LANGLEY – snapshot of faith
BY PETER BIGGS
This month’s snapshot of faith is the SIXTEENTH and final one. www.lightmagazine.ca/snap
Twenty-four months ago Light Magazine embarked a comprehensive monthly study of every Lower Mainland municipality /city.
Each month involved research and a number of interviews with key leaders in the community.
You may wonder what we have learned from this BIG PICTURE (of each month’s ‘Big Picture’)?
NEXT MONTH we will conclude the series with an encapsulation of the many distinctives found.
The Township of Langley is bordered by Surrey at 196 Street and Abbotsford at 276 Street, with the Fraser River to the north and the U.S. border to the south. Pop 117,285
The City of Langley remains a separate authority with it’s own Mayor and Council. Pop: 25,888
Langley is made up of different communities and does not have an iconic ‘centre’. Willoughby, Murrayville Brookswood, north of Hwy 1 Walnut Grove, and the picturesque village of Fort Langley. In the southeastern corner of the Township of Langley is Aldergrove. Each of these communities retain their own identity.
past & present
‘Langley was the first part of the lower mainland of BC where European settlement was established. Fort Langley was built in 1827. In 1858, following the discovery of gold along the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, Fort Langley became a large supply centre – outfitting thousands of gold miners passing through the area. The Gold Rush also caused a significant increase in farming operations, as the demand for food rose. Growth of population and development has continued from the 1960s until now – with noticeable new housing developments off 200 Street, in the Willowbrook and north Langley areas’ Wikipedia.
For the past 25 years, Langley City and surrounding areas have seen extensive strip mall development. Efforts have been made to retain a small town core, Like many other places, larger businesses and banks have moved to the malls, fostering an automobile dominate community.
‘Surrey and Langley are among the fastest-growing communities in the Lower Mainland. Over the next 30 years, the City of Surrey, City of Langley, and Township of Langley are expected to welcome more than 400,000 new residents
The newly elected Langley City Council ran on it’s clear preference for a seamless extension of SkyTrain’s Expo Line from King George Station in Surrey to Langley Centre. While work will begin immediately on planning for a SkyTrain line to Langley, TransLink is cautioning that it will likely take time for the 17 kilometre line to be fully completed’. Wikipedia
Aldergrove is located at the junction of Highway 13 and the Fraser Highway. Although a community within the Township of Langley (approximately 59 km east of Vancouver) Aldergrove is somewhat separate and urban in nature. Although not incorporated as a town, it is often referred to as one.
Surrounded by Agricultural Land Reserve it is notable for hosting the largest federally licensed cannabis facility in the world, with 400,000 sq. ft. of growing space and may eventually reach 1.3 million sq. ft. grown by Canopy Growth Corporation.
The Greater Vancouver Zoo and The Twilight drive-in movie theatre are located in Aldergrove. The Twilight is the last drive in movie location in the Lower Mainland.
Fort Langley is a village community within the Township of Langley situated on the Fraser River. Pop: 3,400. It has a storied history…
It was intentionally constructed in the 1800’s on the south bank of the Fraser River in the event that Fort Vancouver was lost to the Americans, then Fort Langley would secure British claims to both sides of the Fraser.
The home of the Fort Langley National Historic Site, it was a former fur trade post of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In recent years, many of the village’s old buildings have been restored. Many new buildings have been constructed following strict style guidelines to match the town’s heritage appearance.
This heritage style, unique stores, combined with a rural river side setting make Fort Langley a thriving tourist centre.
Trinity Western University
With over 4,000 students and 600 employees, Trinity Western University’s presence is felt by the whole community.
Fully accredited by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, it’s academic reputation is high however tuition is amongst the highest of any Canadian university.
Situated out of town towards Fort Langley, most students live locally – with around 25 percent living on campus.
Trinity Western University grants bachelor’s degrees in 45 academic majors, and 56 minors and offer over 1,200 courses. Graduate students take courses through the Faculty of Graduate Studies and ACTS Seminaries. Master’s degree programs are available in the humanities, education, linguistics, psychology, business, nursing, and theology.
Of late TWU has been in the news concerning it’s controversial ‘Community Covenant’ forbidding extra-martital sex. The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that law societies in BC and Ontario can refuse to accredit its graduates because of the school’s internal code of conduct.
ACTS Seminary – a model of unity & collaboration
Founded in 1985 and situated on the TWU campus ACTS Seminary is a unique partnership of seminaries.
These four distinct Canadian seminaries work together to form and equip men and women to serve God in the church and the world.
Langley is unique for having a number of well known Christian organizations headquartered there such as Focus on the Family, Power to Change, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s B.C. and Yukon, the Canada Institute of Linguistics, Youth for Christ, Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and he national Head Office of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada.
Light Christian Media (publishers of Light Magazine and Alberta’s City Light News) also has it’s office in Langley.
