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.

Pastor Jan joined the church shortly after she came to Christ, in 1991, and pretty much right away started ministering to you and to street-involved women.

She was so good at that that 5 years later I hired her as our Community Outreach Pastor in 1996.

So many people have been part of this church over the years. As I think back, there are thousands, actually, that have participated over time.

Some have become very involved, serving here. Ben Bowser was a youth here and served in the youth worship band that we had back in 2000.

He preached his first sermon at this church at the age of 16. He is now a missionary in China, serving Christ with all his heart and soul along with his wife, Meghan.

They are having a baby soon. He just wrote me and said that his experience here has helped him to shape his ministry in China.

Because he was given opportunities to grow and taken seriously as a young person, now that he’s older and in a position of leadership, he is doing the same with the young people in His charge who are serious about serving Christ.

We’ll be seeing them here in the next few months when they come to speak.

Nicole Smith and her husband Jonathan were part of this church for years.

They moved to Orangeville a long time ago to serve with Youth for Christ, and currently Nicole is in India for a short period ministering the gospel to a lot of people. She went there by herself. Gutsy woman.

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