In honour of our 50th anniversary, we’re highlighting 50 ministries from some of our churches across Canada. Moved by the love of Christ, members of Mennonite Brethren congregations creatively mobilize their skills and resources to share the good news by responding to needs around them, building community inside and outside the church. Take a trip across the country:
1. A home for the homeless
The only shelter in Halifax that takes whole families (others accept mothers and children) is at Gateway Community Church, Lower Sackville, N.S. Founding pastor couple Paul and Kathy Francis had a vision to provide for those in housing crisis, so when the congregation bought an old firehall, the firemen’s rooms were renovated into a livable apartment. It’s been in steady use for more than 15 years, with people staying a few days to several months while searching for suitable, affordable housing. The church invites guests at the shelter to attend services, but makes no demands on their guests referred by other churches or community service agencies. When Gateway puts out a call to the congregation for clothes or household supplies, the need is quickly filled. The apartment has a room with 4 bunk beds; a bathroom; sitting room with sofa bed, TV, table and chairs; access to the church’s commercial kitchen; and a separate, private entrance. One man who found shelter at the church now regularly uses his gift of serving in the church. “He’s part of our body now,” says Gateway administrator and foodbank coordinator Kaye Migchelsen.
2. An unexpected accounting
The idea was for Westside Gathering, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, to serve those in the neighbourhood (many immigrants) who are low income and/or under-resourced, by doing their taxes for free. Some 16–20 volunteers do spend an hour interacting with guests as they prepare their tax documents – but the long-term benefit of the one-day clinic actually centres on the volunteers! The outreach’s organizer, Oscar Cardozo, a member at Westside who “loves finances,” staffs the event with as many friends, and friends of friends, as church members. Between the training day, interaction during the clinic, and a wrap-up party hosted at the home of a Westsider, church members have plenty of opportunity to build community with non-Christians.
3. Feasting on fellowship and faith
Six Sundays throughout the year, the sanctuary at Église chrétienne évangélique de Ste-Thérèse transforms into a café: quality musicians play, and a big-name speaker shares his or her life story – giving testimony to the power of the gospel. But this event isn’t for the congregation; members are asked to invite non-Christian friends. Following Jesus’ example as “a man of his times who lived close to people,” pastor Robert Dagenais says the church’s mission is to demonstrate that God is relevant, relational, and redemptive. In the 5 years the church has served this “friendship brunch,” nearly 300 new people have walked through the church doors, some 61 of whom subsequently expressed interest in a home group. Church members bring food, set up, clean up, take down, and provide childcare featuring an evangelistic program. The church holds a similar Christmas dinner in December. Horizon Quebec and partnerships with several MB churches in Chilliwack, B.C., help fund the events.
4. Church becomes hub for community
Life Point Church has tried to think outside the box since its inception as Clarington Community Church in 1998. Its latest incarnation, Harmony Creek Community Centre, located in a former United Church building in Oshawa, revisions the purpose of church from “Sunday place of worship” to “gathering place for the neighbourhood.” The new building hosts partners ranging from daycares to fitness programs to literacy training events to support groups for parents and Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, the church offers regular events like a breakfast banquet featuring an inspirational Christian speaker, movie night, and expert-on-the-hot-seat evening to discuss faith in a non-threatening setting.
5. Glencairn bridges church and community
Kitchener residents who stop in at Glencairn MB Church’s Bridges Centre get more than groceries, clothing, and a cup of coffee: they find a listening ear, a word of encouragement or challenge, laughter, and prayer. In turn, the 30-some volunteers who run the foodbank and clothes closet are blessed by the perseverance and graciousness of their patrons. Four volunteer leaders from the church coordinate the centre. Food items are provided through membership with a local foodbank, and the congregation donates used clothing and special seasonal items, such as school supplies and Christmas gifts.
6. Hugs and hamburgers for high schoolers
Once a week, high school students cross the street to enjoy a simple home-cooked meal for $2 at Evergreen Heights Christian Fellowship, Simcoe, prepared and served with love by retired members of the congregation.
