Welcome to “one neighbourhood”. My name is Renée Embree, I was born in Halifax, NS moved around quite a bit during my childhood and spent my teen years in Ottawa, ON but have always kept being pulled back to Atlantic Canada. I ran into God’s grace (quite literally) as a young adult, while attending Simon Fraser University on the West Coast. That grace continues to amaze me, confuse me, transform me and call me to more. These blogs are musing about “one neighbourhood” and how you, I, leaders, youth groups, churches can be a sign, in words and deeds, of God’s grace to the neigbhourhoods where we live, work, play and do church together.
This question about joining God to see His transformation come to a neighbourhood has been stirring in me for a long time. It probably began growing up in my family where whether we were on a camping trip or visiting someone in their home we talked about “leaving things/people better than when we found them”. Then on a trip to India in 2007 I was convicted by the fact that every church we visited – big, small or in-between – we asked them “What are you doing to be good news to your neighbourhood?” and the amazing part, every single one of them had an answer! They were seeking ways to tangibly be a sign of God’s goodness to those around them, to let God’s heart of grace and love overflow from them to others. They were seeking to be a part of what God is doing to make all things new. When I came home I started asking the question of myself and others regularly. God’s Kingdom has broken into our world, in word and deed, and we get to be a part of what is happening to transform lives and communities with the Good News. My heart and life is sold on being a part of joining God in changing my neighbourhood(s) and inviting others to join in. This blog is some of what I’m learning and messing up along the way. In particular in this blog we want to try to give some practical help to LEADERS who are seeking to equip people to live with this missional heart in their neighbourhoods.

While this calling goes beyond any one role, I currently get to live out this passion and vision through serving as the Director of Youth and Family Ministries for the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches (http://baptist-atlantic.ca/) and as the Director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Program at Acadia Divinity College (http://www.acadiadiv.ca/). You can follow me @r_embree or follow the Youth and Family Team @cabcyf

We’d love to hear your stories of this at work at #1neighbourhood (Yup, neighbourhood is spelled the Canadian way!)

Adrian and I share this blog and this vision for Atlantic Canada, so I’ll let him introduce himself…

My name is Adrian Gardner and I was also born in Halifax, NS but moved with my family to Grand Bay-Westfield NB when I was 5 years old. I consider myself fortunate to still call this community home and my neighbourhood.  My parents introduced me to God’s grace at a young age and I am thankful for the way the Lord has been at work in my life through all of the ups and downs. Life so far really has been an adventure in following God.

A very significant part of this adventure for me happened in the South American country of Bolivia in 2010. This part of my story is very similar to Renee’s. It was during these 3 weeks away that I was challenged to see the church as a transformational presence in the community. I was so impressed by the way communities of faith were being good news in their neighbourhoods and desired to be part of that here at home.

This is still my desire today and I get to take part in this as Associate Director of Youth and Family Ministries with the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches and as Associate Pastor at Grand Bay Baptist Church. You can follow me @AdrianDGardner.