My Faith Journey
by Tony Copple

This is under construction, as elements of it are added over time. Last update was made September 2010

Childhood to 2005

As a child I was brought up in Christian schools; the first was St. Paul's Convent in Teddington, a Catholic primary school. I learned that sinning was really bad, so as far as I can remember, as a child I never did.

At Wellington College (about age 15) I was confirmed and certainly enjoyed the wine. I had friends who took communion daily in the magnificent chapel; I wasn't that keen. Here's a "keeping in touch" site for Old Wellingtonians, in case one of you ever finds your way to this page. Here's the main O.W. page.

At St John's College, Cambridge, I remember being asked to read the lesson a second time in chapel. But my faith was waning.

In the navy, it vanished. In fact, I was convinced there was no God, and furthermore that to use a supernatural being as a crock was an insult to me as a human. I was responsible, and needed no-one.

From age 25 to 35 I was a convinced atheist. My (first) wife Penny, however, continued her encouragement of my vestigial faith.

Then came The Late, Great, Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey, a book on prophecy. It dawned on me that since the hundreds of prophesies about Christ had come true, to the letter, then the Bible had to have been inspired by a (The) divine being.

My Life

Taught as a child of the Son and the Father
Holy Ghost also in trinity rule
Then in my twenties no more belief
King of myself, no one’s fool

Plenty of money, broke the commandments
Some in this world would declaim me
No satisfaction, something’s a-miss
Jesus came back to reclaim me

Now I am changing, heart’s rearranging
Lord you were knocking at my door
Glimpses of beauty, smiling on me
I’m learning what I am here for.

Sowing the seeds in the fields of needs
Tending the lambs and seeking the lost
Joy of the worker, love of the friend
Harvest of souls but at such cost.

As we come near you, though we still fear you
Fear of your majesty, awe of your power
We are your children, saved by your Son
Waiting in peace for that last hour.

In 1975 Penny and I visited Walsingham, Norfolk, (England), where there are two shrines, one a Roman Catholic shrine, and the other, Anglican. Both are memorials to early Christian miraculous activity. There was a box in the Anglican shrine for prayers, which the monks would take as their responsibility to pray. I asked for help in my life. And there was a small chapel with candles to kneel and pray. As I did so I felt in the presence of the saints, and a warmth that they could guide my life if I asked for it. The realization came that we are not alone, nor should we want to be. I became a regular churchgoer at Cromer Church, lead by Derek Osborne, who's Sunday evening music services brought me tears of emotion. We also attended the Sheringham Salvation Army, and on one Sunday, the story of the widow touching the hem of Jesus' garment, and His feeling the outlay of energy touched my soul to the extent that I was moved to go to the altar at the climax of the service for special prayer. I was sweating; it was a powerful moment in my life.

Living in Sheringham, I felt I could contribute to my church's youth and volunteered to lead a Sunday School class. They were teenage girls somewhat rebellious, and though it was a struggle for me, I was actually teaching others something of the faith that was growing in my own heart.

In 1983 I was working in London, and commuting home to Sheringham for weekends. On one of my trips South, I stopped at a country church. There was no-one about. I went to the pulpit and looked down the nave. In the friendly atmosphere of this little church I preached the first part of an instantaneous sermon. It seemed to come out quite well.

In London in 1984 I began to see advertisements for a man called Luis Palau, who would be talking nightly at the Queens Park Rangers stadium, near my Hammersmith office. By chance I saw a TV program about Palau and discovered he was an evangelist, and was expecting to preach to thousands during a campaign at QPR. I resolved to go, even though I'd never been to such an event before.

Billy Graham was on a crusade in Britain early in 1984. Perhaps the Orwellian date had attracted both Graham and Palau; I certainly had anticipated 1984 with some trepidation - it had always seemed pretty far in the future, but now it was here! Billy Graham came to Norwich, and Penny and I went to see him at a stadium. His message was quite powerful, and at the end he invited folk to come down to the grass and talk with his associates, and give their hearts to Christ. It seemed a long walk, and even though he was most clearly a special man of God, I didn't have the impetus at that time to make a public commitment.

June 19, 1984 approached. [In 1997 I discovered that this was the exact day Nu Skin was founded]. After work I drove to the area of the Stadium and walked with the large crowd converging on QPR. I entered to the sound of a massed choir and took my seat opposite the stage, which had been erected on the pitch, facing half the stadium. There were thousands there! The music was from The Saltmine Band, and Dave Pope their singer and leader was conducting the choir and the audience in hymns and Christian songs. The atmosphere was strong. And then Luis Palau, the great Argentinean evangelist based in Portland Oregon spoke. What a voice! What communication with his audience! I have listened often, because I have the tape of the evening, and still his message is fresh and powerful. He told the story of Jesus's passion and crucifixion; the drama had never been so real to me in every detail. At the end, when the invitation came to go down and rededicate myself to the Lord Jesus, there was no hesitation on my part, just a hugely warm feeling enveloping me and my life from then on. The act of taking that public walk is in itself a faith-strengthening adventure. The progress and significance of this mission to thousands is well documented in video here.

Seven times more I returned to see Luis preach, as his campaign was extended by several weeks, and he preaching an hour an a half every night. I brought Penny, and some friends and colleagues (though I was rebuked by Brian Childs my manager at Data General for posting a notice about the crusade in the office). I bought copies of tapes of three of the evenings, and a composite tape of the evocative music from the campaign, with the songbook, London Praise. Finally I attended a special final night at Wembley. I taught my Sunday school children some of the songs from London Praise, and they performed them in church. I was allocated to one of many "home groups" that sprang up in the wake of the Mission, and enjoyed weekly prayer and discussion with other Christians who had attended the Mission.

A couple of months later I volunteered to train as a counsellor for a Billy Graham satellite broadcast mission, and for several nights I was one of the receivers of people dedicating their lives to Christ. In that one year of 1984 I had come a small leap forward in my faith journey.

Just after Christmas 1985 I went as a delegate to Explo 85, a huge Christian gathering at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Here also was the same approach to worship and to God that the Mission to London was about: Jesus as a very personal saviour, friend and day-long confidant. Prayer as a continuous conversation with Him. And telling your friends. Dave Pope was there and I got him to sign my copy of his record "Living Sacrifice", the first Christian record album I had bought. On it are many of the songs from the Mission to London. Looking back, much as I enjoyed the sincerity and passion of this Christian event, separation from my family at this time of year was on my conscience, though hardly something which grieved me greatly. On my way home to Norwich I called in unannounced on some clients in Peterborough and probably surprized them greatly with a spirited declaration of faith.

