OneChurch.ca will celebrate 25 years of ministry in this area at a celebration at the Carlyle campus after regular services in Carlyle (at 9:15 a.m.) and in Redvers (at 10:45 a.m.) on Sunday, May 20.
As part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada's (PAC) Saskatchewan District, OneChurch.ca will receive a visit from the PAC's Saskatchewan Superintendent, John Drisner of Saskatoon that day, as well as former members of the congregation who will return for a reunion.
“We have a program for the day,” says Pastor Louis Halbgewachs. “We have some former members coming back and a few who can't but would like to, so we'll have some people join us by video.”
The PAC is the largest Christian evangelical congregation in Canada and during the past two years, OneChurch.ca has become known as a thriving presence in this part of the province, known for its hands-on missions both locally and internationally.
The growth of OneChurch.ca from its beginnings in 1993 to its current dual campuses in Carlyle and Redvers is “an example of God's timing,” says one of the church's founders, Karen Olmstead of Carlyle.
“Three households started out above the current (Affinity) credit union building on Main Street in Carlyle in April 1993,” says Olmstead. “We wanted something family-orientated and we wanted to live out our beliefs and practice them in our everyday lives.”
“In 2000, we moved to what is now the Shockwave building and we stayed there until 2008, until the church moved to our permanent home,”
“It was great when we got out of rented facilities,” says Olmsted. “It was (formerly) Carlyle Building Supplies and our landlords - Cliff Walker, Al Mossing and Ron Paul - were great. But even after we bought the building, we were dealing with things like only having one washroom for a growing congregation.”
“Some families planned their bathroom breaks around church,” laughs Olmstead. “The move from that building to where we are right now was really due to the space factor. And we still believe that it's important for families to come to church together and that kids are our future. And since we started, we didn't want kids to be squashed up and uncomfortable in church.”
“But the big thing is, it taught us to trust,” says Olmstead. “We had a timing, but it really was God's timing. If it had come easy, we wouldn't have learned and experienced some things we needed to.”
Pastor Louis and Jenny Halbgewachs have been at the spiritual helm of OneChurch.ca for 15 years. The couple's story - like the church they serve - is also an example of what they both attribute to God's timing.
“In 2003, we were living in Saskatoon,” says Jenny. “We hadn't been married that long and we'd just bought a house...”
“I was completing my schooling (to become a pastor) and I was working at Shaw Cable, earning pretty good money,” adds Pastor Louis. “Roy Olmstead was calling a friend of mine - asking for references for another pastor to come to Carlyle. At the time, I didn't know any of this, but my friend said the pastor they were calling about was great, but he thought I might be the guy for the job.”
“Without knowing about any of this, Jenny asked me if I was ever going to do anything I was passionate about again.”
“And the next night,” continues Pastor Louis, “My friend said to me: 'So Louis, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?'”
“Then he told me that Roy Olmstead would be calling me.”
Circumstances - from the sale of their home in Saskatoon to Louis becoming a full pastor and more - led the couple to believe that their move to OneChurch.ca was “a God thing.”
“The question was: 'What does this life look like if Louis isn't pastoring?” says Jenny.
“You graduate from Bible school and try to find a church,” adds Pastor Louis. “But really, the church finds you.”
Today, OneChurch.ca is located on two campuses and hosts bi-annual mission trips to Mexico. The church also ministers to its members and others locally - and often, confidentially.
A mainstay of its mission is its “4-Week Challenge.”
“We invite people to try church again,” says Jenny. “It's a way to do life, really.”
“We challenge people to try church again,” adds Pastor Louis. “Within a local body of believers - and God. There is meaning and purpose in life now and an abundant life in the here and now and that's what we try to continue to convey.”
The trio agree that celebrating One Church.ca's quarter-century anniversary is, as Pastor Louis says: “Celebrating what God has done and looking forward to what God will do.”
“God has brought us on a wild ride,” he continues. “And we have been privileged to hang on. When I think aabout what three families in a rented space started 25 years ago to this little church in southeast Saskatchewan having a national and international impact...”
“But it's still that same heart,” says Jenny. “God can do anything if we let him in.”
Carlyle's OneChurch.ca campus is located at 104-6th st. West. For more information, visit www.onechurch.ca.