Saturday, August 29, 2015


In our housing complex, Christine and I observe numerous gradations of maturity among adults. Some understand what it means to live responsibly in community and some don't care. For the latter group, individualistic interests control personal decisions and that is immaturity. In contrast, a vacationing fourth floor apartment individualist has been at ground level for two weeks voluntarily hand watering community plants for everyone's benefit. That is maturity at its altruistic finest. I understand that in churches we mean more than biological and psychological maturity but spiritual maturity as well. Within the context of Christian development, maturity is expressed as setting aside personal rights and ambitions as Jesus did for us, and prioritizing other people in our investment of time, energy, and everything else. This strength of maturity lends itself to being a nonconformist, a rebel and a maverick for Christ. Christlike individuals, mature in their relationship with a triune God, self-effacing and compliant to the will of the Father who authorizes them to be pioneers, innovators, forerunners, pacesetters, visionaries.

Addendum: This week the occupants of two units have moved and our unanimous corporation exclamation is 'good riddance.' They didn't respect the other residents of the community and created disturbances. I am certain there have been a few churches who after seeking peace and enduring conflicts have also been happy to see some members leave. Maturity is that important. It’s not a matter of age but of choice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Christine and I sat at White Rock Beach this morning, with muffins and coffee to reminisce while we enjoyed an early summer morning. We looked back 48 years to another August 12th when we dressed as finely as we could and together with our families we met friends assembled at Calvary Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. There Rev. James Vold officiated for us a ceremony that permitted us to say to each other, “I will love you for a lifetime.” That day was a happy day for us, memorable, pretty for so many reasons, supported by well wishers, blessed by the LORD.   

Even at my age, it feels like an impossible fact to tell someone that my wife and I are celebrating our 48th Anniversary.  Forty-eight years can be a great deal of history. As we chatted today, we thought about how our culture and societal moralities have changed. We thought about the pressing national and international issues of the Sixties, and we compared them to the pressures of today. We spoke to each other about the struggles, the adjustments, the determination that were required for two people to make it to the 48th anniversary of a mutual commitment. We are thankful that we are here together. We are grateful to have children and grandchildren. We are content that we were able to say loving and respectful goodbyes to both sets of our parents. We are content to have served congregations together with complimentary gifts. We wonder how to make use of the years yet ahead in a responsible and fulfilling way. Always at the beginning and though out our lives, God has factored significantly into plans, choices and actions, and we believe he will again, but we are uncertain how that will play out.

The photos were taken in Montebello Park in St. Catharines. The Wedding Party was comprised of ( L to R) David Langlois, Robert Langlois, Jim Langlois, May Langlois, Ron Unruh, Christine Langlois, Tina Unruh, Edward Unruh, Neale Unruh, Murray Unruh. Both brothers on both sides were as yet unmarried. Both parents on both sides have passed away in recent years. The Church building in which we were married was sold and a new church building constructed elsewhere. The London College of Bible and Missions later merged with Toronto Bible College to become Ontario Bible College (OBC), and much later Tyndale Bible College. I later graduated with a Master of Divinity from Ontario Theological Seminary, the graduate school of OBC, and much later with a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago). Christine’s gifting and service was always in music and worship and together we worked in Calvary Bible Church, Smiths Falls; Ferndale Bible Church, Peterborough; Wishing Well Acres Baptist Church, Toronto; Cloverdale Baptist Church, Cloverdale BC. We closed off our formal service life when I was President of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada, a denomination of 150 churches. Christine found a worthwhile ministry to pastors’ wives. We’ve done well. Happy Anniversary to us.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


CBC’s first service held in new sanctuary - photo from church website
A memorial service for a friend was my reason for entering the brand new facility that now contains the congregation of the Cloverdale Baptist Church. It is commendably well designed, spacious and sensible. Christine and I were there along with friends from numerous activity and interest groups to honour Ted Hewlett and reflect on our memories of him. Ted and Mary have been members of CBC for many years, dating to the ten-year span during which I served as lead pastor there.
Cloverdale Baptist Church being dismantled 

Well, not truly there, but rather in the structure that has been disassembled to make way for the new building and its required parking. In recent months, having intermittent glimpses of the vanishing older facility, my nostalgic memories gave way to thoughtful thanksgiving for all that happened in 85 years.

Cloverdale Baptist Church was a dream that became realized. It began simply enough, as a home Bible study for interested people whose increasing numbers birthed the notion of starting a Bible-believing church with a building in Cloverdale. These pioneers were convinced this was God's idea which he invested into their willing hearts. First, in 1929 several families rented the Liberal Hall in Cloverdale to hold worship services led by area pastors. The Home Missions Committee of an association known as Regular Baptists had been considering starting a church work in the area, and suggested that this fledgling fellowship affiliate with them. The group was formally recognized as a Baptist work on March 10, 1931.

