Last week, we introduced you to Sandy Swartzentruber, Resource Development Manager for Faith Formation Ministries (FFM). This week, we introduce you to Martin Contant, another FFM staff member with years of experience working in the CRCNA. Martin has just begun working as the Coach for FFM’s Regional Catalyzers.
Martin, can you describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation?
My parents, and especially my father, were significant in my own spiritual formation by modeling a personal commitment to Christ. My parents were immigrants after the war, and I recall the tremendous challenges of adapting to a new culture, learning a new language, and leaning heavily on Christian community in the church, because they had no family in Canada. My faith was shaped by the local church, but also in the everyday experiences of life in our family.
My father was highly receptive to new expressions of worship, had a positive attitude toward the church, was a strong proponent of the use of all gifts in ministry (both genders-unusual for many of his peers at that time), and demonstrated generosity toward kingdom causes. He was a great encourager to me to participate in spiritually formative activities in (public) high school, (there was not Christian School at the time) and in my call to ministry, which meant not taking over the family business. He was a man of fervent prayer and when he died at the age of 87, I felt like I lost my greatest prayer supporter. His legacy of faith is fondly talked about by his grandchildren.
You are an avid outdoorsman. Where are some of your preferred places for hiking and doing other outdoor activities?
I live in a wonderful part of God’s creation (Southwest British Columbia) where it is possible to kayak, ski, and golf all on the same day! I don’t golf, but I enjoy cycling, walking, hiking and kayaking. The Broken Group Islands, in Barkley Sound off the west coast of Vancouver Island, is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled favourite places on the west coast to paddle. Mt. Baker is a favourite hiking spot.
You recently retired after serving Home Missions in Western Canada for more than 21 years. What was your favourite part of that work?
I thoroughly enjoyed working with congregations and their leaders in helping them engage with God’s mission in their own local context. The variety of the work meant I was never bored, and forced me to continue learning and keeping up with an ever changing culture, both within the Canadian context as well as the church context.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it in your role as Coach to Regional Catalyzers?
I imagine my phone ringing regularly as Catalyzers are sharing stories of engaging with local churches within their Classical parishes. I imagine local congregations and faith formation leaders within those churches experimenting with new ways of being a community of faith. In my role as Catalyzer Coach, I would try hard to keep cataloguing best practices of faith formation in churches, through the stories I’m hearing and referring Catalyzers to each other, or to specific churches that could mentor other congregations in practices that the Spirit had used to bring about renewal. I envision conversations with Catalysts that indicate that their work in congregations is also shaping and growing their own faith, even within their leadership position.