About Elevation

At Elevation, we’re committed to creating a culture of thoughtful spiritual engagement, fostering a community of authentic belonging, and inspiring and empowering active, generous involvement in the world around us. You can read a detailed overview of what we call Our Key Values below

 

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KEY VALUES

With Jesus as our Centre, our Source and the One through whom we read scripture, we seek to live out the following values with authenticity and humility:

Embracing Spirit-Led Direction and Growth

We aspire to be a people who seek to encounter Jesus together, and who experience personal and communal transformation through the ongoing cultivation and renovation of our faith. We desire to be open to the ongoing work and guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives – marked by curiosity, humility, a willingness to take time to listen and the courage to take risks.

Embodying Justice, Equity and Good News for All

We aspire to be a people seeking justice and peacemaking by joining with the work of Jesus in the redemption and renewal of our relationships with God, one another and the Earth. We recognize our call to be people of reconciliation, and seek to live this out in the ways that we both contemplate our spirituality and work toward a more just and mended world.

Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion

We aspire to be a people who reflect the diversity of our region, where all people are both invited and welcomed into full participation. We desire to build a bigger table for all – creating spaces where the dignity and belovedness of each individual is recognized and where we lean into the practice of hospitality together as a community.

Nurturing Interdependent Community

We aspire to be a people who experience a sense of belonging and deep relationships as we share life together. We seek to walk with integrity, honesty, transparency and collaboration with one another – reimagining how power is held and fostering wider participation in all areas of our community.

Living Generously Beyond Ourselves

We aspire to be a people with open hands and deep gratitude, who seek to imitate and extend the compelling generosity of God to others. We strive to care deeply about what happens beyond our church community – expressing love for our neighbours, our city, and the world we live in.

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HOW WE BELIEVE

Just because a group of people have chosen to gather around a common purpose doesn’t mean they will always think alike. While doctrinal differences often lead to division, at Elevation, it’s our desire to create a culture where diversity is valued and unity is strengthened. You can read more below.

Theological Commitment

We have chosen to live with firm but permeable boundaries*, where we clearly articulate our corporate theological commitments, while also allowing for the free flow of ideas. We believe it’s possible to have unity without demanding uniformity.
After all, the life-giving centre for Elevation is not a particular statement or belief, but a trusting way of life rooted in Jesus. Our Key Values articulate what it looks like for someone to follow Jesus as a member of the Elevation community.

While beliefs do not comprise the centre of our faith, they can help give shape and meaning to the centre. We humbly hold on to a number of core faith expressions and the teaching and leadership of the church will draw from this well of understanding. Those who believe differently are still able (and are, in fact, invited) to contribute to the theological vision of the community as a whole.

In light of all of this, and in unity with our broader Jesus Collective family, we acknowledge the formational significance of the following core faith expressions:

Jesus is Lord.

Everything about us starts and ends with Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the author and finisher of our faith, and the King of our Kingdom. Jesus is God in the flesh, the union of God and humankind, our doorway to knowing, understanding, and experiencing God and our true humanity, and the model and means for our reunion with God. Jesus is the authoritative living Word of God to us, and we submit to him as his lifelong apprentices, Kingdom citizens, commissioned ambassadors, and beloved friends. Through Jesus, we get to know the Father and experience the Spirit.

God is Love.

The essence of the Source and Sustainer of the universe is love. Love is relational energy, within and between persons. God is, by definition, always relating within Godself. God is triune, three-in-one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything God does is an expression of who God is, which is eternal,
infinite love.

The Holy Spirit Empowers.

The Spirit, the breath of God, blows us toward Jesus, grows the fruit of love in our hearts, empowers us for ministry, and distributes gifts among the Church to help build up the Body of Christ. Through the Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, and continue to experience the presence of God at all times for conviction, confirmation, and comfort.

We Are Valuable.

Humans are made in God’s image and likeness, made by Relationship for relationship, by Love for love. As the parables of the lost coin, lost sheep, and lost son affirm, we have lost our way through our own sin and are unable to save ourselves. But Jesus shows us a God who values us enough to pursue us, restore us to who we were made to be, and celebrate with us whenever we come home.

