Church in Ontario Tourist Town Creates Young Adult Summer Community Experience

Church in Ontario Tourist Town Creates Young Adult Summer Community Experience
Pastor Willemenia Zwart, lower left, and seven of the eight first participants of the South Coast Beach Project, an intentional Christian summer community in Port Dover, Ont.
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Eight young adults looking for typical seasonal work in southern Ontario this summer have the opportunity to practice Christian discipleship while they live and work in Port Dover, Ont. They’re participants in the South Coast Beach Project (SCPB), a ministry of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Simcoe, Ont., in partnership with Resonate Global Mission.

Pastor Willemina Zwart, who is leading the project, wanted to create for young people an environment that allows for intentional Christian community. She wants a place where students can ask together “where God is calling them vocationally and what are the habits of life and heart of Christian community that you need to have in your life to have a long-term trajectory in following Jesus.” Zwart calls this “a robust kingdom imagination.”

On May 10 seven of the eight participants in this first cohort moved into two rented cottages near Lake Erie that will be the setting for the SBCP. The eighth participant is completing a school semester before joining the group in a few weeks’ time. The four men and four women will work jobs ranging from creative arts at Immanuel CRC, landscaping, working as a cashier at a local greenhouse, working at a cheese shop, and doing administration work for a daycare/day camp, Zwart said.

Their day jobs will take up to 45 hours per week; in off hours participants are reading through A Spiritual Formation Workbook by James Bryan Smith (Renovare), participating in a small group Bible/vocation video series, and spending time in community and personal development, Zwart said. During the second half of the summer, the group will hear from a series of guest speakers and presenters. 

Jessie Zantingh is a student at Redeemer University and a participant in the project. She said, “The theme of reliance on God and trusting him has come up a lot in my prayers and quiet time in preparation for the project. Specifically, John 15:5 about the branches and the vine. During this summer, I hope to learn how to exercise spiritual muscles through spiritual disciplines that help me to continually be turning my gaze back to him.”

Zwart hopes this will be the first of future cohorts. “The goal each summer is to look at what kingdom living and discernment look like, and how we delve into it and live as disciples,” she said.

The 2021 group includes six Ontario residents, one student from B.C., and one from Pennsylvania. Each participant applied online and then went through an interview process. The project will wrap up August 23 with a celebration the night before. The project is being supported through a group fundraising effort.

About the Author

Kristen Parker is a freelance writer. She has a passion for words and creativity. Kristen and her husband Chris, enjoy board games and thrift shopping. Kristen attended Barrie First CRC her whole life, though she has recently moved to Toronto.

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