Interns Wanted!

Next Church, in Kingston, ON, sent Todd Stelmach as a Community Development Missionary to Rustle Church.  The neighborhood surrounding Rustle Church is the eleventh poorest neighborhood in Canada. Kingston is a fairly affluent city, but they concentrated all their government housing and most of their social services and shelters in the Rustle neighborhood.  The upside is that Rustle Church is right in the middle of this community and equipped to serve.

Todd was one of three elders at Next Church.  “I was feeling a call to go down to Rustle and help out, but I wanted to figure out a way to still be a part of Next.  So Next sent me as a missionary to Rustle. I was in that role from November 2015 until October 2016. After the death of his daughter Brook, founding pastor Al Doseger took some time off and I sort of filled in the gaps.  Then I became the interim pastor and January 2018 I became the pastor.”

Todd’s training as a mental health worker has served the community well as half of the congregation has some kind of mental illness and many are dealing with addiction.  “I’m an occupational therapist by trade. I worked on an Assertive Community Treatment Team and supported people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  I would visit people in their homes to help them stay out of the hospital and in the community so I was well suited to the Rustle neighborhood as I have an understanding of mental health and addictions.”

Early in 2018, Rustle offered the Alpha course.  “We had forty people show up to Alpha. We had people converted and four baptisms that April and then six in July.  We ran Alpha again and fifty people participated. At the same time we have had an influx of students from Queens University who liked the authenticity of the Rustle church.  Having students at your service is like having a unicorn there! It’s awesome.”

When Todd was the missionary at Rustle, he was approached by two Queens students who were in search of a mentor.  He started a bible study with them, and then more students asked to join. “Many churches want to have students, but they need to be willing to do the hard work of discipling them.  There is a hunger from our students to be discipled, but it’s a weekly investment of time for bible study and discussion.”

The students began coming on Sunday mornings and soon there was standing room only which is why Rustle is moving to two services.  “There were so many students that there wasn’t room for our neighborhood folk, and that became a mission problem. Our mission is to reach the people of our neighborhood and the students are transient, so now we have to go to two services which is really exciting.  Students want to come early, and neighborhood folks want to come later so we can continue to minister to both groups.”

Todd is fortunate to be working with two interns, Josiah and Karolee Pilot.  “Josiah and and Kara-Lee Piett want to plant a church but felt they needed more experience and an opportunity to develop their pastoral skills.  Jared Siebert, FMCiC’s Director of Church Planting, where they could gain that experience. Jared suggested Rustle and they very quickly said, “Yes!”  They have been on board for a few months, and it’s been so good.”

As the Piett’s start dreaming about where they want to plant a church, Todd is search of another community missionary and/or interns, and he is not shy about asking!  “There are unlimited missionary opportunities in this neighborhood. We want you here!”

If you would like to learn more about Rustle Church you can find them here:

By Alison McKinnon

FMCiC Writer