Church leaders and members rose to the challenge with an eager desire to reach their community, so they visited homes and made contacts and extended invitations to attend and over a period of time, people responded to warmth and friendship, believed the good news that was preached, were baptized as new believers and became active members. Church membership grew throughout the 1940's so one acre of land was purchased at 17400-60th Avenue, where the congregation built a new facility and dedicated it to the Lord on October 11, 1962. That building was a catalyst to further growth which included various ministries for special groups, missionaries commissioned overseas, and daughtering other churches. 
Cloverdale Baptist Church, 1981-2015
Then in August 1981 the congregation moved to the present site which then was comprised of 12.8 acres, and there a new 22,500 sq. ft. building with a five acre footprint that included an auditorium seating 550-600 people, ample parking, a gymnasium, Christian education classroom facilities, a smaller chapel/fellowship room and a kitchen. Christine and I came in autumn 1991 to a church of 200 in a building surrounded by bush and farmland. On March 15, 1992 at an Anniversary Service charter members Helmut and Emily Seiler represented the congregation as they put a match to the mortgage certificate for the building as a symbolic gesture indicated the full payment of that debt, and everyone then praised God for his faithfulness in helping this congregation see accomplish this. The following years became filled with a Daycare program, a School of Music, a Skate Church to reach youth, a highly effective youth program, High Power Soccer camps in the community, a Seniors program and growing Sunday attendance. Bush and fields gave way around us to almost overnight housing communities and shopping plazas. 

A full auditorium and visionary people birthed two initiatives. First, in 1995 the launch of a congregation in Murrayville comprised of 50 adults plus their children who volunteered to go with a pastor and $100,000 to begin a brand new work. 
Southridge Fellowship Baptist
Today Southridge Baptist Church occupies a functional new building in Murrayville. Second, because this was a burgeoning area, blueprints were drawn for a new sanctuary seating 1200 people to be added to the existing building using the courtyard as a large glass-topped lobby. Concurrent with that, plans for the seven remaining acres of grasses, included three three-story saleable multi-unit condominium buildings and one similar size subsidized or affordable housing complex. All four buildings would be centred with a vast park area with walkway making it accessible to the surrounding community.

Cloverdale Baptist Church 2015
Some plans belong to God and some are set aside. The latter one was not realized. I concluded my service in 2001. In recent years, new leadership opted to sell seven acres to a developer, and to meet the demands of today with the construction of this new facility. Many new memories will be made in the years to come, yet for many of us, it is appropriate to be thankful for lives that were changed and challenged, and relationships that were deepened and healed because of God's presence and the faithfulness of his people in all of those earlier years.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Cell phones in cars make life more convenient but they can be a distraction. Driver distraction is a factor in about 4 million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year. Remarkably, we have prioritized cell phone use. 

What about children in the car, specially crying infants? Children are four times more distracting than adults as passengers, and infants are eight times more distracting than adults as passengers. What about unsecured pets, or use of beverages, or cosmetics application while looking at oneself in the visor mirror? What about listening to music, a talk show, the news? And what about smoking weed in a blue cloud with a crowd and then climbing into cars and zoom, zoom. 

And what are drive-throughs for if not to obtain drinks and fast food to take away in a moving vehicle and consume while moving to a destination? That requires some driver attention. We want to reduce distractions from a driver's primary task because 80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as a contributing factor

It's true that cellphone distraction has a similar effect on driving, as does alcohol impairment. Distracted drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a crash than attentive drivers. Talking while driving may not be a major distraction but it does increase the risk of crashing up to 4 times. Texting increases the risk of crashing by up to 23 times. Government has taken action. We have identified cellphone use as a principal distraction and we have legislated a ban.

So, as of January 1, 2010 the use of cellphones or any handheld portable electronic devices by drivers is restricted in B.C. Drivers are not permitted to make or receive calls, send or read text messages or e-mails; cannot hold or operate any electronic device (i.e. cellphone, MP3 player, GPS Navigation System). The fine is $167 and 3 penalty points. 

Drivers can use hands-free cell phones and devices if they can be used by voice activation or pressing a single button once only. But here's the rub. It was thought that using a hands-free device while driving is safer than hands on. Studies show that hands-free cellphones distract drivers the same as hand-held phones.  It’s the conversation that distracts the driver – not the device. Economic losses caused by traffic collision-related health care costs and lost productivity are at least $10 billion annually. That's about 1% of Canada's GDP! (Government of Canada). Will we legislate on other causes of distraction as well? How will we monitor weed smoker’s behind the wheel?