Justus, Emma and Faith being a part of our family.
  4. My church, Queen Street Baptist Church.
  5. My health.
  6. All the churches I have attended previously, whether as a pastor or not.
  7. My extended family, including cousins.
  8. My in-laws.
  9. My dog (and sometimes the cats).
  10. That I’m able to work full-time.
  11. All of the education opportunities I have had.
  12. For people in my life who encourage me.
  13. For being able to live in my hometown.
  14. For the legacy of my parents.
  15. Having a career that I enjoy.
  16. For friends and colleagues.
  17. God revealing himself to me and inviting me to be a part of his family.

What are you thankful for?

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Good News: Ride for Refuge

Ride for RegugeOver the past number of years, I have had the honour of getting to know the work of Christian Horizons. Just a month ago, I was able to be the speaker at their family retreat. I have gotten know the people and have great respect for them.

When we learned that they participate in the Ride for Refuge as a fundraising event, we wanted to be a part of it. Christian Horizons does good work, not just with their group homes but with the many programs they are involved in.

So yesterday, we went up to Kitchener to participate in the event. We ended up doing the walk rather than the ride. It was nice to see people we knew and also to see the many people raising money for numerous worthy causes.

Amanda and I, with Justus, Emma and Faith had a great time walking and visiting. But it wasn’t just that. We received pledges from friends and family and so were able to help raise money for Christian Horizons. If you go to the CH website, you will see that there is a give button. It is worth giving to.

After the event, we went and visited Logan and Abby, who don’t live too far from where we were. It really is because of Logan and Abby that we have a heart for disabilities. It is not just an issue for us, it is personal.

The visit with Logan and Abby went really well. Abby was really cuddly with Amanda and Logan and I had some fun. They bring such joy into our life.

We had a good weekend with Ride for Refuge, visiting family and being reminded of our blessings. This is Good News.

Stephen Bedard

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Good News: The Church That Eats Together

I really enjoyed church this morning. It was a great time of worshiping and praying together. But beyond that, it was a great time to eat together.

ChurchI’m not trying to be unspiritual. I love the Bible and I believe that the Bible has much to say to our lives (you can find my sermons here). There is a reason that my career revolves around preaching and teaching the Bible.

From my biblical and theological reflection, I have concluded that eating together is one of the most important activities we do as a church. I see this among the early Christians in the New Testament and throughout church history.

This morning at Queen Street Baptist Church we had our annual welcome back barbecue. Although the heat caused us to eat inside rather than outside (it does get hot in Canada!), it was a great time for all. We saw some people we hadn’t for a while and the regulars pulled together to make an amazing event. So many volunteers worked to make this happen, including my beautiful wife.

I’m happy, not just because I enjoyed some delicious hamburgers and sausages (which I did). I’m happy because of the community we have at QSBC. I love this church. I have been blessed to have had great churches at every point of my pastorate and QSBC is no exception. There is something special here.

Our church came together, ate together and created community together. This is Good News.

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Good News: A Church That is Willing to Change

My Good news has to do with the church that I pastor, Queen Street Baptist Church. Churches, and especially Baptist churches, are not known for their eagerness to change. I sometimes joke, “We don’t mind change as long as its the same kind of change we have always had.”

Today we had a congregational meeting after our worship service. I won’t go into details here, but some significant change was presented. This includes a major change in our leadership structure, as well as approval to hire a new person on staff.

Churches have been known to bicker over much less than what we presented today. And yet the congregation received these ideas with an openness that still amazes me.

Many pastors dread business meetings but there is a loving spirit about our church that they are not painful at all.

Our church is not resistant to change and has a desire to move forward. That is not to say that we intend to change just for the sake of change. Rather, we are willing to do what is necessary to make us more effective as a Christian presence in our community.

I’m so thankful for my leadership team and for the entire congregation. They are all amazing people and I love being their pastor. This is Good News.

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Good News: A Joyful Visit

Stephen BedardAs I write this, it is two days before our daughter Abby’s fifteenth birthday. It is hard to believe she is well into her teens. It feels like only yesterday she was our little baby.

Abby and her brother Logan live in a group home over an hour away. They both have autism and are on the severe end of the spectrum.

Last week we had an incredible week away with Logan but it had been about a month since we had seen Abby. We really missed her.

Abby and Logan came for a visit this weekend, which was great with Abby’s birthday almost upon us. When I think about a child’s birthday, I think about giving gifts. Instead, we received a great gift from Abby.

Yesterday, Abby was in a super happy mood. She was full of smiles and laughter. Amanda and I hung out with Abby, taking selfies and laughing at each other’s crazy faces.

Stephen BedardI sometimes here people comment about how people with autism are unemotional and unaffectionate. That is not Abby (or Logan for that matter). She was hugging us and cuddling with us to the extreme.

Apparently forgetting that she is almost fifteen, she got me to do “the airplane” with her and tried to get me to carry her around. She laid down on Amanda and I and then got us to do the same to her. Abby even danced with me!

It was a fun-filled time that left my cheeks sore from smiling so much.

I’m sad that my children’s autism means that they don’t live with us. But I’m happy that we have a good relationship with them and that we enjoy each other.

This is my good news.

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Good News: Family Reunion

A number of years ago, our daughter Emma casually remarked, “It would be neat to find out that you had a brother or sister that you never knew about.” Little did she know that was her own reality.

Our three youngest children are adopted. We have known for a long time that they had an older half-sister, but beyond her first name, we knew nothing about her.

In recent months, we were able to get in contact with the person who has been raising her. We were able to meet and decided to move forward but cautiously.

We informed our children that they had a half-sister. They were shocked but excited. More recently, their half-sister was informed that she had three siblings that she had never met.

Today was the day that they got to meet each other. We all met for lunch and had a chance to get to know one another. It was amazing to discover how many personality traits they had in common, despite being raised apart. Faith was pretty shy but Emma was very involved in conversation with her newfound sister. Justus was relatively quiet, but really perked up when he found out his sister loved video games as much as he did.

It was an incredible time together. I can’t imagine what any of the four children involved are feeling. I do know that our three enjoyed meeting her and described their half-sister as “awesome.”

We are going to continue to take things slow. We want to do things right and let relationships develop naturally. But it was a great first step.

Please continue to pray for all involved, that we would have wisdom and that things would continue to be positive.

