Cross Current

             

          Weekly articles by Rick Gamble 

 

                                         

Rick is a 63 year-old minister in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, which is 60 miles southwest of Toronto.  After a 23-year career as a reporter with the country's largest television network, Rick now preaches for Followers of Christ, a nondenominational congregation in a high-needs neighborhood near the city's core.  He also teaches Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.  Married to Susan for more than 28 years, his interests include documentary work, which has taken him to seven countries in Africa, long-distance running, and writing.  He's been published in New Wineskins and Grace Centered Magazine.  Cross Current articles may be reprinted free of charge in any non-profit publication, provided no changes are made.  To contact Rick, or receive Cross Current weekly, send an email to rick.gamble@rogers.com
 

Followers of Christ is an independent, nondenominational, egalitarian church in the Church of Christ heritage which has a long-term lease in a municipally-owned Community Centre in one of the city's most under serviced areas.  Started in May 2002, the new work began when the City of Brantford invited the church into the Community Centre after becoming aware of the group's interest in serving the neighborhood with a no-pressure, no-strings-attached approach.

   Ironically, the small church had attempted to buy the Community Centre building when it was an empty school which had closed two years earlier.  When escalating costs for purchase and renovation reached $500,000, making the project seemingly impossible for a group of less than 30 Christians, the church began to pray that God would send the money.  Three weeks later, the City's largest employer gave the municipality $600,000 to turn the former school into a Community Centre.  In turn, the City invited the church to become a long-term tenant with ample exclusive space and rental access to the Gym and other facilities without the financial hardship of a mortgage or maintenance costs!  

   The location in a "neutral" facility with many visitors gives the congregation a visibility and credibility it couldn't have in a traditional church building.  Though its outreach is widely targeted, its greatest success has been among those with no church background, and those who had stopped going to church because of hurt and disappointment.  Community service has included a breakfast program for children, support groups for women and mental health patients, recreation groups and specialized Bible studies.  Several non-profit community groups meet for free in the congregation's space, which includes an Office and Resource Room, the Family Room and the specially-designed Celebration Station for kids.