It was that year that my marriage broke. I left home after some false accusations that angered me, and made me want to move out. It was a mistake; I was never to return. But then started one of the most spiritual times of my life, living in a single room, in a house where John Macer and Emma Dupigny were lodgers: two of the finest Christians it's been my privilege to meet. John had been in prison, but still a teenager, had been born again in Christ, and witnessed on the streets. Once I went with him for the experience. I've lost touch with John now, but Emma, now in Freetown, Sierra Leone with her husband Albert, is a saint who I am privileged to have as my friend. We correspond from time to time, and right now I pray for her safety, since there's been fighting in Freetown this year (1997). I joined Trinity church in Norwich, and a home group with Nick and Jan Miller.

Penny was convinced that I needed psychotherapy and (since she offered to pay for it) I agreed to join a group in London, the nearest available. On some of my regular visits to London, I went to Holy Trinty Brompton, where marvellous healing had been reported. It was certainly a fine place to worship. As far as the psychotherapy was concerned the only effect I detected was to introduce me to the company of some interesting but poorly adjusted people. I never did feel this was something I had need of, and that seemed to be the therapist's opinion when I discharged myself.

It was a time when the Lord helped me to survive and my faith to grow. I was working for Allied Dunbar as a financial planner, and was thrilled to discover Lewis Jarrett, a man of strong faith and prodigious talent, who became a good friend. When the time came for me to fly out of Norwich airport to begin a new life in Canada, April 6, 1987, the only friends I had to see me off were John and Emma. A poignant moment.

I had fallen deeply in love with Annmarie, and when I joined her in Toronto it was the culmination of a year of crossing the days off a chart. A new country, a new life, a new love. I was back with Data General, thanks to the help of Brian Childs, who was now the marketing manager for DG Canada, without who's help I wouldn't have been able to immigrate. It was fascinating to compare working for the same company in a different country. Here it seemed that people went to church, and openly admitted to it without feeling an outsider. I made many good friends in Data General's Ottawa office, where I arranged to be transferred when Annmarie decided that Toronto was not the place for her. After living at Web's Motel for a while, we bought a house in Bridlewood, Kanata. In Kanata I needed a church, so I visited them all and charted them in ten or so categories to find the one which suited me. Annmarie worshipped at St. Isidore's Catholic church as she had for many years, and I occasionally joined her, primarily for Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Glen Cairn United
I had included Glen Cairn United Church in my survey, and found it the most warm and welcoming of all; certainly a comfortable place for a spiritual base, where the minister was Barry Goodwin. Glen Cairn United had recently built themselves a beautiful new church on Abbeyhill Drive, and a spirit of "making things happen" was apparent. I liked these people, and to get involved right away I asked the volunteer coordinator Bronwen Harman if I could run the resource library for which a setting-up donation had been received recently. This also put me on the Christian Education committee, and I was into the regular scene of committee meetings, and getting to know the members quite well.

The United Church of Canada is a courageous movement, and has been in the forefront of innovation such as the ordaination of women and homosexuals. It does not seek to exclude anyone, and as a divorcee I needed that sort of acceptance. Neither is it any part of the evangelical movement, and it's true that I missed the conversion spirit of the Holy Trinities and the home groups, and certainly I missed the wonderful songs that I'd learned and sung for the previous two years since Luis. It appeared the music hadn't crossed the Atlantic. GCUC sang traditional hymns for the most part, but had a "green book" with more recent material. Soon I began to notice the name Ron Klusmeier cropping up as the composer of about ten of the hymns written since 1973. These were very special, many with words by Walter Farquarson, who had been elected for a term as moderator of the United Church. Soon I was discovering a whole new group of North American hymn writers, and their stuff was good. As librarian I arranged for books on prophecy and sharing faith to find their way into the library, and I started to record the services, and add Christian music onto the service recordings. It wasn't a very efficient way to excite my new church about evangelistic matters, since the rate of borrowing books and tapes reminded me of a slow bicycle race.

In the summer, much of it stopped for eight weeks! The congregation dwindled to about 30; the minister took 2 months off for vacation and study time, and the Sunday services were run by volunteers. This was new to me; the word was that everyone went to their cottages every week but I had my doubts. But the interesting part was that the homegrown lay preachers and musicians did a good job. I was impressed. And even if things sometimes went wrong, no-one minded. They were a forgiving and very loving congregation. I enjoyed my first GCUC summer. I saw that here would be my opportunity to preach, if only I had the nerve.

A week or so after joining the congregation, we had a visitor from GCUC: Jim Cobden. I'd been impressed that a member of the congregation would do this. Jim preached a sermon during my first summer break, and I was even more impressed. He was knowledgeable and passionate about his subject. I didn't think I could do this. In the fall I got down to cataloguing the library books in earnest using the church 286 and a copy of an extinct IBM database program that fitted the bill, but would mean all the work would be wasted if the floppy disk it was on became corrupted. I couldn't copy to the hard drive because the legal number of copies had already been made. I got them all in and started doing some statistical work on the books being borrowed the most. It turned out that books on suffering were borrowed twice as often as the next most popular category.

One day Barry Goodwin asked me to take over the position of Chairman of the Worship committee, since the incumbant Lloyd (?) was moving to Toronto. I was humbled that I would be considered appropriate to do this job, and resolved that if Barry thought so I wouldn't let him down. The other members of the committee were all helpful. My first monthly committee meeting was challenging, but OK. Our job was to plan the future services - not the sermons(!) - and provide resources for communion services and so on. It also put me on Session, the church managing body, although for a while I negotiated my way off the monthly meetings. One of the jobs og the worship committee is to organize the lay preachers and musicians for the summer break. being a poor delegator, I found it easier to take both these spots for one of the weeks than to find someone else to do it. It turned out that preaching was less stressful than playing the organ, for which I practised many hours and still played a lot of wrong notes. But, as I said, they are a forgiving congregation, and more recently I even had the nerve to key change Amazing Grace at the end of each verse using the pitch control on the organ, and to play the grammy award winning "I surrender all," (nobody noticed - no-one listens to the grammys.

I got to know Barry quite well, and asked him to do something rather special: marry us. Annmarie and I had wanted to get married since I'd arrived, but her divorce wasn't finalized. On July 7, 1990, we married, not in GCUC but in Fallowfield United, Barry officiating. Annmarie couldn't remarry in the Catholic church without an annulment, and she preferred neutral territory. It was a great day and many friends witnessed it.

Barry left and Kate Gregory took over. As her worship chair, I got to know her well, and we remain good friends (via e-mail) though she has also moved on. One fateful Sunday, Nov 28, '93 she took very ill 20 minutes before the service. I called an ambulance and we shipped her off to the hospital. What to do? We had several families with children to be baptized. We also had a deaf retired minister, Bob Blair, in the congregation. We co-opted Bob to officiate for the baptism, which was amusing because he couldn't hear the names to baptise them with (all captured on the tape). I decided to preach an impromtu sermon on the subject advertized in the bulletin. In Bob Dylan's words, after that I felt I had God on my side, and thanked Him for the practice he'd arranged for me in the summer services. Worship Committee was then really put to the test, arranging services in Kate's absence for six months. Mercifully she survived the brain aneurism and returned to us.

