from the director...
Since 2002 this has got to be, hands down, the most exciting piece I’ve ever written for our newsletter.
I have been praying for this announcement to come to fruition for several years!
As many of you know, the community side of the ministry has been growing by leaps and bounds. Both Wes and I are grateful to meet with people one-on-one, encourage regular gatherings, and plan for special events including retreats and conferences. But we’ve reached the point where we are at our capacity and there are so many more opportunities to connect
with sexual minority persons who are looking to explore and grow in their faith in Jesus Christ through the experience of safe and spacious community.
It has also been several years since the ministry had a dedicated staff person to support and mentor youth and be a resource to those who work with youth. There is an urgent need to communicate through our churches, schools, and youth agencies that there is a safe place for students
who are questioning, struggling or navigating the realities of a minority experience of sexuality.
In light of these needs, the Board of New Direction began to plan for the expansion of the New Direction staff team. Job descriptions for two positions were prepared:
Director of Community – a full-time position
Coordinator of Youth Services – a half-time position
After a series of discussions, it was clear that there were two wonderful candidates to fill these positions. I first met these two women when they were students at Regent College in Vancouver completing their Master of Divinity degrees. I was struck by their thoughtful engagement in the conversations around faith and sexuality, their love for Christian community, their passion for justice for those on the margins, and their capacity to understand and embrace the values of generous spaciousness. These women well understand the need for a safe place, for each person to own their own journey and be encouraged to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They are supportive of each person where they are at and their convictions
about how to navigate their sexuality. They bring a wealth of ministry experience, many gifts and talents, and most significantly a deep love for Jesus.
It is with great excitement and gratitude that I announce that Beth Malena
will fill the role of Director of Community
and Danice Carlson
will fill the role of Coordinator of Youth Services
Wendy, Wes, Beth, & Danice at GCN Conference
Beth, who has served at Christian camps, as a church planter, and community builder with marginalized people on the downtown lower east side of Vancouver, will take on the majority of the responsibility of nurturing and developing the New Direction community by making connections, meeting new contacts, offering pastor care, mentoring volunteers, launching new gatherings, and creating liturgical practices that will bring life and cohesion to the Gatherings. Beth says, “I am a pastor's kid who grew up in Saskatoon, where I studied biology & French. I’m good at baking, taking photos, and playing piano, and enjoys eating Miss Vickie’s Salt & Vinegar chips while reading & writing blogs.”
Danice, who has served at Christian camps, as a youth pastor, at a denominational level, and with youth in music and dance, will offer mentorship and pastoral care to students and will train and support volunteers to mentor youth. Danice will also be connecting with different organizations, both Christian and secular, that support youth to ensure that they are resourced and equipped to offer appropriate support to a sexual minority youth coming from a faith-based community. Danice says, “I grew up in the Vancouver area and studied music at UBC while youth pastoring. I’m good at DJ-ing, adding to my expanding record collection, and making breakfast. I love watching 80s movies and drinking good coffee.”
When I first got to know Beth and Danice, I encountered two passionately committed Christian women who were training for full-time ministry. Two women who were wrestling with God to discern their path forward integrating their faith and their sexuality.
“We became roommates nine years ago when we began our theological studies at Regent College in Vancouver. At that point neither of us had consciously recognized that we were gay. Over the years we had many conversations, revelations, and shifting attempts to reconcile our theology and sexuality; our calling to pastoral ministry, and growing attraction to each other. Wendy's workshops, blogs, and e-mail conversations with us were very helpful as we sorted through our confusion. A year ago, we made the exciting but difficult decision to come out publicly and pursue marriage (our wedding is May 3!). Though this sadly meant we could no longer work in the two Baptist churches where we were pastoring, we hoped there would be other ways we could use our pastoral gifts while being authentic about our sexuality and love for each other.”
Beth and Danice’s journey, while uniquely their own, highlights the dilemma of many gay Christians who have grown up in the Evangelical community. Deeply committed to Christ, called and gifted for ministry, after struggle, prayer, discernment, study, and waiting on God – having reconciled their faith and their sexuality in a manner that closes the door to many opportunities to serve God and the church.
“Our hopes have found fulfillment in these new roles at New Direction. We're grateful that Wendy, Wes and the board have trusted us enough to move us across the country to work with them. Though it will be difficult to say goodbye to our many friends and family in Vancouver, we are excited to go on this Toronto adventure together, and eager for the chance to learn from and share our stories with other gay Christians, their family members, and their churches. We would appreciate your prayers as we journey through a lot of change over the next several months.”
Beth and Danice will be moving to Toronto in August to begin their journey with New Direction. I have been praying for several years that the day would come that Beth and Danice would join the New Direction team. This seems to be God’s timing and I am so very grateful for the gifts and the spirit that they will bring to the community of New Direction.
In order to support the new positions of Director of Community and Coordinator of Youth Services, the Board of New Direction has called for a specific fundraising campaign.
The “Vibrant Community” campaign seeks to raise in gifts and pledges of $150,000 over the next two years.
Last year our budget was: $157,000
(with only Wendy and Wes on staff)
This year our budget is: $230,000
(with Beth and Danice starting part-way through)
Next year’s budget: $ 260,000
(with all four staff members for the full year)
To achieve this goal, we will be asking our current donors to support this campaign:
- Will you give a one-time special gift designated to the Vibrant Community campaign?
- Will you give a gift now and make a pledge for next year for this campaign?
- If you are currently a monthly giver, would you increase that amount?
We hope to engage new donors in this campaign:
- If you know friends or family members that you believe would be supportive of our mission to “nurture safe and spacious places for sexual minority persons to explore and grow in faith in Jesus Christ” will you introduce them to the ministry and share our need with them? Giving through our website is simple and convenient.
- Would you approach your church about supporting the work of New Direction? We are reaching the people that many churches are not.
We hope to contact many of you to share more about these developments, answer any questions you might have, and ask for your support in this campaign.
To view our case for support click here
Thank you for your support and for celebrating with us and sharing our excitement!