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Moving Time -- Two London Churches Relocate
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By Haydn Jensen


You have to wonder what's going on when one church decides to sell their building and rent and another church decides to buy the first church’s building and stop renting. And, each church sees their move as a strategic next step in ministry. In February of this year, Hillside Church (formerly Wortley Baptist Church) officially sold their building on 250 Commissioners Road (near Wortley Road) to Harvest Bible Chapel. In August, Hillside began gathering on Sunday afternoons at Westview Baptist Church on Wonderland Road near Southdale. Harvest Bible Chapel has been renting space at Banting High School (beside Sherwood Forest Mall) and will begin services in the former Hillside building in September.





Despite their different recent moves where buildings are concerned, both Hillside and Harvest leadership teams say the same thing: the church is the people, not the building. The idea of Hillside selling their building to Harvest was actually initiated by Hillside. Their leadership says they wanted to "move somewhere more conducive to our life together, and to be radically generous with some of the proceeds." So, Hillside’s relocation of their regular weekly gatherings to Westview is most likely not a permanent move. They are being very strategic and waiting on the Lord to provide the right building for their ministry vision. We'll be able to explore Hillside's next growth phase in a future article.

As any church or ministry using rented space will appreciate, Harvest's leadership and volunteers are looking forward to getting away from doing "church in a box". They estimate that since they began in London in 2000 (the last 807 Sundays) crews have arrived at 6:30 a.m. for set up and then stayed till about 1:30 each afternoon to put everything away. For those countless volunteer hours given, the move to operate out of their own building will be a welcome relief. Yes, people are the church, and yet having a dedicated physical space can definitely free them up for other ways to serve!

Interestingly, Harvest Bible Chapel London’s ministry was actually first commissioned in the Hillside building when they began ministry here over fifteen years ago. They started with 30 people and now bring out some 1,300-1,400 people regularly. Harvest's Senior Pastor, Norm Millar, says they are "overwhelmed by God's grace" that they have grown to a congregation of this size without a building. Norm says, "God has done this, in spite of us”, and adds, “we pray that we will never lose that now that we have our own building."

With these numbers, they will actually be maxing out their new home right from the start. So, this building is only an interim solution. They do own land on Colonel Talbot Road where they hope to build one day. In the meantime, they are busy getting their new space ready for September. Harvest Bible Chapel will hold their first service at their new location on Sunday September 6. Norm says this will be a “shake out the bugs” Sunday in preparation for the following weekend's official kick-off in the building for their fall ministries on Saturday September 12 and Sunday September 13.

Saturday evening service is a new thing for Harvest. Norm says his team is excited to offer this and sees it as a necessary move to accommodate their growing congregation and also a great option for those with work or other Sunday schedule conflicts. Running from 5:00-6:30 pm it will be identical to their Sunday services (at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m), with the only difference being that Saturday evening childcare will be just for the youngest children. On Sunday mornings they offer children’s ministry up to and including grade 5.

As they presently do for Western and Fanshawe students, Harvest also will be running at least one campus bus per service, and two buses for some services. With their new location further from the Western and Fanshawe campuses, they trust that their over 300 students will track with them in the move.

Will Harvest's new residence be a noticeable change for the Wortley and Old South neighbourhood? Very likely! Harvest Bible Chapel already has begun to introduce themselves and build connections with their new neighbours. They hosted a booth at last June's Gathering at the Green in Wortley Village to greet and get to know the neighbourhood. Norm says they will try to notify homes around the church that they may experience some more traffic. More than this, Norm adds, "we will do all we can to be caring, loving, kind and understanding neighbours seeking to be Christ to our community and beyond."

If you'd like to pursue either Harvest Bible Chapel or Hillside Church to learn more or get involved, here's how:

Harvest Bible Chapel London
www.harvestlondon.ca
250 Commissioners Road
Saturday evenings 5:00-6:30 (starting September 12)
Sunday mornings 9:00 & 11:15 (starting September 6, with official launch September 13)
(519) 668-1977

HIllside Church
www.hillsidelondon.com

Worship Space:
Sundays 4:00pm at 1000 Wonderland Rd. S. (Westview Baptist Church)

Work Space:
120 Wellington St, Suite 102, London, ON
(519) 681-7313
Monday to Thursday 9:00am - 2:00pm