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                                                                                                                                              February 19, 2023

Calvary Church Building Update

The Vision

Folks, we have been incredibly blessed in the past several months by our brothers and sisters in the christian community. From immediately following the damage sustained by our building up to today - and promises to stand with us and support us going forward. We’ve had people come forward and show financial support, practical support, prayer support - all of it greatly needed. As we prepared to give an update on the current status and the steps ahead for us as a church, we wanted to take a step back and look at the big picture. The purpose and vision for our church, then review the current situation we are in and how we got there, and follow that with sharing an update on our plans moving forward as we trust God with the future.

In talking about our purpose and vision, its good to keep in mind that in the months following the damage to our building, the leadership has faced the challenges with the backdrop of where we have been as a church and where we believe God has been leading us - even well before the storm.  I will say that post storm, this vision for the future has become even clearer, yet in so many ways it has seemed further out of reach. 

The reality of church life is that ministry requires money. We know that. Whether that is sending out missionaries, acquiring materials for discipleship, outreach events, evangelistic efforts, paying salaries, a mortgage, maintenance on a building, - ministry requires money.  Calvary Church has had a vision and plans for effective ministry since well before Covid. Of course, covid and other situations dictated a change of plans and emphasis. What remains is a desire to serve the Lord, reach people in need of Jesus, and disciple people as Jesus-followers. That means loving people in and out of the church.  This is the mission of the “church outside the walls” that we’ve talked about, that was actually written on the inside walls of our sanctuary!

We must be faithful to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 - “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” - as well as the Great Commandments we see in the gospels when Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, and He responded in Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The 2nd is this, love your neighbour as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.  This is what we strive to do as a church - love God and love others! We have been able to reach out, to show the love of Jesus, to be the church outside the walls as we are currently a church without walls. We’ve done that in organized ways, it has also been done in small groups or 1 or 2 people taking initiative.  We believe we can have an even greater impact as a church in our community to provide practical tools, meet felt needs, and share the good news of Jesus’ love for all people and his forgiveness of sins that gives life, makes all things new, and sets people free from bondage, addiction, despair, aimlessness and replaces it with freedom, deliverance, hope, and purpose!

We also believe we can minister to and disciple all generations in our church, especially the generation coming up now - our children and young people. We have incredible opportunity to shape the lives of our children, teenagers, and young adults. Our desire down the road is to staff specifically for ministry to this next generation. Wouldn’t it be great to see 2 or 3 times - or 10x the number of kids who come up for kids church? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a youth group that reaches scores of young people inside and outside the church, that transforms people during this critically formative period of life?  We want to have that impact on our church family and on our community. We believe God is going to give us a “base of operations”, a church meeting space we can once again call our own, in which will be a centre for worship and from which we can do the work of discipleship, evangelism, and training for outreach - both hosting our community for events on church property, as well as going beyond those walls to reach our community right where it is at - downtown, in our parks, our public spaces, at special events and festivals and gatherings.  We want to be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in our community, for our community, showing and sharing God’s love for everyone.


The Current Situation

Now, while we have been able to carry on with ministry and worship services as a church, we have been restricted in many areas as well. We have significant hurdles to overcome in order to realize key aspects of this vision.  Folks, Post Tropical Storm Fiona was a catastrophic event that occurred in our region. We know many individuals - including many hearing this now - suffered loss of, or damage to property. And obviously, it directly impacted our place of meeting - essentially, our base of operations if you will. This impact was specifically the destruction of a large portion of the roof of our building.  As has been shared at other times, the insurance companies deemed the building a write-off. It was insured for 3.4 million dollars, which was short of the over 5 million dollars we received as an estimate to repair the extensive damage caused by the hurricane and subsequent water damage due to ongoing exposure to the elements.

