I haven’t done a personal update in a while, but I wanted to do this one since it involves a big step toward a longtime dream. We’ve been friends of Rob and Wendy McAlpine for nigh past two decades now, and off and on over that time we’ve always talked about ministry opportunities together… “someday.” And it looks like “someday” is finally arriving! Starting in a few months, we’ll be starting a new work together in Medicine Hat, Alberta!
Rob and I have been talking, dreaming, and praying in more detail for the past few months about the possibility of planting a missional community. We’re announcing this now because we’ll be entering into the final preparations stage and wanted to let our wider circle of friends in on the news. Finally, the timing seems right, and the location is a diamond in the rough. Medicine Hat is a small city of just under 60,000 people about 3 hours southeast of Calgary. It has a surprisingly active arts community for a city its size — Medicine Hat Folk Club and the Medicine Hat JazzFest are two of their music festivals, and they also have a one-act play festival annually in June and a musical theatre each November. This kind of arts community critical in our selection of locations, as was a good relationship with the local churches. So far, St. Barnabas Anglican (cool people; they’re hosting N.T. Wright this month) has offered space if we need it, and we have been welcomed to become involved in the drama program at River Park Church (EMCC). Both understand our missional aims and that we are not intending to become part of their communities, but to plant a missional community of our own. We’re still looking to connect with some of the other churches in the area before we launch.
The community will be in a neo-monastic vein centered around a missional order. Since the cost of housing in Alberta is quite significant, we are initially looking for a large home that could house two or three families living communally in an older/established neighbourhood. It remains to be seen if we’ll stick with that since it’s such a big adjustment for all of us, but it’s a good way for us to be able to focus all of our resources as we start out. Each of us will be working part-time and giving ourselves to missional endeavours the rest of the time.
We are excited to be able to announce that we’ve found a couple of investors who will be funding our setup of a coffee house, which has some significant startup costs; their investment should cover the startup and first year until it becomes self-sustaining. St. Barnabas has offered space if we can’t find anything right away, but we’ll probably want to secure a lease someplace and get it going there rather than having to move it later. This is a big deal for us, because the investors understand what we’re about and are putting up the money at very lenient terms… no interest for five years, and partly forgivable if it flops! I can’t disclose who the investors are of course, but this is obviously pretty huge.
At the moment we’re hoping to find two more couples who would be able to pitch in with us at the outset, and are planning to be established there five months from today, on September 1st. After living in larger cities for so long, it’s going to be a delight for both of us to settle into the slower pace of a small-ish city and make our homes there. One of the families in our simple church here in Winnipeg is praying about this now, but if any of you in our wider circle share our values and feel the call, do let us know. Exciting times ahead!
Update: For those who read this post or Robbymac’s without checking their calendars, there’s some additional background available as well, in case it helps explain some of the mechanics.
How long did you guys work on this? Very innovative. ;-)
I’m always suspicious of anything announced april first, but I really hope you are not joking as it sounds like a really good idea.
If so, welcome to Alberta.
WOW.. er.. yeh, per the title this sounds a little dream-like.. but if it isn’t true yet may it BECOME true in many cities across Canada..
Love it!! Spent a few days in Medicine Hat recently. Great community. I hope you continue to post on the progress of this adventure! The idea is right up my alley too!
Love you blog too!
err … gulp … between you and Grace, I’m almost in tears.
These are the visions and dreams that I have too. Maybe I’ll see you in Medicine Hat. LOL … that will become the new mantra. The Jews used to say, “Next year in Jerusalem.” All of us can say, “Next year in Medicine Hat.”
Robbie Mac has ‘outed’ you!
Question: How do you pull an April Fool’s on bloggers concerned with missional/emergent/post-charasmatic leanings?
Answer: You post that you are actually going to go out and do it!
You both are missional/emergent/post-charasmatic GEEKS!!
And I, for one, am gullible. Even went onto Medicine Hat’s town’s website. (Damn it’s cold there!) If many of us did that, the guys there will wonder what hit their website today.
I went to the city’s website, too, only because I was SURE it wasn’t a real place. So on some levels you did fool me!
I just thought you should move in with Robby on his YWAM base…
Well played! As one of the folks in our simple church I was left wondering if maybe I was one of the couples praying about going! I loved the joke, I can’t believe you got me!
Wow. Dianna, did you know that the word “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary?
Hey there missional family in Med Hat! Interesting I have moved here just since last june and am in full force work in the city on a mission. I am getting to know the lay of the land and am interested in connecting. I got your website from a fellow student at fuller, we are both in the MA in Global Leadership program and he thought I might like to know about you…. please drop me an email, would love to hear more about what you are doing?
Sorry to mislead you, but the announcement was part of an April Fool’s prank. Since writing though, it keeps looking like a better and better idea! Medicine Hat is a nice little city… we spent an overnight and then some there a couple of summers ago, touring the world’s largest tepee and walking through the park near there.