Lent Newsletter Excerpt | 55th Anniversary


Written by Pastor Steve Berkenpas, Lead Pastor

What’s your favourite part of a birthday party? One of my favourite parts is celebrating who the person has become. Sometimes in birthday parties old photo albums are brought up, and we reminisce about how things were. But often at the party and celebration – when it comes to acknowledging the person – people speak of how proud they are of the person they have become – and they express excitement in what the next year will hold of them.

If I could have a theme for this year’s 55th Anniversary celebration, it would be a ‘birthday party.’ Sure, we can look at old photos of our early days, but that isn’t our focus. We want to focus on celebrating how God has gathered us and formed us into a community with beautiful strengths and exciting things in the future. It will be like celebrating a birthday where we can express excitement about what the next year will hold knowing that God’s giftings to people in this church opens worlds of opportunity for service, love, care, growth, and more.

So, this March 2 and 3, let’s celebrate the things God is doing through Living Hope like a birthday party! If you want examples of biblical precedent for doing so – just look at the Old Testament laws and the mandates Israel had to get together for feasts. For example, when they recognized God’s faithfulness in delivering them from Egypt, they didn’t just hold a special service and say a few extra prayers. They threw a party! Sometimes the church misses these opportunities to party – or when we do – we miss the point, and we start making it about us. This year, we are going to take some time to celebrate how God has been faithful to this congregation for the past 55 years – forming us into the people we are today and looking forward to how he will use us tomorrow.


Written by Irene Brandsma, Office Administrator

On Sunday, March 3, we celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Living Hope Christian Reformed Church.

From the first organizational meeting on March 3, 1969, to having an occupied parsonage and usable Fellowship Hall with an education wing by July 1970, Living Hope (or Second Christian Reformed Church prior to 2002) grew quickly. By 1973 the current sanctuary was built, and the parking lot was paved a year later.

We have so much for which to be thankful. The facilities have been used for many ministries and for many opportunities of spiritual growth, fellowship, and worship. There have been weddings, baptisms, funerals, and professions of faith through multiple generations. There have been Christmas events, Harvest parties, GEMS sleepovers, Cadet dodge ball games, and more!

There is so much that has happened in the past 55 years that it is worth taking time to look back in gratitude. A few highlighted items below are just a fraction of the opportunities and experiences.

  • We have sponsored families from Vietnam, Iran, Sudan and more.
  • We have shared the facilities with various preschools and with ACS after the fire in 1985.
  • We have hosted over 240 kids in one week at VBS. We have a daughter church and another church that began after resignations.
  • We began traditions like the Flowering of the Cross in 2003 and continued a variation of it even through Covid.
  • We restructured the council into our current 4 district teams in 2010.
  • In 2013 children were welcomed to the Lord’s Supper.
  • In 2014 the Margaret Stenersen Breakfast Program was started.
  • In 2017 the sanctuary was renovated, and Neighborhood Christmas was held for the first time.

Many volunteer hours have been donated to all the ministries, worship programs and fellowship opportunities. There have been dinners, luncheons, breakfasts, and coffee gatherings. Volunteer hours have come in many forms including many hours that were donated to painting the church exterior in 1992. Countless more hours were and are from ministry leaders committed to running our various programs. We have also been blessed with faithful service from many pastors and staff.

Looking back, it is amazing to see the variety of ways that God has equipped us to serve. It is exciting to think of what ministries will look like in the coming years. There are many new and creative ways to minister that are being worked on right now. There are new trip opportunities for our youth and new methods of connecting from our elders. We all have a calling to serve where the Lord has called us, and He will guide us as we go forward.


Written by Pastor Steve Berkenpas, Lead Pastor

My in-laws have this tradition: every time we have a birthday, everybody has to share a memory about that person. I don’t always like it. I often feel put on the spot. I don’t love talking in front of people, especially when I don’t have notes in front of me. But it’s a good tradition. The stories that get shared from the year often tell something about the person that speak to their character – whether it was a moment they surprised them with a thoughtful gesture or a time where they came through in a moment of need – these stories that we share tell something about who we are.

If you were to tell a story about Living Hope, what story would you share?

Here’s a few stories I’ve heard:

The Singing Church 

In my earlier visits to people at Living Hope I heard this phrase over and over, “we are the singing church.” I heard this was a prized part of their identity in the past and present. And on Sunday mornings, I can see why! We are a congregation that loves to sing. Hymns or contemporary, new or old, when we get a song that we love – we belt it out. There is a true joy and love of singing God’s praises together on Sunday mornings.

One of the testaments to being a singing church is our thriving worship ministry. With our media teams and worship teams combined we have a total of over 40 volunteers! That’s a lot of people serving and continuing their passion in being part of this church’s worship.

A Church That is Family 

At council orientation I ask each council member to share a single story that captures why Living Hope is so meaningful to them. The most common response involves receiving care in a season of need – whether it was the loss of loved one, a sickness endured by the family, or a hard season for the family. What has been most meaningful for many in this church is that we are a people who step in and serve other members like a family. We reach out in prayer, in caring gestures, meals prepared, children looked after, calls and cards written. The feeling is that this is not just a place that we go to on Sunday mornings; this is part of our family.

A Refugee Refuge 

A third part of our story that I have heard repeatedly is our long-lasting support of refugees. Our support spans over three decades, signifying many hours and many different people serving as welcomers to people into a new country. What is particularly notable about Living Hope’s care for refugees coming into the country is how long they commit to walking alongside them. There are some families that 20 years later or 30 years later still have connections to people here at Living Hope. This is not a congregation that simply brought people into the country and patted ourselves on the back after the first step. Over years, relationships have been established, people have been invited to Christmas meals and Thanksgiving gatherings. Many got invited to be part of our community — part of our family. Looking towards 2024, our Refugee committee is looking for a new family to support. I look forward to seeing what is next in our long-lasting support of those new to this country.

Your story 

What is your story of Living Hope?

What new stories will be told about us in the years to come?