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Good News: Four Years Later

Stephen BedardIt was four years ago that my father-in-law came to our house and drove me to the hospital. I had been sick for some time and the walk-in clinic was not able to figure out what was wrong. The hospital was our last hope of finding out what was going on.

At the time I was convinced that I was dying of cancer. I was feeling so bad that I was not expecting to make it to my birthday in November.

It ended up that I didn’t have cancer but had a fairly rare disease called sarcoidosis.

While many people who get sarcoidosis go into remission soon after their first treatment. That has not been my experience. I have flare-ups from time to time and am having one right now as I write this post.

The point of this is not to complain about my health but to share Good News. My Good News is that I have relatively good health. Even my flare-ups do not stop me from working or having quality time with my family.

I have recently heard about people I know of who have recently died or are extremely sick. I’m reminded that I need to give thanks for the health I have.

I can also give thanks for supportive family. I have communicated with enough people in the sarcoidosis community that I know that family support is not a given. Not only did my father-in-law make sure I got the help I needed, my wife has been with me every step of the way. She never complains when I’m not able to do everything I want. In fact she is the one to insist I rest.

I may never go into permanent remission with my sarcoidosis but I still have plenty to be thankful for. This is my Good News.

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Good News: Speaking the Truth About Mental Health

Moving back to St. Catharines has brought back many memories. Today was one of those days, but in two different ways.

This morning, after preaching at Queen Street Baptist Church, we went to Central Community Church. Central has been an important place in my life. I attended the church (back when it was Central Gospel Temple) for a number of years and it was there that I was discipled. My first time preaching was at Central at a College & Careers meeting. I was baptized at Central and Amanda and I were married at Central.

But why would we attend Central today, as I’m a pastor of a church in the same city?

This brings me to the second part of my story. We went because Deane Proctor was their guest speaker. Deane was our pastor when we attended Queensway Baptist Church. He is one of my favourite preachers and we were thankful that Central had a service that started after our service ended.

The reason Central brought Deane in was to speak on the topic of mental health. The church (the church in general, not a specific church) has not always done a good job in the area of mental health. Things have gotten better but there is still much work to do.

Deane shared his story as a pastor who has depression. Even knowing his story, hearing him today brought even more insight. I’m very proud of Deane and the work he is doing for the kingdom of God in general and for mental health awareness in particular.

It was good to be back at Central, particularly to hear our friend Deane and to be challenged by his message. This is my Good News.

Below you can watch the interview Deane did on 100 Huntley Street.

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Good News: Good Cheap Fun

FamilyWe get a visit from Logan and Abby every other weekend. Abby is happy to come for day visits but Logan likes to stay over night.

Whether it is the autism or being a teenager, Logan would prefer to stay inside and play on technology. His perfect day is watching Veggie Tales on TV while at the same time listening to music (really loud) on my iPad.

After church, we decided to go to Lakeside Park to go on the carousel. This carousel is over a century old and is still only $0.05 per ride. Even I can afford that!

Amanda and I brought Logan, Justus and Faith to the carousel and we had a blast. This was fun because we don’t often get to do things outside with Logan.

He really enjoyed the carousel and even had fun at the park. I don’t remember the last time we played at a park with Logan.

It was one of those days where it felt like we were a quasi-normal family. I consider this day to be a gift and this is Good News.

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Good News: Fun on the Beach

Recently I brought my children to the pool where I learned to swim. Today, I took my son to the beach where I also spent many hours as a child.

We went to Lakeside Park today and had a blast. Justus had fun in the water and I enjoyed watching him. Being there brought back many memories.

My mother brought me to this same beach many times during my childhood. Often I would invite a friend and my mom would drive to Port Dalhousie for aa day at the beach.

Being there today, it looked so much smaller. Part of that is because of recent rains, the water level is much higher and there has even been some flooding. Most of it, however, is simply because everything seems bigger in our memories.

I look forward to bring my other children there in the days to come. The carousel still only costs $0.05 per ticket, so it can be a cheap date.

These days are reminders that it does not need to cost a lot to create fun memories.

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Good News: A Proud Dad

Stephen BedardThis past week, our three youngest children were away at camp. When I arrived to pick them up, the leader of Justus’s cabin immediately sought me out.

There was a moment of panic as I know that Justus has had behaviour issues in the past.

However, the leader wanted to talk to me to brag about how well Justus did. This leader worked with Justus last year and he said that Justus was definitely the most improved camper.

But this was not just about not getting into trouble.

What the leader told me was that Justus was his “right hand man.” Justus showed real leadership qualities and was helpful in making sure the other campers got where they were supposed to be. The leader saw really leadership potential in Justus.

Just the week before, the kids were at day camp. One of the leaders at that camp told Amanda something very similar. She saw Justus as a natural leader, who had a positive influence on the younger children.

Justus has had his share of struggles over the years. Hearing these observations was so encouraging. I am definitely very proud of Justus and believe that he has a bright future.

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Good News: Proud of My School Girl

Amanda BedardThis spring and summer has been busy for our household. But I say this as good news and not bad news. The good news is that Amanda has started her studies at Brock University.

This is not the first time that Amanda has done post-secondary studies. She had done some distance education through some other universities. Some of those credits have gone toward her current degree. However, this is the first time she has studied in class.

It has been a pleasure to watch Amanda immerse herself in her studies. Her first two courses were in the subject of biology. This wa not a chore for her but was something that energized her.

People consider me to be well-educated. However, Amanda would tell me what she learned in school and not only would I not understand the principles, I didn’t understand most of the vocabulary!

This has been the best thing for our family. After years of being in the role of housewife, Amanda is getting the opportunity to explore her own identity through her studies. This will eventually lead to some career.

For various reasons, this would have been difficult in previous years. But this is the right time and Amanda is doing well. By the end of this summer, with the credits she brought into the program, she will almost be done her first year, and all that in just a few months.

I’m so proud of Amanda and I look forward to a successful future for her.

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Good News: Fun With the Kids

School is finished for the kids and summer is upon us. What should we do? They often ask us to take them shopping (usually for toys). The truth is they get bored of what we buy them pretty quick.

Tonight we decided to go go-karting. We had brought Justus and Emma before but not Faith. Emma was over at a friend’s house so we brought Justus and Faith tonight.

