The Conference has good prospects of coming close to these goals in 1996. Following is a summary of new churches in the development stage.
Harry and Lorraine Loewen have been working as church planting couple for this outreach since the end of March. For the past 16 years, they have pastored Eagle Ridge Community Church in Coquitlam, a few miles west along the north shore of the river toward Vancouver.
A core group of 20 families has already come together. Some of these come from Maple Ridge Community Church (an existing MB church in the downtown centre of Maple Ridge), some from Eagle Ridge Community Church and some from the community. Most live in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows (a smaller community between Coquitlam and Maple Ridge). Leadership and worship teams are currently being discerned, and the group was scheduled to hold its first worship service on Pentecost Sunday, May 26. They will meet temporarily in a secondary school outside the target area of east Maple Ridge, while the church and BOCE seek a better location.
This church plant has had good support from both the Maple Ridge and Eagle Ridge churches.
Pitt Meadows Community Church. Pitt Meadows is a bedroom community of 14,000 with the population expected to grow to 20,000 by the year 2000. There are no other evangelical churches in the community. A Bible study group with 24 adults is already meeting. They have chosen a name (Pitt Meadows Community Church) and have an office in a local Christian book store.
The catalyst in starting the new church is Kevin Clifton. A furnace and air conditioning technician, Clifton was an apprentice Jehovah's Witness but was inwardly in spiritual turmoil. Then, two years ago, he heard Chuck Swindoll on the radio and went to hear Swindoll speak in Abbotsford, B.C. As a result, he accepted Christ. He quickly developed a vision for an evangelical church in Pitt Meadows and started the Bible study. Looking for help with the fledgling church, in January, 1996 he attended Missions Fest (a large interdenominational missions celebration in Vancouver). There he met B.C. MB church extension director James Nikkel, who introduced him and his group to the MB Conference. Clifton and his wife Kelly Ann have four children.
BOCE and the church are actively seeking a church planter. If things go well, the church could begin having worship services by summer.
Mission. Mission is a community to the east of Maple Ridge on the north shore of the Fraser River. A group there is actively pursuing the planting of a new MB church. Some participants are former members of Mission Christian Fellowship (the existing MB church in the community), some are from other denominations, and some are new contacts in the community. BOCE is investigating the possibility of establishing a new church in conjunction with this group. A key factor is whether an appropriate church planter can be found. Services would not start until the fall at the earliest.
At least 300 Indonesians and possibly up to 1000 have now located in the nearby community of Coquitlam, including a large number of students at a community college. The Emmanuel church has already established a Bible study in Coquitlam, and plans to expand it into a daughter church plant. To celebrate its fifth anniversary in August, the Emmanuel congregation is bringing in a major evangelist from Indonesia. It will use the same weekend to launch the new church plant in Coquitlam. The daughter church will meet in the facilities of Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship.
Sonny Mandagie will serve as pastor of both congregations. For the past year he has been assisted by Jusuf Wijaya, a pastoral apprentice under the B.C. MB Conference; for the next year, Wijaya will continue to work with Mandagie as a BOCE church planting apprentice. (The B.C. Conference and the Board of Church Extension have an apprentice program in which young workers train to be pastors and/or church planters, with the salary costs shared by the Conference and the local church.)
Anneofield. North Peace MB Church in Fort St. John in northeastern B.C. has taken the initiative to begin planting a daughter church in Anneofield, a high need area of Fort St. John.
Elgin and Betty Sider, longtime members of the North Peace congregation, have been appointed as church planters for the new work. Elgin works as a high school counsellor and has also been a part-time BOCE church planting apprentice since last summer. Elgin and Betty were approved as church planters at the Church Planter Assessment Centre (a cooperative venture of several denominations) held in Abbotsford, B.C. March 11-15. He is currently being mentored by North Peace senior pastor Rick Hall.
The new church will be cell-based. One care group is already operating in Anneofield, with a second beginning to emerge. It is expected that worship services will begin once there are three or four well established care groups.
The Chinese group is still not formally organized. It emerged out of work that Nahim Yip, a graduate of Prairie Bible College, was doing among Chinese students at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. Yip is director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for the campus and also serves as coordinator and Bible study leader of the Chinese group. The group began meeting less than two years ago in a restaurant owned at that time by Andy Lo, a new Christian. Also prominent in the group is George Wong.
The Chinese group will now affiliate with Westwood MB Church in Prince George, where Yip and his wife Shelly are members. Simultaneous translation will be provided in the worship services, and the midweek Chinese Bible study will also continue. Funding and immediate oversight will be the responsibility of the Westwood congregation.
This development provides an opening into an informal network of Chinese Christians in many interior towns of British Columbia. There is potential for Chinese Bible studies or other Chinese ministries in many of these towns. For the most part, the Chinese Christians know each other and fellowship together from time to time; they maintain some connections with Chinese Christians in the greater Vancouver area.
Others? The Board of Church Extension is also in dialogue with a number of other groups, including a Korean group, a Vietnamese group and an English-speaking congregation on Vancouver Island.
Vernon Community Church. Doug and Karen Braun have accepted the challenge of pastoring Vernon Community Church. This church was started a couple of years ago under church planting couple Bert and Heather Kamphuis, but then suffered a significant setback due to a disagreement in the leadership team.
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