Making History in Toronto, ON
Since its launch in July of 2017, Faith Christian Alliance Church has been busy engaging their community in experiences that are shaping the history of their faith.
Strategically planted in an area along the 401 corridor of west Toronto where there is a large population of Filipino immigrants, Faith Christian Alliance Church has been building community around its vision of being an accessible church that welcomes new Canadians.
Though many of FCAC's leaders live far from their church plant, across the city and in some cases outside of it (think Mississauga and Tottenham for those of you who know the Greater Toronto Area and beyond), they are committed to commuting in to serve this largely unreached Filipino community in the city. This team of lay leaders work in concert together, governing and executing the various ministries within the church in the absence of a single head pastor. Currently Pastor Narry Santos, Pastor Ben Mapa, and Pastor Armando Leon, the senior pastor at their mother church (Filipino Alliance Church of Toronto) all rotate as teaching pastors for FCAC's Saturday services.
Blessed with synergy and enthusiasm, the leadership team of FCAC has envisioned and orchestrated a number of faith-building experiences for their community since its launch.
Luna Tiu, one of the team members, shared the details of three important "firsts" for the FCAC community, outlined below:
1. The Summer Evangelism BBQ (August)
It's unofficially grilling season again. (Or perhaps some of us have never stopped grilling throughout this long winter.) But for FCAC, the summer evangelism BBQ was more than a BBQ; it was the first church event they'd held outisde their walls. From food preparation to setting up and serving, many from the community got involved in this outreach event. It was also a time for them to share who they were as a church community with the neighborhood at large. About 20 of the guests who came and spent this summer's day with them were passersby from the surrounding neighborhood. In the end, they were able to share the gospel with at least three of these guests.
2. Fall Family Retreat (September)
This was another "first ever." Despite the almost three hour drive up north, 70-80 people--families, kids, youth and 18 guests who were not part of the regular church attendance--attended this time of spiritual renewal and refreshment. There was valuable bonding time: group activities, a meaningful prayer night around the campfire, a Sunday service. Here's one special story from their time away from the city:
A husband of one of our church members just recently arrived in Canada as a newly landed immigrant. Since he had been spearated from his wife by distance for many years, staying back in the Philippines and raising their two children while his wife was here working, he hadn't had a chance to share in her faith. But he came on this retreat with his wife and family, and here he was able to hear all about her faith and witness it in community. He now regularly attends our Saturday church service and the family is currently serving in ministry in our community as well.
3. In Concert: Cantatas! (Christmas & Easter)
"With pride and joy we held our first ever Christmas Cantata. It was a musical by our children's ministry called, Really, Really, Really Good News. The adult FCAC choir also performed. In the time leading up to this performance, we'd personally handed out invitations in nearby neighborhoods, malls and bus stops. We're happy to report that we had an audience of more than 200 guests, the majority of which were Filipinos in the area and a handful from various cultural backgrounds. During Christmas, the community also volunteered their time and efforts for Operation Christmas Child and more than 200 boxes were packed and delivered. At Easter we performed another musical called It's All About Jesus and both children's and adult's choir participated. We had an equally full turnout."
A Lesson on Making History in Community
In their notes on the above events, the team at FCAC had repeatedly referred to each one as a first in our church history. I was struck by this phrase.
Perhaps it's especially evident in a community that is newly forming, but there is often important faith work taking place outside of the church service proper--when we come together, let's say, with the purpose of gathering to eat, gathering to witness, gathering in a retreat setting to grow deeper in Christ, gathering to make music, or to work on a production. Each of these expressions of the body of Christ contributes to the identity and history of a community's faith. Each can hold invaluable faith experience, upon which one might reflect and say:
"There I met God."
"There I felt Him work in me, as I worked, or sang, or packed shoeboxes together, or prayed with someone over a struggle I've had."
From the enthusiastic leaders of Faith Christian Alliance Church we can learn to have faith in the work that God accomplishes as we intentionally facilitate occasions for community.
What will His-story in our own faith communities be?
We certainly have a part to play in shaping that history, inside and outside of church walls.
Excited by what God is doing through Faith Christian Alliance?
Visit their website to learn more about what’s happening in the community.