Elder Update – December 4, 2023
This final month of the year affords our Harvest family an opportunity to reflect back on the year behind us, to finish this year strongly and also to look ahead to all that the Lord has in store for us in 2024. This year. Next year. Our eyes are fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-12). This is a lengthy update. Thank you for taking the time to carefully read it as we share not simply information, but our heart for this ministry.
First, as we head into the Christmas season, the elders would like to offer their heartfelt best wishes to you and your family. We continue to thank God for each of you and are grateful for the opportunity we have been given to lead and minister to you, our wonderful church family.
Looking back over the past year, we have seen both blessings and challenges, but God has been at work in all. Certainly, the passing of our beloved Pastor Dwayne was a huge shock to our church and the evangelical community at large. Seeing more than 700 people gather in our church for Dwayne’s funeral was a testament to the amazing way God worked through him in touching so many lives and families in the short time he was with us. We continue to pray for Hannah, Isaiah, Jahmai and Kya as they move forward together with the Lord in this new reality.
As expected, the loss of Dwayne and the leadership he provided at Harvest had a significant impact. Pastor Todd had to undertake the challenging task of re-organizing the staff team. That task combined with on-boarding a number of new hires, led to a significantly changed organizational structure with new roles for several staff. We’re happy to report that the changes have gone over well and we commend Pastor Todd for his ongoing leadership, wisdom and insight in successfully making this difficult but important change to our ministry structure.
Also this year, after several years of praying and waiting, the Lord led Pastor Patrice Charade to Harvest where he recently joined our staff as Alliston campus pastor and small groups pastor. Please continue to pray for Patrice as he leads this exciting new ministry opportunity in the town of Alliston.
As you know, Harvest is an elder governed church. While the elders are responsible for the three “D’s”—doctrine, direction and discipline, our overall role is to protect the church. That then gives the staff the freedom to lead the church in ministry and the members to serve the church in ministry. In other words: elders protect, staff lead and members serve. The apostle Paul summarizes this well in Ephesians 4:11-12, where he explains this important work is needed to, “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
The elders wish to express their collective gratitude to Pastor Todd and the staff team. Pastor Todd’s strong leadership, powerful preaching and organizational gifting continue to be a huge blessing to the elders and the church. The entire staff team is simply the best. They are wonderful at what they do and a delight to work with. We wish them continued success in their individual ministries in the months and years ahead.
Finally, the elders have approved a Christmas financial gift for each of the staff. It’s our way of blessing them and expressing your gratitude for their selfless efforts on your behalf throughout the year.
Dwayne Francois Memorial Scholarship
This fall, we approved a partnership agreement with two other churches (Summerside London and Calvary Oshawa) to sponsor a scholarship at Heritage College and Seminary. Pastor Dwayne was a graduate of Heritage Seminary (Master of Divinity) and had served faithfully here at Harvest and on the pastoral teams at Summerside and Calvary. To donate to this scholarship fund, go to the Heritage website and specify that your gift is for this scholarship. If you are a student and would like to inquire about eligibility for the fund, email the scholarship committee.
Finance Update and URGENT end-of-year appeal
With just a few weeks left in fiscal year 2023, we want to provide some helpful information as you make end-of-year giving decisions. The Apostle Paul’s words are a good reminder of the blessing attached to faithful giving to the mission and ministry: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
Things to be thankful for…
- Regular giving continues to exceed projections and with our expenses below budget, we are showing a modest operating surplus year-to-date.
- We continue to help many individuals and families both in our church family and in the community through our HOPE Fund with more than $60,000 dispensed year-to-date. There are many, many needs given the economic climate and influx of new arrivals to our country.
- We have in excess of $80,000 set aside for the Alliston campus launch in 2024.
- We have retired $39,000 of debt in 2023.
Things to consider…
- The balances in our undesignated savings and building fund are critically low due to early bond redemptions and the second-floor renovation.
- The remaining balance on our bond debt is $395,700 which needs to be paid out over the next three years and is a strain on our cashflow and therefore affects ministry delivery and our ability to build up the savings and building funds.
The challenge before us…
- Meet the weekly need of $31,200 through the last month of 2023 and finish the year in a surplus
- Meet our 2023 bond payout obligation of $57,000 in December (URGENT)
- Rebuild our undesignated savings and building fund balances
- Fully fund our Alliston campus in 2024
- Complete the second-floor renovation (furniture, audio-visual, kitchen and serving area)
Please consider your part in helping make all of this a reality. Your end-of-year offering to: the general fund, the building fund, the Alliston church plant fund, or the HOPE fund will position us to carry on this ministry unhindered by financial constraints and accomplish the vision the Lord has given us to reach our city and county for Christ.
