The makings of a modern missionary adventure...
Late in 1962, a young pastor and his wife sensed God’s prompting to resign from their position as Lead Pastors of a church in Sault Ste. Marie and resettle themselves in Oakville. For over ten years Pastors Rae and Eileen Stewart had been burdened to start a church in Oakville and finally the moment had come. After moving in January of 1963, they quickly introduced themselves to others in the area and informed them of their intentions. A group of 32 individuals gathered by the end of January at a local Masonic Temple and officially started what is now known as EPC.
The early church faced several difficulties, mostly financial, as they struggled to find a permanent home. An opportunity came when home sales slumped and a developer offered to sell seven lots on Rebecca Street for $26,000. The site was ideal, but the price seemed astronomical to a church averaging offerings of about $50 a week. Pastor Stewart and some congregation members mortgaged their homes to buy the land. Encouraged, the congregation decided to press ahead and build. Nineteen months after the first service in the Masonic Temple, construction began. By the early 1970s the church had outgrown its meeting place. As a result, the church building was expanded to include a new sanctuary to hold 400 people, and to add more office space. As was the case with the original building, much of the construction work was done by volunteer labour. Work began in June, 1975, and on June 6, 1976, the dedication service was held in the new building.
The Stewarts retired from ministry after serving EPC for 26 years and were succeeded by pastor Paul and Judy Cassidy who served for approximately three years. During this time, EPC’s work in the community and around the world was consolidated and strengthened.
Pastor Dean and Wendy Skinner succeeded the Cassidy’s in 1992. The Skinner’s grew up in missionary stations in Africa before returning to Canada to take up pastoral ministry. Their passion for world outreach spread to the congregation and the number of missionaries supported by Evangel grew in places as far away as Siberia, Uganda, China and Israel. The addition of youth and children’s pastors enabled EPC to increase its programs for young people. A variety of programs were launched to help the needy in the community, such as outreach to single mothers and abused women in the Halton’s Women’s Shelter, and to the homeless in downtown Toronto. The Skinners served until 2005.
In July of 2005, Pastors Shannon and Jennifer Potter were welcomed as EPC’s new pastoral team. A former Bible College Vice-President, Pastor Potter brought a strong passion to plant new churches in the area as a strategic way to introduce spiritual seekers to Christ. In 2011 the first plant for a Hispanic congregation, Filadelfia, was launched as part of the EPC community under the leadership of pastors Novel and Marubeni Sanchez. A second plant took place in 2012, Hillspring Church, under the leadership of Pastor Dan and Rahel Young. The current staff demonstrates a passion to make disciples, reach people and make a difference in the community. Pastor Jennifer Potter currently serves as Assistant Pastor and brings leadership to the area of Community Connections. Pastor Scott Moore serves as the Youth & Young Adults Pastor overseeing Jr High, Senior High, and Young Adults.
EPC celebrated its fiftieth anniversary as a church in 2013. Over these formative years, EPC has been developing its distinctive outreach to the people of Oakville, Canada and other lands. Missionaries have gone out from the church to serve with distinction around the world. Men and women from the church have reached out to pastor throughout Canada as EPC has continued to search for ways to help those in greatest need here at home. During these times of great social change EPC has been able to retain a caring pulse for its immediate community. Whether serving the needs of children through summer day camps, reaching out to local high schools by providing luncheons, hosting various crisis support groups for adults, or addressing the ever growing problem of human trafficking in the GTA, EPC has continued to serve its community by modelling the redemptive love of Jesus Christ both in word and deed.
Adapted from Celebrating Fifty Years: Looking Back…Giving Back, compiled by Mr Philip Thatcher.
Along with the many exciting opportunities EPC has to minister within our church family, we are also very engaged as a congregation within our local community. The following is a list of areas that EPC is excited to be a part of:
BBQ lunch/drop in for neighbourhood High School students.
Anti Human Trafficking awareness.
Providing a monthly breakfast at Kerr Street Ministries.
Hosting food drives to help community food banks.
Offering benevolent care to the community as needed.
Assisting new Canadians in practical ways.
Providing back to school backpacks and supplies to indigenous children in Northern Ontario.
Hosting a community based Mental Health Support Group.
Church Planting – Filadelfia in 2011 & Hillspring Church in 2012.
Historically, EPC has been involved in Global Initiatives that demonstrate the love of God and the provision of care to those who desperately need it. The following is a list of initiatives we are currently involved in:
Human trafficking awareness and rescue efforts for women and children.
Assisting orphans with food, clothing & education opportunities.
Providing medical care in areas without basic medical provision.
Supporting farming projects to feed the less fortunate.
Providing Bible College training for church leaders and pastors.
Supporting the church planting initiatives of national pastors.
Supporting the printing & distribution of training materials.
Assisting national churches in church building construction.
Sponsoring training conferences for pastors and their families.
Participating in short term mission’s trips to assist global churches.