TORONTO (BP)–It was no accident that youth took center stage during much of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists’ annual meeting July 6-8 in Toronto.
“The youth are absolutely key for us,” said CCSB national ministry leader Gerry Taillon. “If we don’t pass on the vision and the mission of the CCSB to them, then we’re going to fail in the vision and mission God’s given us.”
Taillon said he is encouraged that Canadian Southern Baptists are rearing new generations of future leaders.
“Our pastors are young. I go to meetings and sometimes I’m the oldest one there,” he said.
“But there’s even a younger generation — 25 and under — and they want to experience what it really means to be on mission. They don’t want to just talk about it. They want to worship, and out of that worship, be on mission and make an impact on the world.”
Modeling that passion for missions was a group of young people from The Sanctuary, a congregation in the Toronto suburb of Oakville. The convention prayed for them as they prepared to leave for a 2,300-kilometer journey for outreach at a day camp for First Nations children at Big Trout Lake in northern Ontario.
Other youth on stage during the annual meeting were Sarah Lippett from The Sanctuary congregation in Milton, who led in prayer for the youth of Canada, and Anita Taillon — Gerry Taillon’s daughter –- who shared a self-penned story about guilt and God’s grace. Many of the musicians who led in worship also were in their 20s or younger.
That same love for Christ by young people was evident even off the stage.
“I met a boy who gave a four-minute speech at his school on the Passion of Jesus, and did so over his teacher’s initial reticence,” recounted CCSB national church planting consultant Paul Johnson.
“It’s that kind of courage that we will see grow into the Davids of our future.”
Missions was another key emphasis during the convention, including the affirmation of two international career missionary families, which Taillon described as “a fantastic experience for me and for our people.”
Hermann and Wilmien Brandt — and their children Carl and Amy — will be heading to southern Africa pending approval by the International Mission Board, while a couple and their sons who cannot be identified for security reasons, will be ministering in the Middle East.
These two couples will bring to five the number of CCSB missionary families overseas.
Meanwhile, messengers were told that the Canadian Southern Baptist family continues to grow, with a record 37 new churches started last year, bringing the total number of CCSB churches from British Columbia to Nova Scotia to 220 at the end of 2003.
The year 2004 is poised to set another record, Johnson noted. As of May, 32 more churches already had been started, with another 17 or 18 in the planning stages. “So it’s possible we can see 50 church plants this year,” he said. “Many of these have little or no [convention] funding.”
Johnson said he believes a new culture is emerging “where church planting is a preferred activity of individuals and churches.”
Three churches also were accredited for convention membership, including Grace Community Baptist Church in Devlin, near Thunder Bay, the first CCSB church in northwest Ontario.
“I think we experienced an incredible feeling of family,” said CCSB President Rob Blackaby about this year’s convention. “I saw people laughing, crying, little groups of two, three people huddled in one corner, groups of eight, 10 people, lots of handshakes, lots of hugs. I felt it was a family reunion.”