We want to introduce you to the New Leaf Blog contributors by giving them a chance for them to share their story. Sharing today, Amy Bratton.
Thank you for reading the New Leaf blog! As the Contributing Editor, I get the first look at the blog posts, and I am so excited to continue to share great stories, reflections and conversations from across Canada. But, I have a confession to make: I’m not a Church Planter. So, what am I doing editing a blog for a network that supports church planters? Well, that’s a long story (but I like stories).
I wouldn’t call myself a church planter, but I am part of the core team of a church plant. Four years ago, Jared Siebert told my husband and I we should move from Vancouver to Saskatoon and be a part of a new church plant with Darryl and Vonda Dozlaw. About a year after that conversation, we quit our jobs and moved. Even years later, this move didn’t make it possible to put a simple vocational label on my life. I’m not a church planter. I wouldn’t call myself a pastor, but I do end up in pastoral moments with friends. When asked what my profession is, I generally abstain from answering. Afterall, what do you call it when you dabble in many professions as you support other people, and long for when your own dreams will come to fruition?
I’m not a starter – I’m too much of an anxious person to start things totally from scratch, I like things to be predictable. But as I look back on my life, more often than I realized, I have been a re-starter. I’ve helped people refocus and reboot ministries. I’ve helped to refreshed channels of communication and branding that have gone silent or stale. I’ve spent time listening to people talk about what’s not working and helped them reimagine the way forward that is healthier, more efficient and has systems that are more reflective of what is happening in real life.
So, even though I’m not a planter or starter, here I am helping launch the blog portion of a fledgling network that supports planters and starters. Why would I do this? Well the number one reason is that I love the church. I’m energized by the potential of the New Leaf Network because I love when a healthy spiritual institution creates a tangible experience of safety, community, and communion with God. When the local church is at its best there are creative expressions of faith; there is safety to ask the hard questions, and put the answers into practice; there is transformation. I think New Leaf has an important role to play in helping communities across Canada live into that reality.
I live in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I joked when I lived in larger cities, that Saskatoon is one big suburb of no particular urban core, but now I live that this unique urban environment. I grew up in the suburban part of Saskatoon, moved to Calgary, and then Vancouver for school. Eventually I ended up back in Saskatoon after 15 years away. My current context of ministry is as a lay minister in a young church plant that gathers together for worship, and engages the community, with a particular eye to artists, in a neighbourhood that is torn between the new of revitalization and a long history. If I were to take a risk and start something new, I dream of what it would look like to mentor and teach young adults through life-on-life discipleship during times of discernment and formation. I am always on the lookout for other people who might be holding another piece of this dream. These days I’ve been excited to find some people around me holding out puzzle pieces to see if they fit together as part of the same dream.
The ministry context within the walls of my home is life with my son, Oswald. Along with my husband, Tim, we are grateful for the chance to love this one little person. Oswald brings me so much joy (and some tears), and teaches me new things about myself all the time. In this new stage of life I have been enjoying connecting with other women in this neighbourhood who also have been ministering to the tiny humans inside their own walls.
My focus of theological reflection has been the history of Christian spirituality. I studied at Regent College, where my thesis dug into spiritual encounters of eighteenth-century Methodist lay people. The transformative spiritual encounters recorded in letters and journals, that have been preserved for historians like myself, tell a wonderful story of how God was at work during a time of revival that comes in the midst of social change. My historical work can be found in the book Witnesses of Perfect Love.
So, I hope you will continue to read the blog, and listen to the stories as we Reflect on the Canadian Soul together.