Creating community in the core: Urban Grace in downtown Calgary

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 by Roger Villeneuve in Church Planting, News | No Comments

Urban Grace Church

A story of church planting in Alberta

Photo: Pastor Rysavy shares during a Sunday morning service at Urban Grace Church, an MB church plant in Calgary, Alta. (Photo courtesy Urban Grace Church)

The last few weeks have been a challenge for Pastor Trevor Rysavy, whose Calgary plant, Urban Grace Church, was in the middle of the evacuation zone during the recent flood. He’s still amazed that the church’s Sunday sanctuary, an 80 year-old rented theatre below floor level, wasn’t damaged.

Rysavy explains that Urban Grace had to completely shut down on Sunday, June 23 since the leadership “wanted to respect the civic authorities by not holding a service in an area that had been officially evacuated.” Despite the evacuation of most church members, only one family suffered significant property damage.

Still, Rysavy didn’t choose downtown Calgary for the church community because he was trying to avoid adversity. He wanted Urban Grace to be right at the heart of the “disproportionate influence” cities exert over society and culture.

“We plunked ourselves down and said ‘ok, we’re going to be missionaries to this area and love this area and literally commit our lives to this area,’” says Rysavy. “We’ll be here as long as God wants us to be here. I hope that’s many years, forty or fifty years.

City environments cause people to rub shoulders, no matter how differently they act, dress, speak, or think. Urban Grace, which shares office space with a dental hygienist, an Olympic athlete fundraiser, and an aesthetician, uses this reality to its advantage. “We want to be the best tenants you have,” Rysavy says, “we want to be the best citizens in our neighbourhood.” Recently, Rysavy’s landlord, the dental hygienist, asked him to put up posters for the church in her office, although she is not Christian herself.

“We offer real, authentic community, and it’s really obvious that our entire city just craves it,” says Rysavy.

Pastor Rysavy and Urban Grace Church request prayer for the following:

  • Workers. “I mean that in a very literal biblical sense,” says Rysavy. “Jesus said ‘don’t pray for harvest, pray for workers. You don’t have to worry about the harvest, that’s my job!’”
  • Six years ago, Rysavy asked God to do something he had done for Nehemiah – break his heart for his city. God did, and while his passion has given Rysavy great joy and meaning, it has also inflicted great sorrow. Pray that the Lord would continue to support him and grow his faith as Calgary undergoes change and healing in the post-flood environment.

Visit Urban Grace Church online at: http://www.urbangracechurch.com/

Paul Esau is a communications intern with CCMBC and the MB Herald.

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