Julie Wilson had joined the committee, and when my time came to an end I asked her if she'd take over. She was so good at it, she than went on to become Chair of Council (which Session had changed into by then). I became Chair of Trustees, and worked closely with her, negotiating some tricky financial stuff with Presbytery to do with the sale of some of our land to pay down debts. More important however, I took the excellent Ottawa Pastoral Care Course, and joined the pastoral care team. The first and key thing you learn is that you aren't charged with solving someone's problem; just with being a good listener and friend. This was something of a revelation to me, the typical male, not able to hear a woman's problem without jumping in head first with all sorts of solutions - the last thing a woman wants.

On June 19, 1994 I invited friends at church to an anniversary celebration for me (!) of that first day at QPR when I'd walked on to the pitch after hearing Luis Palau's powerful message. I had the tape of it, and we all listened, sitting in the sanctuary, exactly 10 years later. It hadn't dated!

On Easter Dy, 1997, CHRI-FM, the first dedicated Christian music radio station in Canada, opened officially. I'd known about it a while, and had listened to test broadcasts, and handed out brochures in church. What was this music, and who were these artists? Other than Amy Grant they were all new to me, so I started to tape the programs so I could listen several times. I soon found I was really enjoying this music, which came in all the styles of pop and rock, but with Christian themes. I began compiling my own tapes of favourites, often not knowing the names of the artists, and put them in the church music library to encourage others to try this new music. In the spring the church ran a celebration B-B-Q to mark the opening of our new parking lot, and I offered to provide the music. On the Sunday morning of the B-B-Q I ran a tape during "Over my Head" on CKCU (see below), and was very impressed with the quality of the songs, which included Chem 6A by Switchfoot and Disappear by Out of the Grey, though I didn't know that at the time. This became the B-B-Q tape, and helped to make the event a success. Now, a few months later, these tapes give me as much pleasure as any music I have. Artists like Ruth Fazal, Rebecca St. James, Marilla Ness, Carolyn Arends are beginning to populate my CD and tape collection, not just because I find their Christian message and witness powerful, but also because their musicianship is the equal of any artists today. This is the fastest growing sector of the music industy today, and Ottawans are coming to a stonger level of faith by listening to the radio! The other great Ottawa station, CKCU, also has some powerful Christian music programming, and I listen weekly to "Over my head" presented in turn by Christine Jenkins, John Legault, and Nicholas Greco. Nicholas is particularly sincere and knowledgeable about the music and the messages, and one day quoted sleeve notes form Ben Huggins of the Galactic Cowboys from their album "The Horse that Bud Bought," and the song "Idle Minds": Ben had written: "Idle minds wait for signs. It's basically about people who want to react instead of acting. They want to wait for someone to say "Oh, it's safe to go now." It's almost like they're waiting on a corner for a light to change, and say "Go ahead and walk." That's not really what my faith is about. And this is not only about Christians. It's just about life in general. Definitely Christians should walk in faith, but it's also about people testing the waters. It's like being a politician instead of a diplomat. Like politicians, they go out, and they want to see: well, what do the masses think? Let's do an opinion poll and see what happens. You know, they want to test the waters and wait for that sign that says "What I'm doing is right," or whatever, instead of just doing what is right."

When copying the tape, I left this statement on, and every time I listened, which was often because I liked the band, I heard this great philosophy.

Moving on a few years, during which my involvement with GCUC increased, Kate Gregory left and Brian Copeland joined for a three year interim ministry, one day in 1997 one of Annmarie's friends from Kanata Theatre, Bob Horsey, came to our door and suggested I might like to attend an "Alpha" course. Not knowing what this was, but curious to find out in case GCUC should know about it, I went to an introductory evening at Trinity Presbyterian, Kanata, expecting to meet someone called Nicky Gumbel discussing the subject "Why Jesus?" After a pleasant meal with about 30 others, some of whom were guests also, and others had been on a previous course, we watched a video: a talk by Rev Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton. That got my interest, but when Nicky started to discuss faith and the importance of it in today's world, I realised that this was Christian teaching in the class of Palau and my Christan friends in Norwich. About 10 minutes into the tape I made a decision to attend the coming course, committing the next 10 Wednesday evenings. It was to be crucial in my faith journey.

Alpha started 20 years ago and is the fastest growing Christian movement in the mainstream churches today, worldwide. There are over 4,000 courses running in the UK alone. The formula is simple and brilliant. The statements of what the Christian faith means is presented by Nicky Gumbel on a series of of powerful videos, followed by small group discussion (always the same groups). The first video of the course, "Who is Jesus?" is an unambiguous presentation of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his personhood in the Trinity, as God come to be with us in the flesh. This was a restatement of everything I felt to be true about Jesus, and indeed the reason I am a Christian. After 10 weeks (including one weekend) people are focused and strengthened. Although conceived for non-Christians who are curious about Christianity, an Alpha course will clearly move anyone along their faith journey, and it certainly did for me. I met Anne Sturgeon on this course; she and I were in the same small group. The course ended, but I signed up to be on the organization of the next one, and plan to run one at GCUC within the next year. The principles of multi-level marketing are at work here to the glory of God, in the same way as the 12 took the news to the early converts.

The Moderator debate
Shortly after I had seen the "Who is Jesus?" video at Alpha, an article was printed in the November 2, 1997 edition of the Ottawa Citizen stating that the moderator of the United Church "...doesn't believe Jesus was God." That was just one of the limitations of Rev Bill Phipps' faith, which became a national subject for discussion. I felt a powerful surge of commitment, fuelled by by Alpha experience which had boosted confidence in the validity of my faith, a strength which lead me to be almost the first to have a response letter printed in the Citizen, and then to set up a web site to allow people to express their views. I was conscious of what Ben Huggins had said about not waiting for the prevailing tide, but doing what you know to be right. It seemed to be 50/50 in favour/against the moderator. Then the General Council, who had elected him, backed him. We were up against something much more pervasive. Bob Harvey of the Citizen ran a series of articles following the debate, leading up to a blockbuster when he printed the names of all the Ottawa United Church ministers who believed in the central truths of the Bible, and those who saw them more as psychological phenomenae. And there were some who weren't prepared to say what they believed, but this group was telling everyone anyway. Bob got so much flak from ministers that after than the Citizen published fewer moderator articles, but by then the epi-centre was moving away from the Citizen to the Internet, and other papers were getting involved. The turmoil was obvious, but in GCUC no-one wanted to talk about it. The Sunday week after the story broke, I went to the lectern at the announcement time, and said how upset I was, and invited others who felt as I did to meet after the service. About 16 did. Subsequent to that there was no further mention for many weeks till after our next council meeting. But on the Net, two Sites were presenting the sequence of events (mine and Rev. Mark Fearnall's), and I started to get to know people across Canada who felt as strongly as I. I was not alone!

