Summary: This is a message given at the anniversary service of an inner-city church in Toronto, Canada.
Anniversary Service - February 28, 2016
Well…Happy Anniversary to Church at the Mission! Hard to believe it’s been 18 years since we formally launched as Church at the Mission. Actually we didn’t have a name when we started.
Two different members of the mission’s Development department called Kerry, the Senior Pastor at the time, and me separately to ask for a name for the church because they needed to put something about it in the mission’s newsletter.
Kerry and I and other leaders at the mission had talked about everything to do with the church, but we hadn’t come up with a name.
So separately and without knowing it Kerry told the Development staff member that, “We’ll…we’re, uh, the church at the mission”.
And, again, separately and without knowing it, I told the development department “Well, we’re the church at the mission.
And the then the name just kinda stuck. At one point we spent time as a congregation seeing if we wanted to have a name change. Over a period of a month or so the only other name that appealed to some was: Bethel Church. That got voted down, and so we stuck with our current name.
It’s a practical name. Nothing fancy, nothing poetic. Perhaps a reason we haven’t sought to change the name is that we know it’s a name.
A label. An identifier that can’t, the same way any other name can’t, truly reflect the nature of the congregation or the character of the church.
It’s always been up to us to determine that. It’s up to you and me to shape this church, to give it its character, to give it its feel, and to help it grow and develop into what God wants us to be.
This church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is its Lord and Master, and our purpose is His purpose: To glorify God, to lift up the name of Jesus, and to do His will. Why was Jesus sent by God?
Quoting from Isaiah 61, Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to our forebears, the disciples, and said: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”. John 20:21 So, that’s why we’re here, in a nutshell.
For those of you who are new, I should mention that Church at the Mission grew out of two other churches that had started in around 1987 – Cabbagetown Community Church that met at the Christian community Centre down the street for years.
That plus Church on the Street, a church that was created to serve street youth and others connected to the street. Barbara and I and Jan were part of that church.
My wife Barbara and I started in 1987. (We had met the year before that on the Summer Missionary Team at Evergreen, Centre for Street Youth).
Anyone want to guess my role in the church at the beginning? I was the flute player in the band. Barbara served in the nursery.