When I asked one attendee of the Welcome Home Conference how she would describe the conference in one word, she replied, “Hope.” I could not agree more. Certainly, this conference came at a time when the message of hope is sorely needed in our country, both within and outside of GCI. We are still dealing with the aftereffects of the pandemic. All our churches and fellowship groups faced being online for several months and many have just started to have in-person services. As a country, we have faced divisions over the handling of the pandemic as well as the stress of dealing with our colonial past and our interactions with the original inhabitants of this land. Finally, as a denomination we are facing the reality of having an aging ministry and members. So, the presentations regarding the Hope Avenue resonated with many of us.
It also fit with the theme of “Welcome Home.” We all have a place in relationship with our triune God, and he is in the process of welcoming all peoples to their true home. As our guest performer and lecturer, Canadian Christian artist Steve Bell said during his For the Journey presentation, “We are all in communion with God by his grace” (a play on our denominational name).
The presence of many new Canadians from Africa and Latin America gave us all a sense of what the future leadership of GCI in Canada will look like. Canada and GCI have become a new home for immigrants from many countries, and they are excited to be part of this fellowship and are inviting others to participate in this relationship with our triune God.
As Michael Rasmussen kept mentioning during his presentations on the Hope Avenue, “God is calling all people to be a part of the church…they just don’t all know it yet.”