The Assist Canada team of young families circa 2001
Assist Canada originally formed as GBCanada USA, a church planting ministry born from the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches dedicated to cultivating a movement of churches across Canada. Despite various church planting attempts by the Fellowship – dating back as far as 1916 – no Grace Brethren churches existed in Canada prior to this endeavor.
During the early 1990s, interest began to intensify in the idea of planting the first Grace Brethren church in Canada. GB North American Missions, who were responsible for the planting of new churches in the U.S. and Canada at the time, assembled a small team under the leadership of Nathan Bryant, Philip Bryant and Bartley Sawatsky, all of whom were interning at the Grace Brethren Church in Waldorf, Maryland, where Ted and Elise Adomanis also served.
Following a kickoff of the Canadian initiative at the Grace Brethren Fellowship National Conference in Toronto, the team was sent to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in Ontario, Canada on May 31, 1997. In September of the following year, Grace Community Church was launched in Mississauga, Ontario and the church planting mission was incorporated as Grace Brethren Canada with a U.S. partner charity, GBCanada USA, soon to follow.
Grace Community Church quickly established itself as a healthy regional church in the GTA, reproducing a daughter church, Village Community Church in nearby Milton, Ontario and second regional church, Community of Hope Church in Surrey, British Columbia. Community of Hope Church developed a leadership team with plans for a new church launch in Medicine Hat, Alberta which launched in the fall of 2011 known as Grasslands Church. These healthy urban church communities are highly multicultural with Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Hispanic and European attendance.
More recently in 2016, Grace Community Church and Village Community Church have merged to reform a new church in multiple locations called Renew Church. Renew Meadowvale and Renew Milton added a third location in September 2016, Renew Mayfield West, in Caledon. Additionally exciting is that an independent Bible church in Bow Island, Alberta recently joined our fellowship adding to our numbers by adoption. Island of Hope Church is now a member church and we are excited to include them in our history.
In 2017, GBCanada USA expanded its mandate to include the USA and the Canadian movement was renamed Assist Canada, a division of Assist Church Expansion.
From a core group of 13 dedicated individuals who formed the original Grace Community Church in 1998, we have seen phenomenal growth in the nearly 600 people who attend our churches each week and find a sense of belonging to a movement that is uniquely Canadian. Within our existing church communities, leaders are developing and new aspirations are unfolding.
Our Canadian Churches
Hope is something we can’t live without, but too often, the struggles and disappointments of life cause our hope to fade, and life loses its sense of adventure. At Hope, we have come to discover how to keep hope alive through God.
Our motto at Bow Island has always been “the little church that could.” Our vision is to embrace and share the unconditional love of Jesus with all. Living for Jesus in and around Bow Island.
Grasslands Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta exists to help people experience abundant life by finding God, forming healthy relationships and fulfilling their potential.
Renew is a multisite church – with campuses across the Greater Toronto Area – that is committed to helping people find new faith, new focus, and new frontiers.