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This article also appears in the May 2019 issue of the Diocesan Post

Transforming Futures has officially launched! With Trinity Port Alberni’s official kick off on Sunday March 9 the campaign is active in the Diocese. Bishop Logan attended their service and was encouraged to see their vitality and excitement as they take the next step in making their community a place where “everyone is welcome” is much more than a slogan. A grant from the Rick Hansen Foundation gave their project a $20,000 boost, and they are well on their way to achieving their financial goal. The Rev. Brenda Nestegaard-Paul agreed to share a few insights from their journey so far:       

What word of encouragement would you have for other parishes thinking about getting started?

Being a church in the 21st century is challenging to say the least. So be it. The gospel hasn't changed nor has our mission. 

It always comes down to where do you place your focus, where do you place your hope? If we believe that the church will not succeed, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we place our focus on what we can do, open ourselves to the possibilities that are present, anything is possible.  Nothing is a sure success, but we are not called to be successful but to be faithful. God is present, calling us to new ventures. Transforming Futures is a vehicle for faithful response.        

What has been an important lesson in thinking through the process thus far?

Nothing has been more important than beginning with discerning the core value of our parish and then engaging everyone who wanted to be a part of the process in crafting the nuts and bolts of the vision. Our core value is welcome and the vision that we are living out through Transforming Futures is ensuring that all barriers to the welcome of the gospel of Christ we proclaim are removed.  The details of this vision are not just the product of one person. This vision is owned by the whole Trinity congregation.        

How will the future look differently when your project is active?

It sounds so simple and basic but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having main level washrooms off our community hall and narthex. For anyone who needs ready access to a washroom, there they will be. For those who have mobility challenges, they will no longer have to decide whether the time has come where they no longer can attend our church or any of the community programs that occur in our facility. Those in wheelchairs will actually be able to be present. For parents of young children, they will have the peace of mind knowing their children no longer have to travel a long distance, past the main entrance, into the bowels of the building, to use the facilities. For the wider community, it makes our sanctuary and hall that much more attractive for use. And when it comes to being an emergency gathering space, something our part of Port Alberni needs, we will be able to offer 'sanctuary' to those who need it most in times of disaster. The fulfilment of this present project will allow us to live into being the welcoming, connecting presence we envision we are called to be.      

We thank Brenda, for her leadership in helping Trinity be the first parish to start on this new phase of our journey together. Pray for them as they continue to raise support for their project and continue the good work of making their place truly welcome to all.

One thing we wanted to remind parishes thinking about getting Transforming Futures started is that it is not about building or investing in physical assets of the parish (though it might include those things). It is primarily a continuation of living the [diocesan] vision and a way to financially contribute to our collective mission and ministry here and now. It will look different in each parish, as each parish will respond to what God is doing in their community. As each parish decides how they will participate and gives life to new initiatives and ministries the we will all benefit from the renewal that is taking place. In the synod office we are eager to assist you in every step of the process.

The parish of Central Saanich will be next to work with Brendon Neilson to begin their Transforming Futures iniative. A handful of other parishes are assembling their teams and prayerfully considering their timing.

Photo: Bishop Logan McMenamie and Rev Brenda Nestagaard-Paul present the rainbow Trinity is growing together as their campaign goal is met.