Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Brampton, Ontario, added almost 50 members last month when two worshiping communities united in what they refer to as a marriage partnership.
On January 6, Immanuel held a special service during which members of La Roca became full members of the church and its leader, Julio Carrion, was ordained as an elder.
La Roca is a Spanish-language worshiping community founded in 2010 by Carrion shortly after he and his wife came to Canada from Ecuador. The group grew rapidly, soon outgrowing the space in the Carrions’ home. They began to look for a larger space as well as some support for how to manage their emerging group.
Members of La Roca, a Spanish-speaking ministry group, are members of Immanuel CRC.
Through connections with another Christian Reformed congregation and Christian Reformed Home Missions, they made contact with Rev. Erick Schuringa, Immanuel’s pastor.
Schuringa immediately recognized a unique ministry opportunity. “Rather than rent space to them and a have a business relationship, I felt that we should partner with them and do ministry together,” Schuringa said.
Last fall, La Roca began using Immanuel’s building for Sunday worship services and Friday family outreach nights. The two churches have gathered to share a combined meal at Thanksgiving as well as a few other shared events.
Because Carrion is not an ordained minister, La Roca could not be considered a church on its own. Thus the idea of a “marriage” between the two communities was proposed.
“I have this dream,” said Carrion, “to reach out to the Spanish community for Christ. God has opened doors for us.”
Carrion is working toward becoming a commissioned pastor under Schuringa’s mentorship. The two of them are studying and learning together about discipleship and how to further reach the Spanish-speaking community in Brampton, a community that has nearly doubled in recent years.
Part of their vision is to incorporate the second generation of the Spanish community, who are better able to understand English, into the life and programs of Immanuel’s already-established ministry.
“Right now, we are two different communities worshiping differently,” explained Carrion, “but we are one community in Christ.”