During the Fall of 1985 and Winter of 1986, the Montreal Ministerial, consisting of the Pastors of the English churches of the area, looked at the track record of the region and concluded that no new churches had been planted for many years. Under the guidance of Jim Reynolds, Pastor of Greenfield Park Baptist Church, a committee was formed to investigate an area where the association could plant an English work. Hudson, Quebec was chosen for two reasons. Number one: two families attending West Island Baptist Church, the Eftas and the Lyons, and one family from Bethel Baptist church, the Jasters, were living in the area but traveling to Montreal for church. The second reason: there were no evangelical churches in Hudson.
In the search for a Church planter, Don Tyler, Associate Pastor at Bethel Baptist offered to come on board. It was decided by the association that for the summer months (June, July and August) of 1986 that evening services would be held in the community of Hudson to see if an evangelical church would be welcomed and supported there.
Funding was not a problem for those months because each church of the association pledged $3 per member per week to underwrite the cost of the start-up for those 3 months. Sunday Night, June 1, 1986 was the first service held in the town. It was held at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Como. Advertising in the newspaper and through various other means hailed the beginning of Sunday night meetings. Ryan Walter of the Montreal Canadiens was the featured speaker that first night and about 70 people attended. The founding families were thrilled. Those early days brought in some key families that were the backbone of the church in the months and years to come. That summer of 1986, two college students from Grace Community Church in California helped Pastor Don with blitzing the area with church information. They stayed with us for about seven weeks. Mid-week prayer meetings were started and there was a keen interest in prayer. We met in homes throughout the Hudson/t Lazare area.
In September, Sunday morning services began at Mount Pleasant Elementary School. We rented there until late fall of 1988. The rent was cheap; $25 a week. However, everything had to be set up and broken down before and after the service. We were growing and we needed our own place. This young nucleus of believers then purchased their first property at 5200 Harwood Blvd, moving into the newly renovated building just before Christmas of 1988. It wasn’t the ideal building but it met the needs for some years. The drive to renovate and decorate was tiring and trying but most of the work was done in unity and purpose. There was an excitement to reach out into the community and almost every week new faces were seen in on Sunday.
In May of 1992, the Tylers, believing their work in Hudson was complete, resigned and moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, having been at Hudson Community Baptist for six years. A pulpit committee was formed and within 12 months the church called Paul Warmington as their next pastor.
Paul Warmington, a student at London Baptist Seminary, filled the vacant pastorate at Hudson in May 1993. Paul and his wife Julie, along with their four children, Matt, Jon, Emily and Sarah, arrived in July of that year. Paul had been given the mandate to stem the flow of people out of the church and to draw back into fellowship those who had left the church. The Warmingtons first year of ministry thus focused on hospitality and visitation as they both learned to know and love the church, as well as the unique culture of the Hudson community. Old faces returned along with new ones in that first year. The next year of ministry focused on adult discipleship, where a few groups were formed, and on developing spiritual disciplines as well as equipping for personal evangelism.
In May of 1995, a much-needed Christian education extension was added to the structure including nursery, classrooms, washroom, and a small fellowship hall. That year the church grew nearly 40% in size. Over the next couple of years the church moved to a more contemporary style of doing church in its music and meetings. The evening services were discontinued and small groups were established. In addition, a vibrant ladies’ ministry was established whose first study was ‘What happens when Women Pray.’ As a result, it is not surprising that the church continued to grow in numbers and spiritual health in the unity of the Spirit. Shortly thereafter a men’s ministry was developed beginning with accountability groups based on the Promise Keepers model. Our youth ministry also began to grow in numbers and vitality, drawing many youth into the church from the surrounding community. Creativity began to flow and blossom as the church started to participate in the Hudson Christmas parade, even to the point of winning ‘Most True to Theme’ one year.
A significant impact on the life of the church was made through the study Experiencing God; Knowing and Doing the Will of God. How we did church in terms of decision-making as a congregation was impacted by this study, as we focused on prayer, discussion of proposals together, more prayer, and looking to circumstances, and more prayer. Through this process we were able to maintain our spirit of unity through many decisions, and again, we had to face the necessity to expand our facilities to accommodate growth. As the church prayed again to God, relocation presented itself as the only solution to our situation.
