The average age of congregants in the newly formed Heritage Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Brampton, Ontario, is 83.
That’s because the entire congregation lives in the same seniors’ residence complex, Holland Christian Homes (HCH)—a community of more than 1,100 people from varying church backgrounds.
Rev. Henk Bruinsma, one of two full-time pastors who serve this congregation, noted that worship services have already been taking place for more than 25 years at HCH.
The council for Heritage Fellowship CRC, a congregation just for seniors.
John Ten Hage
“CrossPoint CRC spearheaded the ministry here by hiring a full-time pastor for HCH,” he explained, “but because there were no chaplains on-site, the pastor visited everyone, no matter which church they were from.”
CrossPoint’s building is adjacent to HCH. As the ministry grew, CrossPoint began appointing elders and deacons specifically to serve at HCH, and essentially the ministry became one church under two roofs.
At first, Bruinsma said, there were some reservations regarding the idea of creating a separate congregation, because it seemed to be an “extreme example of division in the church between young and old.” However, the process naturally evolved as the church functioned more and more as two separate congregations.
HCH had their own doctors’ offices, their own bank, so why not their own church? It became official in 2010.
While Heritage Fellowship CRC holds no Sunday school classes or youth group meetings, the congregation does hold yearly GEMS and Cadets Sundays, in conjunction with CrossPoint and another nearby congregation, Immanuel CRC. And those congregations provide a large number of volunteers for Heritage Fellowship CRC, creating lots of intergenerational ministry opportunities.
“There is a lot of interaction between the three churches,” said Bruinsma, “with a real interest in the spiritual care of seniors. That’s how it all started.”
Heritage Fellowship is made up of approximately 350 members, but all of the worship services are telecast into every residence at HCH. The church’s two ministers, Rev. Bruinsma and Rev. Hank Bylstra, also serve as chaplains who are available for the entire community of Holland Christian Homes.