Bethel has a passion for worship: Something you will notice, if you attend a few worship services at Bethel Church, is that a lot of energy goes into these weekly Sunday gatherings. The music is led by a worship band consisting of a variety of vocalists and musicians. One of our pastors spends a good part of his week preparing the messages that are delivered each week. Also, there is a lot of interactivity—interviews, life-stories, and other involvement by members in the service.
Bethel is committed to community: Another thing you will discover if you hang around Bethel long enough is that the church is trying hard to be a caring community. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of Bethel members belong to a small group and that there are periodical whole-church events for people to get to know one another. There are two whole teams (one called “Shepherding Elders” and other called “Deacons”) dedicated to seeking out and helping those with emotional spiritual or material needs. If you tapped a random Bethel member on the shoulder, he or she could probably tell you a story of being surrounded by the love and support of the community when the need was there.
Bethel cares about its neighbourhood and region: Bethel is committed to bringing the love and good news of Jesus Christ to its immediate community, but also where its members live, work, study and play. Bethel located in the Bannerman community in order to serve the people here. As the only church in the neighborhood, the church strives to serve both the well-off and the under-resourced by providing an array of ministries, by offering a “hand up” to those in need, and by partnering with other neighbourhood groups to build the Bannerman community. At the same time, many of Bethel’s members live a distance from the church, and they are encouraged to make a difference for good in the neighbourhoods where they reside.
While more could be said about Bethel’s ministry and mission, the most important thing about Bethel has to do with the motivation behind all this activity. The church’s conviction is that since Jesus Christ gave His life freely for those who needed his love and forgiveness, the natural response is to love Him and others in turn. That is what drives and defines Bethel more than anything else!
Bethel was “born” in 1979 as a daughter church to Maranatha Christian Reformed Church. Initially, the church was comprised of a group of 55 families and 14 single people who met weekly in the Highlands United Church building. Eventually land was purchased in the Bannerman neighbourhood and building construction began in 1991.
Over the years Bethel grew in numbers, and building renovations and expansions followed apace (the latest construction, a new education wing, was completed in 2013). The church expanded its ministries and staff to meet the growing needs of the membership and developed ministries to serve the community. Currently, the church is served by a pastor and an associate pastor, as well as youth and children’s directors.
Three things in particular have marked Bethel’s history. The first is forward thinking. Bethel has often been involved in visioning—attempts to chart an exciting future for the church. The second is a willingness to embrace change. For example, once a church with a very traditional worship style, Bethel now would be considered contemporary. The third thing that has characterized Bethel is mission. Bethel has not only reached out locally, but they have had many long standing partnerships with ministry locations in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Slovakia. The church is in the process of discerning where their next partnership will be.
Bethel has been served by many different pastors and staff over the years, but it is mostly the dedication of its members that has accounted for its vibrancy and engagement in ministry over the years. While the church looks at the past with grateful appreciation, its focus remains on what God is doing now and where He plans to take the church in the future.