7. Niagara Eagles: a place to feel special
Wanting a place for their young adult children with special needs to socialize, mothers Rose Goertz and Eileen Goodyear created Niagara Eagles. From September to June, the Eagles meet 2 evenings per month at Orchard Park Bible Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, for prayer, sharing, and activities – crafts, movies, making pizza – or special outings like bowling and swimming. Volunteers from Orchard Park, Southridge Community Church, St. Catharines, and the community strive to make Niagara Eagles a safe place, and to show an often marginalized group they are loved: “Not God’s mistakes,” says Goodyear, but “God’s blessings.”
8. Seniors bless volunteers
Southridge Community Church’s North End campus in St. Catharines determined that seniors face the neighbourhood’s most prevalent poverty, so the church jumped on the obvious opportunity to serve the elderly: at Tabor Manor, a Mennonite Brethren organization with residential nursing care, supportive housing, and independent living. Twice a week (one afternoon and one evening), volunteers bring “Southridge café” – tea, coffee, snacks, games, and visiting – to the residents, and often leave blessed by the faithful testimonies of the elderly saints.
9. St. Catharines MBs unite their youth
To maximize on the aging congregation’s strong youth program, Sabrina Wiens, homegrown youth pastor at Scott Street MB Church, St. Catharines, sought partnership with neighbouring MB congregations. In fall 2009, Fairview’s youth group joined Scott Street’s, and in 2010, they united with youth from Grantham. Wiens oversees the resulting collaborative junior and senior NEMBY (North End Mennonite Brethren Youth), totalling 40–50 young people from church and community, with several volunteers from all 3 congregations.
10. Christmas gift basket distribution
For the fourth year running, The Jesus Network – a church based in a Toronto high-rise neighbourhood populated mainly by immigrants – assembled and delivered some 600 Christmas gift baskets. Volunteers spent hours phoning residents to register new families to receive a basket, which includes a card invoking Jesus’ love in 5 languages, rice, nuts, flour, tea, sugar, toys for children under 12, a Bible in an appropriate language, and a Jesus DVD.
11. Church–school collaboration results in full tummies and receptive minds
A hearty breakfast provides a good start to the day for young minds, but for some children who attend Lord Selkirk School (nursery to Grade 6) in Winnipeg, that doesn’t happen at home. Instead, 3 times a week, volunteers from Christian Family Centre, River East MB Church, and MB Collegiate Institute make breakfast happen in a classroom at Lord Selkirk, in the working-class Elmwood neighbourhood. From 8–9:00 a.m., the volunteers serve cereal, toast and jam, fruit, and milk, interacting with an average of 45 children, sharing smiles and encouragement, and cleaning up. The church partners provide funding; cereal, bread, and eggs are donated; and MBCI student fundraisers contribute to special breakfasts – pancakes, eggs, sausages, fruit, milk – at Christmas, Easter, and before summer break. Lord Selkirk invites parents to register their children, but, says club founder and CFC pastor, “no child is turned away.” (See “Homepage” for picture.)
12. Caffeine fuels awareness of sermon truths and justice issues
When the java-loving pastors of Westside Community Church, Morden, tasted high-quality Land of a Thousand Hills coffee and learned that the cooperative pays above fair trade wages to its farmers in Rwanda, they figured it made sense for their church – which already partners with an agricultural developmental ministry in Kikwit, DR Congo, through MB Mission – to support this community trade initiative as well. Now, coffee served at Westside awakens its drinkers to the struggles of Rwandans. Twelve-ounce bags of grounds are available for sale through the church.
13. Mechanic provides vehicles of Jesus’ love
Winkler MB Church member Chad Berg doesn’t serve the church by singing, or teaching Sunday school; he fixes cars. The professional mechanic is the key member of G-Force (G=God’s grace giving good gifts), a ministry that tunes up donated vehicles and leases them out to folks with transportation challenges in the car-centric farming community. A detailed application process, many dedicated volunteers, hours of labour, a generous community, good stewardship, financial and automotive education, and attention to the leading of the Spirit turn each car into “an expression of our love for Jesus.”
