Have you ever wondered how things are going for churches in Canada? As I read a couple of articles from Canadian pastors in the November/December Faith & Fellowship, the thought came to me that we at Resurrection Lutheran Brethren Church should give an update on how things are progressing in Camrose, Alberta… so here it is:
We have been meeting in a school gymnasium for several years now. Growing a new congregation was slow at first, but now attendance at times is over 200. However, most Sundays there are about 160-170. Numbers really aren’t the important part, but I mention it to explain why we are heading into a building project.
We purchased and paid for almost two acres of prime land in south Camrose several years ago, and we have hosted VBS summer camps—tents and all—on our property. Our desire and prayers have been to build a church building. But how do we do this? Many years ago we formed a building team, of which I’ve been a member. But due to rising building costs, we have instead been looking at the possibility of selling the property and purchasing an existing church building. We investigated many options, but the Lord seemed to have closed all the doors.
Finally, a few months ago, the building team decided we needed to move forward with building on our property. So with prayer, trepidation, and many meetings, we’ve hired a draftsman who works with architects and engineers. He is tasked with drafting an approximately 10,000 square-foot, modest, yet practical building design. Currently we have raised $450,000 toward a down payment. The question remains, how will we be able to afford $2,500,000 (approximately) to finish this project?
I remembered studying Nehemiah a few years ago. As I began turning the pages of my Bible, re-reading Nehemiah, I realized how the Lord called his servant Nehemiah (even though he was working as a servant to the King) to go and rebuild the Jerusalem wall. What an encouragement he was not only to the people back then, but to me, today! This was not an easy task as there were many obstacles and discouragements along the way, but Nehemiah continued to trust the Lord to provide and—guess what!—he finished the project. “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
This past spring an “out of the blue” encouragement came to REZ church by way of a gift for our building project of $16,000 from Rock of Ages Lutheran Brethren Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Answer to prayer? You bet! Expected? Absolutely not.
Our project is just beginning. We believe the Lord plans on continuing to lead and guide us with maybe a few obstacles along the way like Nehemiah, but maybe some surprise blessings too. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1a). No laboring in vain for us? I trust not. Will this project be completed in 52 days like Nehemiah’s? Likely not, but we are a talented, hard-working congregation hoping to worship in our new building by this time next year.
Joy Evenson is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Brethren Church in Camrose, Alberta.