We had our first church gathering at 6pm on a Monday evening at the Stephens’ home in the West End on October 7, 2019. There were ten people (mostly friends with only one “new” person) and it was a potluck featuring margherita pizza, salad, perogies, tortellini, chips, soft drinks, and brownies and ice cream. We spent the next year establishing our liturgy and our friendship; building the culture of our church.
In the fall of 2020, we felt like it was the right time to switch to a Sunday morning – in keeping with Jesus’ resurrection (“on the first day of the week”) and the birth of the Church (Pentecost); the Church’s subsequent, traditional commemoration of these things on Sunday; and also because Sundays represent a kind of practical convergence between resting from the past week and preparing for the one ahead.
2020/2021 – the year of COVID-19 – shifted our in-person gatherings mostly to Zoom, with intermittent outdoor gatherings when the weather and governmental guidelines permitted. In some ways, it was the worst time to be a church plant! In other ways, it was ideal because it established our roots with one another and solidified our ways of being.
In October of 2021, after months of meeting on Zoom or outdoors, we were able to meet in person, indoors. It took time to discern where to meet and from the moment we came across the Daniel McIntyre Saint Matthews Community Association (DMSMCA) and its staff, we knew this was to be our home. The DMSMCA does excellent work in the West End with people in the neighbourhood. As they say, they exist to “Empower the community of Daniel McIntyre / St. Matthews to achieve social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing.” They have been incredibly welcoming and hospitable to us. We are honoured to be connected to and support what is going on here, and for the gift of this space to meet.
Our church is still small (we had 15 people at our first in-person service of 2022!), moves slowly and in a spirit of patience, and we think what God birthed and is nurturing amongst us is beautiful!
To hear about the three to four year discernment journey toward planting our church, check out this conversation with Suhail on the How to Plant a Healthy Church podcast: