What do you get when you cross a farmers’ market with a church? Ecclesia Church, a newly planted Christian Reformed congregation in North Oshawa, Ont., found the answer this past summer. From May to September, they spent their Saturday mornings hosting a booth at the North Oshawa Farmers’ Market, held at the Legends Centre.
Ecclesia Church formed in 2016. They first met in pastor Jana Koh’s home and now gather for worship in the city’s Northview Community Centre. As part of carrying out Ecclesia’s vision to be a presence in their neighborhood—bringing the hope and life that is found in Jesus to God’s people—the core leadership team thought a farmers’ market would be a great place to start.
When they applied as a vendor, the market board wondered why a church would want a booth.
“They were confused why we would want to be there, as we had nothing to sell,” explained Koh, who volunteered each week at the market. “But we explained that we wanted to help build community.”
Members of Ecclesia’s core team as well as others interested in Ecclesia’s vision took turns staffing the booth. They offered art activities like crafts and painting for children who came to the market. Ecclesia first signed up for five weeks at the market. But when Koh met with market organizers, they wanted Ecclesia to continue coming to the market and waived their vendor fee.
“They told us, ‘The market is better because you are here.’ That just floored me, as that is why we wanted to be there,” said Koh.
For Ecclesia, the heart of this ministry is the connections they made with vendors. The market was blessed by their presence, but Ecclesia was also blessed in being embraced into the vendor community. Having received the gift of belonging, they were able to support one vendor after the death of a son.
So what do you get when you cross a farmers’ market with a church? A space for God’s love and light to grow.