The plan was for Justus and Faith to ride in the two-seater and for Amanda and I to watch. However, Justus is not tall enough to drive with Faith as a passenger (Faith is too young to drive herself). Justus was fine to drive by himself and so he went.

That left me to get some more tickets and to drive with Faith. We had a blast! At one point during our laps, Faith said to me: “Whoever invented go-karts is the best!”

This is what we want to do with our kids. We want to build memories. Most of the things that my parents bought me are gone by I still have my memories. We want to do this for our children.

It was a fun day with our family and this is Good News.

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Good News: Thankful to Be Back in Pastoral Ministry

If you spoke to me three or four years ago about my career goals, being a pastor would not have been high on the list. Despite spending a long time in school training to be a pastor and having been a pastor five churches, I thought my time as a pastor was done.

It is not that my church experience before that had been negative. I spent nine years as the pastor of First Baptist Church Meaford and Woodford Baptist Church. I love both those churches and I found the congregations to be incredibly supportive.

But life circumstances had convinced me that I had nothing left to give. My three year break from ministry, while healing, was also confusing. I really did not know what I was going to do for the rest of my working life. For someone approaching fifty, that is an uncomfortable situation.

As I was looking for work, I would sometimes consider applying to a church. Although I didn’t want to be a pastor again, it was what I was qualified for. Amanda was good to ground me and to stop me from doing something for the wrong reasons.

My life changed over a period of six months (I explain what happened in this post). Experiencing what I would almost call a second calling, I applied to Queen Street Baptist Church in our hometown of St. Catharines.

At the time I’m writing this post, I have been at QSBC for a year and a half. It has been enough time for me to realize if I had made a mistake returning to pastoral ministry.

It has not been a mistake.

Serving at QSBC is energizing to my life. The people are welcoming and supportive of our family. There are gifted leaders that I get to work with. There is a diverse congregation that regularly teaches me about the kingdom of God.

I’m in an interesting place career-wise. Being the pastor at QSBC is not a stepping stone to someplace bigger or better. I am where I want to be and I honestly hope to retire here (but not for a long time). Of course I need to come at this humbly and leave my future to God. But I can say that I’m content, not in the sense of having no goals, but happy with where God has brought me.

This is Good News.

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Good News: A Good Father’s Day

Stephen Bedard

My two sons!

Father’s Day is always a mix of emotions for me as I miss my dad. Although it has been thirteen years since he died, I still feel the loss every Father’s Day.

Having said that, I am focusing more on what I have and that is my amazing family. I am truly blessed. Our family has gone through some upheaval lately but it has actually drawn us together.

This Father’s Day was great because I was able to see all five of my children. Once again, Logan asked to stay over so he could go to church with us. He is so excited about church. I ended up driving him to his group home after lunch and had a brief visit with Abby.

Justus, Emma and Faith seemed to try extra hard to make it a good Father’s Day for me. Justus even went with me to take Logan back. All through the day, I was reminded of all that I have. God has truly blessed me.

Stephen Bedard

My Father’s Day Gift!

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Good News: Bedards Assemble!

Bedard FamilyThis past week was our annual assembly of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. I have only missed only a couple of these assemblies in my twenty years with the CBOQ.

This year was great in terms of music and teaching. Music was led by Steve Bell and our speaker was Gordon MacDonald. I really appreciated what both of them brought to us. Assembly was also fun in terms of visiting with my colleagues in ministry.

But sometimes the best comes from the unexpected.

I have often bragged how we never bring our children to assembly (we brought Emma once when she was a month old but that’s it). That was the plan this year as well. We had Amanda’s mom watching the kids while we had some quality time on our own. We had a couple of days together but then Amanda’s mom got sick and needed us.

Our original plan was for Amanda to go home and be with the kids while I stayed at assembly. Instead, we decided to go home, pick up the kids and bring them back with us. In this, we realized that the kids had never stayed in a hotel before.

I will admit that at first I found the kids’ excitement about staying in a hotel overwhelming. But with some grounding from Amanda, we were able to have a good time. This included many hours at the hotel pool and water slide. After that, we decided to have a late night and watch LEGO Batman.

It ended up being a great time. Yes there was much tiredness. There were grumpy kids and parents. But it was also a time of memories. I’m thankful that we had this time together.

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Good News: 184th Anniversary

No, I don’t mean our marriage anniversary. I’m not quite that old. Today was our 184th anniversary service at Queen Street Baptist Church. That is a long time for a church. When I look in the hymn book at the “old” hymns, I see many of them were not written when this congregation first organized.

Tim McCoy

Tim McCoy

We had an amazing anniversary service. At one point, I asked the congregation to raise their hand if they were born in a country other than Canada. Over half the congregation raised their hands. Our multicultural makeup is one of my favourite things about our church.

We had some great music, both by our own musicians and the Grace Notes quartet. Our speaker was Tim McCoy, who is the executive minister of the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec. Tim has been a powerful encouragement to Amanda and I, both in ministry and in our family life. He brought a message that our people needed to hear and that fits with where we are going.

I enjoyed everything about the service. It was a great reminder as to why I’m a pastor and why I love the local church. It was also a reminder of why I’m thankful to be at Queen Street Baptist Church. This is Good News.

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Good News: Bringing Our Son to Church

Today was one of the happiest Sundays in my life. Many people take it for granted that they can go to church as a family. In our case, our two oldest children have autism and live in a group home 1.5 hours away. It has been around six years since Abby has been with us at church and three years for Logan.

Today that changed for Logan.

The plan was for us to just have a day visit with Logan and Abby on Saturday. When it was time for me to bring them back to the group home, Logan told us he wanted to stay. Amanda told him that this meant coming to church. He told her he wanted to come to church. By the way, Logan is nonverbal so him telling us this is a big deal.

Stephen BedardSo I brought Abby back and Logan stayed over night. When it was time to go to church, Logan was ready to go. Logan had been to Queen Street Baptist Church before for a men’s breakfast but never for a service. This helped because he knew the building and had met some of the men.

It was such a joy to have Logan at church with us. Yes, he made some noise. That’s part of autism. But QSBC is an autism-friendly church and they are comfortable with autism sounds. No one complained. In fact, they were very excited to meet Logan. When I announced that Logan was there, they applauded.

It takes more than just applause to be an autism-friendly church. Do you know what tells us that QSBC is autism-friendly? When people came up to us after the service, they didn’t talk to me about Logan, they talked to Logan directly. Amanda told me that some people completely ignored her while they were connecting with Logan.

