online community A New Ministry for a New Time:
The Online Ministry of Maritime Conference

by Ali Smith

“Dear folks on the journey – unknown to my sight, held in my heart.” 

This is how Jay Brown of Rothesay, New Brunswick greets his fellow members in the latest Maritime Conference online study, Gifts of Celtic Christianity.

This happens to be a Lenten study but, regardless of theme, those taking part in e-retreats, webinars and online programs offered by Maritime Conference walk  through important spiritual times together.

Rev. Jack Spencer of Kensington, Prince Edward Island, who has participated in many of these groups, says, “They connect me with others in the group in that I know I am not doing this alone but with other members of the church.”

Conference Christian Nurture and Enrichment Minister Janice MacLean is responsible for coordinating these online offerings with the help of other writers.  She describes the people who participate as being diverse. 

“It’s gone beyond the boundaries of the Conference already,” she notes, with participants as far away as British Columbia, America and Ireland.

“There are people who go to studies in their own church and this is an add on to what they do,” explains MacLean.  “There are people who don’t go to any churches but they are looking for something spiritual at times of year like Advent and Lent.” 

What began as e-mail retreats for a few interested people twice a year has blossomed into an online ministry where many people come to be fed.

“The first time I engaged with it was for a Lenten retreat and it was a time when I was going to be out of the country during that season,”  remembers Corina Bolo from Alberton, Prince Edward Island.  “Since then I have logged on with several different e-retreats and have enjoyed, learned from and grown with the new perspectives, language, poetry, and visual offerings that have come from such a variety of contributors.”

The material offered has been used for personal reflection as well as group studies and even Sunday worship.

 Maritime Conference has recognized this new type of ministry as meaningful and sees that it as meeting needs in the church. 

“The online is responding to what I’m seeing out there for a need for spirituality,”  says MacLean.  “It also responds to some of the realities of leadership right now, responding to faith formation work that gets dropped by part-time ministry, which is becoming more common.”

Last June, Conference ministers’ portfolios were reworked to allow for more focus on it.

Registration is currently taking place for “All the Way to Pentecost”, a daily email prompting you to notice the Mystery of Easter each of the days leading to Pentecost. 

For more information, visit: