In 2005 a small group of people with a heart for East Hamilton started meeting in a church planter’s living room on Sunday evenings, and New Hope was born. About 40 people from First Christian Reformed Church in downtown Hamilton initially joined. Some of them were residents of East Hamilton, and others packed up and moved into East Hamilton. To love our neighbours, we figured we had to know them.
In 2008, New Hope officially launched, with a few staff members and a pastor. Since then, we have had various homes, including a storefront on Main Street and the basement of Delta United Church.
One of the first activities that New Hope rallied around was a Neigbourhood Association for the Crown Point Community. New Hope members are still deeply involved. Another important outreach ministry has been New Hope Bikes, founded by a couple of guys from the congregation.
2010 was a big year for New Hope as the community decided to try out a lay leadership model. Instead of having a pastor, we have a leadership team, speaking team, worship team etc. It’s important to us that our vision and activities always be determined by community consensus and that everyone looks out for everyone else.
New Hope’s love for East Hamilton took on bricks and mortar in late 2011, when we moved into the newly renovated Perkins Centre at 1429 Main Street East. Originally known as the Driftwood Tavern, a name that has stuck for many locals, the building had fallen on hard times along with the neighbourhood. It had been shut down and reopened many times for illegal activity. In its most recent life, the building was the Jamrock, a shady bar that was often visited by police cruisers. Once known to be a very dark place, the building has been restored into a large gathering space and community kitchen where family, friends, and neighbours join together to worship God. The space is used through the week by different organizations and the additional floors above provide low-income housing.
This is just the beginning of our story. We’ve learned plenty since 2005 and we’ve met in houses and stores and church basements, but one thing that has not changed is our desire to see East Hamilton flourish.
Our journey has taken us through grief and joy, people moving and people staying put. God has been with us along the way as we grow and learn and live in community with one another. We continue to rely on God as we discern where He is leading us.
In 2018, we held a "Party in the Park" in Gage Park, to celebrate 10 years of New Hope Church. There were a few storytellers who shared their experiences with church and we sang songs about God's faithfulness to us. We also enjoyed a BBQ, playing games and meeting with friends, new and old, in the park. The cake, in the picture above, shows different aspects of our church life and things we enjoy doing together!