Here we are at the start of another year and reflecting on 2020. What a year that was! It is safe to say that a year ago, none of us could imagine all that 2020 would hold.
As you reflect on the past year, we would encourage you all to thank God for the many blessings of 2020, as there are many. God is good, faithful, and kind, and He has shown this to us again in 2020.
As a leadership team, we are very grateful for all of you. We are grateful for the way our people have persevered through the storm (and continue to persevere), embraced inconveniences, and been an encouragement to our staff and elders.
We are also very thankful that we have been able to have in-person services since June, with no outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus.
We have seen God at Work again in 2020, even in and through this pandemic. There have been baptisms, families growing, marriages restored, new people coming, and growth in our ministries, staff, and leadership team. We indeed have much to be thankful for!
As we begin 2021, we now find ourselves in the midst of another lockdown. In the words of Stephen Yuille, “this too shall pass.” Let us remember that the church is not a building, but it is all of you, and all believers world-wide. Please continue to be praying for one another and connecting online, by phone, with an email, etc.
For the duration of the lockdown, we will be holding our Sunday services online only. Please join us at live.rbclondon.ca at 9:00am or 11:15am.
Our mid-week ministries will move to online until we can resume in-person meetings. While online is certainly not as good as in-person, we would urge you to try to plug in and join these ministries, to the best of your ability.
When allowed, we will plan to re-open our ministries (both Sunday services and mid-week) as much as we can, and as soon as we can, while following all the mandated restrictions, and discerning any recommendations.
We are expecting that this will look very similar to what we have had through the summer and fall, with a maximum capacity in place, and requiring pre-registration for services.
We are sure all of you are with us in your eager anticipation of being able to meet in person again, but until that time comes, let us glorify God in our current circumstances.
New Associate Pastor
We are thankful to God for His provision of a new addition to our pastoral team, Ian Havercroft.
Ian will join our team as an Associate Pastor on February 1, 2021, as they are in the process of relocating from Hamilton.
To read more about Ian and his family, and his role on staff, read the News post on our website here.
Ian and his family joined our services on December 13, and Ian shared their story. If you missed this, check it out here. You can fast forward to 27:30 on the recording to listen to this portion of the service.
Elder Team Update
We announced in December that Ben Tucker is in the process of being added as an elder at Redemption.
A handout was distributed in our December 20 services with more information on Ben and the process. If you missed this, have a look on our website here. This also has information about your part in this process, of examining Ben according to the qualifications for an elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
As mentioned earlier in this update, we have much to thank God for, and the area of Finances is certainly one of them!
God has been immensely kind to us in 2020. In a year of uncertainty, and a time when many people are personally taking a hit in their finances, God has abundantly provided through your generosity.
While our year-end financials won’t be finalized for a few weeks, we are looking to finish out the year with a surplus – thank you God!
Back in the spring, we made cuts to our budget of almost $200,000, not knowing how the pandemic would affect us or our finances. We are thankful for the stewardship our staff have shown by being very careful with expenditures, enabling us to finish the year well under our budgeted expenses.
We have also finished the year with our income above what was projected (to a reduced budget).
With the pandemic not going away any time soon, there is still a lot of uncertainty as to what 2021 will look like. We are concerned about our church family and what impact further shutdowns may have on each one, on their jobs, income, families, etc. So, we are thinking we should set aside some of the 2020 surplus, to help out where needed, should things get bad this next year.
Redemption was incorporated at the end of 2019, and as a corporation, we are now required to have an annual audit done. Since 2020 was our first fiscal year as an incorporation, we are currently in the beginning stages of performing this, our first audit. This is a lot of work for our team, but things are looking smooth as we begin.
We had scheduled a Town Hall meeting for January 31 (this is not our Annual General Meeting as that will be late spring). We are still planning to hold this meeting (may be done virtually) for any who wish to join in. We will present some updates, including a financial update, and have a time of Q&A at the end.
