By Scott Hunt
Established over half a millennia ago in a beautiful, rocky harbor on the Atlantic coast, St. John’s is the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the most easterly city in all of North America. It’s there that Church of the Good Samaritan, part of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), has been faithfully ministering for years. And, like many ANiC churches, they’ve done so without a building of their own. Over the last 12 years they have worshipped in 27 locations across the city, including 3 funeral homes, 10 different church buildings, parks, and more. As their rector, Archdeacon Darrell Critch, put it, “wherever we could sort of ‘pitch our tent.’ But God always provided,” he added.
In Advent of 2019, Church of the Good Samaritan felt called to a special year of emphasis and teaching on prayer. In those prayers, among other things, they began to pray even more earnestly for the provision of a building.
“All through, we were praying that when God provided it would be like manna from heaven,” Archdeacon Darrell said, that they might know without a doubt that it was God’s doing and not their own.
A few months later, a large building in the inner city came up for sale. Originally an Anglican church called St. Michael’s, it had been sold in 2009 and operated as a wellness centre in recent years. And though the price tag of $2.5 million was an impossible hurdle for this relatively small congregation, Archdeacon Darrell found himself sending an email to his people: “I wrote, ‘My dear ones, I know you think I’m nuts. Bear with me. I know it’s too big. And I know we don’t have $2.5 million, and I know we can’t maintain it and, and, and. But it’s a great building, with lots of parking, with a greater inner city ministry opportunity. So before you write to me to confirm that you think I’m nuts, or to tell me why you think this will not work, just pray. Pray that if it’s the building of God’s choosing for us that he will provide it.’”
And pray they did.
Not long after, the archdeacon’s phone rang and he had what he described as a “bizarre and extraordinary conversation.” The caller explained they’d been dispatched by an anonymous party who knew of their need of a building… and would like to give them one.
Dumbfounded, Archdeacon Darrell barely knew how to respond. But as the conversation went on it became clear this was a real offer and the donors were undaunted by the price tag of St. Michael’s.
Engineers surveyed the building and told Good Samaritan it would actually take another $1.5-$2 million just to repair it. Still, the anonymous donors were undaunted. When they realized that even if it was given to them, the congregation couldn’t afford to light it, heat it, or plow all its winter snow, the donors replied they’d cover that too.
Indeed like manna from heaven, Good Samaritan found themselves moving into their new church home on March 22, 2021. Their service of dedication was led by Bishop Donald Harvey, the founding bishop of the ANiC, who also happened to be former rector of St. Michael’s, having ministered in that very building decades earlier. There were many tears and songs of joy!
“Our hope is that you will understand that you may well be on the brink of a miracle,”
Archdeacon Darrell said to a group of clergy as he shared the story, “and have no grasp that you’re on the brink of a miracle. And you just need to keep praying. Because we had no idea.I had no idea this was unfolding… Unbeknownst to us, God was working his eternal purpose out and in the right time he provided what he now has.”
Good Samaritan knows, too, that this is just the beginning.
“If we think a building will win souls, then we will be disappointed,” the archdeacon is quick to point out. “If we are to give glory to God, we must use this church building as a mis- sion outpost. It must not only be a place where we gather, but it must be a place where we are commissioned and sent out.”
Already, Church of the Good Samaritan has big plans for blessing their new neighbourhood with the news and love of Jesus.
For more information about Good Samaritan visit www.churchofthegoodsamaritan.ca
Scott Hunt is the Communications Director for the Anglican Network in Canada, a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. He’s a member of St. George’s Burlington and lives in Ontario with his wife, Richelle, and their daughter Selah.