Annmarie and I were growing apart by this time. Because of our different schedules I had taken to sleeping in the spare room, and this and other matters may have contributed to a distance between us. I was content with the situation, but she wasn't and from time to time told me so, and I began to sense that she might begin to feel strongly enough to take action towards separation.

The Alpha course ended, and I knew I wanted to stay with it. You can only do Alpha once as a participant, but repeatedly as a helper so I volunteered in several categories and was accepted as a group leader. I was also made publicity person, and decided to use the media. I researched other local Alpha circles and was surprized to find seven courses would be running in the spring, so I wrote an article for the Kanata Kourier-Standard promoting Alpha and listing all the courses. One result was that we has a good crowd at the introductory supper for the next course, including 5 from Glen Cairn United (Monica Chamberlain, Sheila Green, Helen Cusiac, Lindsey Kirkland and me). Leading the group, and being helped by Pat Horsey and Linda Welsh, was for me a continuing stimulant as each week the Lord seemed to provide a tidbit to add to the discussion theme, such as prayer as per Og Mandino, and "prayer of agreement" that I learned from Benny Hinn on a tape I borrowed from Pat Horsey. We had some God filled moments such as the phone call to the church that Lise Bishop took during the class from someone in family conflict.

Prayer of agreement deserves more space. Benny Hinn describes in his "Recovery" videotape series how throughout biblical history, when something really important needed to be prayed for, leaders like Moses always gathered around them one or two special confidants, sometimes relations (Moses and Hur), and jointly prayed. The tragedy of Gethsemane was that when Jesus needed him, Peter was asleep. God seems not to postpone dealing with prayers of agreement.

Before this Alpha ended, I joined the "Reconciling and Making New" course at GCUC. At last, within the aura of the moderator debate, some genuine discussion about belief with my friends on the course (although our minister and course leader wasn't to be drawn in to laying his own feelings out) All this time I'd been running a Moderator Website, receiving a good cross section of views from all sides and building relationships in the Christian world. Among these, on March 11, 1998 I received an e-mail from Laurie-Ann Zachar, an M.Div student at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, saying that she was finding the site helpful in a thesis she was writing about the moderator issue in the United Church. This was the start of a regular e-mail correspondence with Laurie-Ann, whose scholarship impressed me, and whose humanity, warmth and humour began to become something that I really appreciated. She read my web site including this page as it then was. She learned a lot about me. Fellowship Magazine came my way through e-mail connections. It introduced me to the fact that there was a number of "renewal groups" in the United church, who felt just as I did about Phipp's statements, and Fellowship was their platform. I communicated with the managing editor Gail Reid, which was a joy. The first speaker for the Spirit Connection's Lenten Series "Sacred and Secular" was Bill Phipps; the next week was Gail. Contrast! Although Bill was not focussing on his more secular statements, Gail seemed to me to shine with her sacred devotion to the Lord, and her unequivocal statement that Jesus and God are one and the same came naturally. She also gave Alpha not one but two plugs!

I became co-chair of stewardship at GCUC, and was invited to an Ottawa Presbytery cluster meeting. Near the start, in groups we were able to suggest some priorities for Presbytery, and Mike Nyenhuis and I both suggested a push for involvement in the June mission of Billy Graham right here in Kanata. The suggestion was shot down by a local minister on the grounds that Billy Graham was evangelistic, his ministry was more limiting than the width of United Church belief spectrums, and he wasn't inclusive with Ba'hai and other sects. When will UCCAN realize that only evangelism brings believers into our churches? The focus and passion of a Billy Graham is a sufficient force to cause people to take a new direction in life. This they won't get from the mainstream United Church, which is losing members at a steady rate. Here again is the fallacy that the church will grow if beliefs are more relaxed. In fact growth impetus comes through orthodoxy, in any religion. However I see Christianity not as a religion but as a description of the creator of the universe and his love for his children. All other faiths, and movements such as New Age, are religions - philosophies offerred for people to live by. I have very little interest in the concept of people opening up or developing their own spiritualities. I was a convinced atheist for many years. The ONLY reason I came out of that was discovering the one God for all (more correctly He found me), who is worth devoting my life to because of his divinity. No way would I do that for a great teacher or leader (eg Muhummad). It's largely irrelevant what my personal spirituality is. What matters is God and worshipping Him for creating the universe. I can't be bothered to find the energy for creating another spirituality! To suggest that the Hindoos and Buddhists have an equal handle on this to Christians is akin to suggesting that the earth air fire and water theory of matter is as valid as the Newtonian/Einstein model, or that the earth is flat.

Chapter Two - Billy Strikes Again
From June 1998 to the present

I'm writing this on 21st March, 1998, the day before my mother's 81st birthday, the day I took the fourth examination in the 6-course Certified Financial Planner program, the day before I co-presented the year's major stewardship campaign "Move our Minister" to the GCUC congregation, ... and the day Annmarie moved out. As I examine the latest turn my life has taken, I feel that God, knowing it would happen, has invited me to approach him more closely than ever before, and for this reason I am handling this event with calmness; there's no bitterness. Annmarie and I have enjoyed a far better relationship since she decided to go, and I accepted it and stopped fighting it. In my life I have God, my music, my dog Clancy, my work as a financial planner, and the Internet. Every one of these gives me continual pleasure and purpose. I will survive! Happy birthday Mum. I've sent you a professionally presented family tree. You, James and Clancy are my truest friends. I will stay closely in touch with Annmarie; we too can be good friends - it's just that she (not unreasonably) wanted more than friendship.

I spent quite a few hours over the next few days helping Annmarie fix up her new house. We both seemed to feel relatively close; strange situation! The CFP exam went reasonably well. The stewardship campaign launch was fun. My job continued to flourish. I feel OK about life despite the latest twists, and I am enjoying totally free decision making. A minor event that eventually had a major effect on me was that Phantom, whom we though of as Annmarie's dog (he had begun as her mother's, but was too energertic for her) - anyway, he refused to stay at her house, fighting to get out of it. So I agreed to look after him. In the months that followed while I was alone (and started sharing the house with tennants), Clancy and Phantom became extremely important to me. Annmarie and I were divorced October 20, 1998.

Billy Graham Mission to Ottawa
In June 1998, Billy Graham was due to come to Ottawa for a major crusade. Since I was full of joy from Alpha, this seemed a fortuitous sequence of events, so I went along to the first of the Christian Life and Witness Courses at the Kanata Baptist Church for the councellor training. I was lucky to get in! The courses were excellent, indeed they would have made the whole thing well worth while even if Billy's visit didn't materialize - he was getting frail by then. Stimulated by this, I decided to invite Laurie-Ann to come to Ottawa and attend some of the events. She said she would come with Ron Piggott - Pastor Ron - as chaperone since I had offered to put her up in my house. At this stage we had never spoken, but had swapped a large number of e-mails. Neither had I ever seen her or a picture.

