At Inspire 2019, while he was still executive director of the denomination, Steve Timmermans said, “It’s important to note that brothers and sisters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including those for whom English is not their primary language, are becoming an increasingly large and significant part of the body of the CRCNA.”
And that is true in Edmonton, Alta., where Centrepointe Community Christian Reformed Church includes a Portuguese language ministry—Igreja Ponto Central. Ponto Central is Portuguese for Centrepointe, a name chosen deliberately to indicate that the churches are not separate entities, but in fact, “one body, one church.” Co-pastors, Carlos and Meire Rosa, a married couple, began the ministry with a desire to help Edmonton’s growing Brazilian population worship in their mother tongue. About 3,225 Brazilian immigrants reside in Edmonton and new families and students have been adding to the population. Igreja Ponto Central had the first Protestant worship services in the city, beginning Nov. 19, 2017.
Carlos and Meire met while studying at a Presbyterian seminary in Brazil and graduated with the equivalent of an MDiv. After planting two Portuguese Reformed Church of America congregations in Canada—one in Toronto and another in Montreal—the Rosas were getting a sense to move to Alberta. Carlos found work and a house in Edmonton, and Meire followed shortly after with their two children.
“They joined Centrepointe in the middle of 2015,” explained Centrepointe’s pastor, Jeremy Vandermeer. “So they were with us, being part of the body.” Eventually, Meire started a Portuguese speaking Bible study in her home. That was the springboard for launching the Portuguese ministry. “They approached council,” Vandermeer said, “as they wanted this to be a ministry of Centrepointe—one body—and council approved and we've been walking forward in that now for the past two years.”
The Rosas were both supposed to be examined to become commissioned pastors at the recent meeting of Classis Alberta North, March 13 and 14. However, the second day of classis was canceled because of meeting restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus (the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic of COVID-19 March 11). Carlos’ examination was postponed until the next fall classis meeting.
Because she required an interpreter and thus more time, Meire’s examination had taken place earlier, Feb. 27. Reporting back to classis delegates, theological/biblical examiner Jonathan Nicolai-de Koning said, “I can say without hesitation that she fulfills the CRC’s criteria for commissioned pastor and that her theological knowledge and personal wisdom leave her well-equipped to lead her community at Centrepointe.” Tim Wood, who covered the practice exam, said, “Her desire to serve the church, love for Jesus, and knowledge of Scripture and theology were very apparent. She has a degree from a Reformed seminary in Brazil, many years of experience in ministry, and the temperament of a kind servant-leader.” Meire’s delight and gratitude at becoming a commissioned pastor was evident to all present.
“At Centrepointe we have a desire to know and celebrate the rest and healing of the Lord,” Vandermeer said. “So to be able to see God move and make room so that others may find that as well, in their mother-tongue, is such a cool thing to be a part of."