We are grateful for the finance team that greatly assists the elders in monitoring and managing the financial health of our church and we are grateful for Wendy Brouwer, the finance and HR director on our staff team, who oversees it all and runs the day-to-day part of it.
The tradition surrounding the ordination of clergy (pastors) looks quite different depending on the church or denomination. As an independent, autonomous (self-governing) local church, Harvest has a pathway to ordination for pastors who serve here. The New Testament precedent for this is seen in the “laying on of hands” or commissioning of various leaders in specific offices (roles) as seen in Acts 6:6; 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22; and 2 Timothy 1:6.
In our practice, after the call, character and convictions of a candidate have been thoroughly examined by a council of peers commissioned by the elders for this purpose, the candidate is approved and a formal laying on of hands ordination service is held. At this time, the candidate is given the designation of “Reverend,” as would be common in most traditions. We’re not big on titles like that here, but in a formal sense, this is true here at Harvest.
Currently, both Pastor Todd Dugard, our lead pastor and Pastor Patrice Charade, our small groups and Alliston campus pastor are ordained. You can call them “Reverend Dugard” and “Reverend Charade” if you wish, but they both prefer you be more casual than that.
In the queue for ordination in 2024 are Pastor Nathan Hooper and Jordan Coros, our senior director of family ministries. We expect both men to complete educational programs this year and enter into an ordination process specifically designed for each of them. In Nathan’s case, his previous church esteemed him as a pastor and gave him that title though he did not go through an ordination process. We brought him in as a pastor on that basis. There is a benefit, though, to ordination for Nathan and once he completes a certification he’s working on, we’ll work on his ordination. Jordan is a future church planter and, as you know, a very capable preacher. Once he completes his undergrad degree, he will face an ordination council to affirm him as a pastor.
For the sake of clarity, we’ll mention that we do not ordain women or use the title of “pastor” for women who serve in ministry roles. As a church we hold to what is called a “complementarian” position, believing that the New Testament office of elder/pastor/overseer is set aside for men only. For a fuller explanation on this see our network’s statement.
And an additional note: We freely speak of the “pastoral team” which is a sub-set of our staff team and includes pastors as well as senior directors who function in small-p pastoral roles but who have not been given the title of “Pastor.”
Alliston and beyond
Now that we have Pastor Patrice in place, you’re probably wondering about a timeline for the launching of our much-anticipated Alliston campus. At this point we’re simply going to have you watch for Vision Sunday on January 7 when more information and an opportunity to get engaged will be happening. We’re excited to see this expansion of our ministry and are eager to replicate the plan in other Simcoe County communities in the coming years.
Sojourn London Plant
We have been telling you about Pastor Leo Klus and the plan to plant a new church in London, Ontario. That plan is currently on hold and has been for a few months as Leo and his wife Kim seek the Lord’s direction for a different ministry. The elders have walked closely with Leo and Kim in this whole process and we are confident that the Spirit has closed one door and, it would seem, is opening another. Please pray for Leo and Kim as they humbly seek God’s will. Donations given for the London church plant are considered “donor restricted funds” and will be held in reserve for a future London-area church plant. There is a balance of $22,396.83 in the fund. $32,126.00 has been given to date. Expenses this year were for website development and hosting, facility rentals, hospitality, travel and other ministry expenses. No money was spent on compensation.
Giving through your workplace…
The Lord surprised us in November when a sizable cheque arrived from a foundation that partners with companies to encourage charitable giving among their employees. In this case, the employer matched the employee donations to their charity of choice. In effect, the donor diverted their offerings to the foundation, thereby doubling their giving to the church! Perhaps your employer does the same. It is worth a conversation with your manager, boss or HR department to see if you could also double what you’re giving to the gospel mission in the coming year.
How many people are part of the Harvest family?
Good question. We get asked that from time to time. It isn’t an exact science, but as you know, our staff team works hard to track with those who regularly attend Harvest. Here’s what we know…
In the first 12 weeks of this new ministry year (September to November 2023):
Average in-person attendance is 828
561 in the worship centre
159 in Harvest Kids
Average # of households watching the livestream on Sunday is 153
Average # of on demand video views post-Sunday (full service) is 89
We are always open to hearing from you about new candidates for elder. If you are aware of a mature and qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5) man in our church family who has been faithful and proven in serving as a leader here at Harvest over the past several years, let us know. As our church grows, it becomes more and more important for you to engage in this process and tell us what you’re seeing.
Questions or comments?
The elders would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments about the ministry. Email us at email@example.com