Something is Wrong.

The Bible teaches, history demonstrates, and experience affirms that something is wrong with everything. This world is filled with both beauty and horror, and humans amplify experiences of both. The Bible calls the corrosive force that separates us from God, from each other, and from our better selves, “sin”. Jesus came to heal our hearts, save us from sin, and show us a better way.

Saved By Grace.

Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God brought an end to his own religion (the Old Covenant), inaugurated the New Covenant (a new way of being in relationship with God and one another), and offers us eternal and abundant life now, all as a gift. In this New Covenant, God gives all believers a new heart, a new spirit, and God’s own Spirit to change us from the inside out. This is pure grace, which we receive by simple faith, expressed in following Jesus.

Faith is Following.

To believe in Jesus is to trust Jesus, which is to follow Jesus. Biblical “faith” includes “faithfulness”. Jesus calls us to follow him, through death, to life. Christians pledge their allegiance to King Jesus as Lord, Leader, Messiah, and Master. We are not just believers, but disciples, apprentices of Jesus, learning together how to obey everything he commands. Baptism is not only about our death to and cleansing from sin, but also about us rising again into a new life of faithfulness to and intimacy with Christ.

Scripture is Inspired.

Like John the Baptist and the star of Bethlehem, the Bible points people to Jesus. The Bible, Old and New Testaments, is our God-given window to see Jesus most clearly, and is useful to equip us for living as his disciples. We believe in the divine inspiration and delegated authority of all Scripture and we read and interpret the Bible together, with Jesus at the centre. Most importantly, the Bible helps us know Jesus, and Jesus helps us interpret, understand, and apply the Bible. (Note: In practice, while many Christians speak of the “inerrancy” and “authority” of the Bible as the “Word of God”, we tend to reserve this language for speaking of Jesus.)

Peace is the Way.

Because we see Jesus’ life and teaching as God’s authoritative Word to us, we take his teachings about all things – including non-violent enemy-love, active peacemaking, relational reconciliation, and the priority of receiving and offering forgiveness – very seriously. We seek to live peaceful, reconciled lives, to encourage other believers to do the same, and to actively extend the peace of Jesus to the world. We especially desire to be peacemakers within the fractured body of Christ as we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Citizens and Ambassadors.

Jesus came to establish his Kingdom and he invites us to live in it now. This isn’t a Kingdom of land and laws, but one of our hearts and relationships. This Kingdom defines for us a new culture and identity that stand in sweeping contrast to the kingdoms of this world. Christ-followers are ambassadors on behalf of the Jesus Nation to the people of all nations, with church communities functioning as embassies to experience a taste of the Christ Country. Our purpose every day is to experience, express, and extend the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

* Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith

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UNITY IN DIVERSITY

Describing Our Posture

In 2018, our Elevation community engaged in significant conversations about the intersection of same-sex attraction and Christian faith. To help explain this part of our church’s journey, we have created a summary with links to the most relevant sermons and updates shared along the way. You can find this summary here.
While we hope people will continue to engage deeply with this important theme, we have come up with a number of guiding principles that describe our church’s posture and frame the nuanced way we are moving forward as a community:

  1. We cling strongly to the core of our shared Christian faith.
  2. We have diverse beliefs about a variety of matters and we live out our faith in different ways.
  3. We believe that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the righteousness of a person before God. A Christian is accepted because of what Jesus Christ has done (and is doing) in that person’s life and not because of any moral performance.
  4. We believe that faithful people can and will interpret Scripture differently. In light of this, we believe there is room for differing opinions on the place of same-sex relationships in the life of the church and that Christians can disagree but remain in communion with one another.
  5. We adopt a posture of openness and humility toward one another, accepting our diversity on this issue, building relationships across our differences, and journeying in the spirit of Christian unity with those who hold a different view from our own.
  6. We acknowledge the Church’s history of violence, discrimination, and abuse towards gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. We stand against all forms of hateful speech, harassment, shaming, and sexual reorientation efforts.
  7. We trust the decisions of fellow Christians to Jesus’ care. This includes gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals who choose a path of celibacy, and those who, in good faith, enter a same-sex relationship in keeping with a Christian vision for healthy relationships and sexuality.
  8. We invite all members of our community to exercise freedom of conscience on this matter, including those who serve in a pastoral role. A pastor who is ordained or otherwise licensed to conduct wedding ceremonies is free to act according to his or her own conviction and reserves the right to perform or withhold from performing any wedding at his or her discretion.
  9. We invite all people to grow in life and faith, worshipping and serving at Elevation. We will not create barriers to leadership or involvement in the life of the church for those in same-sex relationships, but will encourage everyone to bring the best of who God has created them to be to our community of faith.