14. Cottage ministry encourages young offenders
Groups of 9–18 young offenders aged 14–17 are housed in “cottages” at Winnipeg’s Manitoba Youth Centre. Led by outreach pastor and seasoned prison-visitor Cynthia Frazer, a rotating group of 6 volunteers from Christian Family Centre, Winnipeg, visits female offenders at the Centre once a week. They ask about the girls’ lives, then transition into an interactive Bible study that addresses relevant issues for the young women. Last year, CFC brought Family Life Network’s Beautiful Unique Girl event to the cottages, and plans to do it again in spring.
15. Music opens church doors to Chinese
Buddhist-background Chinese parents may be uncomfortable with church, but they don’t want their children sitting at home playing video games, says Winnipeg Chinese MB Church pastor Luc Tran. They’re happy to send 4- to 17-year-olds to Fort Garry MB Church once a week for the Chinese church’s music program: young children start with Orff instruments, the more experienced take keyboard, guitar, and wind instrument instruction. At the end of the 10-week program, and on special holidays, the children put on a concert for family and friends, and Luc shares the gospel message.
16. Thompson church raises funds and walls
Our Home Kikinaw, a Habitat for Humanity-inspired project of Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation, has Thompson Christian Centre Fellowship’s support. The small northern Manitoba church invested people resources (its members include a civil engineer, high school carpentry instructor, and many willing volunteers) and finances. Through fundraisers, and individual and budgeted contributions, TCCF contributed $16,000 to a house completed August 2011 for a single mother of 3, and is raising money for a second build intended for a family of 7.
17. Forest Grove spins web of relationship with Panama and Colombia
Building on the connections of MB Mission workers (and church members) Trever and Joan Godard, Forest Grove Community Church, Saskatoon, has developed a long-term relationship with a Colombian missionary couple and a growing relationship with the MB conference in Panama. For 7 years, Forest Grove has sent short-term teams to serve alongside Einer and Girlesa Zuluaga as they minister to the Wounaan and Emberra people. The indigenous Panamanians’ “testimonies and lives of grace challenge us to be a church that is discipling others who will disciple others,” says mission pastor Maryanne Berge.
18. From tears to laughter – moms get real at MOPS
Sometimes moms need time away from children to unload their challenges and receive insights on how to deal with issues facing them. Julie Chickoski organizes just such an opportunity at Bridgeway Community Church, Swift Current, for 2 hours, 2 Tuesdays per month: MOPS – Mothers of PreSchoolers. Close to 20 volunteers – some in their 80s – child-mind and prepare food, while Julie leads young mothers in discussion following a DVD lesson or expert presentation (e.g. doctor, counsellor).
19. Pursuing the kingdom of God “beyond the walls”
Team Beyond the Walls at Parliament Community Church, Regina, believes the church “should be leading the way in regards to social and environmental issues,” and can work to “reduce personal and communal hypocrisy” by moving from discussion to action. Members of the congregation formed the team in fall 2009 after the elders discerned a desire for the church to provide biblical instruction and resources for engagement, motivated by God’s mission to love and redeem his world. The team facilitates teaching on the scriptural concept of the kingdom of God “as it applies to God’s invitation for the church to become an agent in fulfilling his redemption promises in the world here and now.” It promotes donating Christian literature to the Christian Salvage Mission, provides weekly bulletin inserts about relevant social concerns (drawing from Mennonite Central Committee’s research and promotion), and is working on a proposal to turn a portion of the church lawn into a native-plant garden.
20. Rural churches build up camp – and each other
Every June, 6 rural Saskatchewan MB churches converge upon Redberry Bible Camp for a weekend – cleaning, painting, repairing, shingling, planting flowers, rebuilding decks, building new structures – and, of course, visiting together and enjoying Redberry’s facilities. Members from Blaine Lake, Borden (Riverbend Fellowship), Dalmeny, Glenbush, Hafford, and Hepburn also throw all their creativity into a collaborative Sunday morning church service that include anything from skits to live sketching.
