« Your church might be going through rough times but don’t be discouraged. Because with prayer and your congregation coming together, you can move through difficulty and see God at work. That is what we have seen at Bramalea – the hands of God at work.”
These encouraging words are from Audrey Isaacs, the board chair at Bramalea FMC, in Bramalea, ON. This church has faced some challenges in the last two years. They were without a pastor, in transition and dealing with financial difficulties.
The church launched a « free to serve” campaign to pay off a $13,000 restrictive fund debt.
Through the generosity of the congregation they raised $18,000 and were able to pay off their debt and put $5,000 on their mortgage.
Then with some restructuring Bramalea hired a part-time bi-vocational pastor instead of a full-time pastor. Then they decided to work towards paying off the mortgage which they did at the end of August. So in the span of two years, “We went from a trying time – restructuring, relying on pulpit supply and dealing with debt to having a new pastor, Dennis Ball, and being debt and mortgage free.”
Bramalea did a lot of fasting and praying during this time. “We did a week of fasting where we got together at the end of every day at the church and prayed. This was the first time we did a fast for this length of time as a community. We also did a neighborhood prayer walk.”
I was curious about the support offered from the Ministry Centre during this time of transition. “Bishop Keith and Kim Henderson met with our board. They were very supportive. One of the ways they offered to help was to temporarily reduce the amount of money we were giving to core. We lowered the amount to 5% and slowly increased it back to 10%.”
“We also had three consistent pastors from the pulpit supply list who preached during this time of transition, one of whom included pastor Keith Lohnes, who approached the board with the “free to serve” idea and spearheaded the campaign.”
This past spring, a member of the Bramalea congregation also suggested using some land behind the church for a community garden. Fourteen dedicated members of the congregation planted, watered, weeded and harvested vegetables from that garden which were then donated to a food bank in Brampton and shared among the congregation.
Audrey reached out to share all this because, “I wanted other churches to know that sometimes we might go through difficulties but there is hope when everyone comes and works together. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We have seen God’s hands at work and His blessing.”