Your Story - Finding God at New Hope Church - New Hope Church

October 01, 2015

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Media @ New Hope CalgaryAs we continue to explore coming to together with our sister church, Hillside Community Church, it is important to have a full understanding of what makes the New Hope experience unique and what are the important NHC fundamentals that should be carried forward. To do that we need to hear our own stories. If you would like to share the story of how you found yourself coming to New Hope, or ways God has found you at NHC we want to hear it!

We would like to post them on our website for us all to read and in the fall display them alongside with Hillside's stories during our 7 weeks of doing church together. They can be long or short and you can absolutely request anonymity if you'd like. We would like to collect as many stories as we can - yours is important!

Please send in your stories to the office or comment on this page.


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October 04, 2015
Although I have not been a regular at New Hope Church for many moons, my family and I were there from 1998 to 2006. Actually the journey started earlier when a friend called us in Grand Rapids where I was going to seminary. She felt a nudge in prayer that we were meant to be there and help with the start up. I explained that we had no intention of being back for a long time and thanked her for the call but we could not help. Yet the nudge was transferred as I thought and prayed about it until 2 years later, to my surprise, we returned earlier then planned and joined the New Hope journey.
This journey for me and my kids was not just at New Hope but later included Hillside and was a journey through the Calgary church plants.
Although we were called to "help", at New Hope it was where ironically I felt a call to study further or maybe better to say a call back after loosing my mother to cancer, suffering through grief and depression and 3 kids later, I felt God's calling to pick up my studies again and go into ministry. The church recognized leadership and other skills in myself and nudge me to this call. So did a few others at the time when Dale, Layne, Heather and myself went off to study, each going in our own ministry way and yet still present in Calgary. I have heard that New Hope continues to have such fruit and will at times looses fruit to other places...
(I am also reminded that New Hope and Hillside was working together earlier when we had the Women's group, Mothers and Others we use to call it, that met at Maranatha church for about five years starting in 1998.)
I left New Hope and started at Hillside as an intern pastor for a brief time. We lingered there another 4 years until we came to our current church.
I witness God's finger prints over each church, carry special memories and old friendships (some I still have). Its exciting to see you merge together in what I call the Hybrid church. My only problem is when I am visiting I can not always remember who is from which church! But maybe that is just as well...I am excited to see what God has planned for you in this new chapter!

Sandy Reynolds
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September 13, 2015
Our family story as part of the New Hope Church community starts in 2005. Anna and I had just returned from a year of adventure living abroad in the Netherlands and scratching our travel bug throughout Europe. We had moved into a little, rather run-down old bungalow in West Hillhurst. We were seeking a new church and preferably one in the neighbourhood that we could walk or bike to on Sunday mornings.
At the time, Robin Bailey was an associate pastor with New Hope as he prepared to start a church plant in Cochrane. Robin was previously a youth pastor at the church in Taber that Anna attended growing up. This connection peaked our interest to give New Hope a try one Sunday morning. We had an immediate connection with the casual and comfortable feeling of New Hope. We were also attracted to New Hope’s Reformed denomination as it gave us assurance the church was at least somewhat grounded in reasonable theology.
The deeper attraction to New Hope was the willingness of the church to embrace mystery. It seemed like New Hope was a church that did not need to have all the answers. A comfort with the beauty found in the grey of truth, faith and life provided a sense of relevance and authenticity for us that we found re-assuring. We have always appreciated the willingness to see God in the world at New Hope. Looking for God in the world is powerful even when it is not always clear or easy to discern the holy from the profane. It was and is refreshing to not artificially separate Christianity and the church from the broader community. We love seeing god in our cities and neighbourhoods. Experiencing God in our school (even a public school!) and through our teachers. Learning about God through sports (with a slight preference for basketball of course). Remembering that God is at our workplaces (and eventually reading about ‘God at Work’).
The willingness to experience God everywhere is a powerful reminder that nothing in our world is all good and nothing is truly purely evil or unredeemable. As we learned through New Hope, and as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn powerfully reminds us, ‘the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man’. The tension in the approach of experiencing God everywhere is one of the reasons why we believe New Hope doesn’t feel too ‘churchy’ and is able to avoid the ‘Christianese’ that limits the opportunity for some Christian churches to demonstrate Christ’s love to the whole world. As a result of this resonance, we did not do any other ‘church shopping’ and have remained part of the New Hope community for the last 10 years.
During our time as part of the New Hope community, we were blessed to experience many family milestones. Both our children, Solomon and Marion, were baptized at New Hope Church and our niece and nephew were also baptized by John. Both of Anna’s brothers were married by Pastor John (brother Henry was even married at a Catholic Cathedral by John and a Catholic Deacon). We made many lifelong friends, including with people who had to leave the New Hope community for a variety of reasons. We participated in the Ubuntu group and hosted our guests from Malawi at our home. New Hope has become an integral part of our lives.
We are now looking forward to the next phase of the New Hope journey as we move to our new space and join together with the Hillside community. Plus it will be great to go to church in our new neighbourhood of Brentwood. We will be walking or riding down the hill with our kids when the Sunday weather permits. As we continue our journey, hopefully we can keep Metallica coming to church and experiencing God’s blessing in all parts of our lives together.

