The One Word That Summarizes 2016 at Westminster (Our Annual Year-In-Review)

The closing days of December are a good time to look back on 2016 to see what kind of a year it was. This past week I heard one commentator reflect on all the controversy and politics and deaths and say it was the “worst year ever.”

But I’m sure the people who lived through a world war would doubt that!

In this blog I’m thinking more specifically about the past 12 months at Westminster Church in Barrie. Each of you probably remembers something that was specifically special to you. Maybe it was something positive like a program or insight or baptism. For others, maybe it was something difficult like the death of a friend or loved one.


But from my vantage point as the pastor at Westminster, what did I see?

Let me summarize:

We made a massive transition and moved to a new format for eldership (how we govern ourselves) called “Term Service” where there are elections for new elders every two years and where elders serve for a term of six.

In the process we adopted a new oversight structure that streamlines how we make decisions.

Our Youth Coordinator Julie Cunha was commissioned into an expanded role.

We held a really successful March Break Camp.

We had a unique Easter as we dealt with power outages from the ice storm!

We held workshops to help people discover their spiritual gifts.

We baptized 12 people.

And we mourned the death of 5 people we cared (and care) about.

We celebrated with elder Cathy Clark as she graduated from Tyndale College and Seminary with her Master of Divinity degree.

We replaced the flat roof of the church and raised $21,000 to do so in an incredibly short period of time over the slowest four months of the year (summer).

We expressed some of our deep gratitude for Jenn Harris on a Music Director Appreciation Sunday.

We welcomed deejay Tim Maassarany from Life 100.3FM for a visit to the church.

We held Deep Sea Discovery, perhaps our best Vacation Bible Camp ever, and held a big free community BBQ.

For the first time, we introduced “The Vine”—a small group, prayer and praise program on Wednesday nights.

We commissioned a new Communion table and slightly updated our worship space.

We enjoyed a new revamped room downstairs (called The Ark Room) with games and a fresh look.

We expanded our online presence.

We introduced the monthly family-friendly “Orange Ideas” to help you live out your faith at home.

We had our most successful Operation Christmas Child ever.

You gave generously to monthly donation drives and to the Deacon’s Fund, a fund which has helped many people who are experiencing financial struggles.

Through that Fund, you gave significant, immediate and practical help to a family in crisis in December.

We had a joyful and exuberant Christmas pageant.

We enjoyed a beautiful and uplifting Cantata.

On Christmas Eve, we welcomed more worshipers than any other year since the church started in 1962 and gave $2052 to send kids to summer camps.

We met (and exceeded) the 2016 budget which was our most aggressive in years.

And we introduced new mission and vision statements for the congregation.

All of this was in addition to weekly worship, a vibrant Sunday School, musical offerings, visits, new members, five Sunday sermon series’, youth groups, prayer, Bible studies and fellowship gatherings.

And finally, we saw a 10% net increase in worship attendance.

So what’s the one word I would use to summarize 2016 at Westminster?


  • You were generous with your time as you volunteered.
  • You were generous with your talent as you helped and served others.
  • You were generous with your treasure as you built up God’s church and financially supported programs and real needs in the community.
  • And you were generous with your prayers, faithfulness, and example to others.

You may want to review that 2016 list again. It’s pretty amazing. And let me be clear:

If only a third of those things took place, it would have been an ambitious and incredible year at Westminster.

I’m serious. If we had experienced those things over a period of three years (and not just one) I would have been pretty excited about it.

And here’s the thing that gives me the most hope of all. I think you are so generous because you know how generous God is toward you. At Westminster, I think we’re aware of the generosity and truth of Christ—and that is shining outward in how we live our lives. To God be the glory. Big time.

All of this makes me feel great about 2017. Why? Because when you’re confident about what God HAS done, you’re even more confident about what God WILL do. 

In the church, in the community… and in you.

Happy new year!


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