Our first contact with Valley was Don Hargrave. I have served with Don for the past 8 years; his leadership and friendship has been a gift to me. The weekend we first came to Valley in 2007 we found ourselves sitting around the breakfast table with Don and Roberta and John and Katie talking about the church and dreaming of what might be at Valley. That breakfast was the beginning of a friendship with the Hargraves and Ungers that has blessed and continues to bless both Janice and me. Katie, thanks for being part of our worship team! Don and John, thank you for support and encouragement -- serving with you as been one of the great blessings of my life.
When we arrived in September of 2007, Brent and Shannon Ashe were the first ones to arrive at our door, bringing a wonderful meal to welcome us! We developed an instantaneous friendship with them and have continued to enjoy friendship with Shannon through the changes in her life these past five years. Shannon, it has been a joy to work with you in worship; thank you for being a good friend to Janice and for all the kindness you have extended to us as a family. I will never forget the night we laid hold of God in prayer for you in June of 2010 -- you are a testimony to His grace.
We were not long in our new home when Corrie stopped by with fresh fruit and vegetables; despite the vegetables, Corrie and Gerard become more than neighbors; they were friends who allowed us to enter into their story. We were privileged to walk with Corrie through her battle with cancer and with Gerard through a season of declining health; saying 'good-bye' to these friends was not easy--we still think of them often. We have been blessed to do life together with the Zandee / Pinske family; developing a friendship with Bob and Lia; another gift we celebrate, but Lia we have to talk about your obsession with the Canucks!
Similarly we have been blessed as we have served together with Bill and Edna; thank you for all your kindness and for you faithful support of Valley. Thank you for letting us share your story. Edna, your commitment to the Leadership Team and as our Treasurer is appreciated by all. Bill, I'm grateful for the invitation to share the opening prayer and the Legislature; there they called you Mr. Speaker, I'm blessed to call you a friend--despite the fact you cheer for the wrong team!
I think of some many friends who have passed from death to life eternal: Irma Becker who worshipped with us just days before her death, Faye Matthews, Rita, Hazel and Margaret Adams, a Godly woman and prayer warrior; Guy, who's faith came alive in the year before he was called home -- so many friends who finished well.
When I think of finishing well Herb Shultz comes to mind; I'm grateful that our paths crossed; Eileen, thank you for you faithfulness to Valley. I think too of Nick Dikur, his quiet, confident faith; Velma you continue to be an example of grace and devotion. I think of the courage of Helen Douglas with the sudden passing of Chico. Beulah Andrews is another Godly lady who is now with our Lord.
Ted and Dorothy Sutcliffe came to the valley about the same time as we did and became our friends; it was a privilege to be at her side when she was called home in death and to continue that friendship with Ted during this season in which his health has declined. It's a joy each time we are able to connect with Kay Chobotar and to remember Bill, whose last words to me were "I look forward to seeing you" -- one day we will meet again.
And I think of my friend Bob McKay, a fellow Elder and servant; I miss his friendship and wisdom around the leadership table. Chris, you continue to encourage us as you lead and serve with us and among us. We are so blessed to have these friendships in the Lord that do not end at the grave but will one day be renewed in heaven.
I look around Valley and I see the courage of Joan Hall, the commitment of Diena and Audrey to the care of their mom and dad, Yde and Ann, and the faithfulness of Jack and Hetty. I remember the Sunday we talked about 'the bridge'; Jack and Hetty were the first to cross that bridge. That day was a defining moment for many at Valley. I think too of the quiet, humble servants like Andy and Lorraine and the faithfulness of Bill Melnyk and John Kobylnik.
I celebrate the faithfulness of Jack and Ina, who now model grace in the changing season in which they find themselves; I admire Jack's quiet strength and Ina's gracious spirit. I think too of Paul and Cora who find themselves in a similar season of transition -- we wish for them to be together but understand the need for extra care and continue to pray for much grace for these friends. I have been blessed to share in David and Alida’s wedding and to meet all the Rottier boys as well as many family and friends of Valley as they have come to visit and have worshipped with us.
