As this ministry season comes to a close, it is time to anticipate 2017-2018. There will be much to celebrate.
2017 is the 500th anniversary of our tradition of Christianity. The Reformation is traced back to October 31, 1517 when a monk named Martin Luther publicized his struggles with the church of his day by nailing 95 statements of concern on a church door in Wittenberg Germany. This reformation came in many versions. Luther’s followers are called Lutherans, we hold the label Reformed and stand in the tradition of John Calvin, and we have close cousins in Britain called Presbyterians. Reformation apparently is addictive, however, and this compulsion to reform by separating carried on producing Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, and eventually Pentecostals each with about a dozen strains within them. Just among us Reformed types in North America we have Christian Reformed, Reformed Church of America, Protestant Reformed, Canadian Reformed, Netherlands Reformed, Free Reformed, Orthodox Reformed and United Reformed. There is a story behind every one of these strains; each story includes sin-filled struggle and a hope for a better tomorrow. This is our story; these are our roots.
2018 is the 70th anniversary of Immanuel CRC, officially known as The Christian Reformed Church of Brampton. Our story is part of a larger story. Post World War II immigrants from The Netherlands (Holland) had a vision to maintain their religious roots combined with a desire to enjoy a regular taste of their native culture. They connected with the Christian Reformed Church in Canada who deployed “Home Missionaries” to meet them as they landed and guide them into community, work, housing, and church. Since 1948, this hardy bunch of Dutch immigrants mostly enjoyed rapid growth in business and in family. Immanuel CRC was a place of many weddings and baptisms in its early days as young immigrant families started and grew. This community also maintained the reformed tradition of Christian Education, supporting the development of John Knox Christian School, Toronto District Christian School, Redeemer University, and the Institute for Christian Studies giving a biblical perspective to learning from grade school through graduate studies.
2018 is the 5th anniversary of the LaRoca/Immanuel marriage. This partnership of recent Spanish-speaking immigrants from central and south America with the historically predominantly Dutch community is a unique expression of multi-cultural Christianity. The uniqueness is amplified by the irony of being located in Brampton, a city best known for Southeast Asian and Jamaican immigrants, a smattering of whom are part of this community now.
In a recent conversation between Pastor Peter Carrion of LaRoca and Pastor Erick, the idea arose of connecting LaRoca with more of the history of Immanuel. Pastor Erick already has a historical “pile” started in his office in anticipation of the 75th anniversary in 2023. However, the 70 of Immanuel plus the 5 of LaRoca with Immanuel means 2018 is the new 75th. So we have 500 years of our tradition and 75 years of local ministry and likely a number of milestones within the larger story.
For example, 2017 marks 15 years of pastoral leadership at Immanuel by Pastor Erick. 2018 marks 25 years of his ordination in the Christian Reformed Church.
Marriet Grootenboer informed me that we have 30 years of Friendship Ministry to celebrate. This will certainly be included in our year of celebration.
Your task, at this time, is to think about what mile marker your ministry is at and let us know…we will find a way to include it in our 2017-18 celebrations. Our running total to date is 645 years. Let’s see if we can make it to 1000.