A church plant celebrating its sixth anniversary has moved from its school gym meeting place and into a traditional sanctuary. The 200-plus congregation of Reality Vancouver Church is the new tenant in a Lutheran-built church currently owned by the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.
It’s “God’s sense of humour,” says pastor Kris Martens that an evangelically-committed young “gospel-loving, spirit-led kind of group” was able to rent such a building, with its lengthy Mainline history. Reality secured a six-year lease and moved in Jan. 18, 2015.
Nicknamed “The Chapel,” the building at 19th and Prince Albert in East Vancouver is not large. The late 1930s construction has a stepped gable design characteristic of Danish Lutheran churches of its time.
The sanctuary has good acoustics which allow participants to hear each other singing, giving a wonderful new dimension to Sunday morning worship, says Martens.
“There is a sense of beauty and peace, a sense of [God’s] presence that draws people to worship here,” he adds. Reality’s former meeting place, the gym at Charles Dickens Elementary School, had a bright green rubberized floor and echoing, high-raftered ceiling.
Martens says Reality’s new home ties the congregation to history. The district has gone through many changes, with some ups, but many downs in church participation over the decades.
Reality’s own six-year existence is also historic. It is the first Mennonite Brethren “grandchild” in the era of C2C Network church planting.
In 2005, several B.C. churches lent their support to plant Westside Church, which from the outset wanted to be “a church plant that plants churches.” Reality was its first child.
In turn, Reality has worked with C2C to help train several other church planting apprentices.
Martens says Reality had expected to be out of its “nomadic stage” years ago, but it was hard to find a better location in the community. Leadership prayed often about facilities, but felt God was saying “stay the course,” so they did, and “just sort of grew up,” says Martens. Then The Chapel became affordably available.
The church is growing. Reality is already into two Sunday services and may one day have to do three given the building’s small size. This group of believers also carries on other events, including Bible studies and midweek activities.
And Martens is keenly aware that God’s work is not about church buildings. “We are enjoying the different dynamic of our new life in The Chapel, but we are also working with other churches in the area, as God gives new expression to his bride in East Vancouver.”
—Barrie McMaster, B.C. correspondent