“Who are we?” you ask. Well, make some popcorn, settle in for story-time and we’ll tell you!
Like any group of people we have been shaped by our communal history. Lots of stuff has happened to shape our church family. Some examples: We’ve had 3 senior pastors …who are best friends and have known each other for decades. We’ve written a book about our church called “Finding Him Faithful”. We’ve grown from about 30 people to about 500 people. We’ve hit some major bumps on the road and had some really bad days (like that time the church burned down…that was a bad day). We’ve had some major accomplishments. Through it all, however, we’ve stuck together and found our Lord and Saviour to be the Faithful One He claims to be!
But let’s try to start at the beginning and capture our 30 year family history by noting some major milestones…
Our First Ten Years 1990 - 2000
"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3
The first official service of Westney Heights Baptist Church was held March 4, 1990 in the basement of the former United Church in Pickering Village. Pastor Jim Rendle and his family had moved to Ajax in November 1989 to plant a new church with the support of the area churches of our Association. Prospects looked very promising! Letters were sent out announcing an informational meeting for interested people. Fifteen came to that meeting, but it was soon evident that most were reluctant to step out and join this new endeavour. Only three of those attending were willing to commit themselves to join the Rendles. Weekly prayer meetings were begun and a nucleus of four families met for worship before the official opening.
The early months were very difficult and growth was slow, but through prayer, patience and persistence, we began to see fruit and growth. In August, we moved to the newly renovated Montessori Building on the same property. This provided better facilities for children but it soon became inadequate for our growing congregation. In May, 1991, we moved to our next location at Applecroft Public School. Significant growth took place as people learned about the new church in the area. Our summer Vacation bible School and weekly Awana club program helped acquaint families with our church and increase our attendance.
One of the highlights in the development of our church was the way that God orchestrated the smooth transition of leadership. As Pastor Rendle neared retirement age, it was necessary to have someone else take over as Senior Pastor. The Lord wonderfully arranged to allow Pastor Jack Hannah to come as part-time assistant, then as Associate Pastor, and finally as Senior Pastor of our church. In 1998 we began the drive for "The Road to Ravenscroft", the future location of the church. In September of 2002 we had our first service in our new building.
Through the years God has changed many lives and there has been steady growth and a wonderful spirit of love and togetherness.
January 14, 1990
First service of Westney Heights Baptist church held in the basement of the old United Church in Pickering Village. Attendance: 17
March 4, 1990
Official opening Service held: attendance: 51
The church moved to the newly renovated Montessori building on the same property. – Income for 1990 – $25,000
The church moved to Applecroft P.S. because of lack of space. Significant growth took place as people learned about the new church in the area.
Awana Club began on Friday nights with Sparks (K – Gr. 2)
Awana Clubs added Pals and Chums (up to Gr. 4). Offerings for the year (including Building Fund) $61,181.41
Pastor Jack Hannah was asked to join the team as Associate Pastor
The pastors switched roles – Pastor Hannah became Senior Pastor and Pastor Rendle became Associate Pastor. – Mission ’95 Outreach Telephone blitz resulted in an attendance of 272 on “Celebration Sunday”, October 1.
Jesus Video telephone campaign. 160 videos distributed to the community. Follow-up calling indicated that at least 30 people had either made a commitment to Christ, or rededicated their life to Him, as a result of viewing the videos.
Pastor Rendle “retired” but continued to serve as “Minister of Pastoral Care”. Bev Rendle joins staff as church secretary.
Voted to commence with the building of the church and to bring on staff a Youth pastor
Darin Martin began ministry as our first Youth Pastor.
May 6, 2001
Ground-breaking ceremony for the building, after the morning service.
May 31, 2001
Road to Ravenscroft Dessert Night fundraiser for church building with Hiram Joseph and Paul Henderson. Income for 2001 was just under $500,000.
February 8, 2002
Building setback as a fire in our building destroyed the main roof, north wall and part of the east wall of the building.
September 8, 2002
First Service in the building at 1201 Ravenscroft Rd.
October 20, 2002
Official Opening of Westney Heights Baptist Church.
