We are very thankful to the Lord for such a wonderful kick-off to our ministry year
Our staff and volunteers were very busy getting things switched over to our new name, and ready to go for September
We spent three weeks covering the theme of our new name – Redemption – and the rich theology behind this word. We loved our six years as SouthWest Community Church, our twelve years as Harvest Bible Chapel, but now could not be more thrilled to be Redemption Bible Chapel and to be a part of The Great Commission Collective (gccollective.org).
The first few weeks of our kick-off saw 14 baptisms (and there are about 30 more on a waiting list) and just under 1,700 in attendance, over our three services
This summer, leading into kick-off, we also switched to a new church database, which has meant other changes with Kids registration, as well as volunteer check-in
We appreciate your patience with us as we have made these changes, and are very happy with the efficiency of the new system
With the switch to our new database, in the coming months, you will be receiving a link so that you can upload a picture of yourself to our database. With a church our size, this will be very helpful to our staff and volunteers in matching a face to a name. Of course, this is optional, but it would be very helpful to us to have as many as possible willing to do this.
We are thankful to report that the deal to sell our property on Colonel Talbot road has closed, as conditions were waived, and we were able to cover all of our costs (plus some!). These funds will be held for future facility upgrades or additions at 250 Commissioners Road.
In August, we gave an update on the plans with our facility to cover the three main areas of need: lobby space, classrooms, and offices
We have created a new page on our website (redemptionlondon.ca/facility/) where you can view the detailed drawings of our possible renovations (Phase 1) and future addition (Phase 2)
There is also a place where you can submit any questions or comments – we’d love to hear from you!
Please remember, this is all highly just in a “what if” stage. Nothing concrete is in place, no decisions have been made – we are just doing research and seeking input.
As we approach year-end, we continue to be very thankful for God’s continued provision over our years in ministry. We have been blessed by being able to pay off our mortgage and therefore, we have no debt at all.
Once again, as we often see at this time of year, we are currently running about $65,000 behind our budgeted donations of $1.35M
We would ask each of you who call Redemption your home church to be faithful in your giving, and prayerfully consider how you can help us close this gap
If you haven’t already switched to online giving, please consider this option, as it is the most cost-effective and efficient method for both you and us! If you pay any bills through online banking, you already know how to donate through online banking. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org get signed up.
We will be doing another Christmas offering this year in the month of December to be able to give to some special projects, as well as asking the Lord to help us reach our budget in our general fund. Watch for more details in the coming weeks via our weekly bulletin and our website.
We are thrilled to welcome Brad Adamache to our team in October. Brad will be taking on the role of Facility Manager, which is an area that was previously under Jon Sodeman’s responsibility. Brad is a licensed electrician and a skilled handyman, which will help since this older building is in constant need of many things.
Our elder team is very thankful for the twelve years of service that Jon has been with us as a staff member, and we are praying for him as he transitions to serving as a volunteer, while going back into the marketplace. Clearly God has used Jon in many ways as a key part of so much of what we have experienced in our growth in ministry over these twelve years.
We are continuing a search for a Pastor of Biblical Soul Care, but this has proven to be a very difficult role to fill, as we expected. We are persisting in our search and would ask you to be praying with us that God would bring the right man along for this important role.
Kid’s Serving Reminder
Our elders are very thankful for the many young families who attend our church and are being fed from God’s Word. Our nursery is constantly busting at the seams with more and more births due this fall and especially in the new year.
We have 220 children, on average, to care for on any given weekend, and we require certain volunteer to child ratios due to insurance. To cover our three services requires over 60 volunteers every week (over 240 per month).
However, we have had an ongoing issue of a shortage of volunteers in our Kids Ministry
Our elders have instituted a serving requirement, whereby at least one parent of families using this ministry will be expected to serve a minimum of once a month. However, for a variety of reasons, this has not solved our chronic shortfall of volunteers in this ministry, so if you could plug in to help out, even just one service a month, please contact Jen at email@example.com
As announced early in January, the elders have accepted Cory McKenna’s resignation from our staff team, and he will be finishing up his time with us as a staff member the end of June.