21. Serving the hockey crowd
As one of the only venues in the region with artificial ice, the Waldheim arena hums from October to April. Staff maintain day-to-day functions, but during crowd-drawing senior hockey games and tournaments, they look to the community for help: that’s where Waldheim MB Church comes in. Marion Unger – who’s in the canteen whenever there’s a need – coordinates the church’s 2-week volunteer contribution each year. She calls up workers, then expertly oversees all aspects of service – cooking burgers, etc., dishing out candy, running the till, keeping customers happy – and puts a friendly face on church.
22. Living Room is connecting point
Mental illness is a hidden problem in the church, one that many prefer not to talk about. West Portal Church, Saskatoon, creates a safe place for members, Christians from other churches, and the wider community – anyone who experiences “the fog of depression or the chest-heaviness of anxiety” – to support and encourage each other one evening per week for 2 months each year, based on the Living Room resources (www.livingroomsupport.org).
23. Indoor playtime is good news for moms
Every Wednesday morning, the basement of Wynyard Gospel Church, an EMMC fellowship that is spiritually supported by the Saskatchewan MB conference and financially by 3 local MB congregations (Christian Fellowship, Lanigan; Philadelphia MB, Watrous; and Gospel Fellowship, Foam Lake) becomes The Playroom. Recommended by the local community health nurse, The Playroom is the neighbourhood’s only drop-in where parents with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can connect during the winter months. In its third season, The Playroom welcomes about 18 children to explore their play structure, toys, and stories. The church also plans to offer parenting workshops in 2012.
24. Christmas banquet for prisoners brings life into sentence
“Lifers” – people serving a life sentence in prison or on parole – are “people on a journey through life, just like the rest of us,” says Kae Neufeld, a member of Lendrum MB Church, Edmonton. Every year, she coordinates a Christmas banquet for lifers and their families to share a meal together, and invites Lendrum members to join in. Repeat attendees from halfway houses or on parole come alive as they use previously acquired skills to prepare food, decorate, play music – elbow-to-elbow with church volunteers. One year, two members knitted toques for each lifer to take home for Christmas. “In a small way, the people who come to eat with the lifers are saying, ‘We care about you and accept you in spite of what you have done.’ That is the good news part of what Jesus did,” says Neufeld.
25. Church rolls out welcome to skaters
The only indoor skate park in the city can be found at Dalhousie Community Church, Calgary, on Tuesday evenings. Skate Life worker Jason Dueck and some 12 volunteers interact with 80–100 youth participants in skateboarding culture, aged 13-and-under from 4:30–6:00 p.m.; aged 14-and-over from 6–8:00 p.m.. About an hour is free time, the rest is intentional interaction, including a devotional reflection. Additional monthly activities for skaters include a small Bible study and volunteering at a shelter.
26. River West lays it on the altar
“God always demonstrates love,” says Leslie Precht, a volunteer pray-er and sometime prayer coordinator at River West Christian Fellowship, Edmonton. That church not only has a prayer chain and a faithfully attended Wednesday night prayer meeting (called “Chat Room”), it also offers after-service prayer at the altar every Sunday, where Precht has experienced God’s love. Prayer ministers listen for the Spirit as they pray, privileged to be God’s vessel to encourage members in their time of need.
27. Families help families get ready for school
Back-to-school preparation is easier for single-parent, low-income, and immigrant families in the vicinity of Highland MB Church, Calgary: in 2011, Highland’s more than 50 volunteers packed and distributed 125 “stocked” backpacks, and volunteer professional hairstylists provided 52 haircuts over 2 August evenings – all for free. Expanding with each year’s efforts, donations from the congregation along with corporate donations and discounts finance supplies, including coloured pencils, notebooks, and a Gideons New Testament.
28. Walking the walk – shoeless
Every month, 10–20 SunWest Christian Fellowship members serve 500 people lunch at Calgary’s Mustard Seed Street Ministry. It started 10 years ago with Seed volunteer Grant Huston asking others from the church to serve with him. When pastor Willy Reimer challenged the congregation to donate their shoes to the mission, many returned to their cars barefoot through the snow. The sacrifice reminded SunWesters “Jesus did so much more for us.”