Youth Missions Trip to Haiti.
Church supports Hugh Gordon on short-term missions trip to Mid-east and Pakistan.
Bonnie Carter added to staff as Bookkeeper & Facilities Coordinator.
KIDDS with Purpose program introduced as our mid-week children’s program.
Discipleship program, Christianity Explored, offered.
Don Salmon added to staff as Director of Music & Worship and Administrator of Adult Ministries.
Darin Martin finishes his position as Youth Pastor.
Chris Fortin added to staff as new Youth Pastor
Pastor Jack announced the goal to distribute a Bible to every home in Ajax in “their mother tongue”. Westney Walking With the Word. W4 Strategy Begins.
Podcasting began as the new audio player was launched on westney.ca.
Chris Fortin submits his resignation as Youth Pastor.
At the October 28th business meeting, members voted to approve the W4 financial plan and called Dr. Craig Carter as Theologian-In-Residence.
W4 officially was launched with over 250 people involved in the first “D-Day”.
Over 10,000 Bibles delivered to Town of Ajax. through W4 “D Days”.
We’ve been through fire, we’ve been through rain… Church basement is almost completely flooded resulting in cancellation of KIDDS’ programming for one week.
W4 final D Day sees the completion of the Bible delivery program.
Jonathan and Summer Fitter, joined Westney with Jon taking over duties as the new Youth pastor.
Celebration of Pastor Jim & Anna Rendle’s 50 years in ministry with an open house at WHBC on Saturday, and special speaker, Rev. David Haines on Sunday. It was a wonderful time of reflection of God’s goodness and grace.
Special Offering raised almost $70K, half of which is for a future WHBC mission trip to work with David & Brenda Mensah in Ghana.
Westney celebrates 20 years on March 7th, 2010.
A succession committee was formed to seek out the next senior pastor for Westney.
Pastor Jon Fitter resigns to take a posting in Texas.
Special Offering raises over $51,000
Westney’s new website Westney Online debuts.
Westney votes to call Don Symons to the pastoral staff
Westney, together with Uxbridge Baptist Church, send a team of 30 people to build a church in Ghana. The team returns tired, but successful. A new house of worship in Africa!
Pastor Jack Hannah and Pastor Don Symons begin pastoral succession for the third time in Westney’s history. Pastor Jack Hannah becomes Community Pastor and Pastor Don Symons moves into the Senior Pastor role.
Westney calls Bob Donald as Youth Pastor.
Weekly Bible Memorization and Meditation is launched with printed cards available in 3 different scripture versions in the bulletin every Sunday.
Youth Mission trip to Honduras, Central America
Pastor Jim & Anna Rendle celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary with an Open House for the congregation and other guests.
Church begins dual services at 9:00am and 11:30am with Sunday School for all ages in between the services at 10:30.
Pastor Don Symons is ordained as the Rev. Don Symons.
April 12th, 2015
Westney celebrates 25 years of God’s Grace and Goodness with a Special Anniversary Service. Mayor Steve Parrish and many friends, members and adherents from past years attended. A book Finding Him Faithful was commemorated, written By Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin and Baiyu A. Song to celebrate the occasion.
In this photo we see all 3 senior pastors of our church. Left is Jim Rendle. Right is Jack Hannah. Centre is Don Symons.
Elicia Hannah joins the staff as the new KIDS Ministry Director.
Youth Mission Trip to Honduras. Teaching, Construction and Care to those in need there.
November 8th, 2015
Westney celebrates the life and ministry of Cheryl Rendle for 25 years of volunteering. Many families revisited to celebrate with Cheryl and family.
November 15th, 2015
Westney celebrates the retirement of the church mortgage, 12 years ahead of schedule, saving the congregation over $250,000. A special service was held with many past treasurers in attendance, or honoured.
Covid-19 closes the Church and we move Online, first with pre-recorded and then with Live-stream services.
Don Salmon’s resignation is accepted and announced.
Pastor Jack Hannah retires from his position as Community Pastor.
David Szanto joins our staff as Worship Director.
Bev Rendle retires from her position as Church Secretary.