A History of Hope Fellowship, Chapter 3: The Healing Years
On Tuesday morning, September 16, 2003, in the tiny custodian’s room of our newly purchased little school, I sat at a wooden table that the previous pastor had hammered together as a desk and began my ministry at Hope Fellowship. Outside, a manure spreader went by on Bloor Street. I laughed out loud and wondered what I had gotten myself into
Marja and I quickly realized that we would never get to know the congregation unless we visited everybody in their homes. So that’s what we did. In the many conversations that followed over the next year, people talked about the legacy of confusion and hurt left by the Humbling Years. It needed to be addressed, so we held evening services in which we named the pain and asked God for healing. These services were not easy. Many tears were shed, but God began to lift the spirits of those who were bowed down.
At that time we worshipped in G.L. Roberts Collegiate in South Oshawa near the lake. We needed a place of worship closer to our church office. We visited various schools in Courtice, but none met our needs. A phone call to Dr. G.J. MacGillivray Public School yielded a “No”, so I decided to visit in person. God paved the way, because within fifteen minutes of meeting the principal, she showed me all the rooms that we could use and the area where we could store our sound equipment. We bought a large projector screen for the gym and gave the school permission to use it during the week. The move to Courtice on September 5, 2004, took some adjusting. The weekly set up and take down required new tactics and materials, like covering all of the library tables with specially sewn sheets so that the children would not touch the computers during Kids Church. But there was immediate interest and growth from the community.
The people of Hope Fellowship have always been known for their servant hearts. They cared about ministries like Gate 3:16, The Refuge and The Pregnancy Health Centre. With Zion CRC, they continued to run the Hope/Zion Food Bank. It was no surprise, then, that people were immediately receptive to World Renew’s Disaster Response Services.
Our involvement with DRS came about when I spoke with Bill about our experience in North Carolina. I asked him what he was going to do in his retirement. When he said, “I’m not sure,” I said, “Boy, do I have an idea for you.” Soon we were presenting information evenings about DRS. Little did we know that Len and Marie would become regional directors for this ministry and that fifty persons would become “Green Shirts” in the next decade.
People also dreamed about a Helping Hands ministry at HF. Their dreams inspired a Saturday of free oil changes, followed by Service Saturdays when volunteers cleaned gutters, moved furniture, washed windows and did minor repairs in homes.
During the Healing Years God also gave us a five year Strategic Plan and a vision for staff ministry in various zones. Part-time Zone Co-ordinators were hired to lead four ministry zones: Worship, Children and Youth, Community Life, and Service and Outreach. Within a couple of years, these four zones became five with the separation of Children and Youth. Several years later we added Administration as the sixth zone.
Speaking of vision, it was in 2004 that we began our practice of presenting “Introducing Hope Fellowship vision seminars” twice a year. This was also the year that God enabled us to buy an additional eighteen acres for $275,000 from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. This purchase positioned us for the next chapter: the Building Years.
- Pastor Peter