By Rob SchellenbergThe tidal bore, a wave of water on the East Coast that flows upstream every day, has nothing on the wave of activity that Briercrest College and Seminary alumni are creating in Moncton, N.B.
Moncton Wesleyan Church, the largest church in Atlantic Canada, is a lot like the tidal bore, having swelled to 1,800 people since L.D. Buckinghim, their lead pastor, took over the 120-year-old church 41 years ago.
Buckingham 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 have to work harder and have a greater focus than you normally would have in order to see that tide turned.”
Buckingham helped develop the church’s 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 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 be 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, a skilled delegator who leads by example, is working with the youth program and transitioning to 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 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, Buckingham, says, the youth program has “taken on a new surge of life.”