29. A meeting of minds
It’s possible to be a strong, committed Christian at university – Continuing Education Instructor (Christian Studies) at Prince George’s University of Northern B.C. and Westwood MB Church lead pastor, Mark Wessner is living proof. This fall, the church hosted a “Faith and Higher Education” evening, featuring a panel of UNBC faculty and students for a frank discussion on the influence faith and post-secondary education have on each other. It’s one of many ways Westwood is working to “bring Jesus into life.”
30. Members get their own wheels
At Metro Community, Kelowna, “we’re trying to do things that have a tangible impact and also a real teachable element,” says pastor Laurence East. His unique congregation – many people have low incomes, addictions, and other marginalizing challenges – is starting up a unique ministry: a car share. The church negotiates a lease with a reliable dealership and carries the risk, enabling 4 family groups to experience the dignity and convenience of car ownership 2 days/week, and 1 weekend a month.
31. Funding the feet of Jesus
While experiencing serious financial stress from their mortgage 8 years ago, the elder board at Mountain Park Community Church, Abbotsford, nevertheless believed God was encouraging the church to set aside funds to pour back into the community in the attitude of a tithe. “Abbotsford Impact” was born: a fund, administered by a committee, to encourage the congregation to see needs and meet them. The request can be as small as the price of a Thanksgiving turkey for a family that can’t afford one, to as large as the cost of mattresses for women recovering from drug addictions. Stipulation? Money must be given in the context of personal relationships with people who have no connection to any church. By removing the “financial barrier” from giving, Abbotsford Impact encourages church members to look for and respond to needs around them as “the hands and feet of Jesus.” Says pastor Cam Stuart, “you quickly realize if you get serious about the gospel, money isn’t the issue – the heart is the issue; time is the issue; kingdom priorities are the issue – but there’s a community aspect to this that speaks to a lot of people.”
32. Adopted grandparents are prayer warriors
King Road MB Church, Abbotsford, children’s ministry coordinator Janet Janz is bridging the congregation’s cultural and generational divides through prayer. For the third year, she matched volunteer seniors – mostly from the German congregation – with a Grade 3–5 child (who attends Sunday school concurrently with the German service). The individual or couple prays for the child’s entire family, sends the child birthday and holiday greetings, and in some cases, cultivates relationship through phone calls and Sunday morning greetings.
33. Chaplain walks through open doors
Central Heights Church, Abbotsford, member Gary Cropley has been working in the community for years, mentoring, encouraging, and having fun with youth, many of whom are now adults. When he needed an “umbrella” to work under, Central Heights stepped in to affirm him as “community chaplain” – a minister to football players through a “Fifth Quarter” event, a peer counsellor at local businesses, and more. Central Heights facilitates people with a passion to minister: Gary is one of three “chaplains” with Central Heights.
34. B.C. churches care for India orphans
Some 200 orphaned or abandoned children living in Dar-ul-Fazl (House of Grace) and Shanti Niketan (House of Peace) in a remote corner of India are on the hearts of the people of Willow Park Church, Kelowna, and Westside Church, Vancouver. The churches are founding partners of Child of Mine, an organization that provides financial and short-term mission support to the India-based Christian organization that runs the two children’s homes in a region hostile to conversion.
35. Driven to serve
What started out with mothers teaching some children Bible lessons and games at Arnold Community Church, Abbotsford, has snowballed into a weekly AWANA-based “Kids Club” with 125 children ages 4–11 led by 25 volunteers – and spun off into a connection with Upper Sumas Elementary School that has the principal calling on pastor Rob Dyck to transport students to field trips using the church’s bus.
36. Developing relationships over a dinner plate
Sunday night is supper time at Gracepoint Community Church in Surrey. Some 15 years ago, church member Dorothea Bergen channelled her heart of concern for lonely folk and people with low incomes in the community surrounding the church into a Sunday night “community dinner” at the church every week of the year. The evening includes a short devotional address and an opportunity for guests to remain after for prayer. Volunteers from the congregation, a nearby Reformed church, and the community are involved with preparing a nutritious meal, serving it with love and conversation, and cleaning up. Pastor Steve Bains provides spiritual oversight, and the church budgets some funds. The rest of the support comes from individuals and service organizations.
