THE FIRST DECADE
Indeed it was the Lord’s purpose to build Himself another house of worship in Kitchener. Pastor Rudolph Polack, a native of St Kitts, was a New Testament Pastor in Halifax, England, who immigrated to Kitchener, Ontario in 1974. Following the vision that the Lord had placed on his heart, Pastor Polack pioneered a work that later became the Kitchener Church of God. From humble beginnings, church meetings commenced at the Frederick Street YMCA, this gathering subsequently grew into a formally recognized church.
On August 10th, 1975, the district Overseer, Pastor Boetcher, organized the church with Pastor Polack and fifteen members. Approximately one year later, the church outgrew its rented space and the congregation turned to God for divine assistance. Brother Curtis Tomlin was instrumental in finding a new building located at 448 Lancaster Street, West. Through sacrificial loans from members, building fund rallies and a grant from the church’s head office, sufficient funds were acquired to secure the property in December, 1976. The trustees were D. Tomlin, V. Hayden, L. Nelson, D. Beckford, and R. Clarke.
Initially a station wagon was purchased to transport children to Sunday school. To facilitate the growth, two additional buses were purchased. In 1976, at the General Assembly, the Sunday school was recognized as the fastest growing ministry in Church of God in Eastern Canada.
As the momentum in the life of the Church increased, auxiliaries and programs were organized. The first Ladies Convention was held in the summer of 1976, followed by the first Christmas Banquet. Family Training Hour, Men’s Fellowship, Adult and Junior Choirs were all organized and flourishing. Several competitors from the Youth Department entered and won Teen Talent competitions at District and Regional levels. Haley Campbell won as soloist, representing Eastern Canada at the General Assembly. This period in the church’s history was marked by tremendous love, unity, fellowship and progress.
In 1984, Pastor Polack felt the need to move on with his calling as a church planter and as a result, stepped aside from being the Pastor. Continued growth made it necessary for expansion. The foundation laid would be built upon by Pastor Canute H. Riggan who came to us from Edmonton, Alberta, in November 1984.
THE SECOND DECADE
Pastor Riggan arrived with his wife and four active children. Their vibrant spirit was an asset to the church. At this time, Pastor Riggan’s ministry placed emphasis on implementing a new administrative approach, growth in membership, and reinstating old members.
On July 16, 1986, after much prayer, planning and hard work, the Lord enabled the congregation to acquire the property at 533 Weber Street, East. This achievement filled the hearts of the congregation with praise. “To God be the Glory, great things He hath done!”
As they endeavored to win the lost, members were added to the body. The Youth Department had the first Easter concert in 1985. This had a tremendous impact on the young people by motivating them to form a youth choir under the leadership of Brother Junior Riggan. The youth concert became an annual event. The 1992 event was broadcast on Rogers Cable Television. The choir went on to win the Teen Talent award in Eastern Canada and represented the Region at the 1992 General Assembly in New Orleans, Louisiana. Subsequently, a number of young adults began attending church, which led to the birth of a Singles Ministry, headed by Sister Valerie Bernard.
Brother Clement Cozier of the Missions Department spearheaded several exciting projects, including food hampers, Christmas dinners, financial assistance programs, track distribution and Halloween witnessing. In addition, the church continued its evangelistic outreach through YWEA (Youth World Evangelism in Action), sponsorship of children, and donations of food and clothing sent overseas. Since its inception, the KCOG Missions Department has been very active in its outreach locally and internationally. The next 10 years would see the church sponsor several Pastors, churches, individuals, and hurting families in countries overseas including Guyana, Jamaica, and other Caribbean locations.
Several members have successfully completed the Ministerial Internship Program, and the Lay Leadership Program; training initiatives introduced to prepare and equip men and women who have the call of God upon their lives. These programs have produced credentialed minsters, and several Lay ministers. Notably, the Pastor’s wife, Lady Eunice Riggan and her preaching and teaching ministry has been a tremendous blessing to the church and fully complements her husband’s ministry.
The present leadership and congregation took very seriously the biblical proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Consequently, action was taken to be more effective witnesses within the community, especially with regard to the youth. The Kitchener Church of God undertook face to face ministry to those socially disenfranchised and incarcerated, by conducting regular visits to the inmates at the Grand Valley Institution for Women. Bishop Riggan frequently quoted in his sermons, “the church is beyond these four walls.” This aggressive endeavor confirmed the biblical fulfillment of the mandate of Christ found in Matthew 28: 19-20.
Friday, November 28, 2003 marked the ground breaking ceremony for the church’s future vision for renovation of the facility and the construction of a 16,500sq ft. multi-purpose complex. In April 2005, the project was completed.
The vision was that this community centre would be recognized as a leader in Kitchener-Waterloo after-school programs. It fostered a constant pursuit of individual, academic and community excellence among our youth.
The Tri-City Multicultural Centre for Development was designed as a Drop-In Centre for our youth in the Tri-City area. It became a place to socialize and hold community meetings. Academic tutoring programs were implemented for youth who struggled in school. Computers, desks, and other learning tools were provided to help with this initiative through generous donations. The Tri-City Multicultural Centre for Development became a sports complex for various recreational activities. The extension to the building created additional room for the expanded food distribution program. There have been significant strides in all of these areas, particularly in the Food Distribution Centre which provided food hampers for 110 families each month.
In worship, it is understood that we express our adoration and reverence toward God. One of the common ways we do this is through music and singing. Over the years, the church fully embraced another form of worship. The dance program was introduced in 2003, under the leadership of Sister Viola Thompson, and has become an integral part of our worship services. KCOG Worship Dancers include separate teams of children, youth, and adults both male and female who use their talents for God’s glory.
Going into our fourth decade of ministry, the church continued to seek God as we relied on Him for greater things to come.
Kitchener Church of God has grown in several areas since our 35th anniversary celebrations. Under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Bishop Canute H. Riggan, there is a renewed emphasis on spiritual maturity and discipleship. Members are encouraged to participate in Lay Leadership training courses designed and organized by the Evangelical Training Association. These courses are available for new converts and anyone wishing to pursue active ministry.
In May 2015, CICA International University & Seminary conferred on Bishop Canute H. Riggan, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity for 30 years of outstanding contributions in the spiritual life of his church family and the community of Kitchener.
Ministries continue to improve and strengthen as we look to God for guidance, knowing “where He guides He provides”. With the help of kind friends, we have acquired two 15-seater vans which have had a positive impact on our Sunday school, Children, and Youth Ministries. The Tri-City Multicultural Centre for Development has revamped its programing and resources. The Centre has hired a full-time staff member and now offers a Before & Afterschool Program in an effort to meet community needs.
The Food Distribution Centre continues to meet the weekly challenges of the increased demand for basic food assistance needs. Once a month, a hot meal is prepared on-site by KCOG volunteers and then served at the Ray of Hope Community Centre.
Our Media Ministry has expanded over the last five years to be on the cutting edge of technological advancement. A newly redesigned website with livestreaming makes it possible to view Sunday morning services. Additionally, we strive to impact this generation through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As we forge ahead, our goal is to acquire our own applications and channels, making programs available on platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, and Google Chrome.
We look forward to the future with great faith and anticipation, remembering that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.