We had another professional engineering firm provide us with a 2nd opinion and they came back with a similar figure between 5-6 million dollars. As noted in the last update, this was done without providing them the information of the original estimate. This affirmed 2 things - firstly, the information we received from the company was accurate. Secondly, this would put us in a severe financial crises. We did not feel our church had the means nor the appetite to pursue the borrowing that would be required to repair or to rebuild.  That meant we are in trouble!  We have a big problem, but we know we have a BIG GOD! Jesus said in Luke 18:27 “what is impossible with man is possible with God” and we are reminded in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” Jeremiah 32:27 says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

Is anything too hard for God? Is anything too big for God? Is anything too expensive for God? Is there anything our God cannot do?  NO! So we turn to Him in this situation, as we have from the start. Because this is beyond us. The solution did not seem clear or attainable.  We need God, Jehovah Jireh - the LORD our provider, to provide this solution! So we call out to Him - Psalm 50:15 says “call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honour me”


The Call - God Intervenes

So we shared last month that an exciting opportunity was presented to us that could potentially help our situation. After considerable study and prayer on the matter, and feeling led to pursue it further, we want to tell you about this opportunity.  Before I do, let me tell you how it came about. Some of you may have seen a news story on Compass where Pastor Phil and I were interviewed about the status of the church building. It was also an article written up about it as well. This article was seen by David Wells who is the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada nationally - that is the fellowship of churches we belong to. He posted this article on his Facebook account. From there it was seen by a man named Brian Beattie. Brian served in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and now continues in ministry by coming alongside churches to coach them in being agents of gospel transformation in their communities.  He also partners with a Christian developer by the name of Ian Jones and saw this as a potential solution to our problem of being without a building.

Brian decided to call the church office to talk about this. The church administrator  - my wife, Robbin - answered the call. They quickly made the connection between the two of them that Pastor Brian was Robbin’s youth pastor 30 some years ago when she was a teenager in Barrie ON.

Soon, arrangements were made for Pastor Phil and I to meet with Brian and Ian over zoom and hear about what they were proposing.  Ian is a Spirit-filled believer in Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He is also the President of BGI Group - a development company based in Toronto.  He has over 50 years experience in the construction and development industry, over 30 of those as President of BGI Group.


The Proposal

What he presented to us that day truly seemed too good to be true. Since we first heard of this potential project, we’ve continuously reminded ourselves that God is at work here.  In fact, God has been reminding us that He is at work. Soon after the storm while we were still meeting at Cornerstone Church in the afternoon, maybe the first or second week we were there, the Spirit of God came upon Fred MacLaren and he shared that the Lord would have us know that HE has a plan! God has a plan for Calvary Church - He wasn’t through with us! This may potentially be that plan that God is preparing us for.

Ian Jones, the developer, shared with us that day that he believed our church location along with the land that we own is ideally situated to be used as a housing development where a multi-storey apartment building could be built targeting those in the 55+ demographic. This would include a portion that would be designated as affordable housing for this same 55+demographic to help address the growing and overwhelming need for affordable housing across the province.  Along with this apartment building - on that same plot of our land - they would build a new church structure that would serve as our worship centre, our meeting place, rooms for prayer, study, discipleship, teaching, fellowship, and outreach - a new church!

This would solve our problem of carrying out our vision with no home and a lack of finances. Once again, it sounds too good to be true - almost too easy when the problem was so immense. How can we know this is legitimate? While there can be no guarantees in life, I can assure you that the Board, the building committee, and the pastors have done background work on these individuals and this company. We have carried out due diligence.  What we are left with is that this proposal is from a benevolent developer who’s desire is to serve God by using his experience and expertise to help ministries meet the need of affordable housing so prevalent across the country.  As that company partners with churches and not-for-profit organizations like us, it helps provide the financing for the building of a church.  This is done in conjunction with helping meet the need of affordable housing.  The buildings that will be built, and the subsequent rent collected, will help pay for the building of our church. Too good to be true?  Too good not to pursue! Please Pray with us for the steps to come, as we must maintain the element of faith as a people of faith!

So yes, this may sound too good to be true, but God is at work.  When God is at work good things happen! Whatever your response may be to this concept, I’ll let you in on a reality - from the pastors, to the board, to the building committee, it has been largely met with skepticism at first.  Each person involved has since come around to the conclusion that we must at least pursue this potential road for our church to go down.  We are going to do that, and see where it leads us as we at least get further information and see the details necessary to make the proper decision.  We want to remind our membership at this time, and throughout the process, that the ultimate decision is with the membership.  We as the appointed and elected leaders of the church will gather the information and present it to the membership in full so that you can make a prayerful, informed, faith-filled decision when it comes time to vote on any building or developing to take place. 