And connecting they did. There were some pretty big smiles on Logan. He may be a person of few words, but we can read him well. I was very proud of both Logan and my church.

This will be a memory that will long stay with me. This is Good News.

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Good News: Smiling Our Faces Off

Stephen BedardThis week included a day off school for our children. After spending some of the day at a church program, two of our daughters had a sleep over with friends, leaving us just with Justus. Justus asked us to take him to Niagara Go-Karts, a place he has wanted to go for a long time. My parents took me there when I was his age and I was all for passing on the memories.

Because of his age, he had to drive the 2-seater cars with me in it. But he was the one who drove the go-karts for all ten laps. The smile on Justus’s face was worth every penny. He was so happy and we were able to share that with him.

After go-karts, we hit a second hand store where he got some cool toys (and I got ten books!) and then we had dinner at Pizza Hut. When we got home, we watched together the classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. He loved the movie. It was incredible to be able to spend a few hours just enjoying our son.

Justus has had some rough passages but this was day that filled all our emotional tanks. At one point, Justus said “I’m so happy I could smile my face off!” That evening he kept talking about how happy he was and the joy was still there the next day and more. He spontaneously hugged us and told us he loved us.

We are by no means perfect parents but this day felt like a win. This is good news.

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Good News: My Wife is an Amazing Mother

My tendency on Mother’s Day is to focus on how much I miss my own mother, who died almost ten years ago. But in doing that, I would miss the incredible blessing of my wife Amanda.

Amanda BedardI don’t have the words to describe how much I appreciate Amanda. Amanda comes to motherhood with her own baggage. Amanda is very honest about her experience of PTSD and other mental health issues. Yet, these things do not make Amanda less a mother but rather more.

We have a complex family. We have two children with autism who do not live with us. We have three other children who are not biologically ours but definitely emotionally are ours. They have their own issues.

Amanda regularly blows me away with how she loves them and cares for them. Perhaps because of her own struggles, Amanda has a special grace for them. She regularly inspires me to want to be a better father.

So yes, I do miss my own mother. But I’m so thankful for Amanda and the special mother she is to our children. I love you Amanda!

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Good News: Our Son is Back

Stephen BedardAlthough I don’t talk about it as much as our children with autism, we also have a child with ADHD. Some may think that ADHD is not near as serious as autism but there have been many days where it has been more difficult. It has been a long journey trying to deal with Justus’s ADHD and seeking to help him.

One of the ways that we have treated his ADHD is with medication. That has been appropriate and it did make a difference. Although Justus improved, he still had difficulties with anger and anxiety. His sleep patterns were also very erratic. It often would not take much to set him off.

Recently we cut his meds from two to one pill a day, simply because we were waiting for an appointment to get a renewal. Almost as soon as we did this, there was a sudden change in Justus.

For the positive.

We saw more smiles from him in that first week than we have seen in the past year. He was more hyper, but far less angry. He was once again his goofy, happy and affectionate self. We ended up stopping even his one pill a day and saw more improvement.

Our son is back.

I need to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that the answer for everyone is to get off medication. I take a pill for anxiety and I have gone off it a couple of times as a test and it is always bad news. Also, Logan and Abby are on medication and it makes a difference for them. Medication really can be a positive thing.

But in this case, coming of medication was what Justus (and the rest of us) needed. I have been enjoying watching Justus play with his sisters without fighting (as much). He listens to what we say. he spontaneously thanks us for things we have done. He even offered to cut the grass for us. Justus has been sleeping better and shocked us all be sleeping in to 11:30 am on Saturday. He normally gets us at 5:00 am or earlier.

Justus still has ADHD and it can be annoying some times. But we will take our happy and hyper kid over our angry and anxious kid any day.

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Good News: A Blessed Easter

Some pastors may dread Easter because of the extra services but I love it. This entire weekend has been great.

We had a very meaningful Maundy Thursday service at our church that included foot washing and communion. I was planning on going by myself but I was shocked when the children asked to go. I’m glad they did as Faith received communion for the first time. On Good Friday we had a church breakfast followed by a walk with many of the downtown churches.

In the afternoon, Logan and Abby came for a visit. It had been over a month since we had seen them because of Amanda’s surgery. It was so good to see them again. I wasn’t sure how they would do with our new car (many people with autism don’t like change) but we were able to make it work.

This morning we had a great Easter morning service. We had plenty of visitors and two of our children handed out visitor bags. I really enjoyed the service as the resurrection of Jesus is central to my faith.

The afternoon included a dinner at Amanda’s parents, followed by a bonfire back at our house. Bonfires were a big part of my growing up and I naturally think of my dad as I now start the fires.

This Easter has been a great reminder of all the blessings that are in my life. This is my Good News.

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Good News: Double Shot

There are actually two things that I want to share for my weekly Good News post.

The first is that I want to share how much I’m enjoying my role as pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. Even two years ago I was not sure if I would ever be the pastor of a church again. Circumstances (i.e. God) led me to Queen Street and I’m really enjoying ministry. For the last couple of weeks I have been helping with our Hispanic congregation and it has been fun to get to know them as well. I really believe that I’m where I’m supposed to be.

The second is that we had a great time swimming as a family tonight. We have been swimming regularly but this is the first time in a while that we have all gone together as a family. Between sickness and Amanda’s recovery from surgery, we have not all been able to go. This was also the first time we have all been in the big pool. It was a lot of fun and was definitely quality family-time.

So in general, I’m feeling very blessed these days. This is Good News.

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Good News: Thankful For Autism Awareness

Stephen and Amanda Bedard

Wearing blue for autism awareness.

About fourteen years ago, when our son Logan was diagnosed with autism, I was pretty ignorant about autism. I only knew what I saw in Rainman and St. Elsewhere. Many of our friends and family were equally unaware. Although we have been forced to become aware because of Logan and Abby’s autism, I have noticed a general increase in awareness.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and my Good News is that people are become more aware and there is an increase in the welcoming and embracing of people with autism.

As a dad of two children with autism, I appreciate the change that has taken place. There is much more that needs to be done, but there has been a start. I’m also thankful that we are part of a church that is autism-friendly. We have a young man at Queen Street Baptist Church who has autism and who is an important part of our church family. I’m thankful as well that a number of churches have used the bulletin insert that I put together for autism awareness (any time in April would be appropriate if you wanted to use it).

