Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Preaching Station Established in Calgary, Alberta

Written by Rev. Jack Schoeman
The Bethel Free Reformed Church of Monarch, Alberta is pleased to announce that through the goodness of God, we have established our first preaching station in Calgary. How did this come about? The idea establishing a preaching station in Calgary first came up last summer when a family from Calgary (Harold and Janey Slingerland who were both raised in the Netherlands Reformed Congregation) attended one of our services in Monarch and remarked how wonderful it would be if there was a church like ours in Calgary. After several months of planning and strategizing, we held our first services (in November, 2001). Two months after that a preaching a station was established.

The attendance at each service is approximately 35 to 40 people (one Sunday we had as many as 52 people). Those attending these services come from a wide variety of backgrounds (Free Presbyterian, Netherlands Reformed, Protestant Reformed, and United Reformed) and quite a number are from a non-Dutch background. One couple were former members of the Free Reformed Church of Red Deer which disbanded in the sixties due to lack of ministers and people moving away. Three families attending the services are from the Lacombe area (Lacombe is located about one hour south of Edmonton) although most live in Calgary.

In January of this year we announced that we would like to hold a meeting to determine whether there was sufficient interest to continue holding the services. We arranged to have Dr. L.W. Bilkes (pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Abbotsford, B.C.) and Hank VanderWoerd (an elder in Abbotsford), both of whom have extensive experience with the home mission station on Vancouver Island, to fly to Calgary to help us conduct the meeting and to provide us with direction and advice. We proposed that the services in Calgary come under the oversight of the Bethel Free Reformed Church of Monarch and that the people commit themselves to attend the services for a period of six months at which time they could vote to pursue contact with another denomination or to formalize their relationship with us. The vote was unanimous.

This means that starting January 27 we hope to conduct two services in Calgary every week. These services will be led by ministers and elders from various Free Reformed congregations (mainly from the West--although we hope we can call on some of the ministers in the East from time to time as well). It is our hope that once the group in Lacombe grows we will be able to establish a second preaching station there as well.

We in Monarch stand amazed at what the Lord has done in such a short space of time. In less than one year the Lord has opened up not one but (possibly) two doors for us to preach the gospel of Christ. This is a great blessing and privilege and it humbles us that He is willing to use us to spread His word across this province.

As I reflect on all of these events I would like to make two comments. The first comment is this: the harvest is indeed plentiful. I have felt for many years (and the events of recent months only confirm this) that there is a hunger for ÒFree ReformedÓ preaching in Canada and the United States. The problem is we lack the labourers. This has seriously hampered our growth and has resulted in the closure of several churches and preaching stations over the years. True, we have four students, one of whom (Eric Moerdyk) will be eligible for call, D.V. this summer. But with four vacant congregations (possibly seven when the Wellandport church plant is instituted and the Brantford congregation, which is fast outgrowing its present facilities, decides to start another church) and several ministers due to retire, I question whether we will be able to meet the demand. Let us pray fervently that the Lord would raise up men who are called and equipped by God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ--not only here at home, but around the world. It is only as we pray for labourers that we will receive labourers. Are we doing that?

My second comment is directed at the young men in our denomination. Let me ask you: are you seriously considering the ministry as your lifeÕs work? No, the ministry is not for everyone. Only those who feel truly called by the Lord may serve in this office. But are you making this a matter of prayer? If the Lord has endowed you with the necessary gifts (both spiritual and intellectual) and if there is a desire to serve the Lord in His church, are you asking Him to lead you into the ministry? Or are you shutting your mind to the possibility? There is no greater privilege, no greater calling, than to preach the gospel of Christ. May the Lord so impress the need upon your heart and may we as denomination rejoice to see several young men come forward this year to begin preparing themselves for this great and glorious task.

P.S. In case you have friends or relatives in Calgary, you may inform them that the church is located at 7 McKenzie Towne Gate, SE (off the Deerfoot Trail south) in the southeast corner of Calgary. Service times are 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. For more information, contact Harold and Janey Slingerland at 403-254-6591 or e-mail them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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