Rev. Allen Kleine Deters, pastor of the recent Christian Reformed church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is beginning to be known around town simply as “The Reverend.” It’s a billing for his blues musician persona and part of the way he makes his living as a church planter.
The music is also a bridge to making community ties. “People can connect with this other name that has something else connected to it, like the blues,” Kleine Deters said. “People start knowing you kind of by your vocation but also connect you with something that’s not necessarily religion.”
Seeing his calling in light of a parish model, Kleine Deters writes about a theology of place and said the current focus of his ministry work is getting to know his neighbors, using, in particular, the Community Opportunity Scan from diaconal ministries. “We want to find out how we can be part and parcel of the community,” he said.
He and his wife, Freda, live within walking distance of Queen Street, the site of all of his musical gigs to date, including at a cigar shop where Kleine Deters also works during the week.
The core group of Christians whom Kleine Deters is beginning to gather in the formation of this new church supports his music, no matter where he might play. “Even if they might feel a little uncomfortable being in some place, they think it’s pretty cool that I’m open to doing that myself,” he said. “It’s like living what you believe, that God calls us into all segments of our society and community.”