We have also crafted a document called A Christian Vision for Healthy Relationships and Sexuality, which you can find here.

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WHO WE ARE

Our Staff Team

A large number of gifted people give generously of their time and abilities to help make Elevation the community it is. Among these, we have a dedicated team of pastors and support staff who serve the community, each with a specific portfolio and corresponding areas of responsibility.

Melissa Burke

Melissa Burke

Co-Lead Pastor

Sue Campbell

Sue Campbell

Administrative Coordinator

Jonathon & Heidi Sawatzky

Jonathon & Heidi Sawatzky

Youth Coordinators

David Eckmier

David Eckmier

Children's Ministry Coordinator

Carl Leisegang

Carl Leisegang

Digital Content Coordinator

Our Board of Directors

In addition to our Staff team, Elevation is led by a Steering Committee, which is also known as our Board of Directors. To contact the Board of Directors, please send an email to sc@elevationwaterloo.org.

The current members of this senior leadership team are pictured below:

Larissa Conley

Larissa Conley

Co-Chair

Tyler Loveman

Tyler Loveman

Co-Chair

Laura Kingston

Laura Kingston

Secretary

Anna Pengelly

Anna Pengelly

Treasurer

Steve Van Bruwaene

Steve Van Bruwaene

Ministry Support

Linda McDonald

Linda McDonald

Ministry Support

Our Transition Team

This team has joined our leadership community, focusing attention and energy toward an effort to help us reimagine Elevation, all while our current Board maintains our fiduciary responsibilities as well as finishing any outstanding restorative work they have begun. Together, our hope is that we will grow into the kind of church God is calling us to be. 

Deanna Calford

Deanna Calford

Larissa Conley

Larissa Conley

Brennan Connolly

Brennan Connolly

Mel Martin

Mel Martin

Brian Pengelly

Brian Pengelly

Steve Van Bruwaene

Steve Van Bruwaene

Sue Winter

Sue Winter

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ELEVATION’S HISTORY

In September of 1998, a student church called The Embassy was founded by Brandon and Melissa Malo with a desire to connect with our city’s student population. Over the years, as students began to graduate and establish families, we continued to develop our student church, but also launched a second ‘family’ church which was named Elevation.

In the fall of 2008, as a result of longstanding friendships and many conversations about serving the broader community, another congregation by the name of New Hope merged with us. Our experience in the years that followed proved that we could, in fact, be ‘better together.’

A few years later, in the fall of 2012, Elevation entered into a facility-sharing partnership with St. John’s (now Trillium) Lutheran Church. Both congregations now call 22 Willow home and this move has created even more opportunities for us to be a blessing to our community as we strive to represent God well in our neighbourhood.

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MEMBERSHIP

Membership. The word has so many connotations, which is precisely why we avoided using it at Elevation for so long. But we’re using it now – why?

Well, the Steering Committee of Elevation has put a paper together to spell out the vision we have for membership in our local context. Once you’ve read it over, if you find you are ready to take the next step, we will look forward to connecting with you to see where this act of faith takes you!

You will also find a link here to our By-Law #1, a lengthy legal document developed when Elevation was incorporated in 2011. Prospective members are required to read this document and agree to the expectations outlined in the ‘Membership’ section.

If you have any questions, please contact our one of our Pastoral Team members, or a member of our Steering Committee.