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Ontario Church Reaches Out in Own Backyard


After years of short-term service trips, members of Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Fenwick, Ontario, decided it was time to do long-term ministry with families right in their own backyard.

That decision prompted the birth of “Rose City Kids,” a ministry for children from nearby Welland, a city hard hit by industry closures and unemployment. The church focuses on a neighborhood that’s home to 900 single-parent families.

Starting with 15 children last year, the program now gathers 100 kids every other Saturday for games, activities, teaching, worship, and food.

“Our mission is to inspire each child to believe that they have been created for a purpose by a God [who] loves them . . . and to inspire them to dream big dreams,” said Sonya Wierenga, one of the ministry’s founders.

Wierenga said it takes a different sort of commitment to sustain a long-term local ministry.

As volunteers get to know the children’s families, needs come to light. Church members have helped some families with basics such as food and with extras such as Christmas and birthday gifts for children.

Rose City Kids recently received a grant from funds raised by the CRC’s Sea to Sea bike tour in 2008. It also partners with other local Christian agencies to meet the needs of their neighbors.

This spring the ministry acquired a building able to accommodate up to 600 children. The facility will house after-school and Friday-night youth programs, parent seminars, speakers, concerts, and worship. 

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