Gail Reid, Editor of Fellowship Magazine, who I had "met" by e-mail as a result of the moderator controversy, asked me if I would write on my experience as a councellor, for Fellowship magazine. She even arranged a press card for me, which meant that I was able to attend the press conference when Billy arrived, and I was also able to sit in the press area for the events themselves. This I did for the first night only, and thenceforward took a regular seat in the stand, since the PA sytem was directed at stand level, and from the floor beow the stage level it was quite hard to hear his voice, and there were continual distractions from cameramen and reporters.

Even from the floor that first night, however, the impact was huge. I was conscious of being present at a major event in Ottawa's history, and the first of its kind since 1906. Read the full story, a skillfully edited-down version of which appeared as the the cover story of the September 1998 edition of Fellowship, entitled "Salvation in the Capital."

Laurie-Ann and Ron arrived on the Saturday morning, after two nights of the mission. I remember with crystal clarity seeing her on my porch with a wide smile, before coming in for breakfast. She was totally different from what I had expected. From our corrspondence I had envisaged a sophisticated and elegant lady of letters. She was a not-slim and short lady of letters. I had an initial feeling of disappointment. Laurie-Ann and Ron rested for much of the day while I attended the "Kidz Gig." Laurie-Ann and I chatted naturally about all sorts of common interests, and I greatly enjoyed the real-time version of our previous e-mail correspondence. In the evening we three drove the couple of kilometers to the Corel Centre and waited in long line for the "youth night," with Jars of Clay and Michael W. Smith providing the music. The Corel Centre broke attendance records, and Laurie-Ann and I sat together, each wondering how the other felt. On the next night we were joined by other friends: Suzie Martin from near Detroit whom I had met by e-mail (and remains a good e-mail friend) and Barbara Lewis, from my Nu Skin downline. At the end of the Mission, for which I had attended every event, Laurie-Ann and Ron said goodbye and returned to Toronto. I wanted to see her again and I invited her to come back for the Ottawa Folk Festival in June. At that stage I was not yet smitten...but I knew that a remarkable Christian woman had come into my life, some 20 years my junior, yet one with whom I could communicate like no other that I had met before. She was a shining light for Christ and I was attracted like a magnet. One of many interests we had in common was a love of Christian contemporary music. She lent me three Keith Green tapes, suggesting I might enjoy them. I had never heard of him. She also lent me his biography "No Compromise" by his widow Melody, writer of "There is a Redeemer" which I knew from the Mission to London time with Dave Pope & the Saltmine Band.

When she had gone the house was strangely empty. I began to sense that my heart was somewhat empty too. Over the next few days I couldn't get her out of my mind; not that I was trying. This gentle, open laughing woman had got under my skin. Soon the fact that she was not typical of the kind of women I knew at work and socially became more and more attractive. Her mind, which had attracted me in her e-mails had captured me in our conversations. A week later I was playing Keith Green Ministry Years Vol 1 Tape 1 and in the middle of the beautiful words and music I was struck with tearful emotions and I realised I was not just in love; I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life. I called her. I told her I loved her. She told me she fell in love with me before we met!! This was heart-leaping time! I looked back to the last few months and realized that God must have engineered this from the start. It all fitted. As Al Clarkson later said at our wedding there was potential for some great things for the two of us together in God's hands.

More than 100,000 came to see Billy Graham and nearly 10% made some sort of commitment. For those who volunteered in any way, it contributed to their walk of faith. It is a great feeling to be a part of a movement that has God on its side, and I had no doubt of that. One of the indicators was the interest shown by the secular press, but it really boosted the Christian media. A few months before the mission a man called Lloyd Mackey arrived in Ottawa from Vancouver to start a Christian newspaper - Christian News Ottawa - delivered free to churches. The timing was motivated in part by the mission, and the third issue was a mission souvenir special. However, before CNO, Christian Hits radio had come to town. Bob Dubroy had been granted his licence for CHRI 99.1 FM in 1997. The fact that it is still in business at the time of writing four years later is a tribute to his faith and tenacity. I believe that CHRI brought in people to see Billy Graham, and some of them started reading CNO. I thrust CNO into people's hands as they left the church sanctuary and began to try and heighten awareness at Glen Cairn United for some aspects of renewal. In fact I attempted to make my three year time in Stewardship as God-oriented as I could, organizing events that might raise money, but in a way that promoted the kingdom where possible.

Alpha Leadership
In the fall of 1998 I imported Alpha to Glen Cairn United. Knowing that experienced leadership would be needed, I discovered Greg Vaughn via mutual friends. Greg was a senior Nortel customer service support specialist and Alpha graduate, and member of the congregation at St. Paul's Anglican church in Kanata. We co-led Glen Cairn's first two Alpha's.

Three weeks before the course introductory supper, I had found an electric guitar in a garage sale of a Kanata Theatre acquaintance. It was a Hofner for $30, in a case! I went to Retrotowne Music and bought a small second hand amplifier for $100. I was in heaven. Alpha needs musicians to accompany praise songs. Since the course was new the only option for music was myself, with Lindsey Kirkland singing. I bought the standard Alpha music package and Lindsey and I did some intensive practising.

A second crucial ingredient of any Alpha is food. The Glen Cairn United Church Women (UCW) had agreed to prepare and serve our food, bless them, for the first course.

The course attracted about ten people, equally disributed between GCUC members and people associated with other congregations. Add the helpers, and about 16 sat down for supper every Wednesday for 11 weeks, plus a "weekend" which we also held at the church. Some of our course were seniors, including Ira and Mabel Boucher, and Helen Ravenscroft.   Greg and I ran a second course in the spring of 1999, and this time we went off-site for the weekend, to the Kanata golf and country club. The partnership with Greg on these two courses was a joy for me, allowing me to be away one week when I attended Laurie-Ann's graduation ceremony from Tyndale College with her M.Div degree, May 2, 1999.

Marriage 3
On June 18 1999, Laurie-Ann and I were married by David Sherwin at Glen Cairn United. As I write this we will celebrate our third anniversary in three days. I can say that the last four years have been some of the happiest in my life and that Laurie-Ann is the reason. It was a small wedding, with a garden reception at a local restaurant, Hartin House. We danced off to "Here there and Everywhere" and enjoyed every second of the day, as the guests seemed to. We really were aware of God's blessing on our day. That night we stayed in the bridal suite in the Westin Hotel, and the next day motored to the Poconos, Pennsylvania for our honeymoon. This coincided with the great US annual Christian music festival, Creation 99, and we drove across the Pennsylvania to see the headline band, Delirious. Since then we have collected every recording made by this band.

Over the next three years I ran several more Alphas at GCUC, but now had Laurie-Ann by my side. With her "professional" knowledge she was always able to provide enlightenment during the discussion groups. She sings like an angel and plays a myriad of percussion instruments, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Christian contemporary music, so she was always part of the worship team. Her cooking has more than once been the reason we were able to run the course, and her Alpha recipes are on the Alpha Cooking Page. In June 1999, I launched an Alpha web site for the Kanata Area, providing informtion on upcoming courses.