I encourage you take time to learn about autism and even more importantly to get to know some one with autism. Autism awareness is Good News.

Stephen Bedard

This is what autism looks like.

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Good News: Daddy-Daughter Date

Stephen BedardI have mentioned previously that we plan to go swimming as a family every Sunday night. While that doesn’t always work out, sometimes it is for the best.

Amanda is still recovering from her surgery and Justus didn’t feel like going. I was going to take Emma and Faith but right before we left, we discovered that Faith was sick. That left just Emma.

None of these circumstances are ideal but I’m thankful that Emma and I had some time just with us. We still went swimming but had the opportunity to swim in a different pool at the same facility. We practiced our diving and really had a lot of fun. It was so great to have one-on-one time.

I have always desired to have these kinds of times with each of my kids but it is difficult to plan out. That’s why we take advantage of the circumstances that come our way and make the best of it. This is good news.

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Good News: Thankful for Opportunities

I have no desire to boast but I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have come my way. Not only do I get to be the pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church, some other great opportunities have come my way. as well I would appreciate your prayers for some of the things that are coming up.

There are a couple of more events coming up, related to both Tyndale and Christian Horizons.

I was hesitant to share this, because it could look like boasting. The truth is, no one is more amazed at the opportunities that come my way than me. I’m thankful for people who believe in me and think that I have something that could benefit others. I’m humbled that I would even get these chances.

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Good News: Recovering Well

Amanda BedardIt is easy to come up with Good News this week. A few days ago, Amanda had some surgery. It was a planned surgery and one we have been waiting for. It was serious enough for Amanda to spend one night in hospital. The surgery itself is Good News because it will solve some ongoing health concerns.

Another part of the Good News is that Amanda is recovering well. She is in pain and needs to take it easy, but she is doing fine.

In addition, we have been amazed at the support we have received from our church. There have been numerous phone calls and emails, as well as a meal and a care package. We have only been at QSBC for just over a year and yet we feel completely welcomed as family.

I’m thankful for all of God’s blessings, including two weeks off work to help out with the recovery. This is Good News.

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Good News: Finally Got a Date!

It’s pretty easy to come up with Good News today. After a long dry spell, I finally got to go on a date with Amanda. At one time we were able to go out on weekly dates, but childcare is not so easy to find these days. Thankfully, Amanda’s mother was able to watch the kids for us today. She’s still my favourite mother-in-law!

It was not a particularly romantic date as all we did was go the movies to see Logan (I will review it at the Comic Book Geek). Still it was time together without having to referee young children. And the theatre we went to had the nice comfy lounge seats with foot rests. It was very comfortable.

Having even this short amount of time together reminds me of how much I love Amanda. Actually we will be seeing lots of each other soon as she is having some surgery and I’m taking two weeks off to help out around here. I’m happy to do what I can while she recovers. Your prayers are welcome.

Having a date with my wife is Good News.

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Good News: Seeing the Big Picture

The purpose of my Good News post is to pick one good thing that has happened as a way for me to keep positive. While there is often one thing that stands out, this time I’m looking at the big picture. I have been blessed in some amazing ways. Here are some:

  • Amanda and I just celebrated seventeen years of marriage, even though we have faced obstacles that have ended many marriages.
  • Our children Logan and Abby, although not living with us, are able to live together in a group home. They love each other and it really makes a difference.
  • While I love my children with autism, we did want some children that we could interact with in more traditional ways. We are thankful for Justus, Emma and Faith who have come into our lives.
  • A few years ago I thought that I was dying. Although I still deal with sarcoidosis on a daily basis, I enjoy a level of health I didn’t think was possible.
  • I get to pastor an amazing church that is very encouraging and loving.

I’m thankful to God for all these blessings. This is Good News.

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Good News: 17 Years!

Stephen and Amanda BedardToday is Amanda and my 17th wedding anniversary. Seventeen years ago on this day we were recovering from a snow storm that left me stuck in my parents’ driveway, while Amanda (wearing her veil) was pushing some other guy who was also stuck. Today, we have a very un-Canadian February day with spring-like weather. But so much more than weather has changed.

Seventeen years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into. We had no idea about autism or sarcoidosis or any of the other challenges that would come our way. We have had some very difficult events in our life, things I would never have imagined.

But I don’t want to dwell on the bad. The challenges are the backdrop by which Amanda’s character shines. I am so proud of her and the things that she has done. Her recent acceptance by Brock University is just the latest of many events that have increased my respect for her.

I can say in all honesty that I love Amanda more today than I did seventeen years ago. My love for her grows with every year. I’m so thankful that she is partner in this adventure called life. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.

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Good News: Introducing My Son to My Church

Normally, when a person begins as a pastor at a church, they bring their entire immediate family with them. But our family is not normal. Our two oldest children have autism and they live in a group home an hour and a half away. So even though I have been the pastor at Queen Street Baptist Church for over a year, my church has only met three of our five children.

Until yesterday.

We have a monthly men’s breakfast at QSBC. Normally Logan and Abby’s visits do not coincide with the men’s breakfast. I usually just bring my son Justus. However, this weekend Justus was sick and Logan and Abby were here for a visit on the weekend of the men’s breakfast.

Back when I was the pastor at Woodford Baptist Church, I would bring Logan to the men’s breakfast there (this would be about five years ago). He seemed to enjoy that and so I decided to bring Logan this time to the breakfast at QSBC.

We arrived early and so I took the opportunity to take Logan on a tour of the church building. We went into the sanctuary and Logan had some fun playing on the drums. We also went into my office and looked around.

Then we joined the rest of the men for the breakfast. One of the things that I love about QSBC is that they are definitely autism-friendly. We have a young man in his mid-20s who attends church Sunday mornings pretty regularly who is around the same spot on the Autism spectrum as Logan. No one was freaked out by Logan’s lack of verbal communication or eye contact.

Having a nonverbal son, I have learned to read Logan’s body language pretty good. I could tell that he had a good time. He certainly enjoyed the food and had seconds. Not only did he really like seeing the church building, he had big smiles when we were around the men.

I was very proud to be at church with my son and they welcomed him very warmly. Some of them had seen pictures of Logan and had heard plenty of stories but this was their first time meeting him.

