Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Miracle on Locke Street

Preaching at Blessings Christian Church this past Sunday evening reminded me once again of the miracle happening at the corner of Locke Street and Stanley Ave. in the lower city of Hamilton. Stanley Ave. Baptist Church (a church of the Reformed persuasion although holding to believer baptism) was a shrinking and struggling church. The members are getting old, some even too old to attend services, and not many people were joining the church. It was facing what many churches in Canada are up against, declining membership. Many churches are closing. I learned recently from a reliable source that the Anglican Church of Canada is in the process of shutting down 50 parishes in the GTA. 

Stanley Avenue Baptist Church, founded in 1889
The members of Stanley Ave., about 30-40 mostly old people, were praying that God would send a church to “take them over.” Their pastor was retiring (he has since retired and moved away from Hamilton) and the last thing they wanted to do was to sell the building and see it demolished and replaced with a condo tower.

Enter Blessings, a Canadian Reformed congregation! They had outgrown the SDA building they were renting and, in the good providence of God, happened upon Stanley Ave. After a series of meetings it was mutually decided that Blessings would take over the Sunday services. Both congregations attend the worship services which are completely under the leadership of the Blessings elders and pastors. It was a great blessing to meet some of the Stanley Ave. brothers and sisters this past Sunday at the evening service. We should understand that to attend both services on Sunday is not the custom of most Canadian church-goers. One typically attends at 11 AM, “holy hour,” and the rest of the day is filled with personal and family endeavours.

A beautiful auditoreum
Blessings has wisely come alongside Stanley Ave. helping to continue the outreach efforts the congregation had been doing in that area. Stanley Ave. is appreciatively bowing its head under the gospel proclaimed from the Blessings pulpit. It is a remarkable thing, a miracle, one for which we can only praise the Lord.

Are there going to be any hiccups along the way? Undoubtedly. But if everyone moves along in faith, and with charity and compassion, the bumps will be successfully navigated.

We are living in a post-Christian Canada. We need to know who our enemies are, and the Baptists are not our enemies. Countless of our people listen to the online Baptist preachers such as Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, John Piper, Albert Mohler, Russell Moore.... Many of our people go to conferences that include Reformed Baptists: Banner of Truth, TGC, Ligonier.... 

May the Lord bless Blessings Church, and make it to be a blessing to Stanley Ave. Baptist Church and the Kirkendall neighbourhood of Hamilton!

(See some further thoughts...)