Laurie-Ann worshipped with me at Glen Cairn United, and in the summer of 1999 we took the opportunity to provide music at one of the services where members of the congregation are encouraged to lead. I believe this was the first instance of Christian contempory music and electric instruments in GCUC. Next summer I encouraged her to lead a service. She did so, on July 16, 2000, preaching on the Philippian's Hymn. By November 2000, Laurie-Ann was not feeling sufficiently filled by the teaching at GCUC, and decided to start attending St. Paul's Anglican under the ministry of Rev. John Bridges. Despite her move, I continued there, and she continued some GCUC activity. In 2001, she preached on Missions being more than evangelism, with music ministry led by Jennifer Bulman and including Laurie-Ann on percussion and me on electric guitar. On October 19, 2000 our band played the first of many monthly services at Jennifer's church, Christ Church, Ashton, after which we adoped the name "Kenosis".

Alpha Conference

Sally Start, National Director for Alpha Canada, was in Ottawa April 10, 2000, and we took the opportunity to schedule a KAIPC meeting. 19 local leaders attended either the meeting or the dinner following, and greatly enjoyed our discussions with Sally on a wide variety of Alpha matters, including initial thoughts on an Alpha conference in Ottawa. Read the minutes.

On December 8, 2000, a decision was taken at a Ottawa Alpha Promotion Committee meeting to run an Alpha Conference in Ottawa in 2001. That night I also met Captain Bob Stewart, a Church Army chaplain who was running an Alpha course in Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, Ottawa's prison. I remember that night well. Just before leaving the house I (perhaps excited) tripped on the stairs and fell heavily on my ankle. I was in significant pain for the meeting, and after it went to the Queensway Carleton Hospital. I left on crutches, and was hobbling for several weeks.

Sally Start (in our kitchen)


In March 2002 I made my Cursillo, at the 88th Ottawa Anglican men's weekend, under Rector Eric Thoma (RIP), sponsored by Greg Vaughn. Laurie-Ann had made hers a week before, and I was in the same room as she. Cursillo is a marvellous Christian experience, and coming as it did after my initial Alpha leadership experience was ideal. I sat at the table of One Baptism, with Dave Kemp as table leader, and my "fourth day" began 25 March 2001. In 2004 I was asked to give a talk at an Ultreya in St. Paul's, an event where Laurie-Ann and I also provided music ministry.

Dave Atkins and I went on a journey of discovery to find a team to run the Alpha Conference, settling on Nick Lee from Morrisburg, and Eric Angel from Perth. We attended the 2001 Toronto Alpha Conference to lean the ropes (where I was co-opted onto the ministry team at very short notice, and also acted as official photographer). We followed Alpha's guidelines for conference planning, and after a summer of committee meetings, the Ottawa Alpha Conference 2001 took place October 26-27. A highlight was the surprize appearance at dinner of Stockwell Day, then leader of the opposition Canadian Alliance party, who also gave his testimony, and allowed us to film his comments on Alpha.

Dave Atkins had become an assistant Alpha Advisor to Rev. Archie Hunter about a year before. In April 2001, Archie resigned as Alpha Advisor. Sally Start asked us - Laurie-Ann and me - if we would join Dave as the advisor team for the Ottawa area. Later Carol Atkins also became an advisor, making us two advisor couples, a formular which seems to have worked well.

The experience of becoming an advisor, and helping run the Alpha Conference, was an important aspect of my Christian growth, as I gradually took on more and more involvement. We had decided to expand the Alpha site to encompass Ottawa and surroundings, and it was a factor in the publicity for the conference, the URL appearing on signs. Later, Tim Parris offered to take on the role of Webmaster, re-coding the site using "professional" html.

Ray Brule, from St. Paul's Anglican, Kanata, who had brought Alpha to Kanata in 1996, suggested after the conference that the GCUC Alpha might consider joining the St. Paul's and Trinity Presbyterian Alpha teams to run a community Alpha in a non-church location. This seemed good to all, and in January 2002 the first Kanata Community Alpha ran in the Mlacak Centre. It was a great success, and we ran three courses that year, and two in subsequent years. This was less threatening for many that coming into a church for the course, and it was a great joy to work with leaders from other denominations. Soon, Chris and Ann Sturgeon from Community Baptist Church in Stittsville joined us. At the time I had met Anne on my first Alpha, Chris had not been at all interested in Christianity, but he had come to faith on an Alpha course, and became a strong leader, including music leadership, on the Kanata Community Alpha.

KCA was not the only new course around. Following the conference, new Alpha courses started across the region, and as advisors, Dave and I were called on to answer questions, give guidance, and to visit churches to give introductory encouragement to pastors and Alpha leaders. I began getting tugs from the Holy Spirit about perhaps helping run Alpha in the prison. I contacted Captain Bob Stewart, and after obtaining security clearance, began in early 2001 joining him every Saturday afternoon at OCDC. The first time I went, I left my wallet safely at home, but very soon found that my safety as a prison volunteer was assured - by the prisoners! This ministry began to get into my life as I realized what a mission field it was.

In July 2002 Laurie-Ann and I attended Alpha International Week at Holy Trinity Brompton, at the start of a UK holiday. It was great to meet Alpha leaders from all over the world, and I particularly remember those from Zambia and Trinidad. What a great force for international relations Alpha is - in addition to its primary role in salvation.

In November 2002 we ran a "Max the Pot", a 1-day course training Alpha leaders to maximize the potential of their courses. This experience was the basis of training days that Dave and I ran for Alpha leaders almost every year from then on.

In 2002 I made an announcement to the Glen Cairn United Church congregation about the next Alpha, and included in my announcement a time of prayer. Noone seemd to object at the time but a week later I was taken to task by David Sherwin, following a complaint by a congregation member that I would have dared to lead prayer. In late 2002 I became aware that Glen Cairn United planned to host the annual masonic service for Ottawa. Laurie-Ann and I had recently come ito contact with friends of hers in Toronto who had explained freemasonry to me. There was no way I was prepared to stay in a church which seemed to encourage it - there were a number of masons in the congregation. I had put up an anti-mason site. I told David that I would leave if the service went ahead. It did. I attended it for the experience and found it extremely disturbing. A week later I had a talk with David about the issue of my leading prayer, and freemasonry in the church, and we parted company. I joined Laurie-Ann at St. Paul's Anglican the next sunday. In 1995 I found my name listed on a masonic site as an enemy of freemasonry. I still return to GCUC to worship about once a year, and thoroughly enjoy seeing again my many friends there.

Laurie-Ann had started working as the Anglican Renewal Ministries - ARM - secretary in 2000, after Mary Wells' resignation from that position, and part of the package was that I offered to take over the web site, which I have maintained ever since. One of the key elements of ARM is the very high quality Leadership Training Institue (LTI) weekends they offer for both clergy and lay. In February 2004 I was privileged to attend a laity LTI at Chateauguay, near Montreal. Instructors included Bishop Len Whitten and Dave Kemp. This was a powerful booster to my Christian understanding, and I urge Anglican to attend an LTI if ever you have the chance. I am convinced that the drift to liberalism could be stemmed if more clergy attend ARL LTIs.


