Staff of the Canadian ministries of the Christian Reformed Church held a grand opening of their renovated office building this week, welcoming dignitaries, colleagues from Grand Rapids, Mich., and Canadian ecumenical partners to tour the facility and give thanks to God for the work to be done from within it. Events were planned from November 6 to 8, with a ribbon-cutting on the first day.
“All of this is about Christ’s ministry through us,” said Darren Roorda, director of Canadian Ministries for the CRC. “The grand opening marks a time when we have a good excuse to once again ‘pull back the chairs’ and ask our key partners in ministry: What is it that God wants to do through us? And how can the CRCNA be a key part of serving you in this direction?”
At the ribbon-cutting, Roorda offered a reflection on Ephesians 4:12, part of which was selected by the planning committee to accompany the dedication of the building, “so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Arie Van Eek, who was executive director of what was then called the Canadian Council of Christian Reformed Churches in Canada from 1978 to 1998, shared some history of the work of the CRC in Canada. The Canadian Council’s first ministry office in 1979 was housed in the basement of Van Eek’s home, for which he charged the corporation $50 a month rent.
The current office in Burlington, Ont., has been home to the CRC’s Canadian ministries for just over 30 years. It was built in a former apple orchard in 1986, was expanded to 16,000 square feet in 2000, and has now been increased to 23,000 square feet. This most recent expansion and renovation took about a year-and-a-half. It was completed at a cost of $2.75 million (CDN), financed from internal reserves, to be amortized over the next 20 years. The Board of Trustees (now the Council of Delegates) originally approved the project in February 2016.
The design and construction, carried out by Maple Reinders, reflects the denomination’s theology, said Roorda. “The building is simple and clean in its details—designed for people who wish to be effective in their work for the church, for God himself,” he said. “Almost parallel to the Reformed faith as it has been expressed in Canada—simple, not ostentatious, and meant to be effective in its execution. I believe that is a legacy worth continuing.”
The walls display many pieces of art, expressing the denomination’s five-fold calling and honoring history and the gifts of CRC member artists.
Rev. Chris de Winter, pastor of Trinity CRC in St. Catharines, Ont., and a member of the Council of Delegates for the CRCNA, was invited to cut the ceremonial ribbon. He said the beautifully renewed building was not to be seen as a reward for a job well done but that “the building is a promise to do a job well.”
The expanded space has already afforded new collaborations that weren’t possible before, including with the Regional Synod of Canada of the Reformed Church in America, which now has an office in the building.