As an Elder team, we are in full support of Cory’s next steps in ministry in leading The Cross Current and are excited about the impact his leadership will have there and in Canada.
We are working to ensure that all of Cory’s areas of responsibility are transitioned to other leaders.
Recently, we announced that we have started recruiting for a newly formed position on staff called “Pastor of Biblical Soul Care.” Please see our website for a complete job description and details on how to apply.
This is an exciting new ministry emphasis for our church, and this person would be responsible to develop, implement, and lead a variety of Soul Care related initiatives aimed at addressing the counselling and care needs of the church. This would include both a new “Freedom Groups” ministry, and a lay counsellor training program, which will lead to a trained group of people who can minister within the church.
We are actively connecting with other churches and counselling ministries to identify candidates.
We have been told by several churches that this is a particularly hard position to fill, so we would ask for your prayer support in the process.
We have accepted an offer to purchase our property on Colonel Talbot road. The buyer has 60 days to do their due diligence, so please be praying that all goes smoothly and we are able to firm up this deal.
The plan is to use the funds from this sale to go towards a potential building addition.
A building addition is still in the very early stages of discussion, but we are hoping that this would address our three main needs of more lobby space, classrooms, and offices.
We have a draft of the floor plans ready for pricing and will be looking at getting estimates over the next several months.
We will be communicating more information about the addition in the next few months, so stay tuned for more details.
Also, just a reminder that there’s always lots of work to be done around the building. If you are handy and looking for a great way to contribute, please contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll find a way to put you to work.
Church Plant Update
Our team travelled to Melbourne in April to provide training for the church plant in Melbourne, Australia.
We spent time building relationships with the core group, as well as providing some training and encouragement.
The response from that core group was very encouraging.
The core group is small, however they are very committed to this plant and have great unity, commitment, and excitement.
They are planning to launch in June as Vertical Church Melbourne.
We are also working with the fellowship (Great Commission Collective) to get other churches to partner with us in this church plant.
Please be praying for an encouraging launch, and energy for the team as they sort out the remaining details.
Name Change Update
Beginning last fall, we have been communicating that we have separated from Harvest Bible Fellowship and Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago and are now affiliated with “The Great Commission Collective”. As a result of that change, we have also been communicating that a church name change was likely in our future.
It was announced in April that as of this fall, Harvest Bible Chapel will be changing its name to Redemption Bible Chapel.
We started with over 75 names suggested, which was narrowed down to 5 names, then the elders sensed the Lord leading us to the name “Redemption”. The elders agreed to take some time to pray and seek the Lord some more for confirmation of this new church name, or a redirection from Him.
Our sense of leading to this new name has been confirmed, and we are very excited, enthusiastic, and unanimous in our believe and support that God has led us to our new church name of Redemption Bible Chapel.
We love this name because:
Redemption is a rich Biblical and theological word (Eph. 1:7-8a, Heb. 9:12, Col. 1:13-14, Rom. 3:23-25)
We are a Bible church and believe we needed to keep this in our name. We are unashamed to be known as a Bible church! We are sold-out, praying God would keep us forever as a Bible church.
We originally had thought we would go with “Church” rather than Chapel. However, we believe keeping “Bible Chapel” keeps a least some consistency with our old name, Harvest Bible Chapel, honoring our heritage over the past 12 years, and the name just flows better as Redemption Bible Chapel.
We will begin a series of many tasks to implement this new name for our fall kickoff. Signs, printed material, government and web changes, new logos and branding, etc. There’s lots to do, but we are excited as this is our final step in making the transition from Harvest Bible Fellowship, to being a Great Commission Collective church with the same core, commitments, and values, but an exciting new association and future with the GC Collective.