One memorable congregational prayer meeting was one spent on lawn chairs and on knees in the Hunt riding arena the week before Thanksgiving in 1998. Over the preceding year the church had seen God miraculously answer our prayers in the rezoning of the property to purchase it. The problem was our offer to purchase was running out in two weeks time and we had no funds to purchase the property. That Sunday afternoon, in the midst of a thundering downpour on the old tin roof, we lifted up our prayers to God for the resources we needed. The following week over $300,000 dollars were received in pledges and interest-free loans; enough not only to purchase the property, which we did in December 1998, but to begin the renovations as well. To make a long story short, in just two years we went from our small building to a much larger and more strategically located property on Cote St-Charles, and we were debt-free. No doubt the fact that the renovations, with the exception of the foundation and major electrical and plumbing, were completed by the church membership significantly contributed to this fact. But under and over it all was God moving His people by His Spirit to generosity, self-denial, and self-sacrifice in the giving of themselves to the project.
During the year before we moved to the new facility, we had moved to double services to accommodate our growing numbers. With joy we celebrated our first reunited service in the new auditorium in August 1999, which had not yet had drywall installed. Many were amazed to see how much we had grown through the double services. A Bible was placed between the timbers in the front wall of the auditorium. A message was written in the Bible along with everyone’s signature before placing the Bible in the wall. From that moment on, the whole building became our ‘Ebenezer’, “this far the Lord has helped us!”
In September 1999 the doors officially opened to the new facility with a special celebration to God’s glory for all He had marvelously done in our midst. Over the next couple of years, renovations continued to take place within the building and outside, in the form of a volleyball court, lighted playing field/ice rink, tree planting and garden development. Throughout all this, God’s people did not grow weary in the task He had given them.
As we relocated in this new building, our congregation entered into a new phase of its existence and outreach. Just before, that same year, the church extended a call to Serge Poirier to come and work alongside Pastor Warmington as co-pastor. Pastor Poirier started his ministry in December of 1999. During this same month we endeavored our first outreach effort in this building by holding the ‘Victorian Christmas’ dinner theatre in which over 400 people were fed both physically and spiritually. Then later in the Spring of 2000, there was the ‘Last Supper’ dinner theater, a dramatic presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ using Leonardo da Vinci’s painting as a foil, also well received by the Hudson community. In 2001-2002, a Board of Elders was established and had its first meeting on March 28, 2002. On the last Sunday of August 2002 Pastor Warmington completed his ministry in Hudson as the Lord called him and his family to another work in Hamilton, Ontario. From that point on, Pastor Poirier received the mandate to continue his ministry as senior pastor and the leadership of the church was carried on by he and the Board of Elders put in place earlier that same year.
Following this turning point, the church continued to be active and grow. In 2003, we saw 20 people be baptized and in 2004 about 8 new baptisms and 24 new members were added to the church. In the Fall of 2003, a new Christian education ministry was born in Faith Christian Academy, a full-time learning center established to serve the needs of our congregation and the community. From 13 students and 2 supervisors in the first year, the school grew to about 40 students and 5 supervisors, 2 of them being the administrators. Also in the Fall of 2003, the church extended a call to Craig Silver to come and join us as Youth and Assistant Pastor. Pastor Silver started his ministry on January 2004.
Around this time the church started to hold a Christmas event called Walk to Bethlehem. It is a dramatic interactive experience that proclaims the true Christmas story through drama, costumes, music, etc. It is a way for us to invite the surrounding communities for carols, cookies and of course the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 2014 marked the 10th season of Walk to Bethlehem and this milestone was celebrated by the presence of 6 area mayors and the member of parliament who all did the “walk” together on a special tour. Annual attendance has hovered around 3000 with a total of over 25,000 people seeing the story in 10 years.
After 4 years of exciting youth events including a missions trip to Argentina, Pastor Silver moved on. Later in 2008, Pastor Poirier moved across the country and H.C.B.C. was seeking a new pastor. For about 18 months the pulpit was ably filled by visiting preachers and gifted men in our own congregation.
Pastor Doug and Willa Connelly then came to us with a new focus on family ministries, bringing much-needed stability. Our small group of children grew, adding to our Sunday School, Kids Connection, Pioneer Clubs and now a robust AWANA program. Many young families came to the church, some of whom had never before been exposed to the Gospel. God touched these people and lives were changed!
Faith Christian Academy grew and relocated, while with God’s help we continued to use the large church property to hold yearly Vacation Bible School/soccer camp, a Youth Summit weekend, church picnics, and even a garage sale to benefit the local palliative care centre. Other activities have included Blood Drives, theatrical and orchestral presentations, Alpha and a series of revival meetings with Ralph and Lou Sutera.
We continue to have a thriving men’s group Saturday mornings and a tight-knit, supportive women’s group Thursday mornings. Baby showers, etc. are frequent celebrations. The College and Careers have a bi-weekly Bible Study and frequent events which draw from a core group and many adherents, some of whom have now continued their education at Bible College.
We have been privileged to see many people come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized, then go on to become active members of our congregation. For this we are so grateful, and we continue to look to God to lead us to the next stage of His work here in our community.