Letter from the Pastor – 2022 Annual Meeting
The following is a copy of the congregational letter from Pastor Ruttan which was included in this year’s annual report:
Let’s begin with an understatement: The past twelve months have been a challenge!
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued, even if it seems to be winding down from its previous girth. Things are “opening up” to a greater degree. This is a welcome sign.
And yet, it could be argued that this most recent phase of the pandemic has been the most controversial. Everyone is tired; the pandemic has exposed the strain on our critical services and also the divisions within our own country; and there are many competing and conflicting views about the way ahead. I also believe we are standing on the brink of a mental health crisis of epic proportions. It has already started. Trauma leaves a mark, or several marks—some of which are visible, and some of which aren’t. Some are evident now; some will emerge in the years ahead. Not only will we need God’s healing; we will need to be God’s healers.
In and through it all, our calling remains the same: to be and make disciples for the glory of God! We fix our eyes on Jesus and centre our energy on the greatest command: to love God and our neighbours. Many people are being drawn away into lesser priorities and conflicts in our wider society, even some Christians. Fatigue and frustration don’t always bring out the best in people. But the task is to keep the main thing the main thing. We speak, show and share the grace, truth and light of Christ. One of the great signs of encouragement through this past year has been your commitment to that very mission—even when life has been hard.
In 2021 a lot of you participated in online ministries, and many participated in limited in-person events. You supported monthly outreaches and service projects, and you engaged in learning opportunities. We welcomed Henna Kim as our Small Groups and Home Church Coordinator. Julie Cunha took on an expanded role with communications and social media. We launched a church podcast (called ‘The Word at Westminster’) and even held some outdoor services when the weather was decent. Music Director Jenn Harris and I have been blessed to lead worship whatever shape it has taken. As a church, we have been prayerful, cautious and creative; we have leveraged online technologies, and also had in-person events and groups when appropriate and possible (including fellowship groups, study groups, small groups and youth groups). We have also said farewell to some brothers and sisters who have died and who now rest in heaven on salvation’s shore. “Well done, thou good and faithful servants!”
I continue to think that the church in North America is going through a time of refining. Trials have a way of doing that. But Westminster continues to be steady—praise be to God!—and is being shaped for the years ahead in the footsteps of Jesus. Forward march!
What will the year ahead hold? I’m hopeful that things will start to feel much more ‘normal’ in the weeks and months ahead. We are actively planning a limited in-person Sunday School. As elders we continue to discern the nature of our relationship with The Presbyterian Church in Canada. We re-induct Cathy Clark and Colin Leonard, and welcome Carolyn Trott to our eldership team. We are actively organizing the next phase in our ‘home church’ initiative (which, I should say, is very ground-breaking and exciting). We will also hold confirmation gatherings for many of our young people.
There are times in life when you feel like you don’t know where you’re going. But alas, your life is always headed in the right direction if you’re following the right person. And that person is Jesus Christ! He is steady when we feel like we’re stumbling. There may be uncertainties, struggles, and pain—but your direction is good if you’re following God.
I encourage you with the same words Abijah used to encourage an uncertain people: “God is with us; he is our leader” (2 Chronicles 13:12). Praise be to God!
Yours very sincerely, in Christ,
January 20, 2024
December 13, 2023