I arrived in Calgary Tuesday evening after an eventful and encouraging day in Lethbridge (see below). I met my former pastor from Edson Baptist for coffee at a local Starbucks. He is now a teaching elder at Calvary Grace church. Terry is both a theological guy and a car guy, so we always have great conversations. I remember his kids from years ago, but now one of his daughters is driving and his son is married. Holy Moly! Everybody I know is sure getting older!
Wednesday morning I wanted to meet with Rob Martin of Eastside City Church on Abbeydale Drive in Calgary. I had spoken to Rob once on the phone, but had trouble reaching him again, so after leaving a number of messages I just decided I would drop in about 9:30 that morning and take my chances. He wasn't there at the moment, so I left a written note and my card with the administrator, who promised to place it directly into his hands the moment he arrived.
Back out in my car in the parking lot, I sat for a moment and thought, because the name, "Abbeydale" sounded familiar. "Yes," it came to me, "Abbeydale Christian Fellowship!" I had seen it somewhere in my records. "They're an Alpha church."
So, sitting there in my car, in the parking lot of Eastside City Church, I fiddled with my phone (a Blackberry) to find the address and a map to Abbeydale Christian Fellowship. As an aside, my older daughter (an iPhone user) tells me, every time I complain about my phone, "Dad! It's a Blackberry!"
So after Googling and mapping for a few minutes I finally had the location. Next door! Sure enough, I raised my head from my phone, turned it to the left, and there it was; the very next building. I drove out of one parking lot and into the other. They have just finished a very successful Alpha, and I had a good conversation with the interim pastor, Jim Houston, leaving some information on Alpha's Youth Film Series and Marriage and Parenting courses.
As I was leaving the parking lot my phone rang. It was Rob from Eastside, hoping we could get together. "When can you get here?" he asked. "I'm here now," I said, pulling back into his lot. "Where's the nearest Tim's?" Rob came out and I followed him to the coffee shop.
It's such a small world when you're a Christian, don't you think? Eastside City is affiliated, through an organization called Ministers Fellowship International, and so is a sister church, so to speak, with my Sunday night fellowship, Christcity, in Edmonton, so he knew some of the people I know. We had a great conversation. Eastside is planning to run three Alpha's in the next few months, then invite all guests to a leadership course. Rob also told me of an Alpha being run on the streets of downtown by either a friend or cousin (I don't remember which) for addicts, prostitutes and the homeless, into one of which categories the course coordinator actually fell. I asked, somewhat tongue in cheek, if the course was registered. "Probably not," he said with a bit of a smile, but if he could get hold of him, he would see if he could get it done.
From there it was off to lunch at Denny's with Stephan who is going to run an Alpha on a First Nations reserve west of Calgary. He has been running a Bible study there that has been well-received, so we have high hopes for this Alpha course. I have had a real heart for Alpha among First Nations communities ever since I ran Alpha in the Fort Saskatchewan jail a few years back. I'm praying we can establish more of them. I have posted on some of my experiences there, here. Incidentally, if anyone who reads this blog wants to get involved, assist or participate, just get in touch with me.
After lunch it was back home, the end of a couple of quite eventful days on the road.
But then, as I have said, I have nothing better to do than to drive around Alberta and talk about Alpha.