Thanks to your generosity, we were able to collect a total of $23,582 towards our Christmas offering. Praise God for allowing us to bless other ministries with a financial gift during this time.
In our last update, we mentioned a project we were looking at to cover the rotting wood on our front peaked roof with metal flashing, to protect it from further damage. We are looking to complete this project early this year.
We have also recently re-done our baptism tank, to make it safer (slip-proof). As any of you who have been baptized in this building can attest, the stairs going into the baptism tank were very slippery when wet, so we had it sanded down to the cement and had a professional company come in and apply a special paint and coating to make the stairs and tank slip-proof.
Many of you may not know this, but in the summer when we started live-streaming our services, we had to set up a “livestream” room in our only available office for our operator to sit and control the stream and sound.
With Ian joining our team, we require the use of this office, so our livestream room will be moving to a small room (that was previously used for storage) to the right of our stage, behind the screen.
We will make this change with as little interruption to our livestream as possible, and as little construction “mess” as possible, but wanted to let you know in case you see the work being done, or we have a week where this change affects our livestream.
MINISTRY RE-OPENING UPDATE
At the time of our last elder update, we were still shut down from the pandemic, and were working on plans and scenarios of what we could do when things opened up.
It was just a week after our last update that restrictions lifted to allow us to have in-person services with the maximum of 30% of our building capacity. We are thankful to have been able to have services again since June.
Our elders and staff have been working hard to stay on top of and follow all mandated restrictions and discern recommendations. Please continue to pray for our elders as we navigate this unique time.
We have been encouraged by our service attendance since starting up again. Our in-person service registration is “full” each week (approximately 200 per service), as most weekends we have been maximizing our seating capacity with physical distancing. We are so thankful that our people want to be here and together, despite the masks, distancing, and no singing.
In addition, we have enabled a “wait list” for our service registrations, so that if all the seats are gone when you register, you’ll be placed on a wait list and notified if someone else cancels, and you are able to get in. If you decide to risk it and come Sunday morning when you are on the wait list, you will need to sit in either our temporary simulcast room, or our lobby, until we know if we can fit you in our Worship Centre.
We want to extend a huge thank you to our people for helping us during this time. Thank you for following the restrictions when you are here. Thank you for registering for services. Thank you for following the “every other week” request, so we can allow everyone the opportunity to come. Thank you for arriving on time.
We also want to extend a thank you to those of you who faithfully join us online each week. We have been averaging about 180 families joining us online, in each service. We average an additional 190 “on demand” views (outside of weekly service times) during the week.
Our mid-week ministries are also doing very well, given the restrictions. Small groups had started up again this fall but are on a hiatus for the most part during the temporary restrictions on informal social gatherings. Our Men’s Ministry (Monday nights) has over 100, most coming to in-person Men’s, but a few groups on Zoom or meeting off-site. Our Women’s ministry has about 140 between morning, evening, and online sessions, and our Youth Ministry is running over 100 students each week. Our Young Adults are continuing to meet in Small Groups (at the church while group limits are in place).
Kids Ministry has been able to extend the age offered up to Grade 2, and are looking to extend that further, but you guessed it! We need more volunteers to be able to do this.
God is at work. It has been encouraging to see many new families joining us in this season. If this is you, we would encourage you to register for our Step 1 event on November 1 (register at rbclondon.ca/next-steps) if you are considering making Redemption your home church. Get to know who we are and plug in to our ministries!
CHRISTMAS AT REDEMPTION
Mark your calendar for Sunday December 20! We will be having four Christmas services, with the hope of giving everyone a chance to be able to attend one. These will be identical, one-hour services at 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:00am, and 12:30pm. More information will come on which services will have Kids Ministry available.
Registration will be up in the coming weeks so you can save a seat!
