Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Do YOU Do In The Summer?

As most readers of this blog know, I provide chaplaincy services at the BC Legislature.  Because most of what I is based on a ministry of presence, I’m often asked what I do in the summer.  To be honest, I used to dread the question because it felt like I needed to justify my time through the summer.  However, over the past few summers, I’ve come to accept that summer is an opportunity for me to recharge, refocus and reach out. 

Life and ministry is very demanding when the legislature is in session. It’s not uncommon to go for multiple weeks with very little time off.  Between weekdays at the legislature, weekends visiting churches and just the general stuff I need to do to run a ministry (administration, donor relations, fundraising, etc.), there’s not a lot of time left for anything else.  By the time the session ends, I’m as eager to come up for air as the MLA’s are. 
One of our best fundraising ideas has been the IronMan of Golf event.  We use the money raised from the event to connect with MLA’s through the summer.  This summer, I’ve already made several trips to Vancouver and one into the Interior to connect with members.  Those are usually very relaxed visits, as the pressure of the next meeting isn’t as intense. Where possible, I’ve been able to connect MLA’s with local pastors and ministry leaders.  It’s been exciting to watch key leaders begin to build relationships that can have a huge impact in their community.  One of my highlights is also meeting office staff and connecting with them.  In many cases, these are the people I chat with via email as I set up visits in Victoria and in the constituency offices.

I’m also doing something new this summer.  I’m on the “Can you come and say grace at my fundraiser?” tour.  It’s been a great way to support MLA’s and meet new people.  Sometimes it’s golf, sometimes it’s dinner, but it’s always interesting.  There’s always someone who wants to know more about our work and what I do, which gives the trip double value.
I also use the summer to read, plan, prepare, write and think, although not always in that order.  Sometimes, thinking is best done at the beach, on a run or while I ride my motorcycle.  I’m also working on some new teaching material for the fall that I hope to release in CD format.  It’s something new for us, but I think you’ll enjoy it. 

Finally, summer is a time to rest.  We are taking some vacation time to soak up the sun, play on the beach and watch a few baseball games. It’s always good – and important! – to spend time with Barb and the kids.

Hope you are having a great summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Do MLAs Do In The Summer?

Without fail, somewhere in mid-summer a local radio station asks people how they feel about the fact that MLA’s get paid throughout the summer when the legislature isn’t in session.  Inevitably, callers are opposed to the idea of MLAs being paid and there’s a long list of callers who have taken the host’s bait to get all riled up yet again. 

If MLA’s only worked when they were in Victoria, then I’d be opposed to them being paid all year round, too.  However, I know that the bulk of their work happens in and through their constituency offices all across the province, all year round.  
Each MLA represents approximately 60,000 people.  In densely populated regions like Metro Vancouver, some MLA’s could quite literally walk around their entire riding in an afternoon.  Others require a full day to drive across their ridings. In those cases, work-related travel alone takes up an enormous amount of time and energy. 

In broad terms, there are several aspects to the work of a member of the Legislative Assembly.  The largest part is in the area of advocacy.  If you’ve ever tried to navigate through government bureaucracy, you’ll appreciate how difficult this can be.  MLAs work with community groups, as well.  MLA’s meet with business groups, local government, special interest groups, and others in order to support and help members of their community who are working together to enhance their community and region.

Another part of their work is with committees.  Committee work happens year round and is an extension of what happens in the legislature.  Committees hear presentations from people across the province, which requires days and evenings of meetings and, at times, long travel days, as well. This work forms the basis of government policy and legislation so it’s important that it’s done well.

Public relations is the third part of what MLA’s do when the legislature isn’t in session.  PR is everything from attending large community events (Canada Day, Remembrance Day and BC Day, for example) to the openings of businesses and offices, as well as government announcements and community fundraisers,.  There’s always an event for a politician to go to.

An MLAs work is endless and that’s why it’s important that we continue to pray for them as they serve our province, even when the legislature isn’t sitting.
Coming Up Next Week:  What do YOU do in the Summer?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Early Morning Phone Call

My phone rang early yesterday morning.  When I answered it, I was greeted by a familiar voice.  I've known this person for a long time.  The last few years have been fairly challenging and difficult for them.  After a bit of small talk, the caller said she had some important news to share.  She proceeded to tell me that after many years of living life on her own terms, she had recommitted her life to Christ last week.  This was a welcome but thrilling surprise to me.  I feel a bit like the father in the parable of the prodigal son. It's been a bit of a long and winding road with many ups and downs along the way but I am hopeful (and FAITH FULL) that the future looks much better than the recent past has been for both her and her family.  In the meantime, I can't stop singing and celebrating because of this very good news!

Don't stop believing!!