The Process

Now we know that this is all very theoretical and merely conceptual at this point. It can be hard to visualize or imagine how this would look, and how it would come about.  In fact, this “informational update” may create a lot more questions than answers.  The difference is that these are forward-focused questions rather than a backward view of things. 

So, to maybe answer just a few of some potential questions, we want to share with you the process moving ahead:

  1. The first step we will take is to ask BGI Group, Ian Jones development company, to initiate a “Preliminary Study” that will produce a 100 page document that will give far more details and present us an actual proposal of what buildings will go where on the property, how it will look, how it will work, and much more.  This study will take 30 days, upon which time it will be reviewed and determined if we want to continue. 
  2. Then BGI will do an application to the city to be sure everything meets all requirements for building. 
  3. Then there is a final application to CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) that provides seed funding for the project because of the great need for affordable housing. 


Next Steps

Our next step is to get this Preliminary Development Study started.  It will be requested tomorrow, and will be completed in 30 days.

We will be keeping you informed through this period of discovery, and we remind you that the ultimate decision will be that of the membership.

As was stated last month - unless something completely unexpected takes place, it is our full intention to remain at our location of 9 Capital Drive. This proposal allows us to do that. So we are moving forward in the same place!

We know this is a lot of info to take in. We will have a point form document sharing these details available on our website.  You can also re-watch the service and hear this presentation again on YouTube. And you can ask us, the leadership - pastors and board - any questions you may have.  We’ll be limited in what we are able to answer as so much is still unknown without this preliminary study.


Closing Thoughts

If any of you have been like me, one question you may have might be something I’ve asked numerous times since the storm - “where is God in this?”. I’ve thought and prayed about that a lot and I want to share some of those thoughts with you..

  • As Pastor Phil has commented several times, God could have protected the roof.  He didn’t… Why? What purpose does He have for us?
  • Romans 5 says “we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”   In these months of waiting and wondering, God is developing perseverance, developing character, developing patience, developing hope!  We see God working on us, working in us, causing us to grow in our FAITH - because we have to! We don’t see a way through this with human eyes.  We must “live by faith, not by sight” 2 Cor.5:7
  • We are "a church outside the walls” -it has been written on our walls, now we are forced beyond them, beyond our comfort zone - we have an opportunity to truly fulfill this vision. What are we going to do? How are we going to do it? We have an opportunity now - with the Spirit’s leading - to demonstrate Jesus to our community, to share the gospel, to live the great commission and the great commandments.
  • I already reminded us of Fred’s message at Cornerstone “God says, ‘I have a plan!’”.  Our Advent Series this year was called “God Has a Plan”! Yes, it was referring to God’s great plan of salvation and sending his Son to this world in the first advent, born as a baby.  But there were references throughout to God’s plan for our lives personally as well as His plan for His church.  We need to be a people of faith on the lookout for that plan with eyes of faith - and we believe we are seeing that come into focus.
  • Following the storm, we continued having prayer mtgs every Saturday night in our church parking lot. We would walk around the property and pray. One of those nights, Randy Els shared that he just had 2 words in his head and his heart that he felt were from the Lord.  “New Beginnings”.   He said.  He believed God wanted to prepare us, Calvary Church, for a time of New Beginnings.  He didn’t know what that looked like then.  He didn’t know this was even a possibility - nobody did except God!
  • Another place I see God in this is that this could potentially serve our community by helping to meet one of the greatest felt needs in all of PEI - and that is affordable housing.  The reality is, our pastor has a heart for the poor and the hurting in our community.  That is shared by me, that is shared by our board, and so many of you I know - Jamie and Gina, Suzanne Billard, Les and Marg Schroeder, so many others I’m not even aware of who has been involved in various outreaches to those in need. But our church has provided for needs in the tent city community this past summer and fall.  We also ministered to some unhoused people at our location near our church property.  I see God in this when looking at Psalm 41:1 which says, “Oh the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.”  Well we are in trouble, but the Lord will rescue us!
  • Finally, I see God in this because not only would this be providing help for one of the greatest felt needs in the province, we are providing the greatest need for all humanity by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ!   That is what we are called to do by the power and infilling of the Holy Spirit.  This potentially enables us to continue doing that in new and exciting ways for years to come should the Lord tarry, according to His will!

Pastor Brodie, on behalf of Calvary Church Leadership - Pastors and Board