For Christmas Eve this year, we have opted to do something a little different instead of in-person services. With the current COVID restrictions and all that means, we would not be able to get the Christmas Eve feel we all long for, so we are planning something special for you and your family at home. Stay tuned for more details.
CHURCH PLANTING UPDATE
Our St. Thomas church plant continues to thrive with lots of signs of health for which they and we are thankful.
Pray for the leadership as they are looking to get their Youth Ministry up and running this fall.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Betuel, his wife Sanda, their leaders and congregation in Sibiu Romania. They are meeting with similar restrictions to what we have and see God at work in various ways.
Red Deer, Alberta
Plans are still moving forward to plant a GCC church in Red Deer, Alberta, with a proposed 2021 launch.
The planting pastor, Chris Girvan, and his family just moved to Red Deer on October 1. Please pray for them and their family as they settle into new routines and a new home.
They have a Core Group that has started to meet regularly, and recently started a Bible Study in Romans.
We are thankful to be a part of a cohort of Canadian GCC churches partnered with this new church plant.
Pray for the study in Romans, and that God would plant seeds and grow this Core Group to a healthy church plant.
If you’d like to follow the Red Deer church plant on social media, check out “redemptionreddeer”
Praise God for His provision! We are thankful to God to report that despite the pandemic and its effect on our economy, God has been abundantly faithful – to God be the glory! God’s kindness in many areas has allowed Redemption to be in a very healthy financial position as we look to close out our fiscal year on December 31.
We received the final payment of $1.5M from the sale of our land on Colonel Talbot. This was received in August and put into a couple of different no-risk investment accounts.
The plan with these funds is to likely use them for a renovation in our building, to allow more lobby space and classrooms. The decision to do this renovation is on hold until we are through this pandemic.
We have also set aside a reserve account, which will only be accessed in emergencies.
Our operating account has a healthy balance, and for the first time in our 20 years, we are running above budget in our donations as we enter our fall season of ministry.
Our finance team is currently preparing for our first audit next spring. Since this is our first year as a corporation, an audit is now required. There is lots of work to do for the audit, but we are working well in advance to make it as smooth as possible.
Copies of our financial statements are always available at our Welcome Desk
The wood frames around the windows on our front peaked wall (outside above the lobby roof) are starting to degrade to a point that if we don’t do something soon, it could mean a very expensive replacement as these were custom windows.
Therefore, we will be covering this area with a metal “wall” in the coming weeks, as we need to protect these from the weather. This should match our current metal flashing trim around the front and sides of the building.
MINISTRY RE-OPENING PLAN
We are continuing to work on detailed plans for what a possible re-opening would look like, when government restrictions lift enough to allow gatherings of a larger group of people.
Our staff is working on researching three different options. They include A) live services with limited capacity, B) continuing with our Church Online services, while integrating a regular, in-person, fellowship/social event, and C) home church (groups meeting in homes around the city to watch the online service together with fellowship).
Each option has different pros and cons and issues to be addressed, but we are working hard at investigating each of these, so that once permission is granted from the government to proceed, we will already have much of this work done for the option that fits with requirements and is best for our congregation.
We have realized through some significant assessment, brain-storming, and actual measurements in our Worship Centre and building, that the limiting factor in starting Sunday services is not the gathering (group) size allowed by the government, but the social distancing requirement.
For example, our Worship Centre, which has about 640 chairs, can only ever seat a maximum of about 200 and more likely about 175 with social distancing, depending on the number of singles vs. couples vs. families.
This means that as the government increases the group size allowed, it makes little difference to our Sunday services as we believe, and data indicates, social distancing will remain for the longer term. Therefore, if social distancing is in place, we can only have 175-200 maximum in a worship service.
The 175-200 will be intentionally spread out evenly in our Worship Centre, so the sense of togetherness, of God’s people worshipping, raising our voices together, etc. will not be the same as we all have been longing for.
