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Fruit that Lasts

The Gathering Place aims to be a safe place to meet Jesus and find community.

What does it take to have a community flourish? At Diaconal Ministries Canada, we believe it takes relationships; moving away from transactional interactions (meeting needs) to transformational relationships (connecting and belonging) so that every single person can thrive.

That’s why for the last 40 years, NewGround has helped churches establish or grow healthy and sustainable community ministries. We take John 15:16 seriously: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last!”

For three Christian Reformed congregations in Thunder Bay, Ont., this meant opening an outreach ministry in the heart of a struggling and under-served neighbourhood in 1985. After a few years of running, a group of volunteers were filling food hampers when one person remarked, “Someday it will be our kids who will be sorting food and filling these hampers!”

Yvonne Schenk, current director, recalls being shocked by that statement. “I remember thinking, that’s not the dream that I have for this neighbourhood and ministry! That was a wake-up call for our team.”

Soon after, the ministry applied to NewGround (which was then called Operation Manna) in order to hire new staff and purchase a larger space to be a community hub. The new centre was renamed “The Gathering Place.”

“People are looking to have community,” Yvonne shares, “and that’s what The Gathering Place aims to be: a safe place to meet Jesus. We do that by using a variety of ways to connect with people to be able to offer that community.” Fast forward 38 years and The Gathering Place continues to offer hope and help to so many in the city of Thunder Bay!

To date, over 80 percent of the ministries NewGround helped start or grow are still going strong. None of this would be possible without the generous donations and prayers of Christian Reformed churches and individuals in Canada. This year’s campaign aims to raise $150,000. Find out more and/or donate on our website.

This page is made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.


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