Coquitlam Presbyterian Church

Rev. Dr. Ian RennieDr. Ian Rennie, retired Dean of Tyndale Seminary, Toronto ON, lives in Vancouver BC and worships at Fairview Church.

Coquitlam Presbyterian Church (CPC) was established in the inauspicious year of 1965, when the forces of secularism were increasingly claiming Canadian life, and many professing Christians and families were renouncing personal faith, congregational involvement, and denominational affiliation. In this situation against all odds, this congregation has grown consistently, until today, it is seventeenth in Sunday attendance for the whole of Presbyterianism, averaging 310 worshippers per week. CPC began with several relatively short ministries, with the addition of some very able people still in the congregation, represented by Bernard Coram, treasurer of Westminster Presbytery, and Bob and Olive McBay, with a great gift of hospitality and a ministry of prayer through the leadership of the monthly prayer gathering — Presbytery-wide — for the Renewal Fellowship. In 1977, the Board of Missions appointed recent graduate Terry Hibbert to CPC, with his first service mustering some sixty in attendance.

Rev. Dr. Terry HibbertTerry is an English gentleman from one of the gracious London suburbs. In the 1950s, Terry, with his family, migrated with the great sea of Anglos who were making their way to Montreal. He pursued his high school studies and prepared for a career in education at Concordia University, where he absorbed a strong dose of atheism, accompanied by a good Scottish friend. After a few years of teaching in Montreal, he proceeded to a year on Baffin Island where the long nights gave him ample time for self-reflection, issuing in self-dissatisfaction. On returning to Montreal, he found that his Scottish friend had become a Christian, and before long, he was to follow this route. In the school to which he returned, he met a young Christian teacher who would become his wife, and who invited him to her home congregation — Knox, Crescent, Kensington Presbyterian — where he received much help from the guidance and sermons of Clifton MacKay. He soon began to sense a call to the pastoral ministry and in 1974 commenced his studies at Presbyterian College, Montreal. He benefitted greatly from the lectures of Daniel MacMillan on Calvin, inspiring him to read Calvin's Institutes and consult his Commentaries. Together with the Bible, these volumes became the foundation of his faith and Christian understanding, impelling him to describe himself as a "conservative evangelical". During these student years this young couple proved that the "Lord will provide", preparing them to face the testings of the ministerial life.

In the ministry, Terry found his greatest delight in sermon preparation and preaching, and this continues until today. Although he is not bound by any one methodology, expository preaching is his norm. His alert mind also directed him over the years to engage in regular study of practical ministry, occasionally nearby, but more frequently taking classes and attending conferences across the border where the offerings were much richer. In this constant activity, a stimulating D.Min. was also successfully pursued.

With all this background and input, Terry has continually given leadership in congregational development. He has come to believe that worship alongside preaching is the main way to build and mature a congregation, so CPC has a full-time worship leader, a position which Terry obviously values beyond price. Next in importance is seen to be youth ministry, so that in that area is the other full-time staff person. As a stimulus, a number of youth are sent for various lengths of time in cross-cultural missions each year. In the congregation, a number of small groups are formed each year, while the ministry of Alpha is also continually in use. CPC is also known for its Christmas program, which this past year on Christmas Sunday had three largely attended presentations at 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00 p.m.

There is also constant involvement with such dynamic ministries as the highly regarded Union Gospel Mission in New Westminster, to which is added a Recovery Group for those having alcohol and drug problems, led by church members and emphasizing both the social reality and the Christian faith, with the result that a number are finding their way to Christ and to the congregation.

In addition, during the summer, CPC sponsors a softball series in which it launches a number of its own teams, as well as inviting other nearby congregations to participate. In this way, a number of young families are first contacted. And in order to animate adult leaders, from Session through to children's ministry, they are urged to attend appropriate brief conferences on ministry wherever they are to be accessibly found.

The building resources at CPC, as can be imagined, are completely strained, so a building program is underway. Three lots adjacent to the Church have been purchased, while a contiguous fourth is in the works. A new sanctuary, increased meeting rooms, and vastly expanded parking are involved, with the total cost being near 6 million dollars. And the reputation of CPC in the community is such that in the new endeavour, they have received nothing but help from the Coquitlam Council. In the midst of this high-powered setting, Terry quietly and in the life of the Spirit continues to give Christian leadership. In such a context, it is natural to see the leaders of CPC already facing the fact that in some two and a half years Terry will be retiring.