Gateway Community Church has a new home for Sunday worship, and a new pastor tending to the flock.
And to celebrate the changes, the Pentecostal church held an open house on Sunday at the church’s new digs at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre.
This is where the church now uses the Simpson Room for worship services and the adjoining Mori Room for its children’s programming.
“It gave the community a chance to see what we’re doing,” said Georgina Keller, office administrator for Gateway, adding that the open house was a way for the church to mark its 25th anniversary.
The community centre is the fifth home for the church since its establishment in 1988 by founding pastor Mike Gordon as the Niagara Christian Assembly in the former Eden High School on Niagara Stone Road.
Over the years, the church has found homes in the theatre at the former Niagara District Secondary School (now Royal Elite International Academy), the old Virgil Public School on Field Road and the plaza at 1615 Niagara Stone Rd.
It became Gateway Community Church in 1999 and while the services have moved to the community centre, Gateway’s offices will remain at the plaza location.
The move to the community centre will give it a greater presence in NOTL and allow the church to direct more of its resources to community projects, most notably the work the church does for migrant farm workers.
“(The move) lets the community see that the church is a part of the community,” Keller said.
The move was also made to allow for more room. The location on Niagara Stone Road only had a capacity for upwards of 60 people.
“We would have outgrown that (space) with 10 or 20 new people,” Keller said.
As a part of its community outreach, the church also has been providing bicycles for migrant farmworkers since 2020.
The Bikes for Farmworkers shop is still located at the former Virgil Public School.
“We’re very involved with the migrant workers,” Keller said. “We help with welcome bags and we have our own migrant worker outreach director, Donna Brown. She’s originally from Jamaica and knows the needs they have.”
And with the change of location, there has also been a change behind the pulpit.
Rev. Dan Magcalas stepped forward in December to take over pastoral duties on an interim basis after the departure of Rev. Michelle Mercer last June.
He said the congregation has gone out of its way to welcome him and his wife, Alma, to NOTL.
“It’s been great. It’s been good so far,” he said.
He views his role as that of a transitional pastor, a role he slid into after he left his most recent job with a church in Windsor.
“It’s almost like I am the pastor, but I know it’s not permanent,” he said.
He has been a pastor with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, of which Gateway is a member, since 1989.
In NOTL, he will assume most pastoral responsibilities until a new, permanent pastor is brought in.
That search has already begun and church leadership has already been going through resumes from potential replacements. Magcalas will be assisting in the process.
But for now, he is happy to be at Gateway and getting to know the 40-member congregation.
“It’s a fun part of the job,” he said. “I am able to help.”
And getting to know the congregation, he added, is an important part of the church.
“We want to make sure people can socialize, have time to talk,” he said. “It’s fellowship and we want to find out what’s going on in the lives of the congregation.”