Leaders of the Saskatoon Discovery group: Angela, Isabelle and Xavier
Since October, Angela, Isabelle and Xavier have led a growing group of up to 18 in discovering Jesus to be the centre of a good life together. Isabelle is a radically hospitable kookum ("grandma" among the Cree peoples) who loves to pray for others and is currently completing her Grade 12 in order to get a degree in Social Work and work with youth on the streets. Xavier is 15 years old, passionate about reading his Braille bible and everyone is confident he would make an amazing pastor one day. He is hoping to attend bible college after he is done with high school.
Many members refer to the weekly group as a "bible study" because scripture remains central to their time each week. It's the foundation of an authentic connection to God and each other built through prayer and worship. But the group tries hard to reflect the greater family of God to each other and the community outside of once a week. They “do life together”: birthday parties and shared meals, phone calls and home visits, playing games, swimming, prayer walks, and making art together. Angela shared “it’s been super fun to cultivate a community that truly cares for each other.”
This summer, the leaders wanted to learn more of what everyone loved about the group and how they could contribute their gifts. They hoped that by affirming people’s gifts and asking members what they could contribute, they would grow a desire for leadership development and a willingness to care for one another more creatively. As a result, leadership tasks are now done in the way that God has uniquely gifted each member. One picks the worship songs, one chooses the passage to focus conversation on, one offers encouragement from the scripture, some gather prayer requests and lead the prayer times, others prepare and bring snacks. Perhaps most importantly, since asking everyone for their input, people have become more open to share their suggestions and feedback. There’s an atmosphere of honesty and support where everyone is willing to show up and share their authentic self with the group. Even if that looks a little messy and chaotic at times! At a time when social isolation was at an all-time high due to Covid-19, this group grew in trust and support. Regardless of ability, everyone has something to contribute and the greater community can see many different kinds of leadership at work.
Throughout this past month many group members chose to be baptized! Angela, described “what an honour it is to witness and celebrate what God is doing in each of us and in our community here in Saskatoon's west side! It's an incredibly diverse group in age, ethnicities, gender, and ability and we don't always rub each other the right way. But we are quick to confess, repent, forgive, and extend grace to one another. I think it's safe to say that it's been a huge learning curve for all of us!”
Marlene and Pastor Spencer
At a recent celebration, Angela created a “madlib” version of Isaiah 65:18-25 that celebrated what the Kingdom of God looked like in the discovery group. May this piece of prophetic poetry truly come to into greater reality!
Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
For I am about to create the Discovery group as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
No more shall unresolved conflict be heard in it.
No more shall it happen that physical suffering
or partner violence happen in it.
They shall all sing and dance and have so many BBQs
and have an abundant prayerful consideration for each other.
The people of the discovery group shall be a people blessed by the Lord.
The Indigenous and settler people,
and those of varying abilities shall all feast together,
the stereotypes and stigmas
shall become words of honour and affirmation.
No longer will anyone bring harm, injustice,
division or destruction to the Discovery group,
says the Lord.