By Henry Vandermeer, District Representative, Western Canada
How do churches discover Village Missions?
Over the years, people have often asked me, “How do these small country churches find out about Village Missions?” As you study and even listen to the stories of each country church that has joined Village Missions you discover common threads.
The story related here by Marie Croft shares the journey of Purdy Community Church, and how it became a Village Missions Church.
Questions, And A Plan
How did Purdy Community Church come about?
Why did Village Missions get involved?
The answer is simple, yet profound: God had a plan!
Overwhelming evidence appears as one reflects over the history of the two community churches.
Nestled in the heart of the small northern village of Combermere, Ontario, this community is made up of numerous lakes and rivers. Logging remains a huge industry, and in days gone by a huge mining industry was also prevalent in surrounding areas. Today, the area attracts many cottagers and tourist alike.
Please join me as we travel down memory lane together and reflect on God’s wonderful hand in it all.
In 1960, a vision was launched for the lost in the Combermere area. Cottage meetings were held in homes, special speakers were brought in, and people accepted the Lord. In 1961, five participants expressed their desire to follow Christ in the waters of baptism. A baptismal service in a nearby local lake took place. One can almost feel the excitement of this small group.
Three years later, Rev. Glen Goodman held meetings on Sunday afternoons in the log home of Betty/Ken Hicks. This couple still attends the church along with a couple other families from those early days.
Subsequently, in 1966, the church purchased the local school house. They changed the name from Purdy Baptist Mission to New Testament Baptist Church, eventually becoming Purdy Evangelical Baptist.
Between 1982 and 1984, morning services began. Fifty-one members now attended. They added Sunday school to the church schedule. The church purchased pews. What joy this brought to everyone!
A Growing Church
Not too far down the road–a few years later–the New Fellowship Church started with eleven people in home meetings. The church eventually started holding church services in Bangor Community Centre.
Early spring of 1988, construction started on new site for the now established New Fellowship Church. Soon, the church held their first service: May 11, 1989.
Then, in 1991, the first full-time pastor was hired: Pastor Peter Zwicker. He pastored faithfully for 8 years.
Under the leadership of Pastor Gary Robinson, they changed the name to Centreview Community Church in 2006.
Nine years later, the two churches amalgamated in order to reach the area more effectively. The congregation again chose a new name: Purdy Community Church.
With interim pastors (Don McEwen and Gary Robinson) residing at both churches, the search for a full-time pastor commenced. Yet, one pressing question remained: could we afford one? Unfortunately, it did not appear so.
The Next Step
Then, two ladies from our congregation attended the yearly Ottawa Ladies Retreat in Renfrew, including Gwen McEwen, our interim pastor’s wife. Gwen encountered an individual that she knew from years before–Joan Germain. Their conversation led to how their children were doing. And here God revealed our next step.
Gwen learned how Joan’s daughter and son-in-law were Village Missionaries. As Joan started to unfold the purpose of Village Missions, our hearts became excited. How they help struggling country churches, and how they place a missionary pastor that they feel will match the church was exactly what we sought. We eagerly brought news back to the church and, as a result, quickly decided to contact them.
Soon after information arrived, meetings with Henry Vandermeer took place. Village Missions accepted us as a good candidate because our church met their criteria of a struggling country church.
Then, a young couple was sent to our church to speak to explain the work from a pastoral view. That couple turned out to be the daughter and son-in-law of Gwen’s acquaintance, Joan Germain!
God is at work for sure and we are convinced this is part of His plan for our work here at Purdy Community Church.
Our profile fit, and the search began for a Village Missionary to be sent to Purdy. The waiting was indeed difficult. However, March 1 2019, our Missionary Pastor Johnathon Germaine and his lovely wife Laura, along with their four children, started their work here in Combermere, Ontario.
The Same Vision
So, as we launch into a new chapter and new leadership, the vision remains the same as those early days back in 1960 – that of reaching lost souls for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
As His word reveals to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. NLT:
“We will continue to encourage and build each other up.”
Thank you for joining me as our trip down memory lane revealed God’s continued plan for this area.
Church Clerk, Marie Croft