Happy Granville Island

Happy Granville Island

Last year the federal government launched a planning initiative to reimagine what Vancouver BC’s iconic peninsula Granville Island could look like. The Granville Island 2040 Plan was a call to set a course for Granville Island’s future and to articulate its shape for the next 25 years.

Aimed to address potential for land use options, including the repurposing of Emily Carr University buildings and the potential expansion of the Public Market, the plan sought to advance the arts and cultural activity, attract new creative enterprise, and address issues of transportation, governance, and sustainability.

Happy City was brought on as a consulting partner for the Granville Island 2040 Plan. Charles Montgomery shared with stakeholder audiences the places where urban design, programming and human happiness intersect. Armed with goals and aspirations, participants were guided by Happy City in a fun and immersive stakeholder workshop to generate new ideas to grow a healthier, happier Granville Island, with the goals and measures reported to lead to further  engagement.

So much scope to do wondorous things on the special parcel of land in our city!

Just another reason to come and hear Chris Montgomery next Friday evening at Rennie Museum.  He is one of the local ‘paintbrushes’ reimagining our city.  We can’t wait to hear what he has to say.





The Decline of Religion in Canada, or Not.

Unless you’ve added your Pastor as a friend on Facebook, you’re likely not going to see much religious on your feed, if anything at all. And if you still read newspapers, topics related to religion are for the most part absent.  Religion, organized religion, and the number of “church-goers,” is in the decline – but does that mean Canadians are without a faith or any faith at all?

On May 2, 2017 Dr. Angus Reid – Chairman of the Angus Reid Institute – presented on the topic of “Faith and Society: How the forces of a new era will reshape individual and collective religious experience in Canada”.  The lecture was held at St. Mark’s College Vancouver as the 2017 Annual Carr Lecture.  Dr. Reid began by presenting data from the study conducted in April 2017 which summarizes the mindset of Canadians toward religion (source: The study surveyed religious belief and practice in Canada, and grouped Canadians in 5 categories according to the level of religious observance:

  • 21% of respondents were considered to be religiously committed. Of that group, women were considered more committed.
  • 30% were considered to be privately faithful. This group believed in God and prayed, and desired God; however, did not want anything to do with organized religion.
  • 30% were categorized as spiritually uncertain. These people believed in God–but that’s it.
  • The remaining 19% would consider themselves as non-believers. Unsurprisingly, this group featured a high percentage of young males.

Dr. Reid also made several interesting observations such as education having little effect on this outcome. Immigrants also make up a significant portion of the faithful. The real divide, the data concludes, is between the believers (80%) and non-believers (20%); This data completely reverses what the media and what our “secular society” has suggested in the past few decades. Moreover, while there is a decline in the attendance in churches, Canadians are still claiming to have a connection with God and faith.  Dr. Reid continued by making the observation that faith in our society has brought upon greater concern for others, increased community life, greater charitable giving, and greater satisfaction in family life.

The way forward will be a challenge, but not without hope.  Dr. Reid concluded by exhorting those in the room – including Christians and persons of other faith communities – to be good communicators (as this will be foundational for ongoing and future dialogue), to demonstrate forgiveness, mercy, and unity, and lastly, to develop leadership and be leaders at the forefront of change.

You can find an audio recording of the lecture here.

In a short conversation I had with a Muslim woman prior to the lecture, she made a beautiful claim that, while we have differences, it is our faith that will unite us. This is my first blog post here on City in Focus, and I want to begin by encouraging those who read this blog to be leaders who will demonstrate courage in the face of change, to be the light where there is darkness, to demonstrate love to those who are unloved, and to be persons of faith who live out their hope–hope in King Jesus, hope in a better tomorrow. Together we can transform our cities and the canvas of Canada.

Feel free to comment below or reach out to me at to suggest future topics or feedback anything from the post.




The True Solitude

Post by Louise

It is about now that we begin recognize our need to find a place of true solitude. To dial down and really reflect on the year gone and the year ahead. To find time, without family, friends or festivities, to create a place of spiritual reflection.

American writer, Wendell Berry, in his essay What are People For reflects :

“True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                     Wild by Emily Hughes

Consider joining Judy Graves, Tom Cooper and others in ‘front-line’ ministry at a Day Retreat, visioned to create that special space to reflect and re-calibrate. Maybe begin a new set of spiritual practices to help you sustain a healthier mission/personal balance in 2017.

More details HERE



Written by Louise

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon, commonly known as Madame Guyon, ( 1648 – 1717) was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism.

Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on the topic.Madam Guyon

So wherefore art thou quietism in these dying days of 2016?

Is there about to be a resurgence of this practice which offers devotional contemplation and abandonment of the will. Quietism is the ultimate spirit of passivity. It tries to attain a calm acceptance of things as they are without any attempt to resist or change them.  Trump opponents urge us to resist the temptation towards quietism. But I sense a gentle slide into passivity enveloping many whereby the idea of throwing activism to the wind of God seems appealing – a respite from the pressures of willing and wanting justice and peace to be made evident in our times.

