“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)
I appreciate that Luke took the time to write down the history of Jesus and then, in the Book of Acts, of Peter, Paul and the early church. Reading the events of those days serves to inform, encourage and inspire me. It gives me certainty about God’s work among us.
In the same spirit, and with our big celebration weekend upon us, I wanted “to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us” here at Harvest Bible Chapel in Barrie with the same hope that we would be informed, encouraged and inspired to continue on and do even more for the glory of the God; that we would have certainty about God’s work here over the past ten years.
The little known history of Harvest Barrie dates back to the year 2000 and a small church known as Hope Community Church that was meeting at the Sunnidale Community Centre (now the Dorian Parker Centre). The church had no pastor, no building, little money in the bank, eleven members with about thirty people meeting on Sundays for worship. They knew they needed to close up shop and move on, or believe God for something greater.
A couple of leaders (one of whom is still a faithful member here at Harvest) came up with a plan to contact as many larger, church planting churches as possible to see if one of them would adopt this group of people and give them oversight and a vision for the future. The list was compiled, letters were written…but they never went out.
That summer, through a series of providential circumstances, God led the group to visit Muskoka Bible Conference where a pastor named James MacDonald was preaching. This Chicago-area pastor’s daily radio program, Walk in the Word, was airing on the fledgling Life 100.3 in Barrie and was having an impact on those who were hearing the powerful preaching of God’s Word.
As the group made their way to MBC, one of the two men who had conceived of the plan to have a larger church adopt them wrote on a small card, “Ask James about planting a church in Barrie.” After the evening session the group gathered for snacks and an elder from Chicago sat with them. Before the suggestion was made or the small card produced, the elder called James over to meet the group and himself made the suggestion that they plant a church in Barrie with this group.
Hope Community Church shut down that summer for several weeks while plans were made and consultations continued. When the group met again, they had Pastor James MacDonald’s sermons on video (VHS tapes sent on a one week delay). On the first week about two dozen people gathered around a thirteen-inch television to watch it!
That modest start led to months in the “soft-launch” phase as plans came together to find and appoint a church planter to lead the core group and move toward a launch in 2001.
On March 25, 2001 Pastor Todd Dugard began his ministry in this new role. He preached that Sunday in Barrie and then moved with his wife Cheryl and their three children, Joel, Emilie and Luke, to Chicago for a five-month residency. The kids were 8, 6 and 4 at the time. They completed their time at Harvest in Rolling Meadows, Illinois in August of that same year and the church officially launched on September 16, 2001 with Emma King Elementary School as the new worship location.
The church would remain at EKES for the next four years growing rapidly during that time to eventually see us in three services including one on Saturday evenings. Some of you will remember the “Harvest Night in Canada” promotion as we geared up for the additional service during hockey season.
In September 2005 a contract was signed with the new Timothy Christian School to host not only our Sunday services, but also many of our weekday ministries, and we have been in that location for almost seven years now. The facility is so well suited to our ongoing needs and the Timothy community has been a gracious and generous host.
After bouncing from leased and borrowed and cloud-like office space for many years (public library, 58 Clapperton Street, 560 Bryne Drive, home-office with meetings and such at either Williams Coffee Pub or the Dugard house, 112 Caplan Drive), we purchased an investment property and office at 258 Bayfield Street. After what seemed like a very long time, we got through the re-zoning, renovations and retrofitting to give ourselves a solid Monday to Friday presence in the city.
But the real story of Harvest is not about facilities and locations. It is what is happening in those buildings and in houses and coffee shops and countless other places in the city and county every day of the week. God is at work in our church. There are so many stories of lives being transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And our Storylines videos have sought to relate just a handful of those stories as we have celebrated God’s goodness to us this year.
Beyond what is happening in Barrie, God has seen fit to see nine more Harvest Bible Chapels planted in Canada since we launched in September 2001. We were the third church plant out of the original Harvest in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Now there are about eighty in a dozen countries globally. The hope is that we’ll hit 100 within the next year. What God is doing is a remarkable thing! And we get to be part of his unfolding plan.
What God has for us next will be exciting to see. I love our church. I love what God’s Holy Spirit is doing in and through our church. And should the Lord’s return not be as soon as we would like, may we be found faithfully lifting high the name of Jesus Christ and tirelessly serving him until that day comes.
And so we worship and celebrate this weekend. We are welcoming Pastor James MacDonald and his wife Kathy to Harvest Barrie. James will be preaching a sermon titled “When I Need a Miracle” from John 2:1-12. I know it will be an impactful message for all of us. Pray for God’s Spirit to use it in your life! Meredith Andrews, who is a passionate and enthusiastic worship leader, will lead us to lift high the name of Jesus! Check out the songs here and come prepared to meet the Lord. To him be glory!
Don’t forget that we have added a worship service this weekend. In addition to our regular Sunday times of 9 and 11:15 a.m., we’ll also meet Saturday at 4 p.m. for worship. That is an identical service to Sunday morning's services.
And there are still some tickets left for the Meredith Andrews concert (Joshua Seller is opening) on Saturday evening.
to reserve your tickets or take a chance we’ll still have some at the door.
See you Saturday and Sunday!