By Rob Schellenberg
Editor's note: This story is the first in a four-part series about three college alumni at Moncton Wesleyan Church. Stay tuned for more about Kevin Matthews ('91), Dave Steeves ('00), and Jeremy MacDonald ('09).T
he tidal bore, a wave of water on the East Coast that flows upstream every day, has nothing on the wave of activity Briercrest College and Seminary alumni are creating in Moncton, N.B.
The Moncton Wesleyan Church, the largest church in Atlantic Canada, is a lot like it.
L.D. Buckinghim, their lead pastor, has led the 120-year old church for 41 years, during which he’s seen it grow to 2,000 people.
He laughs at the tidal bore comparison.
“The tidal bore has greatly diminished over the last few years so, I don’t know if I like that part of the comparison,” he said.
“[W]e are going against everything that they say about the lifespan of churches, and this church is old. We should be in the maintenance mode by now, and so we just had to work harder and have a greater focus than you normally would have in order to see that tide turned.”
“We have kept a very, very intense sharp focus on what we believe is our main mission.”
Buckingham helped develop the manifesto 30 years ago, long before mission statements were popular.
“To use every available means at every available time to reach every available person in every available place; everything we are and everything we do is for that purpose.”
The manifesto is something every employee at the church must take ownership of—it helps keep everybody on the same page.
The three Briercrest alumni working at the church agree with the manifesto and are three key team members for Buckingham: Kevin Matthews, Dave Steeves, and Jeremy MacDonald.
Matthews, the executive pastor, takes Buckingham’s pastoral vision and works with the pastoral team to make it happen.
Buckingham says he couldn’t have asked for a better right-hand man.
“I never dreamed that it would possible to ever have somebody on staff who owned the vision and the mission like you did as a leader, and I found in Kevin somebody who has and does—maybe even more so.”
Steeves, the most focused person ever on staff and a skilled delegator who leads by example, is moving into student ministries and missions.
“(Steeves) is totally dependable. There are some people that you give them a responsibility and you can’t get over the fear of whether or not they are going to follow through—you are always wondering. But with Dave, you never have a second thought.”
Steeves is also training MacDonald to take his place as youth pastor. MacDonald is the youngest of the three alumni working at the church, but by applying his youthful energy with the ideas and wisdom of the leadership team, the youth program has “taken on a new surge of life.”
“Each one of them are truly self-starters, and not many people are truly self-starters,” Buckingham said. “They are so diligent and so thorough in all that they pursue.”
Buckingham also believes they’re excellent representatives of Briercrest.
“If I am any judge of this stuff, all three of these guys are top-notch guys—and I mean top, top-notch guys. Just the very best. For a church to have that kind of calibre as a part of their team is pretty unusual.”
“[T]o be so effective it doesn’t seem that would necessarily be the case if they hadn’t had the input from some source—and of course, that would have to be Briercrest.”