What have we done, Kensington Church? #renewal #change# #future

This summer will mark 5 years of ministry for me at Knox Crescent Kensington and First Presbyterian Church. And over the past weeks I have been taking a tally of some of the changes the congregation has been through over the past 7-8 years.

(My family worshipped here before I was called as minister, so I was able to see all of it initiated and implemented.)

Through this period of time, the congregation has made amazing strides. In the 3 years before my time there was interim leadership from the Reverends Allen Aicken and Rod Ferguson (with the Reverends Glynis Williams and Kate Jordan as Interim Moderators) . In the mix during that time were also the (now Rev.) Stephen Jenvey, the Rev. Lynne Donovan, and the Rev. Angus McGillivray.

So here’s a partial tally of what we’ve done as we have worked to be faithful to Christ and to his call upon our life together. And we know that behind each and every one of these changes there was work and prayer, and that there were challenges and doubts:

  • Changed our name (as note above) to Kensington Presbyterian Church.
  • Negotiated the sale of two vacant lots owned by the congregation.
  • Shifted worship from a traditional 700 seat (beautiful, to many) sanctuary to a smaller church hall.
  • Moved toward (still in process with the Borough of CDN-NDG!) the sale of part of our church building (the aforementioned beautiful sanctuary).
  • Reduced the operating deficit by $40,000.
  • Incorporated audio-visual materials into worship.
  • Moved to the 1997 Book of Praise and Book of Psalms.
  • Incorporated additional world and contemporary songs into worship.
  • Experimented for a year in a shared mission project with Bienvenue à NDG – providing meals and workshops for new arrivals to Montreal.
  • Adopted a local and international mission framework to focus our givings, learning, and prayers.
  • Began (baby steps) stewardship education and appeals.
  • Raised $15,000 in gifts and pledges for a new elevator, and received a $50,000 HRSDC grant to make our building accessible for the church and the many community groups that use our building.
  • Began a Jazz Vespers program, still ongoing.
  • Held (and hold) an annual fun-fair for kids/families in the neighbourhood, started VBS in 2012, and experimenting with Messy Church.
  • Experimented with the Young Children and Worship program.
  • Hold weekly (wednesday) morning prayer.

We’ve come a long way. And it’s important to take time to reflect on, and celebrate, the way that God has provided and led – beyond what we could have imagined some 8 years ago. Christ is Lord of the church, and he is doing his thing among us.

And perhaps the hardest word in all of this is one that orients us toward the future: “It ain’t over yet.” The challenges we have faced together at Kensington have been the challenges of mainline protestantism (and it seems we have had every one of its challenges). And looking forward we know that challenges remain. We’re all hoping for that plateau, that comfortable place of stability and rest.

But God in Christ calls us to be faithful with what we have, to offer our gifts and imaginations and energy, in ever new and fresh ways. And that means that there never is a plateau of comfort and stability. There is only this twofold promise: That Christ is Lord of the Church, and that the Spirit is among us, equipping and leading. The rest are details. Thanks be to God.


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