My hope is to have Logan and Abby at church on a Sunday with us. It probably has been about seven years since that has happened. It will take a lot of work to make that happen but a guy can dream. Until then, this is my Good News.

 

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Good News: Being Uncle Steve

Family has always been an important part of my life. Being an only child, I do not take family for granted. Aunts, uncles and cousins were important relationships.

Unfortunately, being an only child limits my opportunities for being an uncle. But that is where Amanda’s family comes in. I have a nephew on the other side of the country that I love but don’t see often. Thankfully, we have another nephew who lives not far from us.

We had our nephew with us for the day yesterday. It was great to see our children playing with him and developing that cousin relationship. We all went swimming at a local pool and had lots of fun. It was great to be in the role of uncle Steve for a day. It brings back memories of my own experience with extended family.

Family is important and that is Good News.

Family

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Good News: Glad to Be Where I Am

Today was the annual meeting at Queen Street Baptist Church. An annual meeting may not sound like a lot of fun but it was an important reminder for me. At our annual meeting, we looked at the things that happened in the past year and what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. There was an encouraging and optimistic spirit to the meeting.

This is just another reminder that I am where I am supposed to be. I find it hard to believe that I have only been with this congregation for just over a year. It feels so much like home. There are some fantastic people in this church and I’m looking forward to what God will be doing through us this year.

After being out of pastoral ministry for three years, I’m so glad that I was given the privilege to be the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. This is my good news.

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Good News: Thesis Writing

My Good News for this week is that I took a week off work. This was no vacation but time for me to work on my thesis. I am in the Doctor of Ministry program at Acadia Divinity College. I should have graduated by now, but due to health issues among other things, my studies were put on hold. I am determines to finish though.

This week I focused on doing some corrections on two of my chapters and getting started on my third chapter. In addition to my writing, there was an online meeting with some of the Acadia staff and other D.Min. students. It was good to connect and to not feel alone in this stage of the thesis.

I am thankful for this week that I have had to work on the thesis. Feel free to pray for me as I hope to have my first draft of the entire thesis done in the next couple of months. Also, if you know a Christian student between the ages of 18-25 studying in a Canadian college/university (Christian or secular), please encourage them to fill out this survey. Thanks!

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Good News: Thankful for My Health

It might seem surprising that my Good News is that I’m thankful for my health. After all, I do still have sarcoidosis, diabetes and asthma. That doesn’t sound very good.

However, everything is relative. Less than a year ago, I was taking eighteen pills and fours shots of insulin per day. I felt like a walking pharmacy. Now I am down to five and a half pills and no shots per day. This number will be going down again in the next couple of months.

I believe that it is easier to be thankful for health when it is something that can’t be taken for granted. I feel much better than I did, even six months ago. I will enjoy this health as long as I have it. This is my Good News.

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Good News: A Watered Down Tradition

This is a time when many people are trying to make changes to improve an area of their life. One of the things our family has decided is to have a regular Sunday swim. Amanda has been swimming for a while as a part of her exercise plan but at Christmas we decided to get a family pass at a local pool.

This past week, Amanda took one of the children with her for a few of her swims. But today we had our first family swim together. It is our plan to have this every Sunday. We had a great time together and I love that we are able to create our own traditions. It is good for our health and good for our family. This is our good news.

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Good News: Five Things I’m Thankful For From 2016

As I look back on 2016, there were some challenging events, but there were also many blessings. There were five things that stood out that I’m thankful for. These five things are my Good News.

  1. I’m thankful for my wife Amanda. Amanda had some rough times in 2016, but she has made a tremendous recovery. You can read about it on her blog. I’m so thankful for Amanda and the things that I’m seeing in her life. She is a fantastic wife and mother to our children.
  2. I’m thankful for my children. It has now been just over a year since we moved to St. Catharines. Our two oldest children live in a group home an hour and a half away. We don’t see them as often as we used to, but we have longer visits. It has gone well. Things are also going well with our other three children. They have adjusted well to the move and are used to their new school. Little things, like tonight introducing my son to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, remind me of how great it is to have time together.
  3. I’m thankful for my health. This might sound surprising as it was not a great year for my health. My sarcoidosis spread and I developed diabetes. However, my health has improved. I’m no longer taking insulin for the diabetes and although today has not been a great day, in general my sarcoidosis has been better.
  4. I’m thankful for my church. It was just a year ago that I started as the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. I can say with confidence that I am in the right place. I love our church. I am learning new things and I am regularly amazed at the ministry of people within our congregation.
  5. I’m thankful for God. I have seen God working in our lives so much over the past year. There have been interventions that have been life-saving. God has provided for us over and over. Even in the most difficult situations, God has been there.

I’m thankful for the things that have taken place in 2016 and I look forward to what will happen in 2017.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)

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Good News: A Full Day at Church

I’m just coming to the end of my first year at Queen Street Baptist Church and I’m still loving it. Today was no exception. It was a very full day.

Amanda BedardThe morning began with our Christmas cantata, Go Sing It on the Mountain. The choir did a fantastic job and Amanda and I were able to participate as narrators. It is fun to be able to work with Amanda on something like this.

Isaac MartinezIn the afternoon, I joined our Spanish congregation for their service. I have known the Spanish pastor, Isaac Martinez, for twenty years, having gone to seminary together. He invited me to preach and so I preached for the first time with a translator. Isaac’s wife, Elizabeth, did a great job in translating my message.

Grace NotesThen in the evening, we had a Grace Notes concert at our church. I wouldn’t say that I’m normally a quartet kind of guy, but this is my second Grace Notes concert and I really enjoy their music. They are talented and fun and I really appreciate this music.

This brought the end to a full but an enjoyable day as part of Queen Street Baptist Church. This is my Good News.

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Good News: Teen Challenge

My Good News for today is about a great service we had this morning at Queen Street Baptist Church. We were blessed to have Teen Challenge join us. If you are not familiar with Teen Challenge, they are an incredible residential program working with men and women who struggle with addiction.

Many people get confused by the name. They think this is a program for teenagers. In fact, they only take people eighteen years old and older. The two men in the program who shared their testimony with us were 34 and 67 years old! Addiction is not just a teenage problem.

Norm MacLarenThe team also included Norm MacLaren. I have had a number of connections with Norm over the years. I used to work with both his wife and daughter at CMC Distribution and my first ministry position was at a church that Norm had founded.

