To my family in Christ,
I hope this letter finds you well.
In December of 2011, God revealed a call on my life - the call to plant a church. At the time, He did not reveal the where, the what, nor the when - He was just saying, “Get ready.”
This past October, my wife Andrea and I attended Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. While there, I attended a break-out session called “Leading from the Difficult Places.” Assuming it was about challenges in leadership I attended and was completely surprised when they started talking about missional communities and high needs neighborhoods. At the end of the session, a man raised his hand and asked the question, “How do you get people in your church to live missionally?” The presenter replied “You lead them missionally - you do it first.” It was at this moment that I knew God was asking Andrea and I to sell our house, and move to a high needs neighborhood. That night I told Andrea and she felt the same call. Over the next two months we prayed that God would reveal the neighborhood we were to move too, and He did - St.Patrick’s Ward.
According to a June 2010, survey titled “Sustainable Neighborhood Engagement Framework, St. Patrick’s Ward or ‘The Ward’ is home to over 3700 residents and growing. Some of the greatest needs in the neighborhood are; people living alone (17% of population), homes in need of major repair (13% of homes), low incomes, childcare, low child health, and low involvement in recreation.
The Ward has an extremely high rental market of 45% and the median household income is the lowest of Guelph’s neighborhoods at $45,000. Low income in the neighborhood is driven by many single-parent homes and low education levels (30% have not completed high school). Unemployment rates are higher than average at 6.8% and as a result of these incomes, 19% of children in the neighborhood are living below low-income cut-offs.
The Ward is one of Guelph’s oldest neighborhoods. The “physical needs” are great but so are the spiritual needs and the area is not being specifically targeted by any other churches at this time.
The call God has given Andrea and I is to plant a church in the centre of this neighborhood. It aligns God’s call on my life to plant a church and our call to move to a high needs area of our city. We desire to plant and birth a community of Christ, called to follow his name and make disciples and our goal is to launch this September. Our vision is to demonstrate and declare the gospel of Jesus by moving into neighborhoods with gospel intentionality. All of us have fallen short and therefore we build relationships knowing God has redeemed our fallenness in Jesus.
In March, Andrea and I sold our home on the East end of Guelph and bought a house at the heart of The Ward. We ‘officially’ moved in this past weekend and have already been getting to know our neighbors.
In April, with the desire to serve our neighborhood, I sent an email to our local neighborhood group and ended up being asked to join the leadership team where I have been serving for the last three months. It is amazing how many pieces the Lord has brought together, since we took the step of faith and listed our house.
We feel so blessed to be supported, encouraged, and coached by FEB (Fellowship Evangelical Baptist) Central, as their heart and desire aligns with ours of seeing people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and live on mission with Him!
To accomplish and respond to God’s call in The Ward, Andrea and I, ask you to partner with us. The definition of a partner is “someone who takes part in an undertaking with another or others” and this is exactly what we are asking you to do with us.
Please partner with us by praying for us. Pray for God’s guidance, protection, direction, peace, and saving message to echo everything we do.
You can partner with us financially by making a one time donation or on a more regular basis. To donate online go to http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s51657, click on ‘Donate Now’ and on the following page, in the ‘Message/instructions’ box indicate the money is for ‘Church of the Ward’ or ‘Matt Naismith.’
You can also fill out one of the provided forms, attach a check and mail it to FEB Central at 175 Holiday Inn Dr., Cambridge, ON N3C 3T2, indicating in the Memo line ‘Church of the Ward’ or ‘Matt Naismith.’
And lastly, you can support us by investing in your neighborhood by spreading the love of Jesus where God has placed you.
The church will be called “Church of the Ward” as our desire is to redeem the word “church” as Christ intended it and for the church to be a collection of people “of” the Ward. This is why all of our core members (those who feel called to plant with us) are all required to move “into” the neighborhood.
Please feel free to give me a call, send me an email, or arrange a time to meet for coffee, as I would love to answer your questions.
Matt & Andrea Naismith
“Praying for God’s kingdom to come in The Ward as it is in heaven”