Five Years of Fortune

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It is time for me to bid this column, the Renewal Fellowship and my Encouragement Road Trips a wistful goodbye. At 67, I can no longer pretend to function at the energy level or capacity I once did. So, after five years of serving the denomination under the Renewal banner, I sadly must hand it on to the next fortunate individual to take on these responsibilities.

I say “fortunate” because it has been a rich and rewarding time. I have met so many of you and shared your pulpits, your homes and even your lives. The Presbyterian family across Canada has a warmth and hospitality that I believe is second to none.

I say “fortunate” because I had the privilege of listening to so many of you. I got to share your hopes and fears, your faith and anxieties and your joys and pain. It was especially poignant when I sometimes realized that I was hearing a story that you had never previously shared.

I say fortunate” because I met so many new friends on the journey. Many I connected with were part of the Fellowship or at least supported the evangelical/conservative/ traditional beliefs we hold. But it may surprise you that a significant number of friends made during this time either subtly or profoundly disagree with me. But we talked and we shared our hearts and we became friends.

I say “fortunate” because I got to witness and experience the generosity of God’s people in new and palpable ways. There was generosity of hospitality. I visited more than 100 churches and stayed in dozens of billets these past five years. From the Atlantic to the Pacific I was welcomed graciously and enthusiastically. There was generosity of prayer. Almost everywhere I visited, inevitably someone would in a quiet moment tell me of their constant or daily prayers for me and the ministry I lead. There was generosity of financial support. As most of you know, the Renewal Fellowship is solely supported by its friends and members and does not receive funds from the PCC. For these sacrifices I am truly grateful. But there was also a generosity of advice. There were many of our educators, senior ministers, committee convenors and Moderators of General Assembly who took the time and effort to speak into this ministry and its direction. Often, these men and women would also serve as sounding boards as our board of directors and I sought to discern God’s direction for our future.

At the end, I seek no credit for any good that was done. To God be all glory. For any mistakes that were made I take full responsibility. My prayer is that the last five years have made a difference as we attempted to serve and to love as our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ commanded and demonstrated.

There is still much to do. I want to encourage the denomination, presbyteries, sessions and members to love and encourage your ministers, educators and leaders as never before. Love them so that they can love and serve you with joy and enthusiasm. “The harvest is great but the labourers are few.”

Amen

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About Fred Stewart

Rev. Fred Stewart is executive director of the Renewal Fellowship and minister at St. Andrew’s, Bolsover, and Woodville Community churches.