Other factors which will impact our Sunday services include checking everyone entering the building as per government requirements, recording name and contact information of each attended in case of any incident of COVID, flow of traffic in the building (social distancing in hallways?), washrooms needing to be sanitized, etc.
While some of these realities can be quite discouraging, we have not lost hope that there is a way we can gather together, as soon as allowed. It may look and feel very different for many months to come. Our hope is not in our plans, nor is it ruined by government restrictions, but is in Jesus Christ. God is still on His throne, none of this is a surprise to Him, and He is working all things out for our good and His glory, as He continues to care for His children and grow His church!
CHURCH PLANTING UPDATE
Please continue to pray for Redemption St. Thomas. By God’s grace, this healthy and Biblical church has a wonderful staff and elders, and a growing and vibrant ministry. They continue to do well during this shutdown, providing online worship and preaching and shepherding their people with all the restrictions.
Having a beautiful 700 seat Worship Centre and a congregation of around 270, they should be able to start-up in a more effective manner than we can.
Please continue to pray for the leadership and people of RBC St. Thomas as they work toward financial independence, hopefully this year or next.
Our new partner church in Sibiu, Romania (a GCC church plant) is doing well in this season. Please continue to pray for Pastor Betuel, his wife Sanda, and their children, as well as their elders and congregation.
We are very thankful to be in a partnership with this growing church as they pursue their gospel mission.
Red Deer, Alberta
Plans are still going forward to plant a GCC church in Red Deer, Alberta, although it is on hold due to COVID-19.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Chris Girvan, his family, and core group as they are in the early stages of building a core group.
As we have communicated in the past six months, our church plant in Melbourne Australia has shut down.
All ministry has ceased at this point and the people in the core group have found new churches to be a part of.
A new Melbourne street evangelism ministry has begun from this church and that continues to grow and thrive, so we are thankful to God for this.
Pastor Adrian is transitioning to other work, one being Biblical counselling. He is a certified Biblical Counselor (ACBC certification) and sits on the boards of Biblical Counselling Australia and Biblical Counseling Coalition.
Adrian has also been given a scholarship (from another ministry) to start a PhD in Biblical Counselling.
Our year-to-date giving is tracking on par to our revised budget. Our donations vary greatly week to week, but we are thankful that our expenses are somewhat reduced in this season of shutdown.
We are very thankful to God for allowing us to be in the financial position we are in. By the grace of God,
We have no debt. He stopped us from building (we would have a $3-4 million mortgage)
We will be able to pay for our recent roof replacement without borrowing (cost of about $280,000)
We have been able to meet all our financial obligations and keep all our permanent staff employed
We have maintained a healthy bank account balance, which is necessary due to the weekly swings in donations and expenses.
We are also expecting the final payment this summer from the sale of our land on Colonel Talbot. This $1.5M will go into an account to help fund our commitment to Redemption St. Thomas for 2020/21, as well as our phase 1 renovation of our facility to give us a lobby and more classrooms (if approved in the next 6-12 months).
Copies of our accountant reviewed 2019 financial statements will be distributed to members prior to the AGM. If you would like a copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM)
Our first AGM as a corporation in the province of Ontario is scheduled for June 14 at 6:00pm.
If you are a member at Redemption Bible Chapel, you should have received an email with information to join the online meeting.
This will be more of a “business” meeting with a set agenda. There will not be the same open-forum Q&A time.
If you have a question you would like to ask our elders, send it before the meeting to email@example.com.
Our roof replacement is complete! As mentioned, we are thankful that God provided the funds to pay for this “must do” project. We can say “goodbye” to leaks!
We presented plans early this year for a possible renovation that would include converting the gym to two floors of classrooms and opening up the space at the back of our building, where you all enter every Sunday, to create a large lobby for gathering and fellowship.
This project would cost us approximately $1.5M.
Due to the pandemic shut down, these plans are currently on hold. However, this renovation is not off the table, and we would love to hear any thoughts from you. You can see the plans on our website at rbclondon.ca/facility.
