LCMC and CALC Attend Breakforth Canada

Why would anyone travel to the City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in January when temperatures can dip to -40 Fahrenheit?  

The answer: Breakforth Canada!  It is truly a unique event. There is nothing else like it in all of Canada, and maybe even North America. About 15,000 people, representing over 1,000 churches, from all over Canada, the US and the world gathered January 25-27 for Breakforth 2013.  Its aim is to equip and renew Christians.
In a demonstration of solidarity and partnership in mission above the 49th parallel, representatives from LCMC and the Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations (CALC) participated in this year’s Breakforth.

The conference brought together internationally known Christian speakers including, Francis Chan, Kay Arthur, John Ortberg, David Nasser and Tony Nolan. The conference also brought together world class Christian recording artists who participated  in worship, which occurred twice each day.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights were capped by concerts.  On Friday night there were three concerts in three venues. Performers included the Christian band Casting Crowns, Christian rock band Building 429 and Christian comedian Bob Cates.  On Saturday night another three concerts were hosted in three venues. Performers included Kari Jobe, Brian Doerksen, Gary Park, Paul Baloche, a variety of up and coming Christian artists, the finalists in a Breakforth talent competition and Christian comedian Bob Cates. The concert for Sunday night  featured Peter Furhler, Phil Wickham and legendary Christian recording artist Amy Grant.

Participants could take part in any of 180 intensive workshops from Friday to Sunday. Topics covered included: Alpha, Bible Study Skills, Children’s Ministry, Creative Arts, Disability Ministry, Drums, Family Ministry, Gospel Music Industry, Healing Transformation, Hebraic Roots, Instrument Clinics, Justice, Leadership, Marriage, Men, Missions, Multimedia, Not-Evangelism, Parenting, Personal Finance, Prayer, Prophecy, Soaking, Social Media, Sound, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Renewal, Stewardship, Student Ministry, Video, Vocal, Women, Worldview and Worship Leadership.       

Breakforth was founded by Arlen Salte and his wife Elsa. Arlen is an award-winning Contemporary Christian Artist with a Lutheran background. His recordings are diverse and include rock, pop, instrumental, worship, folk and children’s music.  He has sold over 250,000 albums, making him one of the top selling Canadian Christian recording artists. He was rated as one of Alberta’s 50 most influential people by Alberta Venture Magazine. The Gospel Music Association awarded Arlen a Lifetime Achievement Award  and National Promoter of the Year Award.  Arlen also received an award from the office of the Prime Minister of Canada for his contributions to family life.

Edmonton’s Shaw Center was Breakforth’s primary venue. It is located in the heart of  downtown Edmonton. The Assembly Level (where the main conference assemblies occurred) features 82,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space which seats about 10,000. About 70% of the building is built into the hillside above the North Saskatchewan River. The terrain  disguises how very large the building is. It is more than 10 stories in height from bottom to top. The various levels are connected by stairs and escalators which rise up and descend the equivalent of 10 stories. The up and down escalators are separated by cascading manmade waterfall features  and lush tropical plants. The water features and plants brought the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to mind.  Classes and events also took place in adjacent schools, hotels and church buildings.  

The event also included a massive Exhibit Hall. Vendors included, mission groups, Christian publishers, church camps, evangelistic ministries, artisans and Christian schools, universities and colleges. Each set up a display booth  and hosted guests. LCMC set up an informational booth hosted by Rev. Mark Vander Tuig, Service Coordinator;  Sharon MacFadyen,  Director of Operations;  and Rev. Martha Nelson, Board Member.  Pastor Ed Skutshek, President of CALC, was invited to join them at the booth and  to provide information about CALC to those who came by. The North American Lutheran Church (NALC) also had a booth in the Exhibit Hall. NALC’s General Secretary, Mark Chavez and two Canadian Pastors from NALC churches manned their booth. Breakforth’s participants hail primarily from Evangelical Churches, that  is, non-Mainline denominations, including, Baptists, Pentecostals, Mennonites and many from the Reformed tradition.  We were presently surprised by the interest shown in the LCMC/CALC booth by those who attended the event.

This was the first time that representatives from LCMC or CALC participated in Breakforth and was therefore a great learning experience for us. We were all impressed by the magnitude of the event and how well it was organized. It is quite a feat to move some 15,000 people around. Close to 600 volunteers  wearing yellow, purple, blue and red “Breakforth” T-shirts helped shepherd participants to all the venues.

The consensus among those from CALC and LCMC that participated in the conference was that Breakforth is an important event. Both LCMC and CALC have   congregations in Western Canada. 16 of  CALC’s 21  congregations are located in the Province of Alberta, and the two adjoining provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia. LCMC has 4 congregations in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan  and one in British Columbia. Two of these seven congregations are dually rostered, that is, are members of CALC and LCMC. Members of many of these congregations attend Breakforth. A very visible presence of leaders from  LCMC and CALC at Breakforth may encourage  our member congregations to  network with  leadership from CALC and LCMC and one another. LCMC and CALC could intentionally plan an event or events especially for representatives of our congregations that attend Breakforth. The conference provides additional opportunities for us. Interest in Martin Luther is  on the rise among Evangelicals. It seems that speakers from all denominational backgrounds are increasingly quoting Dr. Martin Luther in their presentations. Breakforth may offer LCMC and CALC  the opportunity to provide information to an audience that is eager to learn more about  Martin Luther and our Lutheran Confessions.

On behalf of all of the congregations of CALC, I want to thank LCMC’s Board for permitting CALC to participate in Breakforth with you.   It is my hope and prayer that, in the months that follow, representatives from LCMC and CALC can brainstorm and find ways to use Breakforth as a venue for bringing Confessional Lutherans together and for sharing our faith as expressed in our Confessions with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Breakforth.  

In Christ’s service

Pastor Ed Skutshek
President, CALC      

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