This was the year Alpha Canada spent a $1M donation on a huge Alpha initiative. Adverts were on Ottawa buses as well as Pattison signs across the country. We appointed Helen Lenthall to head up our Ottawa efforts and set about raising lots of money, which we did. The Kanata Community Alpha that year attracted very large numbers. In the Summer, a Christian music festival, Worshipfest, took place on land belonging to Capital City Church in Cumberland. The Newsboys were one of many attractions. A team of Alpha volunteers built 'Camp Alpha' as a significant component of Worshipfest and I asked Rev David Crawley to speak about how Alpha can change your church. We provided praise and worship, and dramas showing what Alpha was all about. The whole thing was very successful. I made a video, but the first half of it has not survived. In 2017 I did find the second half of the video on VHS and it offers good memories of the event, and particularly Dave's excellent talks. Check it out here.


By 2004 The Anglican Church was getting really tangled up in the never-ending stife between traditional orthodoxy and the liberal agenda being spearheaded by the likes of Bishops Jack Spong in the States, and Michael Ingham in Canada (New Westminster, Vancouver). Things were coming to a head as a result of the Diocese of New Westminster's allowing the blessing of same-sex unions. For me this was a strong déjà vu of my time in the United Church. Dave Kemp suggested that I join a prayer group called the Elmhurst Committe on Human Sexuality, and I did. This brought me into close contact with Rev David Crawley, Alpha pioneer in Ottawa, and Norm Henderson, Christian businessman and enthusiastic fighter for the unadulterated Word of God, Rev George Sinclair, Chair of Anglican Essentials Canada, and Patricia Birkett, prayer warrior for the group. Dave Kemp wasn't seen again at the group - but it radically altered my focus. I decided to chronical events on a web site, following my earlier experience with the Moderator Page, and called it Same-sex Blessings. While on our holiday in The Saguenay, I wrote two protest songs about the issue. When a new group called the Anglican Gathering of Ottawa was formed, I volunteered to join the executive committee as a lay member of a church which seemed to be studiously avoiding getting involved in the controversy, as were the majority of Anglican churches.

In November 2004 the Grey Cup was held in Ottawa, and part of the Grey Cup celebrations is the Athletes in Action breakfast, when Christian football players testify and a large crowd is exposed to some persuasive evangelism. I had been approached by Monique Stone, the organizer of the Grey cup, to see if Alpha would provide follow up to the Breakfast for those who made a commitment. I attended many planning sessions and we attended the event with other local Alpha leaders at the Congress Centre, Sat Nov 20, 2004, 8:30 – 11:30.

I think it was in late 2004 that I attended a training in a room in the House of Commons was used by ECP Centre to motivate and train Christians for the "public square." This was headed by Rev. Tristan Emmanuel. I was lead to attend, haveing heard of it through on of Patricia Birkett's e-mails. Senator Anne Cools was one of the speakers, and in conversation with her she invited me "to tea." In taking up this invitation a week or so later I discovered that "to tea" was a code word to enable her staffers to know that the invitation came from her. I told her of my involvement with the Anglican Gathering of Ottawa (she is Anglican) and we discussed the same-sex marriage debate, in which she was already a well known participant in God's side.


At an Alpha Advisors' meeting in Toronto in early 2005, Sally Start told me that Nicky Gumbel could make a 1-day stopover in Ottawa on his way from Quebec city to Toronto for the 2005 Alpha Conference. Would we be able to organize his Ottawa day? "Yes" I said, in a flash, consulting nobody...On return to Ottawa after announcing the visit by e-mail to local leaders I received an e-mail from Marci Clarke, who had come to Christ on a recent Kanata Community Alpha, suggesting that Monique Stone might be available to lead this project. Our committee of Monique, Joy Moffatt (friend of Sally Start), Ethel Mahoney (now an Alpha Advisor) and me planned and coordinated the volunteers for this event, which was to take place August 2. One of the first things I did was to call and meet Senator Anne Cools, and see if she would host a luncheon for Christian businessmen and MPs in the Houses of Parliament, with Nicky as the main attraction. She agreed - though she did not know at that stage who Nicky was.

Mission to Kenya
In July 2001, Laurie-Ann had been on a short term mission to Marsabit, Kenya. She went again in 2003. Then in the fall of 2004, Bishop John Okinda from Migori, Kenya, was invited to ottawa by Harry and Vinita Baker. L-A arranged that Bishop John would speak at St. Paul's, and also come to our home for an evening. L-A cooked him Kenya food, which endeared him to her. He was a compelling speaker and preacher. We stayed in touch with him. A month or so later he suggested that we come on a short term mission to Migori in July 2005, and include an introduction to the Alpha course. He had many new Christians to feed spiritually. At first I resisted the whole idea of going on such a trip, filling my mind with objections from economic to lack of experience. Then one day I God put the though in my mind that this was the chance of a lifetime, guided by an experienced missioner, to help in this great work in Kenya. He also remined me that L-A had made an amazing committment to me in marrying me, and that the very least I should do would be to make her dream come true that we would go together on missionary work. So the decision was made, and I put up a prayer page for the mission. We were blessed by donations coming in from Alpha and St. Paul's friends.

On 9 April the March for Marriage tool place in Ottawa and I was gratified to see the huge support for traditional marriage even as the Canadian Government plotted to enable homosexuals to marry. The organizer, Rev. Tristan Emmanual had attracted a long list of speakers including the conservative leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper. I was close to the stage when my cell phone rang and a voice said that I was invited up on to the stage to speak! It was a minute or so before I realized that my friends Bob and Beth Carson, whom I had come with, had hoodwinked me. I had broken my rule never to give my cell number to anyone other than Laurie-Ann and Lynn Williams, my secretary.

Stand for Marriage, May 23 was the next event by the same organizers. I was taken aback when Tristan asked me in an e-mail if I could find a representative of the Anglican church to speak, which might include myself, but I set to it with gusto to find someone - but with zero result. In the end, I asked Tristan if he was serious about having me do it, having never heard me speak, and the result was that I was on the paltform at the event. One of the reasons I did it was and a confidence builder for what at the time I saw as a larger challenge: the teaching of Alpha in Kenya.

All too soon the day came for our departure to Kenya. I had spent a lot of time taking notes of the Alpha talks, and writing them up in a green Alpha manual. I had never presented Alpha "live." Just after we passed through London came the terrorist bombings of the underground and busses. My problems suddenly seemed small in comparison. As our wonderful Kenya Airways flight passed over the Sudan boarder I began to write a journal in real time, e-mailing the entries to Tim Parris in Ottawa who posted them. I won't take space here to say how special this mission was in my faith journey; it's documented on those sites. Certainly I came home with a strong heart for these saints in Kenya who made us so welcome and taught us so much. I began to understand why Laurie-Ann has such a passion for mission. We returned home via UK where we attended a special evening in Sheringham with all the family, to which James came by jet plane from RAF Valley, Anglesea.