Please submit any comments, concerns, or suggestions regarding our facility to the staff or elders via email.
We are excited to announce that Filomena Wood will be joining our staff team on March 30, in a new part-time position as Financial Lead. Filomena, her husband Chris, and their two kids have been attending Redemption for almost 10 years, and they both serve in a variety of areas. Filomena has training and experience in a variety of business roles and bookkeeping, so we are eager to have her join our team. Please join us in congratulating Filomena on her new role as we seek to consolidate various financial tasks. Part of Fil’s new role will be taking over our bookkeeping from Roy Oldham. We are very thankful to God for Roy’s steady and trustworthy service over many years and want to thank him for his faithful service as our bookkeeper.
We continue our search to fill the roles of Kids Ministry Director, and Director (or Pastor) of Discipleship. It’s important that we hire the right person, who God would have for us, for both roles. We are trusting in God’s sovereignty in this, while we continue our search. Our leadership team is looking at some variations with these two roles. For example, is there a chance to combine them in some way or adjust these roles slightly as well as some existing roles, to help figure out any different ways we could hire to meet our ministry needs? No decisions have been made, just some creative assessment and exploration.
SOUL CARE MINISTRY
We are thankful to God for the 160+ people who came to our Biblical Counselling Training weekends, taught by Ken Gentzler. God worked wondrously through Ken, and this set the stage for us to get many of our people trained up in Biblical Counselling.
Coming out of these two weekends, we have had over 50 people express an interest in further training – praise God!
We had two conference calls in March with those interested in pursuing training, and coming out of that, many are proceeding with core training over the next 8 months providing a solid and Biblical foundation to Biblical counselling.
Our hope is that we will have dozens with this foundational training, and at least a dozen or so people proceeding all the way through to full certification with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counsellors), enabling us to have a vibrant Soul Care Ministry at Redemption within 1-2 years.
Our year-to-date giving is falling behind budget by about $50,000. This is not unusual for this time of year, and we are fully trusting in God that we will be able to catch up later in the year.
However, we would encourage and remind our people to put God first in their finances. Please give regularly and generously, and if you are not currently giving, we would encourage you to get set up for online giving. This allows you to continue with donations if you have to miss a service, or if services are ever cancelled. Please contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org to get set up.
Copies of our financial statements for the past 5 years are available at our Welcome Desk. If you would like a copy, please stop by and ask for one, or you can contact our office.
Redemption completed the incorporation documents in the fall, so 2020 is our first year as an incorporation.
We will have our first Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 14, so please mark this date on your calendar. This will be a similar format to our Town Hall meetings except with a little more detailed presentation of our finances.
We have looked at the long-term possible changes to this building to allow us to continue to do ministry here. We saw two phases in this. Phase 2 would be to add a full-size gym, along with some classrooms and offices, to the back of the building. The new gym would function as our lobby/gathering place on Sundays. Due to cost, we have no plans to proceed with Phase 2 at this time, and we are uncertain if we will need the space.
Phase 1 addresses our crucial need which is for a proper gathering place – a lobby – since our current building is lacking one. We also need more classrooms (priority #2) and a few more offices (which phase 1 won’t address).
Phase 1 would open up the lower floor, at the back entrance to our building to be our new lobby. This would double as space for various ministry events, other banquets or dinners, teaching events, etc. We would lose three classrooms; however, the gym would be converted into two floors providing an additional five classrooms. Phase 1 does not address our needs for office space; however, this is not as crucial as our need for a gathering place or classrooms. In addition, the extra classrooms may give us some flexibility to potentially use one classroom upstairs as office space if needed down the road.
We put more detailed work (and cost) into this project up front, to examine every issue and reduce our risk.
We proceeded with having one company price out our Phase 1 work, so that we would have a sense of the approximate cost of doing Phase 1. Their quote came back at $1.32M. This does not include the cost to remove the remaining asbestos in the lower level, which we believe will cost about $250,000.
