Pass the popcorn . . . and a Bible!
Imagine walking into a grand old movie theatre, popcorn in hand, ready to enjoy Sunday morning worship. Westside Church, one of six church plants under the Key City Initiative’s (KCI) Ignite Vancouver, meets at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, a popular venue for the city’s indie movie scene and an inventive location for a church.
September 25 was opening day, with more than 250 in attendance. The church generated plenty of interest in the community, with several local newspapers and broadcasters featuring stories about Westside. Postcards designed with licorice crosses and bags of popcorn were sent to thousands of homes in the community, inviting neighbours to the premier event.
Church planting couple Norm and Nicole Funk, along with children Matthew, 5, and Micah, 2, are enthusiastic about their call back to the city after recently serving as associate pastor at Willingdon Church in Burnaby, B.C. Many churches have left the downtown core for the suburbs, but Westside desires to be a church that will be active in one of Vancouver’s thriving urban communities. Funk, who has a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University and is currently studying at Regent College, says, “We plan to be purposely invitational and involved in the marketplace, relevant to the culture through participation in the fine arts, and aware and helpful in key needs that become apparent as we minister.”
Twice in a lifetime?
Why would anyone want to start another church, knowing how great the cost might be? Adam Wiggins knows about the challenges of church planting, having served as lead pastor at Eastview Community Church in Winnipeg in its early stages and most recently at Central Community Church in Chilliwack, B.C. He says, “I love church planting and have again sensed God leading us to plant a church.”
Wiggins, his wife Sandi and their three children are asking for prayer as they begin pastoring Pacific Coast Community Church in the Dunbar/U.B.C. area of Vancouver under Ignite Vancouver. “My family and I realize that the magnitude of this challenge means that any ‘success’ at reaching the lost and establishing a vibrant community of authentic followers of Jesus will take nothing less than a work of God.”
Wiggins, who calls Vancouver his hometown, longs to connect with people in his community, especially university students, who have deep spiritual longings but are skeptical that the church holds any meaningful answers. The couple is now focusing on building a core group. They hope to launch public worship gatherings in early 2006.
From every tribe and language
Joey and Eden Umali recently settled on the north shore of Vancouver to begin Canada’s first Filipino MB church. The Umalis arrived in Canada just two years ago from the Philippines, following a clear call from God. They had been a part of two church plants in the Philippines, but sensed a compelling, yet confusing call to plant a church in Vancouver. They first immigrated to Saskatchewan after Eden was asked to apply for a job as a registered nurse there. The Umalis began attending a Mennonite Brethren church in Canora and after two years they met Geoff Neufeld, director of the Board of Church Extension (BOCE) in B.C. Within months, the Umalis were approved as church planters and their dreams began falling into place.
On their first visit to Vancouver, Joey made contact with several Filipinos who had been praying for a pastor to come and start a Filipino church in their area. There was an instant affinity. One call to the Lions Gate Hospital secured a full-time job for Eden, and a change in immigration policy allowed Eden’s mother to come to Vancouver in order to provide childcare for their daughter. “God just seems to be one step ahead of us every bit of the way,” says Joey. Potter’s Hand Community Church was launched this fall.
—The B.C. Link
| © 2008 Mennonite Brethren Herald
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