By Karen L Willoughby
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI—Community Baptist Church was born into the Canadian National Baptist Convention family, and it has worked on that relationship ever since.
Wallace Jorden started Community Baptist in 1992 as an in-home Bible study. Two years later, it became the first CNBC church east of Montreal. Jorden chose to affiliate with what then was a nine-year-old national Baptist convention based mostly in the West because of its biblical basis and its missions emphasis, current pastor John Evans told Canada’s Horizon.
“Missions and the Cooperative Program is part of our DNA,” said Evans, on staff since 2005 and senior pastor upon Jorden’s retirement in 2010. “It’s something we’ve done since the church was started.
“We view the Cooperative Program as our tithe,”
“We view the Cooperative Program as our tithe,” the pastor continued. “If we honour God with our missions giving I believe God is going to take care of everything else.”
Community Baptist allocates 11 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Canadian Baptists work together to build God’s kingdom across Canada and throughout the world.
“We give because it’s a way for our church to be involved in missions,” Evans said. “We couldn’t on our own support a missionary or multiple church plants. By working through CNBC, partnering with more than 400 other Canadian churches, we can do missions in a way we can be meaningful participants in God’s work.
“For the church, there’s a blessing in giving,” the pastor continued. “The members get to hear and see what God is doing. Giving to missions through CNBC and the Cooperative Program is a way they can feel invested in what God is doing.”
Community Baptist also invests itself locally, through the Island Pregnancy Center for the last three years, Harvest House inner-city ministry for the last six years, and Angel Tree—providing gifts incarcerated parents give their children at Christmas—for the last 10 years.
“We also provide gifts for Hillsborough Hospital, a place for adults with intellectual disabilities or brain injuries,” Evans said about a ministry taking place since before he was called as pastor. “Vacation Bible School in summer is a way we reach out to kids all over PEI who may never have been exposed to the Gospel.”
Actively engaged in the “Who’s Your One?” evangelistic endeavour, Community Baptist averages 100 in Sunday worship, the pastor said. The church planted Living Hope Church in Halifax County, Kings Way (now Center Point) Church in Montague, and Providence Evangelical International Church, and is pondering where God wants them involved in their next church plant.
“We have a great congregation,” the pastor said. “They really step up to the plate. In the short term, we’re looking at a church mission trip.”
Children leave the Sunday morning service partly through, for an age-specific ministry. Adults also meet Wednesday evening for Bible study and prayer, and in small groups periodically through the year for six- to eight-week sessions on discipleship that includes accountability.
“We’re in a province and a city that is fairly traditional, and the church reflects that in a way,” Evans said. “The congregation is predominantly older. Some of our leaders are snowbirds [who go to the southern United States during winter months.]
“We are striving to reach out to young families and children,” the pastor continued. “We [including wife Erin] have four kids between 6 and 13.” He grinned. “We’re trying to grow the church from within.”
Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Evans went in 1997 to Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, and graduated in 2004.
“At first I was planning on going through fulltime as fast as I could but it was like drinking [instruction] from a fire hose,” Evans said. “When I transitioned to part-time seminary and part-time ministry, it was a lot better because I had specific situations in ministry to hang classroom instruction on. It became more real and practical rather than theoretical.”
Evans was youth pastor at Richmond Hill Baptist Church in Calgary when he started as a seminary student. After marrying, he moved to PEI for a two-year stint as a collegiate missionary, and when he returned to seminary in 2001, became pastor of Mountain View Christian Fellowship in Calgary, until in 2005 when he moved back to PEI as associate pastor at Community Baptist.
His years in ministry have taught Evans, “You have to be intentional about evangelism and reaching out. The default we have is to turn inward and look inside ourselves instead of looking at the world around us, transforming and leading them to Jesus Christ. If we aren’t intentional about that, [spiritual matters] get left in the background.”
Evans served for 10 years on CNBC’s National Leadership Board and ended three terms as president in 2017.
“I learned I was a part of something so much bigger than myself,” Evans said. “I got to see things from the big picture perspective. That gave me an appreciation of what God is doing across the country and around the world.”
Most recently, God has been teaching Evans to love people more, the pastor said.
“The last couple of months, last few weeks, I’ve been asking God to search my heart,” Evans said. “I’ve been challenged to love more. I’ve been telling God, ‘I want to love people the way You do.’
“After all, isn’t that what God’s prime motivator is: love? He draws us to Himself in love and in love, makes us part of His family, the church. That just challenges me to love more.”