Within a week of our return, it was the day, August 2, when Nicky Gumbel was in town. We had organized an event in the morning at Bethel Pentecostal church, followed by the luncheon in the Houses of Parliament. You can see photos and listen to parts of the speeches here. Laurie-Ann , I and Monique got to drive Nicky, Pippa and Paul Cowley around town - a great opportunity for 1-on-1s.

At the first AGM of the Anglican Gathering of Ottawa on 12 September, 2005, Frank Johnson stepped down as President and in the potential vacuum I strode. My original intention was to co-lead with Marilyn Johnson, but due to circumstances she left the executive leaving me holding the baby. I was in some trepidation being placed in a leadership role with such illustrious people of faith, but I was reminded that others who were unworthy had stepped up to leadership and achieved much with God's help. Our next few executive meetings went well, held in the boardroom of Broyhill Home Collections, courtesy of Allan and Diane Nolan, owners of this Christian business, who had offered it for such purposes when I helped them get the Parkway Road Pentecostal Alpha Course off the ground. Allan had attended the Nicky Gumbel lunch in the Houses of Parliament. I had been managing the AGO web site for some months since Eric Melby had been ordained and gone out West, and I knew from experience with the Alpha web site that if I could put in the time to do the site as well as preside over the group it would actually save me effort.


As my first year as president of the AGO continued, the international Anglican situation deteriorated. Our small but dedicated group met monthly to pray and plan. In Spring of 2006 we had both Bishop Dom Harvey, the Moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, and Rev. Canon Charley Masters, come to Ottawa to head up Anglican Gatherings. However, much as we feared for the future, we found it hard to influence our fellow orthodox Christian friends, let alone the liberals, who kept up continual pressure on the Diocesan Listserv and elsewhere, focusing on the plight of homosexuals. At St. Paul's Kanata, it had been decided to run the liberal course "Living the Questions" promoted and led by John Selby Spong, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg - all involved in The Jesus Seminar. After failing to prevent this from running in our church, I decided to attend the course to see just how bad it was, and it was bad. See my comments. The attitudes promoted are far more indicative of the liberal agenda than the one issue of same-sex blessings.

In May we had a 3-day retreat at the Manoir Victoria Hotel, Quebec City, courtesy of One Way Ministries. This was our second such event - in December 2005 we had been at Sam Jake's Inn, Merickville. One Way do this act of kindness for couples in ministry on a regular basis. It is most encouraging - that maybe one is doing some good. In Quebec, the main speaker, Kevin Cavanaugh asked us as homework one of the evenings to write a love poem to our spouse, in the style of the Song of Songs. In about two hours, I had both the words and the music for "Song of Songs," dedicated to my love, Laurie-Ann.

In September 2006 I ran an Alpha Conference for Ottawa. L-A had significant involvement heading up prayer and ministry, and giving a seminar. As an Alpha Advisor, I shouldn't have been in the leadership role, but there seemed to be no one else suited after Ethel Mahoney the original Chairperson resigned, and I did have the experience of Ottawa 2001. I used a small committee of dedicated souls, and instead of agendas and minutes, continually updated a planning document which contained all relevant information. The conference was successful though our numbers were only 100 paying people, not enough to break even financially, and in the end Alpha Canada and Alpha Toronto bailed us out. For me personally, the time devoted to this resulted in a fairly serious fall in my income. The trend was such that my titheing produced little income for our church in the second half of the year.

At the November AGM of the AGO we decided to change our name to Anglican Essentials Ottawa, and to redefine members as members of Anglican Essentials Canada living in the Ottawa Diocese. AEC is recognised internationally, and I felt that we had no future if seen as a splinter group, but should be unambiguously identified with AEC as a regional chapter. I changed the web site appropriately. At this time I read "Whatever Happened to the Jesus Lane Lot" by Oliver Barklay. It turns out that the struggles we have today against the forces of liberalism were even more apparent a century ago, and no where better documented that in Cambridge, with the activities of the Cambride University Inter-Colegiate Christian Union - CUICCU.

As Christmas loomed ahead, I determined to get down on CD a record of the tuned I had written since 2003, some of them to poems by inmates in Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, where I went every Sunday afternoon, accompanied many times by Laurie-Ann. Although some of the songs had been recorded using multi-track equipment, there were several that had not been taped. Over several months I practised and sang them, just my voice and guitar, without any mixing or accompaniment. I had writen several songs in 2006, and one of them, "Ripplecove," I had sung at dinner to my IG colleagues at that pleasant Eastern Townships resort in September. At that same time I had written two Christian songs, “My Life” which is my testimony, and “Eye of the Needle” about personal evangelism and the challenge it gives me. All these and others are on the CD, entitled "Songs from bars, behind and outside." The words of many of the songs are very explicitly Christian and personal, but I felt the time was right to share my faith to a greater degree with the people who mean most to me, Jame, Debbie and Mum, who's 90th birthday we will attend in March 2007. I therefore also wrote a letter of testimony for them, each a little different.


I see that I need to research the last few years for this journal, and I will. But there is something that has just ocurred that I want to record, so I am jumping into 2010.

In January I joined the Beta course that Brandon and Christy Bhatnagar ran in their home. Now this was after the end of regular services held there for Kanata Lakes Fellowship for the previous two years. During one of the small group discussions, we were talking about a format for Bible study devotions that I think was mentioned in one of the talks by Nicky Gumbel either from Challenging Lifestyles or A Life Worth Living (we did both). This format was to read a chapter from the Old Testament and a Chapter from the New. I decided to try this out, but added making a record each day of what verses or words most impacted me in each chapter. Almost every chapter included phrases which "spoke to me." I also wrote a short prayer. This routine began 12 February 2010. On 6 September I decided to post it to the web, just in case it might encourage others to this most durable of Bible studies that I have been able to achieve. In fact I feel deprived if my first activity of the day is not my devotions.

As the year began we were in preparation for our Global Alpha Training mission to Sierra Leone. Near the beginning of this story I mentioned meeting Emma Dupigny in Norwich. Finally, through GAT, we were to have the chance of a reunion. In fact my first act in the planning had been to e-mail Emma and aske her to put me in touch with Christian leadership in Freetown, which she did, and this led me to Rev. Joseph Francis Williams, Alpha Director for Sierra Leone. We obtained all the necessary permissions from GAT HQ in Alpha UK. The Dwight McDougall had signed on as a team member from the start, but it wasn't till about February that Richard Gilman joined us and we had our team. For the rest of the story see the GAT website and journal. be continued

Listen now Listen to my 60th birthday speech where I refer to people and events described above.
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