West Coast Churches Leave the Building

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The congregations of Gateway Christian Reformed Church in Merced, Calif., and Fleetwood CRC in Surrey, British Columbia, have left the building, at least for a time.

Both congregations abandoned their typical Sunday-morning service, instead taking their service to the streets.

In Merced, the Gateway congregation leaves the building on the fifth Sunday of the month.

“We took into account various things that needed to be done in the community and the abilities that were among our people,” said Connie Barrett, who coordinates the service Sunday.

Gateway members have painted over graffiti in city parks, cleaned out backyards, prepped material for a jail ministry, and more. “The key was that the projects were all to be for people not already part of this church,” said Rev. Al Schaap. More than 90 percent of the congregation participates.

Farther up the coast, in Surrey, Fleetwood members left their pews on Sunday, June 6, to focus on caring for people and creation.

About 300 members participated in activities ranging from prayer at the church to removing invasive plant species from local parks.

“We liked the image the day presented—the church that has left the building,” said Rev. Tom Bomhof.

Sean Engbers, a member of Fleetwood, did yard work for the local SPCA with his family. “It was a great thing to do collectively. For the first time in my life, I was part of a church that was doing what we talk about every Sunday. It was our favorite church day ever.”

About the Authors

Jenny deGroot is a freelance media review and news writer for The Banner. She lives on Swallowfield Farm near Fort Langley B.C. with her husband, Dennis. Before retirement she worked as a teacher librarian and assistant principal. 

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