• Introduction & background
In the 1950s, White Rock residents began to feel isolated from the then–’District of Surrey’, where development was being concentrated elsewhere, particularly in North Surrey and Cloverdale. On April 15, 1957, a special warrant from the Government of British Columbia created the City of White Rock within its present boundary.
Also in the 1950s, Peace Arch Hospital opened and continues as a major employer in the area and a main health facility for the region.
Development of White Rock was concentrated near the waterfront until the 1960s and 1970s. Many small cliffside dwellings were affordable to those unable to pay the cost of living closer to Vancouver. White Rock gained a reputation for being a retirement centre.
The development of Highway 99 and the opening of the Deas Island Tunnel (now the George Massey Tunnel) created a second boom for the White Rock area, providing a more convenient commuter route to Vancouver. No longer dependent upon the railway, development crept up the hillside. The Semiahmoo Mall opened in Surrey on the north side of 16 Avenue (the south side of which is North Bluff Road within White Rock). (Wikipedia)
In the 1980s, the City of Surrey designated South Surrey as a town centre (comparable to Guildford, Cloverdale, and Newton). Indeed a look at the map does indicate the distinct and separate cluster of neighbourhoods that surround the City of White Rock south of 40th Avenue.
Fraser Health’s 146 bed acute care Peace Arch Hospital has a 24/7 ER and serves the 124,000 population of South Surrey / White Rock.
White Rock’s climate is moderate year-round Meteorological statistics show that White Rock does, in fact, receive 20 per cent more sunshine than does Vancouver. This and the accessibility to attractive beaches has made the area desirable and real estate prices are high.
Population of South Surrey: 104,051 White Rock: 19,399
South Surrey has the largest concentration of people over the age of sixty in all of Surrey’s town centres. It’s population is predominantly caucasian although local Pastors are agreed that this is changing. With newcomers being young visible minority families who can afford the high cost of real estate.
• Two cities - one community
There are six town centres that make up the City of Surrey: Whalley/City Centre, Guildford, Newton, Fleetwood and Cloverdale and South Surrey.
Although there is no o cial area ‘South Surrey ‘ the map shows it’s separation from other ‘townships’ that make up Surrey.
The geography of this southern pocket of Greater Vancouver links the tiny municipality of White Rock with the surrounding population of South Surrey; both are largely separated from North Surrey by agricultural land.
South Surrey has neighbourhoods, (Crescent Heights, Elgin, Chantrell Creek, Grandview Heights, Haslemere, Johnson Heights, Morgan Creek, Ocean Park, and Sunnyside). Grand- view Heights is currently experiencing a signifciant residen- tial expansion with a number of new sub-divisions being built. Perhaps the most distinct neighbourhood is Cresent Beach with it’s beachfront walkway and views...
Like neighbouring Surrey, the car is king in White Rock.
Highway 99 is a freeway linking the White Rock area with Interstate-5 across the US border at the Douglas border crossing to the south and Vancouver to the north. e King George Boulevard (Highway 99A) links the Douglas border with Surrey and New Westminster. Johnston Road (152nd Street) is a corridor that links
White Rock to Guildford and the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1).
• Penninsular Pastors Network
Peter Klenner, Pastor of All Saints Community Church, also heads the Penninsular Pastors Network representing the churches of South Surrey / White Rock.
“We have over 30 churches in our community with about half of them actively involved with the Network, meeting twice a month. We can see between three and 20 come out!” he said.
“My goal is that we have no lonely pastors (or churches), but there are still lots out there.”
Dean Cooper, Pastor of Administration at Peace Portal Alliance Church expressed his belief that there is a movement afoot in Surrey of churches coming together and collaborating.
“We saw the need for a ‘community dinner’. A neighbouring church, Gracepoint, already did one. So, instead of doing another one, we decided to financially support Gracepoint’s dinner instead.
• Surrey Pastors Fellowship
Cedar Grove Baptist Church has been hosting a weekly gathering of Pastors and Leaders for the past 20 years. They see six to15 leaders, mostly Pastors. It is led by Cedar Grove’s Lead Pastor Kevin Cavanaugh.
• Going to the Mayor
Klenner and Cooper recently met with White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin. “We asked him ‘What can we do as churches to serve the city?’ he was very responsive,” Klenner said.
“Of late there has been two devastating fires in White Rock, the Mayor called us to see if the churches could provide supports,” Klenner says.
• Catholic presence
In 2011 13.8 percent of Surrey’s population reported being Roman Catholic. St. Matthews R.C. Parish provides numerous Mass services and have thousands of attendees every week.
Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Parish (24th Ave / 152 St South Surrey) also sees large numbers. They facilitate the Alpha Course and have numerous services (Mass) in three locations. Interestingly they have a prayer chapel that facilities 24/7 prayers that have not stopped for over 12 years, this takes around 250 participants.
A Rocha is a unique evangelical Christian ministry. Although based in a number of countries, their main center for Canada is in South Surrey.
The vision for A Rocha is ‘the transformation of people and places by showing God’s love for all creation’.
A Rocha Canada is involved in hands-on conservation projects, environmental education programs and sustainable agriculture initiatives across the country.
Beginning in 2000, they established the first Field Study Centre on a target area of the Little Campbell Watershed where it runs from Langley in the east, through South Surrey and into White Rock where it enters Semiahmoo Bay.
In addition to restoration and conservation work on the river, the work focuses on research, community agriculture, sustainable living, and environmental education programs, hosting over 2,000 students every year. Their new centre – The Brooksdale Environmental
Centre (16th Ave / 192 Street) – trains 30 interns every year and is a living classroom where people come from all over the world to get their hands dirty in creation care.
• Youth Leaders Hub
Surrey Youth Pastors and Leaders meet monthly for prayer. The Surrey ‘Leader Hub’. They are part of the ‘CHAPEL MOVEMENT’ that has Leader Hubs in most cities. They see upwards of 15 attend regularly. Every quarter the Hub faciliate a Worship Evening. Annually all Hubs in the Lower Mainland gather for a celebration. Christian youth leaders are active in 90 High Schools, 50 of which have done Youth Alpha according to Pastor Ryan Delblanc of Peoples Church.
As part of this months ‘snapshots’ we interviewed a few Surrey Pastors to gain insight into their view of Surrey and something of the ministry of their churches. If there were time, we know so many more Surrey Pastors would bring more insight and passion for their communities.
Gracepoint Church Senior Pastor is Rick Beyer. Situated on King George Blvd in South Surrey. Rick has been at the church for 2 years from Calgary. Asked for his impressions of South Surrey in terms of Christian mission he responds, “Well general challenges distinct to our area are a rugged individualism coupled with a kind of west coast consumerism + people love recreation!” To combat the lack of ‘community’ the church has worked to help people into small groups (around two-thirds of their people are in one now). Beyer also emphasizes the value he feels in the Peninsular Pastors fellowship. “I’m committed to it and try to see the ‘John 17 church’ as one,” he says. Gracepoint provides a weekly meal for the marginalized and see over 200 people come every Sunday evening.
Cedar Grove Church Lead Pastor Kevin Cavanaugh comments on Surrey as a mission field. “The demongraphic of our area of Surrey has radically changed in recent years. We have become an ‘inner-city’ congregation in a mulit-ethnic community (Guildford). I would estimate that our day-care is 7/8ths immigrant. On Sundays the congreation of around 600 has between 2/3rds to 3/4s from another culture. We counted 58 nationalities!” Cedar Grove runs extensive ESL classes for 100 or more. On a local level Cavanaugh feels that “unity has decreased”.
All Saints Commnity Church Pastor Peter Klenner see’s three main South Surrey / White Rock’s distinctives:
“The area started and still remains a ‘retirement community’ with many seniors. The population is largely made up of middle to upper middle class people who are quite ‘self
reliant’ making it hard to share the Gospel. “I have learnt that anyone who is suffering is open to the Gospel,” he says. In recent years he has seen a huge influx of immigrants - mostly Chinese or East Indian. Real Estate prices have gone through the roof, it is often
foreign money that can enable people to afford to live here,” he says.
Peoples Church Associate Pastor Ryan Delblanc spoke of the church being in vicinityof 8 recovery houses. “Every week we do a number of AA Step 5’s (Admitting wrongs to another person). We have seven other churches that use our facility, many are smaller ‘ethnic’ groups,” he said.
He also was honest in admitting that most of the 200 or so attendees do not come every week. Along with ALPHA and Freedom Session they run a mid week gathering named ‘The Table’ - a meal with a short talk & discussion.
• The VILLAGE CHURCH
Based in Surrey is the Village Church - thought to be the fastest growing church in Canada.
With four Sunday services at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre, and three services held at the Seventh Day Adventist church off Fraser Hwy/232nd.
A new development has been the commencement of another satellite in North Langley’s Colossus Cinema this summer. It is already up to two services.
The Village is actively seeking to purchase a $10 million large lot at Hwy 10 and 148 Street. It hopes to build a training centre for future church plants across Canada. Calgary Village Church has just launched with it’s first service on September 17.