Guyon invites us into the prayer closet with alluring words indeed:

“All our care should therefore be directed towards acquiring the greatest degree of inward recollection; nor should we be discouraged by the difficulties we encounter in this exercise, which will soon be recompensed on the part of God, by such abundant supplies of grace, as will render it perfectly easy, provided we are faithful in meekly withdrawing our hearts from outward distractions and occupations, and returning to our centre, with affections full of tenderness and serenity.  When at any time the passions are turbulent, a gentle retreat inwards to a present God, easily deadens them; any other way of opposing rather irritates than appeases them.”                                                                                                                                           Guyon, Spiritual Progress

I wish that my turbulent passions could be so easily deadened through prayer!

I suspect that 2017 will see a move towards quietism – and its less radical ‘siblings’, meditation and contemplation.


Tom’s Christmas Message


One of the most popular scriptures used at Christmas is Luke 2:14,
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward all.”

It sounds delightful, a utopian goal that most of us would desire.

Yet if you look at a fuller translation, the text gets a bit more disconcerting:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people of His gracious purposes.”

So that’s the rub. If, like the angels, we glory in God, and hope to share in the announced benefits of peace and good will among each other, then we must seek to be people of His gracious purposes.

That seems at first sight to be both impossible and unknowable. But the miracle of Christmas is the birth of the baby Jesus and He is the key to the mystery.

If we follow this Jesus and live by his example and teaching then we must necessarily walk in both God’s graciousness AND in His purposes.

Jesus asks us to “love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.” As we increasingly grow in this desire and behaviour, then peace and goodwill among us all increase.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Merry Christmas



Scotch, Big Breakfast and Retreats


Discover our winter events: the First BC Jesuit Scotch Tasting Reception, our January Breakfast, the 51st Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast, and our upcoming retreats.  Read MORE

Faith and Works

Nice work happening at Tim Keller’s Redeemer Church in New York if you are looking at how faith plays out in the marketplace – like we are! We like this extract from their webpage. Encouraging to know that this idea of integrating faith into all spheres of life is pivotal to making sense of the gospel in our lives:

“We might see them [faith and work]as estranged. But, in truth, they share a crucial aim: to see the unseen. Nothing new has been made without faith. Nothing unseen has been seen without work. When the force of what we do hits why we do it, we wither or we flourish. We don’t want to just examine that collision. We want to live in the intersection where it occurs. To celebrate what flies. And to rethink what falls. To map. To explore. To create. To risk and to fail better. Not just for a nicer 9 to 5. But to serve the city we belong to and love. It comes down to one key truth: work matters. So do it well. ” Faith and Work at Redeemer


Art can heal PTSD’s invisible wounds


In light of our recent talk on trauma at our regular Talks with Tom breakfast at The Vancouver Club we were interesting in hearing about the connection between Art and our Mental Health.

Trauma silences its victims, says creative arts therapist Melissa Walker, but art can help those suffering from the psychological wounds of war begin to open up and heal. In this inspiring talk, Walker describes how mask-making, in particular, allows afflicted servicemen and women reveal what haunts them — and, finally, start to let it go.


The Vancouver Consultation City Summit is Coming

vancouverconsultationfrontCity in Focus is supporting the City Summit which is the capstone event happening on November 24 and 25th in Vancouver. The Vancouver Consultation has spent the past 18 months engaging leaders of our local churches and gathering stories of hope and asking questions in our neighbourhoods. At the Summit we will come together to showcase seeds of hope and dialogue and connect with each other. It is going to be a pivotal time in the life of this beautiful city of ours.

God wants us to see and to love our city the way he does. Vancouver is celebrated as one of the most livable urban regions on the planet and represents in many ways the desired future of cities. As a primary gateway city between Asia and the West, it is globally significant in fashioning culture and signaling sociological trends. But our very success as a city masks profound spiritual confusion and social dysfunction.  

God wants us, his church, to join him in seeking after the holistic wellbeing of our city.  Why? Because this is our calling as his people, and because he has bound our own shalom to our city’s (Jeremiah 29:7). He is already empowering us through his Spirit to labour effectively for the spiritual and social transformation of our neighbours and neighbourhoods. If together we say yes to God, Vancouver can become an ideal laboratory for 21st Century mission in, to, and from cities around the world.  

Over the course of the year, the Vancouver Consultation is engaging leaders across the diversity of churches and ministries in

  • Discovering and documenting highly effective local examples of mission
  • Dialoguing with leaders of other sectors (government, etc.) for the common good
  • Praying in a concerted, informed way for our city

The Consultation is discerning answers to three overarching questions: 

·         What is God doing in our neighborhoods and ministries – where do we see signs of hope and deep flourishing? If we had to prove that God is alive in Vancouver, where would we take people to show them?  

·         What are the primary spiritual wounds, idols, and social injustices in the city?

·     How is the Holy Spirit prompting us to encourage, learn from, and cooperate   with each other as well as with people of good will so that we become catalysts for peace and well being.