Not All Who Wander Are Lost

— Lift Off

Lift Off, by Nicolette Peñaranda, A Sanctified Art, 2024.

Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviours align with those beliefs.
—Brené Brown

As a therapist, the lens through which David Evans Carlson sees people and the world is “the developmental model”. It looks at where someone is in their growth as a human, where they are stuck or thriving, and where they need some help. Last night, at our AGM for 2023, he applied this model to Southpoint in a beautiful way. I’ve summarized what he said here, as close as I can to word for word. It was such a meaningful reflection of our journey that I wanted to save his words, share them, and record them as part of our history.
—Anne (Rev. Anne Baxter Smith)

We are the body of Christ. We go through changes over time, just like a human being. And just like a human being, a church community starts with conception. One day a group of people thought, “There is something here—a need that we want to fulfill, we want to launch this thing in south Surrey. This community that’s going to be an extension of us, as real babies are, dependent on us, at the beginning.” 

Just as babies are fully dependent, Southpoint was dependent on the people who came from other churches and gave financial and spiritual support and guidance to get us started. As babies we ask, “How can I survive and who is there for me?” That’s what they are thinking, essentially, without words, in their body. And that’s what we went through in our earliest days: “Do we have a place to meet? Will anyone come? Can we pay the bills? We struggled through, meeting in hockey rinks and gymnasiums and random churches, but we made it.

Moving into childhood: you can do a little bit more, you try things on your own. You start a coffee shop. It goes well, until it doesn’t. You experiment. You try. There are bonding experiences of building community.

In adolescence, things get a little bit stormy. You are now trying on identities. That is what this stage is about—identity formation. “Let me try on things and see what fits.” During these years, we make mistakes, things go sour. People come. People go. It’s rocky. It’s messy. 

Towards the end of adolescence you start coming into a knowledge of who you are: “This is who I am. This is what I know to be true. This is what aligns with me. These are my strengths, these are my weaknesses. I may wish they weren’t, but they are.” And through all this, we begin a journey of alignment in our world. For some of us, our alignment is close to that of our parents. For others, we had to be on a journey far away from our parents, had to be disconnected from what our parents brought us up to be. 

Somehow, through the trials and joys we’ve been through, this church has come to a knowing of who we are, a hard-earned character. Here are some of the strengths that I see in us, what I see us to be:

A safe, spiritual harbour for those recovering from spiritual trauma. We have a lot of people who have walked away from their spiritual communities or had really bad spiritual experiences. And then, when they wanted to dip their toe back into the spiritual water, they wanted a place that let them be exactly where they are. And this is indicative of Southpoint. That’s pretty unique, actually.

We have become a welcoming, affirming and inclusive place for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families. That’s a big deal, it’s no small thing. As we have come into this alignment, it has drawn people who are looking for that. Someone once said to me, “Become who you are as soon as you can because then the people who are looking for you will find you.”

Compassion and companionship for people in grief. This church has seen a lot of grief. Pretty horrible things have happened for people in this church. And we have practiced coming alongside people, coming alongside with no expectation that anyone will be through grieving or stop their grieving or put on a shiny face. This is something unique.

Our multigenerational community has also defined this church. There is something to be gained in all points within the lifespan. We all have something to give and to gain and this pulls all of us together. All of us are prone to extremes, and each era of our life has something to offer. Our church leans into this, even when it’s messy.

There is a growing awareness of our place on this planet and our kinship to the Earth and the people and creatures on it. Our connection to creation is something we are growing in, and it defines who we know ourselves to be.

A capacity for the messy, chaotic, human element. When someone wants to come to Southpoint, I warn them, “It’s great—I love it—but there will probably be some point in the service where you are uncomfortable, and you will think what the heck IS this?! You will cringe somewhere… but you get used to it, because we are all a bit cringe, really.”

Here’s the thing I have come to love…  an author defined love as “the state of being both held and free, simultaneously.” That is my experience of Southpoint. You aren’t expected to be anything but yourself. And yet you are held in connection and community. Held and free.

These are some things that popped into my head when I think of Southpoint’s character formation, as we grew through adolescence. We are now at a point where Southpoint, generally, for the most part, knows who it is. For better or worse. We aren’t for everyone. and that’s okay. There is a knowing of who we are. We know why we are here, and there are people seeking for what Southpoint has to offer and who want to be a part of it, and that’s really great. 

I want you to think, personally—and you may not have a point of reference for this—but think of a time in your own life when you made a choice that your parents or caregiver fundamentally disagreed with. A choice that went against their better judgment, a choice where they thought you were wrong. “This is a poor choice. It will bite you in the butt.” Maybe it was marrying someone, moving somewhere, or a career choice?

It takes some real bravery to take a step in the opposite direction of those who birthed you. And I feel like at Southpoint, we are at a point where potentially tonight we will be making a choice that steps us up into adulthood. A choice in which we will say, “We are standing on our own two feet. We are internally aligned, for the most part. Therefore, we can be brave to make the choice that we need to make, because this is our life and our church.” 

Tonight, we have the opportunity to step into that. And, it IS uncomfortable. I can tell you, for myself, I went through conversion therapy and ex-gay stuff for a long time, at my parents’ direction. When I told them I was stopping, and that I would start dating guys, it was incredibly scary because I didn’t know if I would ever have a relationship with my family again. They might circle the wagons and say, “You are on the outside.” 

It can feel scary to say to those that you have trusted, those that helped you, who launched us to where we are today, “We are going to do our own thing. It seems right to us that we are moving in this direction. We are going to do our own thing, whether or not you agree, whether or not you understand.” 

This is my reflection on the journey we’ve been on and the journey we’ve seen. I am quite proud of us. We have not landed where we are flippantly. This has been something we have walked out together, slowly (and in my mind, something we have walked out excessively), but the thing is, we are walking it together, and you have to go slower when you walk as a group. It takes knowing who you are. And who you are not. For none of us is everything. As you reflect on all this, I hope that you can see that Southpoint has grown into adulthood.

—David Evans Carlson

Worship Calendar

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. Zoom link. Meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 password: 753319

Listen to Sermons
Follow “Meditations from the Church at Southpoint” on SpotifyApple and Google

Catch up on Anne’s recent blogs under “News” on our website,

Sun Apr 7
(2) Opening to Love
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
John 21:1-19

Sun Apr 14
(3) Receiving Clarity
Rev Anne Baxter Smith
Acts 3:12-19
Sun Apr 21
Rev Scott Swanson
Acts 4:5-12

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

If you’d like to really peek inside, sign up for our weekly Southpoint News (scroll to brown footer at bottom of page). The Southpoint News is a MailChimp distributed email—you can unsubscribe anytime and will not be added to our contacts list. Email us at Website:

Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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