37. Evangelist/mentor’s ministry is exponential
For several decades, the Indian population of Abbotsford has been growing. Desiring to reach this community, in the 1980s, South Abbotsford Church engaged an evangelist from within the culture, David Manuel. Passing the leadership mantle of the Indian Christian fellowship at South Abbotsford to Harinder Sahota, a man he mentored, in 2001, Manuel now concentrates on Indo Evangelism and Communication Ministry, which he founded. He serves through radio evangelism, a national TV program, leadership training sessions, and many one-to-one mentoring relationships, all with the support of South Abbotsford Church.
38. Evening service returns
Most churches long ago abandoned Sunday evening services, but Northview Community Church, Abbotsford, and North Langley Community Church started one up so families involved in extracurricular activities and adults serving church ministries on Sunday mornings can still attend a corporate worship.
39. Fraserview a cool place for teens
In partnership with Youth Unlimited/Youth for Christ, Fraserview Church’s “The Fridge” is a place for youth to chill in Richmond. The Fridge’s ball hockey league (FHL) offers local teens, and a few dads, a space to play September to May. The “Friday Night Fridge” drop-in welcomes 40–100 neighbourhood teens for a safe evening of sports, Wii, pool, movies, and snacks. Ken Neufeld says 75 percent of his youth group aren’t from church families; they come because of Fraserview’s children’s programs, Youth Unlimited, or The Fridge.
40. City church fires up generations
“Intentional” describes Killarney Park MB Church’s approach: intentionally intercultural and intentionally intergenerational. A monthly games night, IGNite, puts both into practice. People of all ages – families, grandparents, teens, singles – are welcomed to a low-key night of board games, snacking, and visiting. It’s a portal to the Vancouver church for newcomers, an antidote to individualistic entertainment, and a place for members to practice hospitality across all dividing lines. And behind the scenes, there’s intentional prayer.
41. Language school bridges church and community
For almost 15 years, Bethel Chinese Christian MB Church, Richmond, has supported the Chinese community through Cantonese and Mandarin instruction. Reverend Wong Wing wants his Chinese neighbours to know that the church doesn’t only care about “spiritual things.” But the school does more than meet a need, or take the fear out of church: the Christian songs and stories integrated into the lessons and activities introduce the children to Jesus.
42. Turning migrants into missionaries
Ruben Zuniga, a pastor at Bakerview MB Church, Abbotsford, and Ministerio Cristiano Broadway, Chilliwack, visits farms and hangs out at Walmart and Superstore, introducing himself to Spanish-speaking shoppers – farm workers from Mexico and Guatemala – offering help, visits, and rides to church. When these fathers return to their families, Ruben supports them over the phone long-distance as they face the challenges of unemployment or family (who must adjust to a dad who returns a Christian). Twice, Ruben has travelled to Mexico to encourage families in person. “This is our vision as a church: to share Jesus with them and call them to be missionaries first with their families.”
43. Youth pastors invited back to school
Concerned that their 1,890 students’ need for personal positive influences was more than the school could provide, Walnut Grove Secondary School, Langley, invited youth pastors and parachurch organizations onto campus to connect with youth, especially those not involved in clubs or sports. North Langley Community Church youth pastors “hang out” at school Thursday lunch hours, Matthew Price walking the hallways to meet with students, Johnny Dodsworth holding a lunch club for junior high students.
44. Northside takes Mission to heart
Ever needed practical help but were too proud, or too poorly connected, to ask for it? NEXUS at Northside Community Church, Mission, can hook you up. Some 3 or 4 years ago, after a member identified the congregation’s failure to support her during hardship, Joanie Schwartz says God tugged at her heart to connect the many gifts of her fellow members to the needs of others. NEXUS – Neighbourhoods Edified Through Christian Unity of Service – was the result. Anonymous requests for help (moving, obtaining furniture, replacing goods lost in a fire, a ride to an appointment, etc.) are submitted online or through a “NEXUS needs” box at the church. Schwartz circulates the request through appropriate channels (emails, bulletin announcements, shoulder-tapping) and connects a helper to the need – anonymously whenever possible. Having “test-driven” NEXUS in the church to “work out the kinks,” Schwartz dreams of opening the service to the wider community and of seeing inter-church collaboration. The mission statement: “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12).
