WRITTEN BY: CATHIE OSTAPCHUK
What is Gather? How did the movement begin? What seeds of conversations was it borne out of?
Some of you have raised your hand to become part of the Gather movement at various points in the journey. And we don’t want to assume you know the whole story.
So at the risk of you having heard some of this before we wanted you to know the story of where we began and what has brought us here.
In November 2014 – a conversation began on Facebook regarding the relevance of Christian women’s ministry in Canada. Out of that conversation, four women in Ontario decided to Gather 30 women to take the conversation further and Imagine what it might be like to create an infrastructure that might connect women across Canada.
Here is the language that came out of that first Gathering:
GATHER is an invitation for Canadian women from coast-to-coast to explore what God is stirring in our hearts, lives and stories. Our desire is to participate in what He is doing, creating momentum, clarity and purpose for a uniquely Canadian expression of God's heart for us. Together, we hope to gather and share resources, encouragement and strength, sister-to-sister, that will fuel us as women & leaders as we carry Christ into our individual and collective spheres of influence.
We defined our five guiding values. You can see them here
We stand behind our Statement of Faith. You can find it here
And in June 2015 we invited 70 Christian women leaders from across Canada, geographically diverse, to join us in Ontario to speak into the vision of the Gather movement.
In November of 2015 we gathered again for Gather Voices where 25 women from diverse theological, cultural and generational contexts brought their voices to help shape what “Gather is…” moving forward.
We thought you might want to know that along the way over one thousand women across Canada have raised their hand to say, “I’m in”…and we are immersing ourselves in the work of becoming visible to each other and cultivating the fertile soil of the Canadian landscape. We want to know all of you – where you are – and how to connect us all coast to coast.
We thought you might want to know that in 2016 we are focused on Presence – online and on the ground. And so we have determined to Show Up. In Surrey, BC on April 2nd. (click here to register) In Edmonton, Alberta – registration will begin on May 21. In Quebec. And in Toronto in October, 2016.
We thought you might want to know that our desire is to forge strong connections with all of you, one conversation and one relationship at a time.
We want you to know that being connected means being relational, being in community, and being collaborative. We want our net to be cast wide – coast to coast – but we want our relationships with each other – the one, the few, and the many, to be sown deep. Deep into the fabric of each others’ lives, deep into the soil of Canada. Deep into the call of Jesus to love each other and be unified as His Bride. We want to come alongside and support the work of the church. We want to partner with organizations that are called to give voice and visibility to issues of poverty and injustice in our nation and beyond.
We thought you might want to know that we will be launching our Gather Conversation Circles after each of our Gatherings. And we would love you to sign up to be involved
We thought you might want to know that in 2017 we will be launching Gather Portals – to leadership development, to coaching communities, to further broaden and deepen the network of uniquely Canadian Christian women.
We thought you might want to know that we believe we are better together. So today, tomorrow, this year, next year, and for years to come, we are here together on the ground with you. Fully present with God. Fully present with ourselves. And fully present with each other. Let us Gather.
Cathie Ostapchuk is the Co-Visionary of Gather Women.