It was so good to hear the testimonies of these men and the ways that they have overcome addiction. It was quite inspiring and if you are looking for a worthy cause to support, I recommend Teen Challenge.

After church, we had the team over for lunch at our house. Amanda put on a delicious lunch and it was great to hear more about the great things that are happening with Teen Challenge. We have seen with our own eyes the damage that addictions do to individuals and families. I thank God that there are ministries such as Teen Challenge making a difference.

 

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Good News: Proud of Amanda

My wife has not tried to hide the struggles she has experienced. I won’t go into them here, but you can read about it in her words at her blog. I’m proud of Amanda for many reasons and one of them is her honesty and courage in sharing what she has gone through.

In addition to all that, I’m also proud of Amanda for some very positive choices she has made recently. She is taking her recovery seriously and working toward that goal. I have seen some amazing changes in Amanda and she is continually impressing me.

I’m so thankful that Amanda is my wife and the mother of our children. I have always respected her and that respect grows daily. This is my good news.

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Good News: Long Lost Family

I thought I knew what my Good News post was going to be. It was a year ago that we were making our move from Cambridge to St. Catharines. Although there have been some challenges with the move, over all it has been positive. But that is not my Good News.

This morning at church, I saw a person that I did not recognize. He was someone who had been a member of our church and now visits from time to time. Someone from our congregation introduced us. In our conversation, I told him I had people in my family with the same last name that he had. I mentioned a name that I knew and that ended up being his father. I asked if his father had sisters, and amazingly, one of them was my grandmother. This man was my first cousin once removed.

Why is this a big deal? I have plenty of family on my father’s side (he was one of twelve). Many of my aunts and uncles are still alive and I’m still discovering new cousins. Not so on my mother’s side. While I have four cousins on that side, there is no one left from the previous generation. My mother and all her siblings are dead.

Meeting this cousin first removed, puts me back in touch with that side of my family. He was my mother’s cousin and that is a contact that I did not know. Since family is very important to me, this is Good News. It is especially neat that he is connected with the church where I pastor.

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Good News: A Great Birthday

Normally, I don’t make a big deal of birthdays. While I reflect on a new year of life, I don’t expect much in terms of celebrations. However, this was one of the most enjoyable birthdays I have had in a long time.

Although my birthday is today, my presents started on Friday. Our children, Logan and Abby, came for a visit. That alone would be great, but there was more. I recently blogged about how Logan has been more present (read about it here). This time it was Abby. I always pray with the kids at bedtime. When I was putting Abby to bed, even before I started praying, she started our regular bedtime prayer. Remember, she is nonverbal and this is not a part of her routine at her group home. Even if she had repeated the prayer after me, it would have been amazing, but I actually repeated after her. What a present!

Celebrations continued on Saturday. Amanda and I had one of our rare dates. Since it was my birthday, she let me pick the movie and so I chose Doctor Strange. We both loved the movie (you can read my review here). It was a great time for us together.

Today was the official day for my birthday. It started with our daughter Emma making breakfast for me (but not Amanda!) and bring it to me in bed. Then it was time for church. I have been playing bass for a couple of the songs at Queen Street Baptist Church. Justus has been playing drums. Today, Emma and Faith wanted to join in with tambourines. That was fun.

After church, we had a soup and sandwich luncheon at the church. Amanda had volunteered to make all the soup and she did a fantastic job. The soup was so good. It was a great time with the congregation.

I did get some presents from the kids. I was given an AC/DC mug and some Marvel superhero cups. Loved them! Then in the evening, we had a family movie night as we watched X-Men: Apocalypse. We all enjoyed the movie, but what made it really fun was doing it as a family.

This has been an absolutely fantastic birthday.

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Good News: Diversity Within the Church

My good news for this week has to do with our church. I really love Queen Street Baptist Church for a number of reasons. One of the big ones is the diversity within our church. We are both a multigenerational and multicultural church.

This morning, we had one of the biggest turnouts for Sunday school that we have. I have generally pastored at small churches and at times our children were the only ones in the Sunday school. While QSBC is not a large church, our children’s ministry is growing. It is exciting to see.

The other thing that stood out this morning was our participation in the International Day of Pray for the Persecuted Church. We prayed for churches in Iran and Somalia, but not in English. We had members of our church from Zimbabwe, Japan and Togo pray in their own languages. I love hearing people praying in other languages.

Some very encouraging things are happening at QSBC. Just yesterday we had our first men’s breakfast and we had a great turnout. There are other things that are about to start as well.

I’m thankful for QSBC and this is good news.

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Good News: Being a Model Parent

My good news for this week actually brings together two other things that I have recently gotten involved in. I have started keeping a Sabbath, as described in this post. My Sabbath keeping (which I observe Sunday noon to Monday noon) includes staying offline, except for my Sunday Good News post. Part of what I use this time for is to have more family time.

Justus BedardThat brings me to another thing I have started doing. In trying to relax with a hobby, I have started building model airplanes. I have completed my Spitfire but I also bought a F4D-1 Skyray. My purpose for this one was different than the Spitfire. The Spitfire was for my own benefit. The Skyray was for me to build with my son Justus.

Today was a good day for us to do this as he injured his finger (possibly breaking it) and has had a rough day. So it was nice for us to have this time to work on something together. It was fun to share something I did when I was his age with my son. I did the gluing and he did the painting.

We are still working on it and I’m thankful that I can have this quality time with him.

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Good News: Rhythm Section

My good news for this week has to do with a decision my son and I have made. I am very sensitive about trying to force my children to go to church. There definitely is a long tradition of pastor’s kids that have rebelled against church. I want church to be something they will enjoy and want to participate in.

Justus BedardAt Queen Street Baptist Church, we have been trying to actively include children in our services. With that in mind, I made a deal with my son Justus. I told him that if he started drumming at church, I would start playing my bass guitar.

I have played bass with a couple of worship bands, but that was almost twenty years ago, and even then I was not great. I never put the practice in to develop my skills. I have no dreams about becoming a top notch bassist. But if putting myself out there is an encouragement to Justus, it is worth doing.

Justus is actually a talented musician. While he is not disciplined with taking lessons, he has plenty of natural talent. I believe he could go far.

How did our first Sunday go? Well, we both have a ways to go, but it was fun for us to do this together. A big part of this for us to have something that we can do as a father and son. I look forward to playing with more in the future.

