How it all began
Trinity Canadian Reformed Church was instituted, by the grace of God, on August 26, 2001. The inaugural worship service was held in the gymnasium of Guido de Brès Christian High School in Hamilton. At the outset, 157 members left Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church in Hamilton on Stonechurch Road to begin this new venture. Rev. Cl. Stam, pastor of Cornerstone Church, officiated in the inaugural worship service. He chose as text 1 Timothy 3:15. On September 30, 2001 the congregation began holding worship services in the Knox Presbyterian Church building in Binbrook, Ontario.
Our first pastor
In December, 2001, a call was extended to the Rev. D.W. Vandeburgt, pastor of the American Reformed Church in Denver, Colorado in the United States. The LORD was pleased to answer our prayers, and Rev. Vandeburgt accepted the call extended to him.
On April 14, 2002, Rev. Doug Vandeburgt was installed as the first pastor and teacher of Trinity Canadian Reformed Church. Again, Rev. Cl. Stam conducted the installation service, during which he spoke on 2 Timothy 1: 6-7. In the afternoon service, Rev. Vandeburgt preached his inaugural sermon, using as text the words of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5: He spoke humbly and powerfully about what defines a minister and what his main task is, which is to proclaim the whole counsel of God.
A time of growth
The congregation continued to grow. Every Sunday the Word and Spirit enriched us. Bible Study groups and other committees were active. There were numerous births, and we had new members join our congregation.
On July 1, 2007, the congregation had outgrown the Knox Presbyterian Church building and so we began worshipping in the Binbrook United Church building just down the road. The United Church facilities served us well until January of 2009 when we were able to move into our own church building. We are thankful to Knox Presbyterian Church in Binbrook and the Binbrook United Church for graciously allowing us to rent their facilities for 6 years and 1 1/2 years respectively.
Our own building
On January 4, 2009, we were privileged to conduct our first worship service in our own church building. The congregation purchased the former Seneca Unity School building at 32 Unity Road just north of Caledonia, and after nearly 7 1/2 years of existence, had a place to call home! Rev. Vandeburgt led the inaugural worship service by preaching from 1 Peter 2 : 4, 5 and we were reminded that the building that we now call home is just that — a building, built out of dead stones. While a lot of work went into preparing this building for use, the work of building the church of Christ has to continue. We are called to be living stones, built together on the one Cornerstone who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was an overwhelming and exciting experience. It is hard to believe that we managed to transform an old school building into a sparkingly clean, freshly painted and fully functional church building. Classrooms were converted into a fellowship hall (two classrooms together with a wall removed), a catechism/meeting room, a nursery (complete with sleeping room, drop off area, hooks, cubby holes, change counter, etc.), a consistory room, a kitchen, library etc. The gym was not recognizable as a gym anymore since we had the pulpit, chairs, baptismal font, organ, speakers, and liturgy boards in place. For the next nearly 12 years we would be able to worship and praise God in this very functional building!
Farewell to our pastor
On August 2, 2009, a chapter ended in the history of our congregation. Rev. Vandeburgt and his family said farewell as they prepared to move to Burlington-Waterdown in order to serve God’s church there. In his farewell address, Rev. Vandeburgt preached on 2 Corinthians 13: 11 – 14: “Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you…“. It was an emotional day for all of us as we reflected on 7 years of faithful service by our beloved pastor and teacher. Over the 7 years a strong bond of love and respect had developed between pastor and congregation.
A new chapter
A week after Rev. Vandeburgt said farewell to the congregation and we to him, the congregation was gladdened with the news that Candidate Rodney Vermeulen had accepted the call extended to him by this congregation on July 19th. What a blessing from the Lord that we would not be a vacant congregation for very long.
On Sunday, October 4, 2009 during the morning service we witnessed the beautiful moment in which Candidate Vermeulen was ordained as minister of the Word, and installed as minister of Trinity Canadian Reformed Church! Rev. W. den Hollander, pastor of Bethel Canadian Reformed Church in Toronto (with whom Candidate Vermeulen had done his internship) conducted the ordination service. He chose as text 2 Timothy 2: 8, after which Candidate R. Vermeulen was ordained and installed. Dr. G.H. Visscher and Rev. J. Van Vliet also participated in the laying on of hands with Rev. den Hollander.
