Canadian church-planting pastor Oliver Shane Edwards and his launch group are set to go public with Grassland Church, a new Grace Brethren church forming in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, next Sunday, September 11. The local paper recently featured Edwards in this story.
A new church set to rock Hatters with services in Galaxy Cinemas, with comfy chairs and a band with music specially geared to this region with a Western twang, has been in the planning stage for the last 18 months.
Grasslands Church leaders came to live in the Hat well ahead of the opening to integrate and establish themselves as part of the community.
In spite of many other churches in the region showing a decline in attendance, Pastor Oliver Edwards feels there is a need for a church like Grasslands.
“People still have a need to connect with God,” said Edwards, the lead pastor. “We are more than a church where you shake hands on Sundays. We emphasize the need to be a family in action, connected with each other.”
Grasslands Church is affiliated with the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches positioned around the world.
Edwards and his family were part of Community of Hope Church in Surrey, B.C., before moving here. The worship leader for the church, Bart Blair and his family, came from Grace Community Church in Mississauga, Ont.
Edwards is adamant he has no intention of taking people away from existing local churches.
“There will always be people who fall through the cracks,” said Rev. Gene Packwood, of Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, explaining why some will seek a different place of worship.
“We are attracting different people,” Edwards explained, adding that people who are looking for the sound of a big pipe organ and that style of church music will need to go to other churches in town.
Edwards’ approach with pastors in the Hat has been appreciated.
“He came and connected with all the pastors when he first came to town,” said Packwood. “He had a lovely approach and he is a lovely Christian. I wish him well.”
Grasslands Church Services will include a time of contemporary worship with a band and worship leader and a message from Edwards.
The advertising campaign prior to the first service has been significant. Edwards says the bill has been picked up by their mother church and neither he nor Blair are drawing a salary. They both have spouses who work and bring in enough money to live on, he said.
Edwards was raised in Edmonton and says for a long time he has been aware of people who have become disconnected from churches they used to attend and Grasslands Church will reach out to them. The name, Grasslands, was chosen to represent this region.
Grasslands is the fourth church to be established in an ongoing movement of church planting across Canada by this group.
Grasslands first church service will take place Sept. 11 at 10:15 a.m. in the Galaxy Cinemas at the Medicine Hat Mall.
Additional information about Grasslands Church and its affiliates can be seen online or telephone 403-487-4784.