With the $1.5M to come from the sale of our land, we believe Phase 1 is likely financially doable. We would get a few more quotes from other contractors if we decide to proceed and would look at contracting it ourselves.
We are taking this time to seek input and pray as a congregation if this is what the Lord would have us do. We will look to make a go/no go decision sometime in the coming months. If it is a go – we would not commit to anything until we get the cash in hand from our land sale in August, so the earliest the work could start is in the fall.
Please submit any comments, concerns, or suggestions to the staff or elders, via email or in person.
Note: the following Church Planting Update was going to first be given as a Family Chat in our services on March 15. Due to the cancellation of services during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to give that update in person, but wanted to get this information to you, rather than wait until services are back.
CHURCH PLANTING UPDATE
We continue to thank God for His work in St. Thomas. Attendance is continuing to increase and averaging around 270 a week.
They are also continuing to move toward financial independence, with giving steadily increasing. We anticipate we will still need to give them some support this year, which will be over and above our committed 3% to church planting, but this was planned, and we do it with a joyful heart as we see the kingdom work being done.
Please continue to pray for their various ministries. Kids Ministry is busting at the seams and in need of more volunteers, small groups have started up, and we hope later this year to start up their youth ministry as well.
We are excited to announce a new partnership with a church plant (GCC member church) in Sibiu, Romania. At the Senior Pastor retreat in January, Norm and Cindy had a God-ordained meeting with pastor Betuel Vararu, and his wife Sanda. Betuel has a BA and MA from a seminary in Romania, and his DMin from Midwest Baptist Seminary in the US. They started this church plant about a year ago, as just the two of them.
Betuel and Sanda hardly knew anyone, but just started reaching out to neighbours and strangers. They soon had a Bible study started, and now, less than a year from starting that core group, they are meeting every week as a church with about 60 people joining them. They rent a building seven days a week, which they do services and mid-week ministries in.
Betuel and Sanda have come very highly recommended by several within GCC, but they have very little financial support. It seems their meeting with Norm was a miraculous working of God to partner with them, and this has been affirmed by several others who we respect within GCC.
They are supported enough by their own offerings to get through the year, but Betuel has not been taking a full salary, and things are tight. Betuel’s heart for a partner church is someone that could come along side and mentor and train them, but they also require about $23,000 to meet their full salary and church needs.
With us no longer being committed to Melbourne, this has freed up funds to be able to partner with this plant in Romania, as well as other church plants.
Red Deer, Alberta
God has provided a church planter for a new work in Western Canada. Chris Girvan has been commissioned by Redemption Calgary North to plant a church in Red Deer, Alberta (between Edmonton and Calgary).
Chris officially began on March 1 and has already begun making contacts and tilling the ground.
GCC Canada as well as all the western churches have committed support, and we are excited to come alongside and help supplement with approximately $12,000 to meet the financial need in 2020 and $21,000 in 2021.
Please be praying for this very new (new to us, but not to God) work that God is doing.
God gave us a contact in Belize 3 years ago, when Norm and Jon were there with other GCC Senior Pastors conducting several pastor’s conferences. Out of the hundred plus pastors or potential church planters they met, one man stood out the most – Pedro.
Pedro is the principle of a residential Christian high school, an experienced leader, and a godly man and pastor. He has been pastoring the students and many of their families.
Through the tragedy of the death of one of their recent graduates, God opened a door for Pedro to share the gospel with the parents, who got saved. They started a bible study with Pedro to grow. This has led to several families meeting with him to learn and that group moved to a Sunday morning.
The past two summers, we have sent mission teams to Belize to help build a structure for this small church to meet in.
Pedro has asked us to help provide some training for him and his small church, and he has not asked, but we think he can use some funds to help this new church. We will be exploring what sort of support as well as training we may be able to provide during 2020 to help this wonderful man and his new church.