Thankfulness and unity in Abbotsford
by Debbie Cazander
With the changing colours and the cooler weather there is no denying that summer is past and we are now in the season of autumn. For many in Abbotsford there is another visible sign of fall – one that can be witnessed by the single message displayed on the signs of many participating city churches. Appropriately named ‘Signs of Thanksgiving’, the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network are encouraging city churches to again consider joining with others in covering the city with a unified message of thankfulness to God. This will be Abbotsford’s third year with a common message on its church signs and ACLN chairman Tim MacIntosh shares that this year’s message is “a very simple, tangible expression of unity.” The scripture verse chosen is from Psalm 107: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love’, which MacIntosh says is “a simple, straightforward call to thanksgiving, focused on the Lord.” It is not known what the effect is on the people who drive through the city and see the same words on numerous church signs but MacIntosh says, “For myself, it always warms my heart to drive through town and see the same, common message on church after church. I hope it’s caught people’s eye and raised curiosity.”
Part of the campaign is for churches to also include the same brief message on the home page of their church website followed by a few lines pointing the reader to Jesus.
Usually church signs are utilized to promote an upcoming service time or event and although similar in purpose the signs most likely will differ in content. However “if all of the church signs across the city say the same thing, the city will understand that we’re working together. We are speaking the same message,” says MacIntosh.
Churches having a history of a unified message is of practical use when a tragedy occurs in the city, as was witnessed last year after two students were attacked at Abby Secondary School. Shortly after this event the ACLN sent out a suggestion that churches post the words “Thoughts and Prayers for Abby Sr” – churches immediately responded and gave a unified message of empathy.
Last October there were 33 churches and Christian schools that took part in the Signs of Thanksgiving and MacIntosh encourages even more to become involved in this year’s event which will be held from October 1 to 14.
Please share your plans to become part of this uplifting campaign and let the ACLN know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The TOGETHER All City Worship Event will be happening on Sunday, October 29 at 6:30 pm at Northview Community Church. This will be the fourth time over the last two years that the ACLN executive have put on a combined worship service and organizers are again expecting between 500 and 1000 attendees, although they are hoping that even more people will consider coming and participating. According to MacIntosh the coordinators for the event include “leaders from 8-10 different churches across Abbotsford – including Pentecostal, Mennonite Brethren, Reformed, Catholic, Charismatic, Anglican, Alliance’’. MacIntosh is the senior pastor at Heritage Alliance church. The combined service will be led by those from the same group of denominations, with special help from Northview who are hosting the event. These special combined services offer believers an opportunity to gather in unity for a genuine communion of the saints while praying to and worshipping the Lord Jesus.
The theme for the combined service is the two word greeting used by the apostle Paul in all of his letters – ‘grace and peace.’ MacIntosh says, “in one sense, they were standard words of ‘hello’ used by the Apostle, but they were loaded with spiritual significance. That’s why we’re using them – we are recipients of God’s abundant grace and his life-changing peace – what a gift! So, we’ll soak in those words at the beginning, and then use them to pray over all the city churches, all those who do not yet know Christ, and all the poor and needy in Abbotsford. It will be a rich time of worship and prayer”.
The executive of the ACLN warmly invite you to come to this special service and to check out their website at www.churchofabbotsford.com