GCC held the first Senior Pastor/Wife Retreat in February with pastors and wives there from over 70 of the 117 churches who are a part of GCC.
There was a focus on church planting, and the philosophy with which GCC will help churches get healthy, and then plant new churches.
There was a presentation regarding how GCC is going to work to strengthen their churches, via training, resources, fellowship, and care.
As part of the training, they are hiring a Director of Pastoral and Leadership Care, who will help oversee and ensure these things are happening.
GCC is starting several initiatives to promote organized training (including webinars, seminars, on-line forums, recruiting events, etc.), as well as greater knowledge sharing and fellowship amongst churches.
There will also be a greater focus on pastoral care, development, and character, as well as a significant increase in soul care training and discipleship, which will be offered to all churches.
All in all, everything presented was very exciting and affirming. The GCC is building on the strengths of our past, while adding some healthy, biblical, needed elements and focus going forward. Visit their website at gccollective.online.
Our elders had the joy to announce in our services on the weekend of March 3-4, that we are mortgage free!
Due to God’s provision through the generosity of our people, we were able to pay off the remaining balance of about $179,000 on our mortgage at the beginning of the year.
We took on our mortgage of $750,000 three years ago, so are tremendously thankful to God to be able to pay this off so quickly.
Future donations attributed towards our Growth fund will be put towards capital projects, or a possible future expansion.
Our current general fund YTD donations are around $250k, to a budget of $300k.
Historically, the first quarter of the year are lower months for giving, but we would like to encourage our people to remain faithful in this, so we are not left with a large deficit going into the last half of the year.
If you would like to sign up for giving through online banking, please contact Karen at email@example.com (on-line giving involves much less administrative work on our part in receiving donations).
Church Planting Update
We are continuing to work with Adrian Martinez on the first GCC church plant in Australia (in the city of Melbourne).
Adrian and his core group have been able to secure a meeting place at Monash Christian Fellowship, right across the street from the largest university in Australia. They have plans in place to officially launch late this summer.
We are sending a small team to Australia in April to meet with the core group and provide training. Please be praying for this team as they help prepare to launch.
Our elders are continuing to pray about a local church plant, somewhere within an hour of London. This possible church plant is still two to three years out, but we would ask you to be praying for us and the seeds that are being sown now for leaders and this future plant.
You can watch a video recruiting other churches to partner with us in planting Adrian at this webpage along with information about other GCC plants: gccollective.online/skw2018/
Harvest Kids Update
Our elders announced earlier this year that due to our continual shortfall of workers in our Children’s Ministry, that at least one parent of families using the ministry will be expected to serve a minimum of once a month.
Since implementing this requirement, we have had 15 families (of 55 families regularly using Children’s Ministry but not currently having at least one parent serving) contact us about serving. Of those families, 6 have applied and are actively in the process of getting plugged in and serving.
With the spring upon us, this means that many of our faithfully serving students who we depend on will be heading home, leaving a gap in the number of volunteers required to run this ministry each week.
Thank you to those of you who do faithfully serve on a regular basis.
It was announced, in our fall Family Chat, that with the full separation from Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago and James MacDonald, we were prayerfully considering a name change.
Upon further discussion and prayer, we now believe we need to change our name.
We will have more information on this in the coming months, but if you have a name suggestion, please send it to our office.
It was announced in a Family Chat on January 6/7 that we have accepted the resignation of Cory McKenna from our staff team as of December, 2017.
Cory senses an increased press by God to be fully devoted to his calling as an equipping evangelist. However, the role we have had him in allocated about 60-70% of his time to evangelism and compassion ministries, but the other 30-40% to general pastoral duties.
He requested full-time hours for evangelism and compassion as well as the ability to be away more weekends a year to help equip believers at other churches in the area.
We love and affirm Cory’s calling, but this was out of sync with our needs as a congregation, and with all the volunteers he has trained up, we do not see a full-time role in the evangelism and compassion areas as viable.