Justus played a bit of Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water after church.

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Good News: The Present of Presence

One of the highlights of my life is our regular visits with our children Logan and Abby. Logan and Abby both have autism and they live in a group home about an hour away. This weekend was one of those visits.

Abby tends to interact with us more than Logan. When we were having lots of trouble with Abby, we would describe their autism in this way: “Abby was miserable in our world and Logan was content in his own world.” Now that they are older, I would say that Abby tends to be less miserable but Logan still can retreat into his own world.

However, we have seen Logan recently being more present with us. There is more eye contact and he seems more interested in interacting. Both Logan and Abby are considered nonverbal. This does not mean that they have no words, but rather they don’t use verbal language as their main form of communication.

Logan and Abby stayed for an overnight visit. Logan will share a bed with Justus. I pray with all of my children at bedtime and our regular prayer includes the names for a number of people in our family, both immediate and extended. Not only did Logan seem interested, he even prayed along with me, saying the names of those family members. I felt a tremendous blessing in hearing him pray.

Stephen BedardNormally, it is Abby that tends to notice changes in my appearance. For example, she will not let me wear 3D glasses when we go to a movie, because they just don’t belong on my face. But she hasn’t really cared that I have recently grown a beard. However, Logan has been quite interested. He has given me a funny look each time he has arrived at our house and seen the beard a bit longer. He has even touched my beard, such physical contact not being normal for him. While Logan doesn’t talk, he will respond to yes/no questions. I asked him if he liked my beard and he responded (with full eye contact) by saying yes. I then asked if he wanted to grow a beard like this (he is 15 and already has some pretty good sideburns) and he responded again with yes.

I mentioned to Amanda how great it was to have Logan so present with us emotionally and socially. She reminded me that I should not be surprised. For years, Logan has tended to withdraw during the summer and then in the autumn return with new skills and development. That is exactly what we are seeing right now.

So my good news is that we are enjoying our son being more present with us than we have had in a long time.

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Good News: Thankful for Queensway

Ryan Marthinsen

Rev. Ryan Marthinsen

Today Amanda and I took a trip to Brantford for Ryan Marthinsen’s ordination at Queensway Baptist Church. Ryan is the pastor of family ministries at Queensway. We wanted to be there because during my time between churches, we attended Queensway. Ryan did a fantastic job giving leadership to the children’s ministries and our children absolutely adored him. He really had an impact on their lives.

Being there today brought back many memories. Just over fifteen years ago, I was ordained at Queensway. I spent about two years there as a youth pastor and that experience really helped form my future ministry. I was about to give up on pastoral ministry just before Don Fraser, the pastor at the time, invited me to come up and apply for the youth position. I may not have continued in ministry, if not for that.

Queensway also played an important role in our life over the last couple of years. After I left my pastoral charge in Meaford/Woodford, we came back to Queensway as members. This was a difficult time for our family as, among other things, I became very sick and actually thought I was dying. We received a tremendous amount of support from the congregation. Deane Proctor, who is the lead pastor of Queensway, was the best pastor we could have had. Not only is he an amazing preacher, he has provided care to our family in our darkest times.

So I want to say congratulations to Ryan, thanks to Deane and blessings to Queensway for being a great church.

 

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Good News: 7 Things I’m Thankful For

This is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Many people are reflecting on their blessings and I will do the same. I’m going to share seven things that I’m thankful for. There are of course many more than seven blessings, but it is a place to start.

  1. My relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
  2. My beautiful wife Amanda.
  3. My five amazing children.
  4. The incredible church that I have been called to pastor.
  5. The health I am able to enjoy.
  6. Opportunities to use the skills God has given me.
  7. Support and encouragement from friends and family.

What are you thankful for?

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Good News: A Great Day at Church

Today was a wonderful day at Queen Street Baptist Church. We started something new with including the children in the service for the first Sunday of the month. Some of the children (including one of our daughters) were a part of the worship team and some (including our son) helped take up the offering. I love that our church embraces multi-generational ministry. One of the neat things that took place was that our daughter Emma had her first communion today.

In addition, we continued our after church sermon discussion class. I love the conversations we have in this group. I really enjoy how people are dreaming about future ministry opportunities. It is very exciting.

Then in the evening, we had an ordination service for Jean-Marie Atitso, who is our outreach coordinator. Jean-Marie came to us a number of years ago from Togo. It is always exciting to participate in an ordination.

It was overall a great day at church. That is my good news.

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Good News: Diversity in the Church

Good NewsI have really been enjoying my time as the pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church. I have been at this church for just less than a year but it feels like longer (in a good way). I have been able to connect with people and I have come to really appreciate this congregation.

One of the things that I love about QSBC is the diversity. We have people from all over the world represented at our church. It is not the white church that I’m used to and this is a good thing. I feel like every Sunday when we worship together that we are having a taste of heaven.

It is not just ethnic diversity at QSBC. At our sermon discussion class after the service, we had two ladies that are blind and one man with autism. As a person who cares very much for disability ministry, this gets me excited. We do not have a separate ministry for people with disabilities, we just have church.

I’m excited about the things that God has done and is doing at QSBC. This is good news.

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Good News: Encouraged By Church

Good NewsSeptember is the beginning of the new ministry year at church. This is also my first September at Queen Street Baptist Church. I always hope for good things but at the same time I never know what to expect.

I want to see new things happening but not change for the sake of change. One of my passions is discipleship, especially with a teaching element. The challenge is not to come up with an idea that I think is great but that the congregation is not interested in.

I did some research last year about when people were most likely to come out to a small group or class. By far, the majority indicated that they would prefer to stay after church for a study. Our worship service starts at 10 am, and so it is very possible for us to grab a coffee and a cookie and have a class and still be out by around noon.

But what to study?

I have all sorts of interests that I could teach on. But listening to the congregation, the desire was to have a sermon feedback time where we could discuss the message and reflect on ways to apply it to life. Not only was the congregation interested, but I had read a number of articles by the “experts” recommending the same thing.

And so today we had our first sermon feedback class.

We had close to twenty people show up, which is very good for the size of our congregation. The reflection was deep and the discussion was good. It was neat to see how different people picked up on different parts of the message. I was very encouraged by it.

This is my good news for the week: I’m very encouraged by the good things happening at Queen Street Baptist Church.

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