Wagner Hills Farm
Tucked away at the far north end of 267th Street is Wagner Hills Farm. They provide a residential rehabilitation ministry to men and women who are dealing with addictions. It is a faith-based, non-smoking community living experience on a working farm. We use classroom learning and one-on-one mentoring to teach tools for healthy relationships which residents can then practice applying in daily life at the farm. The growth that our residents gain in these skills while in the Wagner Hills community prepares them for a successful life beyond the program. The program length is a one year commitment, with intake happening on a continual basis.
Langley has around 65 churches, among them are…
Christian Life Assembly (CLA)
This large and prominent church can be seen from various Langley locations. The church has around 1300 or so in regular morning attendance. Sunday evenings see an additional 300 at ‘Recovery Church’.
Marty Mittelstaedt (right) is Associate Pastor. “Around 70 percent of our people come from the Langley/Surrey area, we are multi-generational with around 350 kids and 250 youth”, he says. “The church has always had a heavy missions focus – last year around $1million went to support 40 missionaries”.
CLA is also quite evangelistic. “We moved from an ‘attraction model’ to now emphasizing empowering our people to reach out into their neighbourhoods. It’s now ‘Gather, Grow, Serve, GO!’ We do run the Alpha Course three times every year. Last year they baptized 70 people.
Village Langley South meets at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Fraser Hwy. They launched June 2016 with 800 people, and now run three Sunday morning services. Cliff Ursel is ‘Site Pastor’.
“We use video sermons from Surrey’s services, and our own worship band to serve the 1300-1400 people who come”, he says. Interestingly the Village Langley North site (held at the Colossus Cinema just north of Hwy 1 on 200th) uses both video of the sermon and video of the worship. “A lot of the administrative running of the Langley site is handled by the main Village administration in Surrey. Asked what is the main factor in church growth at the Village, Ursel responded, “We engage the skeptic and get numbers of ‘de-churched’ people – those who have left or been hurt by the church.” The church also runs Freedom Session weekly for around 85.
This church is surprisingly large in number after almost closing in the 1990’s, however they now see 800-900 weekly at three services (the building only seats 300).
Luke Knight is Associate Pastor. “Most come from neighbouring Walnut Grove or Fort Langley,” he says. “We work hard at maintaining a local focus.
The church does the Alpha Course 2/3 times a year and are very involved in community events such as the Cranberry Festival. “We’ve done prayer walks in the new Bedford Community,” he says.
Fort Langley’s ‘mini ministerial’
Leaders from St. Andrew’s United, The Evangelical Free & St. George’s Anglican meet every monnth to share and pray. “We work on things together – such as the Remembrance Shrive or Good Friday’s ‘Stations of Holy Week’.”
the Langley Christian Leaders Network
The LCLN represents the majority of churches in both the township and city, led by an executive headed by Dave McTaggert – long time lead pastor at Southgate Church. Along with his wife Tomana they founded Southgate 22 years ago. Southgate now welcomes over 500 each week. Dave is passionate about the unity of churches in Langley
relationships between leaders
“Over the years there has been a steady increase in relationships between leaders. The community sees us working together – some actually say ‘wow that’s amazing!’ McTaggart shares.
The LCLN facilitates Good Friday services ususally held at CLA – 20-25 churches are invloved with local Pastors taking various parts of the service. “Recently, the Village, CLA and Southgate came together for a creative ‘Back to School’ event at Douglas Elementary – we gave out over 500 backpacks. “More and more leaders are recognizing that unity is one of the keys to reaching our city for Christ,” McTaggart says.
Brad Sumner, Lead Pastor of Jerico Ridge Community Church also has a long history of support and involvement with the LCLN. He comments, “Demographically we’ve seen some migration from Vancouver and there are a lot more ‘people groups’ ethnically. Some churches have adapted dynamically. MountainView Alliance has four different ethnic congregations using their building. Langley is a community of communities, each having a sense of thier own civic pride. One [Langley] church was struggling – their Pastor had left (not well). Three or four of us Pastors preached for them and were invited to meet wth their Eldership to give them counsel!”
Langley is home to The Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope. Addressing ever increasing ‘social needs’ they offer an impressive range of services that include a 32 bed emergency shelter along with an additional 30 mat relief shelter. In the cold weather they add an 15 additional mats. “We are often at capacity!” shares Christina Schneiter, Residential Services Manager. Gateway also houses people in their Transitional Housing Program (over 9000 bed nights in 2017). “Day by day we feed 300-400 people with a nutritious meal,” she says. Family Services, nursing visits, counselling, spiritual care, showers, laundry and many other services are also available.
The Langley Food Bank has around 600 client families registered. They are helping over 1,000 people each week. Registered clients may come for groceries once each week. “The food bank has always relied on God and the generosity of the community and has never run out of food or had to ask for more.”