From: Carole Burton Sent: Monday, November 15, 1999 10:53 PM
Subject: Gail Reid's message at Newfoundland Rally

Hello! I am sending you (with her permission) a transcipt of Gail Reid's message at the Newfoundland Spring Rally in June past. She shared how the Lord dealt with her about her attitude to the United Church, and how this prepared her for the task he was about to call her to undertake editorship of Fellowship Magazine.

All of us in renewal, who have been led to remain within this church, have been deeply hurt by the church and have had to struggle against anger etc. at it. But if we are called by God to stay, I think we need to have a heart of love for this church, as the Lord called Gail to have- even as we continue to resist the wrongs within it. We are not to compromise- but we are to love, even when we must speak against certain things.


I am here to talk about Fellowship Magazine. But first of all, I want to talk about why I'm here, when I wanted to leave the UC years ago.

We were a group of evangelicals in a liberal UC. We worked hard to have a little Bible study group going, and we prayed for others in our church to be saved. We invited them to special evenings that we had. We prayed for our ministers, and stood up for the opportunity to present Jesus Christ in our Sunday School classes. We thought everything was going just fine, and we were pleased with the progress we had made.

And then 1988 came, and everything suddenly turned around. The whole congregation split down the middle, and it was 'we' and 'they', and who thought this about what. And without really wanting to, we found ourselves very angry and very frightened. We actually feared for our families, what our children were going to be taught when suddenly Scripture was no longer going to be the authority in the UC.

And truthfully, when my friends in the Bible study group started to leave the UC, I wanted to go with them. I thought they were making the right decision. I was ashamed of what was happening in our church.

However, by then I'd learned enough about a walk with the Lord to know that it's always better to ask him first. And so I begged the Lord to give me permission to leave. But I wasn't getting an answer.

And finally I heard, "I want you to stay in this church." I can remember just crying my eyes out, saying "Lord, I can't stay in this church- all my friends have gone." And he said, "Are you doing this for your friends, or for me?"

And so I was obedient, and I stayed. There were two of us who remained, out of 25 or 30 people. And we became progressively more and more discouraged.

Until one day I met an old Baptist friend who lived down the street from me, and she asked me how we were doing in the UC. And instead of being really critical- "why are you staying in the UC"- she said, "You know, you must really need prayer. We've been praying for you. We've been walking around your church and praying for the UC. We'd like you to come and join us in our prayer group."

Well, I was so surprised that she wasn't putting us down, that I decided to go. My friend from our church also went, and it was the beginning of a real turn-around. They really ministered to us. We grumbled every week, and they prayed for the things we grumbled about. I'm ashamed of all the things that I told them about our church. And they would just smile, and they'd lay hands on us and pray that we'd be filled with love and peace. And we'd be fine- until the next week.

And then one day, while we were praying in the group, one of the women began to confess that God had convicted her that she was an accuser of the brethren, and that she was playing right into the enemy's hands.

And something happened to me inside. I felt "Oh- I think that's God talking to me. It's been just pouring out of my mouth. I've been putting down the United Church, I've been putting down the ministers, I've even been praying that they'd leave." Well, I was skewered on the spot, as they say.

And as I listened to this woman praying and repenting, I was trying to find out what I could do about the fact that I was an accuser too. She repented for what she had done, and then she said, "Lord, make me an intercessor."

And you know, all those years as a Christian, I had never heard that word. I never heard that we could be intercessors, that we could intercede to God the Father in the name of Jesus for other people and for our church. And it seemed like a word of promise for me.

I went home, and God gave me a wonderful gift. He gave me a dream. It was a strange dream. I was in our own church, praying with a friend, and suddenly the church became a very frightening place. It was dark and frightening, and I wanted to leave. I ran out of the church to get away, as if something was chasing me. And when I went out and looked back at the church, it was covered in huge chains. They were so big, it would have been impossible for any machine to break them.

But do you know what happened? All of a sudden, something began to drip over the chains. And as it dripped over them, the chains were starting to disintegrate and melt. As it started to get closer to me, I realized I had something like a cup in my hand, and I started to take some of the liquid and pour it over the chains. Then inside my heart I heard, "This is the blood of Christ."

"This is the blood of Christ. There is nothing that it cannot conquer. God has conquered everything through this blood. And you can take this blood of Christ and hold it before the Father and say, `Jesus has died for these people that we prayed for. Jesus died for our church.'"

When I went back to the prayer group I was so excited about my dream, and I told them what had happened. And they said, "You have to intercede right now for the United Church of Canada."

Well, I was excited about the dream, and I said, "I'm willing". I sat in the chair in the middle of the circle and they laid hands on me. I thought, "This is going to be easy. I'll just pray the blood of Christ."