As I reflect on our circle, I am mindful of so many that have faithfully served together. I think of Trudy and Ruth and Wynn, Angela and Donna Kelso. Trudy, you have allowed us to be part of your family and to share the journey together. We are so blessed to have Shirley among us and we remember the courage and beauty of Chloe. Trudy, thanks for introducing us to the Hospice Society. Ruth you have been a fellow servant and friend. Wynn, I think we share a kindred spirit, you have been a blessing to Janice and me. Angela, you continue to ‘make me look good’ with the card ministry; who could have imagined the impact of your vision to do this; it’s been a joy to work with you. Donna, you encourage me.
We as a church have been blessed by friends who worship among us and have become part of us and serve when and where they can: Dick Mayer, Nani, Gaye, Louise (thanks for sharing your sacred place), Evelyn, Bonnie and Rose-Marie. Our fellowship of friends is enriched by the willing spirit of friends like Norris and Myrna and Innis and Judy. I’m grateful for Fiona and Irv and Dave, as well as Carolyn, (I’m glad my path crossed with Stuart).
The courage of Donna Glen has inspired me, as has the gracious spirit of her mom, Ruth Profit and I’m grateful for Vern's kindness. Mel and Jean, thanks for sharing the journey with us; we were blessed to have Jean’s mom among us for a season (Margaret Munro). And I’m thankful to have met Bill and Gail Kidd. Gail, I smile each time I see the golf ball and remember Bill.
We have had some new friend come among us and serve alongside us; Jacob and Lydia (our small group hosts), Art and Beverly and Gordon and Betty, Beverly and John and Fern and Beverly -- all who bring a spirit of joy to our circle! Angie thanks for introducing your friends to Valley; you too have been a blessing to me as you faithfully serve among us. Wayne and Daylyn, you are fellow workers at Valley but more than that you are our friends; we thank God for you. We are so blessed to have Terry and Evelyn and Denise as part of church family. Evelyn thanks for faithfully mailing our bulletins to friends who cannot worship with us regularly.
Friends like John and Carol left for a season and have come among us again! Other friends have moved out of the valley and are missed; John and Peggy, Shirley, Elmer and Lockie. Remember the day Lockie was baptized in the lake! I would be amiss if I did not recognize Janice’s mom, Evelyn, who came to live in the valley in 2010 and has been a faithful worshipper at Valley.
When I think of baptisms, Sandra comes to mind; you have been a wonderful addition to our Leadership Team—thank you for challenging my thinking and encouraging us to try new things. We celebrate your recent wedding to Trevor; I’m grateful for his friendship and the support and encouragement you have both been to me.
I also think of our friends from Heritage House; Norman and Vivien (who played the organ at Heritage House well into her 90’s – her work is now done and she is home with our Lord), Edna Kirby and Peter and Margaret—one of my favourite wedding stories!
Bruce and Melba are fellow servants, and Cliff and Sue enrich our worship times. Bruce, I so enjoy the reading of God's Word each time you lead us. I was pleased to share in Bob and Helen’s wedding and we are grateful to have them with us at Valley – we pray for the safe and healthy arrival of your little one later this summer!
I also think of our ‘snowbirds’, Jim and Annette (we missed you last winter!), Nick and June (thank you for letting us enter your story), Ferdy and Lois and Dave and Lorraine, Roelof and Shirley and Richard and Elaine. Lorraine, we continue to keep you close in our hearts – Dave is missed. Shirley, you encourage my heart and I am thankful for the example of the quiet faith of Roelof, a true Christian gentleman, now with our Lord. As well we have many friends who regularly visit us when they are in the valley – enriching our worships and sharing in the fellowship of Valley.
How blessed we are by the circle of friends and fellow servants who call Valley home! We are blessed to be part of the family of God at Valley; it is my joy to serve as your pastor. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy summer sabbatical this year; I am grateful for the opportunity to lay aside leadership responsibilities for a short season of rest and renewal. I look forward to reconnecting in September and pray that God will richly bless us as we continue to do life together at Valley.