Church doors close, RV park opens

This is a story about family and sharing the blessing of a legacy.

South Otter MB Church started in the farm country outside Aldergrove, in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. It had to close, but reopened in the late 1980s as Hillside Community Church, and reached an attendance level of about 150, before shrinking in the face of shifting circumstances. The decision was made to close the doors, and Hillside’s last service was held in June 2010.

The congregation at Hillside, however, had a heart for the unsaved, especially for the B.C. camping ministry. It had a particularly huge heart for the work of their own – executive director Gene Krahn of the Pines Bible Camp in the West Kootenay.

Krahn, a charter member of Hillside, has been the Pines’ leader since 1995. Hillside was an important place to him. He got the call to ministry there, and he interned as youth pastor there. It was at Hillside where he abandoned plans to become a park ranger, instead following a call to minister to kids. He was Hillside’s missionary, and the small membership supported him generously. “Although many churches have supported the Pines significantly,” says Krahn, “Hillside always sent more financial help than any other church in B.C.”

The B.C. MB conference executive board decided the proceeds from Hillside’s sale would be a legacy for Church Planting BC. Krahn heard about the decision too late to make suggestions about resource use.

Then came the blessing. Church Planting BC learned about the strong tie between Hillside and the Pines. They decided to tithe 10 percent of the Hillside proceeds to the Pines Bible Camp.

“It blew my socks off,” says Krahn. “This really was a true demonstration of the brotherhood among the Mennonite Brethren in action.”

The Pines is all about telling kids about Christ; Church Planting BC is about telling all age groups about Christ. It is a common passion, says Krahn. And the gesture is all the more meaningful because the funds came from Hillside.

The Pines has almost completed a full-service RV park at its camp site, expanding the reach of the Pines’ ministry and adding a new dimension – family camping – to the program. It’s already been well used.

Called “Hillside RV Park,” the completed addition will be dedicated this year.

—Barrie McMaster

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