But as they started to pray, I was overwhelmed with sadness for our church. I couldn't stop crying. And then I couldn't stop crying for what I had done to it. I realized that I had put some of those chains on our church. I had done it with my anger, with my divisions, with my sarcasm, with my thoughts against everybody in our church who didn't think like I did.

And I was convicted that I needed the blood of Christ washed over me again. I needed the Holy Spirit to cleanse me and make me new. And that very day I felt so clean. I said, "Lord, I'll do anything for the United Church."

What a difference! From wanting to leave- to "I'll do anything". That was God.

But sometimes `anything' surprises you. About a week later, who should call me but the editor of Fellowship Magazine. She said, "Do you want a job?" Well, I was a writer at that time, and I was writing for a lot of secular magazines and religious magazines, and I was really proud of what I had accomplished. I used to be a social worker. I went back to school, and was now in journalism, and I had worked hard at getting to the level where I could almost pick and choose the articles that I did.

And so I said, "I don't know. I'm a writer; I'm not an editor. I don't think so." But that night the Lord said, "This is it. You said you'd do anything. This is it."

Now the people on the Fellowship Magazine Board who interviewed me didn't know that God already had that in mind. But when I went, I just felt so confident that God had opened this way and was going to use it.

And it was with great joy that I discovered that FM was becoming a new thing, that it was going to have a new Board, with all the renewal groups coming together to create a new magazine. So it was a fresh start.

And the one thing that I wanted more than anything, and which I believe God had done a work in me for, was to say, "Let's make the magazine positive. Let's make a commitment from the very first issue that we will uphold Jesus Christ, that we will not put the United Church down, that we will not cast aspersions on anyone's character." And I knew what that was, because I had done it. I could recognize it as people talked, and when I read it.

I believe that God has blessed this commitment. In four years the magazine has doubled in its circulation. And I've had many, many letters from the readers saying, "Thank you that in FM you've created something that's positive, that's encouraging, that's holding up our faith." And that is because of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can thank him for that.

Over the last few years, as much as there have been so many things in our church that we could be discouraged about, there are many reasons to hope.

Just in the last year 47 United Churches are taking Alpha. For two years now, Fellowship Magazine has been sent free of charge to all United Church ministers. Only a small percentage have said they don't want the magazine. 267 ministers are financially supporting the magazine. And there are many, many like-minded congregations that are encouraged and helped by it- even though they are not in the renewal movements yet.

Over the last year I have been asked to speak in some of these churches. I've even been asked to speak in a very liberal church. And I think that was the most exciting opportunity that I had. The minister, who is an ultra-feminist and was a delegate to the World Council of Churches, had been in the audience at the Spirit Connection debate on "Is Jesus the only way to God?" A few of us had stood up and said yes, we believe Jesus is the only mediator between God the Father and us. And we were very clear about it. But the majority in that audience said, "We don't agree with that. You are wrong; you are being arrogant; you are being exclusive."

Well, this one minister never said anything. She was very disturbed by what happened that day. Something bothered her about the whole thing. She had felt disturbed by the way we orthodox believers had been treated on the show, when we were expressing our beliefs.

Two years later she phoned and said, "Would you be willing to come and talk to our church about what you said in that debate?" (She had set up in her church a concept called "meeting place" which provided a safe place for people to express differences of opinion on faith issues during the Sunday services.)

Not only was I able to say the same thing that I said in the debate, but they stayed an hour and a half and asked questions. They wanted to know how I could believe that God loved everyone and yet some might perish. (They wanted to hear an explanation that would help them to understand the discrepancy of God's love for all people and yet the concept of one mediator which appeared to leave so many out. They were not argumentative but open.) They were really hungry for the Gospel.

I have some other wonderful news. I have just come from Toronto Conference, and we had a huge renewal display and Fellowship Magazine display, which we've never had before. We worked hard this year, coming together, praying together, trying to say that we're for more than we're against. Our display included some of the things we're for- especially Alpha and Bethel. We also displayed all the FM covers for the last four years. The 600 Conference delegates had to walk past our display to get to lunch! We were thrilled at the number who stopped to talk to us about these programs.

At Toronto Conference Bill Phipps came to me to tell me about his experience at Burlington United Church, during his recent trip to Nfld. He said he attended an "after-service" there, at which people shared their faith stories, or 'testimonies'. Bill was profoundly moved by this experience. He said, "They believe like you do!" He said what impressed him most was that they showed him respect, "even though I know they don't believe what I believe." (I then said to Bill that this is what the Bible tells us to do-to honour and to pray for those anointed by God to be in authority over us-whether they believe as we do or not.)

And so I ask you people to pray faithfully for Bill Phipps; pray faithfully for our church. We pray for change in the United Church of Canada. I believe it's coming. I believe it's here. And it's coming by lay people changing one by one, and praying for the rest of the church.

Return to Moderator Page