In the afternoon service, Rev. Vermeulen preached his first sermon as our pastor, using Colossians 2: 2,3 as his text: “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Fast forward nearly 10 years. God blessed us with faithful preaching and pastoral care by Rev. Vermeulen during this time. But on June 23, 2019, the next chapter in the history of our congregation came to an end. Rev. Vermeulen and his family said farewell as they prepared to move to Attercliffe, ON in order to serve God’s church there. In his farewell address, Rev. Vermeulen preached on Psalm 121, and at the end of the service spoke, for the last time as our pastor, the words of the benediction: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Again, it was an emotional day for both pastor and congregation. But we went forward in faith, knowing that our help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.
A period of instability
In March 2020, life as we knew it was turned upside down. Restrictions were imposed by the Ontario government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We were were forced to cancel worship services on March 15, 2020. In the week that followed, preparations were hastily made to switch to a live stream only format, which ended up lasting for 12 weeks. In June of 2020 the government eased restrictions somewhat, allowing us on June 14, 2020 to begin gathering in numbers up to 30% of the building capacity, and so we rotated through the wards to allow groups of members to come to the church building for worship, while the rest of the congregation continued to join in worship via the live stream. During this time we also sold our building on Unity Road to Calvin Christian School, in anticipation of building our new church building on Tisdale Road.
As restrictions were continuously being eased and re-imposed over the next nearly 2 years, we moved from location to location in order to preserve the opportunity to worship together as congregation as much as possible. On October 11, 2020, we began worshipping in the cavernous Exhibition Centre at the Caledonia Fairgrounds, until a new lockdown forced us back to live stream only format. From December 27, 2020 to March 14, 2021 we made use of the Bellstone Christian School gym for this purpose. Then, beginning on March 21, 2021, we worshipped for 5 weeks in the Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church building, when another lockdown sent us back to the Bellstone gym on April 25, 2021 for 7 weeks of worship via live stream again. At this point the government eased the restrictions on the number of people that could gather outside, and so on June 13, 2021 we moved our worship services outside behind Bellstone Christian School for 18 Sundays – first under the sun directly, and then under a beautiful outdoor tent. When the weather turned colder in the fall, Guido de Brès Christian High School allowed us to use their gym, and on October 17, 2021 we returned to the place where our church was first instituted, and worshipped there for 43 weeks.
This period of time was very hard on us as congregation and individually as members, but looking back we see how the LORD continued to provide for us in many and various ways! “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up!” (Psalm 68:19).
A new building on Tisdale Road
In October, 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, work began on preparing our property at 3081 Tisdale Road for construction of a new church building. Over the next nearly 2 years, a beautiful new building was erected on this site, constructed with the help of countless contractors and numerous volunteers and volunteer hours. It was truly a labour of love. We give thanks to God for keeping all those involved in constructing the building safe – we did not experience any serious accidents or mishaps along the way! On August 11, 2022 we were informed that an occupancy permit was granted, and on August 14, 2022 the first worship services were held in our new church building.
A new pastor and teacher
August 14, 2022 was made even more special by the fact that on the same day that we began worshipping in our new building, we also received a new pastor and teacher from the LORD, in the person of Rev. John VanWoudenberg. The installation service in the morning was led by Dr. J. Van Vliet who had preached regularly during our period of vacancy and also served as our church counsellor. He preached on Isaiah 40:9-11 under the theme “Receive and believe the good news: “Behold, your God!”. In the afternoon worship service, our new pastor preached is inaugural sermon, using as text 2 Timothy 4:5: “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” After more than 3 years of vacancy, and 2 years of instability due to world events, we were thankful to turn the page to another new chapter, as we looked ahead towards the future in faith.
God’s work continues
As time progresses, this ‘brief history’ is becoming less and less brief. And yet, through it all we continue to see the hand of our faithful God and Father who has blessed us so richly as congregation. It is our prayer that our heavenly Father will continue to go with us, preserving us as a true body of believers, redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit!
Soli Deo Gloria!