Noëlle Rondeau emerges from the baptismal tank Sunday morning, one of several to be baptized in an outdoor ceremony at The Father’s House Christian Fellowship’s property west of Morinville. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The sun and the Son rose on local Christians Sunday morning as they gathered to celebrate the word of God as they do each and every week in Morinville. But this week’s services had an extra level of celebration for members of Morinville Christian Fellowship. Pastor Greg Fraser told his congregation the church would be getting a name change.
“It’s called The Father’s House,” Fraser said after unfurling a banner with the church’s new name and logo, adding in the next few weeks he would be revealing what each of the symbols in the logo mean. “It’s a church built with care. It simply means to celebrate Jesus Christ; to accept one another and ourselves; to receive His grace; to engage our world with His love.”
Fraser said the name change was voted by 95 per cent of the congregation. In an interview with The Morinville News, the pastor said the name change was necessary as the Morinville church would soon be adding two churches to the family – one in Rochester, a small hamlet about 45 minutes north of Morinville, and one in Bon Accord. The pastor explained keeping the Morinville component of the church’s name would not work in Rochester or Bon Accord.
But aside from the geographical reasoning, the name change brings the church closer to home with the theology and flavour of the church. “For many years our motto has been, ‘Welcome home to the Father’s house,’” Fraser said. “Even though we’ve been called Morinville Christian Fellowship, we have always said that statement. Really, the design of why we are saying The Father’s House is because it really represents what we believe church is.” The pastor went on to explain Jesus’ favourite name for God was the Father. “The central revelation of the New Testament is Father Heart of God,” the pastor explained. “Jesus basically introduced a whole new concept about God. When he came he said, ‘God’s your father.’ That was really not thought of back in the Old Testament. God was kind of that unreachable holy other. But in the New Testament, this was what Jesus really came to reveal. God is your father. So for us to call it [the church] The Father’s House, it really stems from that central revelation.”
Appropriately enough, Pastor Fraser chose Father’s Day as the perfect day to announce the name change and to speak about the story of the prodigal son and what it means in a modern Christian context to father’s, men who Fraser believes should bring peace and grace to their children as he believes God brings peace and grace to His. “It’s kind of like the spirit of adoption,” Fraser said of grace. “Grace is like God accepts you. God loves you. You’re the apple of his eye. You are beloved.”
A church built with CARE
It is in this pattern that Fraser and his fellow pastors at The Father’s House Morinville apply their ministerial skills. Using the church’s core values of Celebrate, Accept, Receive and Engage (attributes which form the acronym CARE) the pastors work to celebrate Christ and His message by accepting themselves and the people they meet wherever their life presently stands. “Acceptance is a huge part of the values of The Father’s House,” Fraser said. “I don’t care what you are struggling with. We have people who struggle with addiction issues. We have people with massive marriage issues. It doesn’t matter. The core value of our church is we will accept you wherever you are at. But we are also going to walk with you toward maturity. And you will walk with us, so we are together on this journey.”
This approach to faith, hope and charity is something Fraser said extends through all parts of The Father’s House Christian Fellowship, its youth ministry and its school.
Care will build the church
Sunday’s services, which included the baptism of several adults and children, were held on the church’s new property, located just west of town next to Heritage Lake. Fraser said the plan is to build a new church on the property.
The church has grown rapidly. Began seven years ago with a congregation of 25, the church now has a congregation in excess of 300 as well as another 60 to 80 youth who attend the church’s Friday evening youth group. The church’s Christian School, located at the west end of town, has seen a growth spurt in recent years as well. The growth has prompted the church to look to future growth.
Fraser said the congregation have been extremely generous, raising almost $2 million in less than two years, enough to pay for the land the new church will rest on, and to have money in the bank towards the building that will occupy that land. Fraser estimates the cost of the new facility will be in the neighbourhood of $6 to $8 million, making the project one that will take place a little down the road.
“We are trying to anticipate the growth as we plan the building,” Fraser said, noting they are not going to rush to get it built. “The focus of The Father’s House is not about buildings. Buildings are a necessity, but people, then programs, then property; that is always the order. If you get that order wrong and you put property first, then people suffer.”