45. Story circle establishes respect
With a nearby reserve, Pemberton Christian Fellowship has organized an annual talking circle for the past 5 years. A historian, therapist, or First Nations leader recounts the contact between First Nations and non-First Nations groups in Canada, followed by conversation and performances by Aboriginal artists. “The white people are in the learning seat,” says pastor Paul Cumin. The gathering has grown to around 50, both groups evenly represented. “Once people realize they have a safe place, they aren’t shy about telling…everything from the mundane to the heart-wrenching stories about residential schools, substance abuse, and challenges within family and community.”
46. Rural camp reaches urban children
To Reach Every Kid (TREK), South Hill Church, Vancouver, and King Road MB Church, Abbotsford, set up camp in the B.C. interior for 2 weeks each summer to “communicate the life-changing message of Jesus” to children and youth through “allegorical story-living and relational real-life teaching” in an outdoor setting. TREK camp involves 135–150 volunteers in leading activities or campfire sessions, cooking food and washing up, serving as counsellors, etc. Eighty children and 23 or 24 youth (Leaders in Training) attend each week – some attend South Hill or King Road, but close to half have no church involvement. For many, “it’s the highlight of the summer,” says King Road youth pastor Edgar Wiens.
47. Westside local partnerships
Vancouver’s Westside Church values simplicity, so to keep their members free to serve in many areas of life, and to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” the church provides opportunity to volunteer with A Loving Spoonful, a non-religious not-for-profit agency that ministers to people affected by HIV/AIDS. It’s “double mission,” says pastor of ministry development Chad MacDonald: volunteering provides missional interaction with both clients and staff of A Loving Spoonful.
48. Investing in Bible education
Many acknowledge that Bible school is beneficial, but the extra cost can be prohibitive. Local MB churches across the country offer bursaries to support their students attending MB or Christian institutions. Since beginning their program in 1972, Fraserview Church, Richmond, has financially supported 320 students. Forest Grove Community Church, Saskatoon, says pastor Dale Dirksen, is motivated by a desire “to affirm and support people who are actively pursuing ministry formation, especially if there is potential for a vocational ministry future.”
49. Help is only a church away
“Small churches often crave some of the programmatic resources that large churches have due to their size,” says Blaine Lake (Sask.) Gospel Chapel pastor Kevin Koop, and large churches desire the sense of community found in small close-knit fellowships. So, “big city” Forest Grove Community Church and rural BLGC scratched each other’s itches: FGCC sent a youth team to provide program oversight of BLGC’s summer vacation Bible school. Blaine Lake volunteers appreciated the help, and Forest Grove youth exercised young ministry muscles.
Further north, once a month, Northwest Community Church, Meadow Lake, Sask., shares its preachers (senior pastor Daniel Stobbe, youth pastor Jeff Froese, and retiree Henry Clarke) with nearby Glenbush MB Church. Without a pastor, and in a time of transition, Glenbush appreciates the sense of stability Northwest’s volunteers provide.
In Manitoba, for almost 30 years, a group from farm-country Community Fellowship Church, Newton, drives 8.5-hours north to mining-country Snow Lake to provide entertainment at the small MB church’s community fall supper. Members from Snow Lake return the favour with a visit to CFC’s June picnic. Relationships have developed, and the churches mourn with each other over losses both families have experienced.
And College Drive Community Church, Lethbridge, Alta., and Église chrétienne évangélique de Sainte-Rose in Laval, Que., have put flesh and blood to their Horizon Quebec church partnership: pastors Brent Miller and Martin Lanthier not only support each other through leadership coaching and friendship, they’ve also extended that relationship to their congregations through cross-country pulpit exchanges and simultaneous prayer meetings.