Last fall, on November 2nd, we had special service at Sojourn to celebrate our first anniversary. We’d made it through our first year as a church and so we thought we’d invite some friends and have a pre-service dinner and celebrate together in worship. It was a special evening for us. During the service we invited Daniel, Tenille, and John, three members of our community, to share with us some of what their experience at Sojourn has been like, and some of the reasons for which they have come to appreciate Sojourn Church. This is what they had to say.
Daniel is in his second year at UBC, where he is studying business. He first came to Sojourn in January 2014 and has been a faithful member of our community for the past year. Read on to find out what brought him to Sojourn (hint: hungry university student):
“I’ve come to realize that Sojourn is an apt descriptive word for our community. Many people come from across Canada and the world to study at UBC or Regent College. They sojourn, or stay for a little while, and then continue on. Although this does bring challenges, it is also a source of diversity that makes Sojourn unique.
How did I get here? I was going to University Chapel in the mornings in the first term, and I decided to go to the night service second term. I knew from the website that the staff was the same, and they had free bread, so what was the worst that could happen? Compared to what I was used to Sojourn was weird. We had this liturgy sheet, we said prayers out loud, that were written, and we passed around a chalice with wine, not grape juice, in it. I decided not to make any hasty judgments, and to give it a chance, and then if there were some super strange Anglican things that they did, then I would reconsider. What really kept me coming was not the bread but the people. Going to Ekklesia, the Wednesday night group which I would highly recommend checking out, I have met many very intelligent people who are seeking after God and are committed to this community. More than that, I think that the people here are genuine and authentic in seeking out God, fellowshipping with Jesus and his body in community, and devoting themselves to being empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring the Gospel to this world.
I think my best memory, or series of memories was doing the Lent experiment, which is the 40 days before Easter. Every morning and evening, there were prayers and material to think on. I found that it had a large impact on my thinking while I was doing it. We had a prayer all-nighter, praying for the world, the city, the church, and everything, and also a super cool service called Tenbrae. Sojourn has brought more meaning to the way I understand the bible and worship. Although I’m still learning a lot about why we do what we do, it suffices that I don’t think Anglican liturgy or church tradition is weird, or that tradition is the be-all-end-all. All I can say is that for me, it has helped me deepen my understanding and relationship with God.”
Tenille is a University Student from South Africa, where she is studying Psychology. She came to the University of British Columbia for one semester as a transfer student and quickly got involved with Sojourn. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were not able to convince her to stay Canada and remain with Sojourn. Here's her Sojourn story:
“Hello! My name is Tenille, and I came to UBC for one semester as an exchange student from South Africa. Living around the corner in a UBC residence, I found Sojourn at the start of my exchange. I thought I would take a couple of weeks to look at churches, but on my first Sunday at Sojourn I found a small community I could call home for my few months in Canada. I have grown to love this community and can say that at Sojourn I have been able to learn and grow, serve where I can, and make good friends from different places.
Being such a small group, it is easy to build good relationships quickly. I found I was welcomed and immediately taken in. A highlight of my semester was the Sojourn weekend away, which was filled with games, campfire songs, great food and great teaching. This time with a great group of people in a beautiful place produced much laughter, fun, friendship and spiritual growth, all of which continued and increased after the retreat. On top of this, because Sojourn is small it also means that everyone has a role to play! This made getting involved easy, and in my second week they already had me helping out!
My time at Sojourn has been a good time of learning. Although much of Sojourn is different to my home church, having gone to an Anglican school I was familiar with Anglican services. At Sojourn I found I was encouraged to understand what was behind Anglican traditions. With this deeper understanding I developed an appreciation for many of the traditions, the thought and heart behind them, and for the rich words of prayers that have been prayed for centuries by brothers and sisters all over the world. My time at Sojourn I will always be thankful for!”
John is a longtime member of the Community at University Chapel, and has been with us at Sojourn since its earliest days. Originally from England, John has been living in Vancouver for over 30 years. He is married to Norlene and they have four adult children. In his spare time, John enjoys walking, railways and travelling. These are some of the reasons John loves being a part of Sojourn:
“Among the many things I have enjoyed about Sojourn this past year, the following three stand out...
First, the liturgy. I have a growing appreciation for the rich language of the prayers of the church from around the world and the church from history. There is an economy of language but also rich and deep meaning in the words used. At Sojourn, we have used a liturgy from the church in Kenya as well as from the Book of Common Prayer. Both liturgies are based upon and make extensive use of text from the Bible. This invites us to participate and draws us into worship.
Second, the oversight and collegiality of the Church. I have appreciated the oversight and support provided by the bishops and archdeacon to us as a church and to Geoff. I am grateful for the training given and for the support from fellow clergy and staff. Being a pastor can be a lonely job and it is very helpful to have peers engaged in similar work to share experiences. From my years of helping to lead an independent church, I know this can be a lonely road also. We need the wider church and I am thankful to ANiC for providing that to us.
Third, the opportunity to participate in a ministry to students and young people. I became a Christian during my first year of university and was discipled and given opportunities to lead both by Inter Varsity and by churches I attended. I would encourage all who attend Sojourn to get involved and to grow in your faith. I am grateful that Sojourn can offer opportunities for leadership, as well as the support to help us all grow.