Members of the Red Deer Ministerial Association have come together to produce a devotional book for the season of Lent.
Our Journey with Christ, which features 40 devotional readings for the Easter season, is available at many City churches as well as a free e-book on the Red Deer Ministerial web site at www.rdministerial.ca.
Each devotional was written by different pastors or ministry leaders from Red Deer and area, said Rev. Ben Elliott, lead pastor of Deer Park Alliance Church and co-editor of the project along with Peter Rockhold from New Life Fellowship.
“The hope is that it would be a helpful resource as well as a symbol of unity at Easter between the churches,” said Elliott, who is also president of Red Deer Ministerial.
“For each day, beginning with Ash Wednesday, there is one devotional written by a different person each day. The thing I like as well is that it gives us an expression of unity,” he explained.
“Churches are diverse, they are different and when you look at Red Deer, there are cultural differences, there are theological differences, there are practical differences in the way things get worked out – but there are things we do hold in common including God has a plan, and that plan includes Jesus Christ,” he said.
“I don’t think I talked to anyone who said, ‘No, we don’t want to be a part of it’. Most said, ‘That’s fantastic! I’d love to be a part of it’. I think there is a real desire to work together,” he said.
As mentioned, readings start March 6th (Ash Wednesday). In the introduction, Elliott writes, “For many churches, the season leading up to Easter is one of the most important times of the year.
“The practice of Lent began in the third and fourth centuries. Traditionally, it has been a season of 40 days before Easter, symbolizing both the forty years the people of Israel spent in the wilderness, and Jesus’ forty day fast and temptation in the wilderness.”
In the meantime, besides the many churches onboard, other contributors included the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre, Red Deer Regional Hospital Spiritual Care, Hope Mission and the Red Deer Remand Centre Chaplaincy.
Elliott said the idea surfaced last Fall as he started thinking about what the local churches could do together.
“I’ve seen ideas like this within one church before. But I thought, what if we invited people from across the spectrum? So we started pitching the idea,” he said.
Elliott and Rockhold started reaching out to other local pastors, churches and organizations to gauge interest, and the concept was met with enthusiasm.
Red Deer Ministerial Association members meet once each month (except for December, July, and August) for fellowship, personal sharing and the sharing of resources and mutual prayer.
For Elliott, one of the key highlights of seeing the project come to fruition was being reminded of how much local churches really do have in common.
“Also, to be able to see, the very genuine good will between the churches.
“For me, the highlight is getting to see sort of ‘under the hood’ of the churches and say, ‘There is good stuff going on!’ It also reminds me that I’m really encouraged about Red Deer.
“It makes me excited when I go, hey, the pastors and ministry leaders want to work hard in their (particular areas) for the good of Red Deer, the unity of the community and standing together as citizens, too.”
The Ministerial Association is involved with several events through the year, including Morning of Faith during Westerner Days and the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
“They are all signals of the same thing – let’s work together. We want to see a great Red Deer.”
Again, the title is available online at www.rdministerial.ca.