As the COVID quarantine continues (now you have to say it 10 times fast: COVID quarantine continues…COVID quarantine continues…it’s fun, right?), we continue to learn how to do life in the midst of it. When the social distancing measures first came in, my middle son immediately said, “Does this mean I won’t have a birthday party this year?” We replied, “No, don’t worry: your birthday isn’t until July, so I’m sure we’ll be fine by then.”
Of course the middle child’s birthday is the one disrupted by a global virus pandemic. Middle children have it so rough.
Anyway. I’m still hoping that my son will be able to have a birthday party in July, but I know of many others whose birthdays are happening right in the middle of all this, and you’ve had to come up with some clever ways to celebrate. If you had a birthday plan, you’ve had to modify it, and that’s probably been a bit disappointing. If that’s you, I feel for you.
Why am I telling you all this? Because there’s another birthday that’s been disrupted by COVID: Parkland’s.
Exactly 30 years ago today (the day this was posted), Parkland held its first ever service at Bonaccord Elementary in Surrey, not far from our current facility.
We had plans to hold a 30th anniversary celebration this coming Sunday because 30 years is something to celebrate. At this point, our plan is to have that celebration this fall, and if we still can’t do it by the fall, I guess we’ll be doing a 30th anniversary celebration when we turn 31. Oh well.
But I didn’t want this day to go by without spending some time reflecting on our journey.
As you might imagine, the work to launch Parkland started well before April 15, 1990. A few years earlier, the Home Missions Board (Fellowship Pacific’s church planting arm) challenged Newton Fellowship Baptist to think about planting a church in the growing area of North Surrey.
By God’s grace, Newton Fellowship, under pastor Dave Jackson, grew strong enough to plant the church. In November 1989, they called pastor David Horita as a church planter, and a core group of people came together to become the charter members of this new church.
The plan was to get the church launched by Easter of 1990. That’s an ambitious timeline. Literally every aspect of the new church had to be planned, from the leadership structure to the purchase of chairs. By God’s grace, it all came together because ultimately it was his timeline and he was faithful to work.
That didn’t mean things went perfectly smoothly. They didn’t. For example, Parkland initially wanted to meet at North Surrey Secondary, but it wasn’t available on Sunday mornings, so the decision was made to go to Bonaccord instead. A few months later, the administration at Bonaccord decided they didn’t want a church meeting in their facility after all, and gave Parkland two weeks to find a new home. As God’s timing would have it, North Surrey Secondary became available on Sundays the following week, and Parkland relocated to the place it had wanted to be in the beginning.
God’s funny like that sometimes.
A few years later, God’s faithfulness enabled us to purchase the property where our facility currently sits, which also wasn’t a straightforward process. Then we planned to build a new facility on the site, got all the planning done, and then the plans got nixed by the city’s environmental assessment process.
Of course, we did build a facility: phase 1 was completed in 1999, and phase 2 in 2002. The original building is still standing, too, which in itself is a testimony to God’s faithfulness.
It hasn’t always been a smooth journey missionally, either. We’ve been through ups and downs. There have been times of unity and times of disunity.
In other words, our journey as a church has been an unexpected path.
But through it all, one thing has been constant: God’s faithfulness. He has preserved and sustained the mission of this congregation for 30 years. He has been at work in the lives of each person who has passed through the doors, doing incredible things that only he can do, both because of and in spite of us.
God’s unsurpassed faithfulness is the only reason we’re celebrating this anniversary, and we give glory and thanks to him for what he alone has done. And that would be true even if our story was full of us moving from strength to strength.
That’s why we picked Hebrews 10:23 as our theme verse for this anniversary. The writer says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
He who promised is faithful. He always has been. And he always will be.
Our job isn’t to get things right all the time. We can’t. Our job is simply to hold fast the confession of our faith. Our job is to seek God’s glory alone in our lives and in our church. Our job is to recognize that some plant, others water, but God alone gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7).
What we do today matters tomorrow. The foundations of faith that we establish today will be part of Parkland’s story 30 years from now. And our willingness to persevere through all the ups and downs, including COVID, enable God’s faithfulness to be more and more evident in years to come.
We serve a faithful God. To him alone be the glory yesterday, today, and forever.