Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church in Surrey, BC, marked its 60th anniversary on March 7, 2014. The church’s celebration concluded with the unveiling of a unique mosaic titled: Broken people made whole in Christ.
Artifacts from the congregation’s early years were displayed at a program that featured speakers, greetings from former pastors and civic officials, a humorous story, and various styles of musical numbers, including hymns in English and Chinese.
Rev. Theo Lodder says, “I find it striking how reflective such an event is of the spiritual functioning of the body of Christ. So many members are involved, and every member has a part to play. And like the anniversary mosaic that is now in our church foyer, each one of us, in all our fallen, shattered, broken humanity is brought together, bound together and made one by God and His Spirit, made whole and complete in Christ.”
Cloverdale’s members contributed Delft, tea cups, a dragon dish, and other tableware for the mosaic. A group of women, under the direction of artist Sheila VanDelt, formed colorful pieces into a stylized depiction of exultant people with a cross a focal point in the background of hills, fields, mountains and sky.
The variety of mosaic materials reflects the diversity of Cloverdale’s 300 members, who are Dutch, Metis, Scottish, Burmese, Congolese, Chinese, Taiwanese, South African and more.
Cloverdale was founded in 1954 by primarily Dutch farmers who immigrated to the Vancouver area after World War II. Because the congregation understands the difficulties of starting over in a new country, it has always supported refugees and missions.
Mission efforts focus on both home and foreign fields. Cloverdale partners with Langley Canadian Reformed Church to oversee a local Chinese congregation as well as foreign work under the Asia Mission Board. Rev. Frank Dong is Cloverdale’s missionary pastor to the 40-member Chinese Reformed Church that meets in a separate space of Cloverdale’s building from 1:00-4:00 on Sundays (English services are at 9:30 and 2:00). Dr. James Visscher, Cloverdale’s former pastor and emeritus minister of Langley, works with Rev. Dong, particularly regarding mission work in Asia.
According to Rev. Lodder, the church rejoices in “seeing our mission opportunities in Asia explode.” He says, “Many people hunger for God and many pastors and church leaders plead for further instruction and guidance to be faithful disciples and churches of Christ.”
Cloverdale supports church planting efforts from Surrey westward into metro Vancouver, including Burnaby and New Westminster. Rev. Lodder notes that New Westminster, on the Vancouver side of the Fraser River, was the location of the first Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, established in 1950. At least two other congregations grew out of Cloverdale: Langley Canadian Reformed Church (1976) and Willoughby Heights Canadian Reformed Church (1990).
Cloverdale was formerly Surrey’s town-centre, but the area now is more suburban and suffers from “eastward drift” as more families seek larger and more affordable homes elsewhere in the Fraser Valley. Rev. Lodder believes the eastward movement increases the church’s longing for evangelistic ministry to urban areas. “Our burden for our cities becomes more pressing,” he says, “especially that sinking feeling that we are letting prime opportunities for mission and evangelism slip away.”
While he acknowledges the church’s challenges, he also expresses many joys such as its growing ethnic diversity, mix of age groups, and “large pool of talents—musical, artistic, literary, social, political, educational, and technical—and a rich diversity of trades and skills and professions.”
The congregation welcomes new members who might consider moving to the area. Rev. Lodder says, “Anyone who enjoys living and working in a thriving West Coast city with a pleasant climate, near the scenic shores of the Pacific Ocean and against the stunning backdrop of the Rocky and Cascade mountains, within driving distance of the beautiful city of Vancouver, should consider joining us.”
The theme verse for Cloverdale’s anniversary was Psalm 126:2, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
“Psalm 126 talks about how God’s people ‘were like those who dreamed,’” says Rev. Lodder. “God has done great things for us in Christ, and when that happens, all sorts of other things happen that only seem possible in a dream. The dream of being a light and witness of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has always been alive and well in this congregation. The church of Jesus Christ is the most ethnically diverse body of people anywhere in the world. Our hope and prayer is that our ethnic diversity will grow richer as the years pass, and as God continues to bring all the nations of the earth to Jesus.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 16 & 17 of the April 16, 2014, issues of Christian Renewal.