Cory will stay on staff through the end of the ministry season, in the spring.
Although we did not want Cory to resign as we love him and his family and they us, we believe this is God’s leading for them as well as for our ministry. We are very thankful for his many years of faithful service as God has used Cory to bless and grow our congregation.
We ended 2017 with actual donations to our general fund of around $1.7M. Our budget was $1.675M. We are grateful for God’s provision and working in the hearts of our people to help us meet our budget.
In addition, throughout 2017, we received generous giving towards our growth fund, and will use this to continue to pay down our mortgage. We plan to communicate details on the status of our mortgage and the remaining balance this spring.
We are also thankful to report that through your generous giving, we received $33,644 towards our Christmas Offering. The majority of these funds will be used to support Safe Families, with the remainder going to Harvest churches in the Caribbean, as well as to our Harvest Market.
Tax receipts for 2017 will be available mid-February. Please remember that photo ID is required to pick up your receipt. If you would like your receipt emailed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our work on the feasibility of an expansion to our current location is continuing. We are getting close to firm plans to price out, however, our next step is to meet with City Hall and see if there are any requirements which would hinder the possibility of an expansion. For example, we may need to have raised islands in our parking lot, which would cost us parking spaces, and therefore render an expansion to our building unlikely.
We are still looking to sell our property on Colonel Talbot, and have had a few developers express interest. Other than an offer which was very low, no other firm offers have been made.
Please pray for meetings at City Hall, as well as the sale of our property on Colonel Talbot.
Harvest Kids Update
Our elders are very thankful for the ongoing growth in young families attending our church. This has been very encouraging to see, but has also put strain on our existing pool of volunteers in our Kids Ministry.
We have 232 volunteers serving over our 12 services a month, serving 326 children and 170 families who are blessed by this ministry. Even with this many volunteers, we are about 20-25 short of our required number to safely and properly care for your children. This number changes constantly through the seasons, especially when we lose our university students in the spring.
After many efforts to recruit volunteers, and still falling significantly short on the number needed to provide the required supervision and care of children in our weekend services, our elders have decided that at least one parent of families using this ministry will be expected to serve a minimum of once a month.
Although this may be difficult for some, it is our belief that this will be a blessing to you and your children, as you show them what it is to Worship, Walk, and Work for Christ.
Therefore, if at least one parent from your family is not currently engaged as a volunteer in children’s ministry, please sign up to serve once a month to help alleviate the shortfall we have in volunteers in this important ministry.
For those of you serving who do not have kids in this ministry, THANK YOU, as your continued service is so vital to this ministry.
Church Planting Update
We have had the privilege to help with planting in Nepal, and are excited to see a dozen Harvest churches in that needy country.
We are excited to be partnered with and helping to support and train the first Harvest in Cuba in Holguin. Please be praying for pastor Raphael and his family and church.
We are praying about partnering with and supporting a church plant in Belize City, Belize with pastor Pedro. Pedro is the principal of a residential Christian high school and is in the process of handing over leadership of that school so he can come for training and then plant a church. Be praying for him and us as we pursue this possibility in 2018/19.
We also have committed to help coach and partner with a pastor, Adrian Martinez, to plant the first Harvest in Australia, located in Melbourne. Adrian was trained this fall in Chicago, and was with us for a weekend in October and again in December. Adrian has returned to Australia to work with the core group he already has in place and launch a new church late this summer. We also have a small team who will be traveling to Australia this spring to spend some time with Adrian and his core group, getting them ready to launch.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, please join our elders, who have been praying about planting a church locally, somewhere within an hour of London. By God’s grace, we have become a bit of a regional church, with people driving from all directions, but many long distances. We are seeking the Lord if He would have us plant another Harvest somewhere around London within the next two to three years.
Very thankful for God’s continued provision over 17.5 years of ministry.
Thankful to God for your generous giving to our general fund.
We are running a little behind budget, but are seeking to manage our expenses to our income. Please join us in asking the Lord to make up this shortfall over the remainder of the year.