Surrey’s Bell Centre 8 am sermon (ususally Mark Clark) is filmed (along with the worship) and then used the following week in all other services. In addition at it’s North Langley services they are pioneering a full video HD feed of Surrey’s worship set, as well as the sermon (Calgary likewise). If successful it is hoped this may pave the way for a movement of ‘Village Church’ startups across the country, with local Pastoral leadership, but worship and teaching led remotely.
Veteran Church leader Dave Carson attends Surrey’s Village Church (along with his son and his family). “The theology is conservative and no compromise, and the delivery by Mark Clark engages people for 40 minutes - Mark’s a great speaker,” he said. “Everything The Village does has a high quality of excellence to it, that is very appealing to the Millennials (aged around 22-40). Thing is, that generation will likely draw in their parents and grandparents too!”.
The Village regularly runs ALPHA (a 10 week course exploring basic Christianity), and Freedom Session (‘a 20-week intensive healing discipleship program that uncovers the roots of pain in our lives and invites Jesus Christ to heal those areas of our hearts’). They also plan to offer a course on Finances.
To date The Village has baptized over 1100 people.
Interview with Mark Clark - Lead Pastor at Village Church
The Village began as Mark Clark (pictured left) then Pastor for Young Adults at South Delta Baptist Church, felt a vision to plant a church.
They started in South Surrey with a small group that quickly grew. “I wanted to be relevant to the sceptic and agnostic - our vision statement was about trying to reach a sceptical culture,” Clark says.
After nine months they launched a Sunday Service in an Elementary School gym, 160 attended. “After year two or three numbers snowballed,” he says.
“I wanted to be relevant to the sceptic and agnostic -
our vision statement was about trying to reach a sceptical culture”
Asked about people who transfer from other churches he responds, “It does happen, but I frequently preach along the lines that if you are coming from another church as a ‘consumer’ maybe you should be going back. We see different kinds ‘conversion’: Those who become Christians, then those that have a ’theological’ conversion - that is the gospel becomes clear and they become disciples, then a missional conversion where they become effective witnesses,” he says.
Leading a church whose combined campuses see over 5000 every week is a daunting responsibility. He is careful and consistent around his use of time. “I have three daughters 10, 8 and 6. Monday is my day off, Tuesdays and Wednesdays I tightly schedule meetings. Fridays is sermon preparation along with Saturday evening. Sundays I rise at 5 am, practice and continue to memorize the sermon..
“A lot of my meetings have to do with ‘pragmatics’ and ‘mechanics’ - the working of the church. I have to fight to keep my focus on spiritual disciplines much as Eugene Peterson describes regular spiritual rhythms. But this week I am going to pray for and arrange the funeral of a dying man.”
Asked about discipleship, Clark responds, “making disciples is what we about. We encourage our people to join a Community Group - where the curriculum follows Sundays sermon. Our Pastor Ken Dyck is developing a systematic way to do discipleship, and we are doing ALPHA and Freedom Session.
The community of South Surrey / White Rock is thought to have the highest per capita population of any region in The Lower Mainland. one of the many seniors residences is Westminster House. “We offer assisted living to seniors with a range of needs,” Gord McNaughton, General Manager of Westminster said. “The needs our new residents arrive with are more complex than would have been the case a few years ago,” Pastor Walter Otmeer shared. “The typical stay may only be 12-18 months,” he said. Otmeer also described the complexity of ‘emotional and spiritual care needed for individuals. Pastors are on site 6 days a week and offer services such as Sunday non-denominational church service, bible study, hymn sing, breakfast devotional, and pastoral visitation. We are also very aware of how common depression can be. “People have endured many losses; their home, health, mobility, friends who have died and overall ‘purpose’ in life. I am often so encouraged that with skilled care, people lift out of depression and engage in the community here,” Otmeer said.
• White Rock Christian Academy
Started in 1981. junior Kindergarten - Grade 12
The school has enjoyed a partnership with a Japanese High School for many years. Up to 20 Japanese students over over for a year, WRCA students visit Japan annually.
The school has experience consistent growth in numbers and currently utilise 16 portable classrooms. “Our target audience is Christian families that are looking for a second home for their kids,” Head of School David Michel told The Light.
Currently there are over 30 different churches represented in the student body with over 500 enrolments for 2017/18. The school is in the midst of a building program that will eliminate the portables and replace the current buildings. “We see our optimum size as 600 students - that is two classes per grade,” Michel said. One distinctive of WRCA is their ‘International Baccalaureate’ emphasis for all students in all grades. Regarding the community of South Surrey/White Rock Michel comments, “The social fabric is changing with house prices allowing the more prosperous. Visible minorities are increasing, which is good, indeed around 30 percent of our students come from a visible minority.”
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