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Meeting or partying? A house church ministry has fun with their annual general meeting.

What is the purpose of a congregation's annual general meeting? Isn't it to reflect on what God has been doing among us through the previous year and plan for the coming year? It is necessary to vote on a budget and a few other pressing concerns, but mostly it's to celebrate the mission and ministry of our congregations.

In the Cariboo, we are one congregation dispersed in house churches across a vast geographic area. All our major decisions (such as the annual budget or calling new ministry personnel) must be done by printed ballot. So the session approved the questions to be put to the congregation. There were two this year. Then we planned a party.

It was our third annual House Church Rendezvous. We set aside the larger part of a day in February, borrowed a church building and invited all the folks from each of our house churches. Before the rendezvous, ballots for the two decisions were distributed and people were able to bring their ballots with them or pass them on through the pastors.

People from almost every ministry point gathered for an afternoon. Folks shared their gifts on stage through songs, skits, poetry and stories for the entertainment and encouragement of us all. Our elders and volunteers were thanked with small gifts. A missionary family about to go out from amongst us gave a report of their work.

It was followed by a time of visiting, which included games to get people mixing and meeting one another. All the annual reports from each area of ministry were set up on walls and tables so everyone could see what God had been doing among us through the year. The annual report newsletter was available for people to take home.

Eating is always essential to any party. We had a wonderful potluck dinner in small table groups. There were rules for the tables: no one could sit with more than one other person from their house church so that the table groups were a real mix of people from across the region. Table groups could accumulate points for their variety of ages, distances travelled, knowledge about the ministry and other house church trivia. The tables with the highest scores shared gift baskets of prizes. At the tables there were also strange and humorous photos taken throughout the history of the Cariboo mission; table groups were invited to make up a story about the pictures. Dinner time was loaded with laughter and conversation, bringing together people who belonged to different house churches and, though technically in the same congregation, had never met face to face before.

Our wonderful day finished with worship led by a band made up of musicians from three different house churches. We all left sated by fellowship, great food, uplifting worship and the encouragement of seeing what God had done among us and through us through the year. Jesus loved a good party and we never hear of him going to a meeting run by Robert's Rules of Order. Why not turn your AGM into an ACP (an annual church party)?

Rev. Shannon Bell-Wyminga is a member of the Cariboo House Church ministry team.

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Title Annotation:Letter from the Cariboo
Author:Bell-Wyminga, Shannon
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CBRI
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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