There are many who call Harvest London their church home, but are not regular in their giving or do not give at all. Please prayerfully consider, if you haven’t already, to put God first in your finances, by faith, according to the commands in His Word.
If you haven’t already, would you switch over to online giving? This helps us immensely with the internal processing of donations. Contact email@example.com to switch.
We are thankful for the 275+ people who serve in Children’s ministry and the way this vital ministry faithfully and effectively serves the families in our church. God has blessed us with a lot of young families and so our needs continue to grow.
In light of this, we still need an additional 40 people to serve at least one service each month.
We would especially ask all parents who have a child or children in this ministry to sign up to serve once a month. If we cannot meet the requirement of adult supervision and care in the classrooms, we may need to consider requiring parents who use ministry to serve one service each month, as this is what many churches do and is not unreasonable in light of the high volume of servers needed.
Other teams need help as well, so please consider joining our security team, greeters team, or our parking lot team.
Our elders have been praying for about a year about what to do regarding our future facility needs. In discussions with our staff, we are all in full agreement that we see our future being at our current location and not at our Colonel Talbot property for a variety of reasons, the two main ones being cost and location.
Costs have gone up significantly since the time we almost started to build. We now estimate the costs at $10-$12 million dollars to build. This means we would need to raise about $4-6 million more and would still have a mortgage of about $3-6 million. After having raised $4 million already, we do not see our church being able to raise that much more. Also, our elders have no interest in a big mortgage which could cripple our ministry.
Therefore, we have engaged an architect to help us conduct a feasibility study of staying in our current building. We are looking at it from three perspectives:
Keeping the building functional and up to code, but making no substantial changes.
Adding on to the back the minimum space needed for an increased lobby area, classrooms, offices, and bringing the current building up to code.
Adding a larger addition on the back with lobby, classrooms, offices, and a gym for a long-term functional space as well as bringing the current building up to code.
When the Ministry of Environment in Toronto stopped our project and we tried for two years to get it going, we responded by choosing to thank God and praise Him even though it made no sense to us.
It has become clear that God was saying, and is saying, “no” to Colonel Talbot.
Therefore, our elders recently made the decision to put our property on Colonel Talbot up for sale. With developers actively planning subdivisions all around that property, we believe now would be an optimum time to sell the property.
Please pray for wisdom and direction in this feasibility study and please be in prayer that if this is God’s will, for us to sell Colonel Talbot, someone would give us a very good offer.
We will communicate the options for our current building when our feasibility study is complete, and ask you for prayer and input, and will update you as we know more about the sale of the Colonel Talbot property.
As mentioned a few weeks ago, Harvest Bible Fellowship ceased to exist in the USA this past June when James MacDonald resigned as president and essentially rendered the Fellowship non-operational.
Therefore, the US Harvest churches needed to create a new charity, re-establishing an association which Harvest churches could now join. This new US organization is called The Great Commission Collective (GCC).
The GCC has asked all Harvest churches to consider joining with them to work together in strengthening and planting churches globally as we did together under Harvest Bible Fellowship.
In Canada, since we already had a separate Canadian charity, we now need to consider if we will change the name of our association from Harvest Bible Fellowship Canada to GCC Canada. Also, each of the Canadian Harvest churches need to decide if they want to be a part of GCC USA.
Confused yet? There are many moving parts on this with everything changing for all of us. Bottom line: All Harvest churches are continuing to function as before as each of us are our own charity and run by our own elder teams. A new association will develop with as many Harvest churches that wish to join. Whatever results, it is and will be completely separate from James and his church, as that relationship is over.
Many meetings, phone calls, and discussions are happening as all of us are seeking God’s leading on all these things, so please be praying for all involved.
Our desire is to not be alone as a church, but to be a part of the new collective. However, we still need to better understand what this new thing is before making that decision.
We hope to have a family chat update for you late fall as things become clearer.