Loomis Family
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September 05, 2015
I started attending New Hope about four years ago. I have attended a church all my life. As in any area of life, sometimes a change is needed. I started coming to New Hope off and on. I read John's book "The Day Metallica came to church". I was impressed by the way of thinking, God is everywhere! God moments! Where is God in....? the parable of.....! This gave me a sense of freedom, openness in thought, a breath of fresh air! The idea that no matter where, what, or when, God can be found, God is there! This was on the one hand a new concept for, yet it is something that I have come to realize I have known to be all along! That is what I have found at New Hope! I now attend regularly.
There is a certain sense of community at New Hope, yet if you choose not to be too involved that is okay too. I feel at home here and am excited to experience and learn what God has planned for the future of this church!

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July 30, 2015
Before meeting my husband a few years ago, I had never been to church (except occasional Christmas Eve services with my grandparents). My concept/experience of church before was learning information that was hard to understand and maybe worse, hearing something that left you feeling like you weren’t doing the best you should. For me, New Hope has never been that way. I feel so comfortable and at home when I go to church now. It’s the sense of honesty and vulnerability that makes NH unlike any place else (as well as the music). John has a way of explaining things that truly does allow you to “experience God everywhere”.

Melissa P
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July 25, 2015
We started attending New Hope 12 years ago when it was the "cool" thing to do. At first we weren't very involved or connected to New Hope, until the first of our three sons was born five and half years ago. After his birth, we rapidly learned that we needed to lean into this community that loves and supports us as we are raise three little ones. The love and kindness that we feel displayed towards their rambunctious spirits at New Hope is invaluable, as we work hard to mould them into young boys who see God in everything.

For me, the spirit of the New Hope community was most poignant when I had a heart attack as a post-partum complication after our third son was born last summer. There was a deep sense of urgency, on our part, to contact the church. We weren't sure how anyone could help, but we knew that someone else would know what we needed. And we were right. The prayers, the meals, the offers of help were simply overwhelming at a time when we needed New Hope the most.

This is why we are still here after 12 years. It no longer matters if we are "cool" any more. But it sure matters to know that we have an entire community of authentic, genuine, real people who are ready to pitch in when the rubber hits the road.

Diana and Mike W.
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July 23, 2015
The main thing I love and appreciate about New Hope is the sense of community and family. John, Heather, and the whole leadership team are a huge part of this in that they really communicate and engage with everyone, and I think that definitely sets the 'tone' for our church. We are a small group and although I am by no means close to everyone there, it is easy to be a new member, as we were some 5 years ago, and not feel intimidated or out of place. Another important factor for us, especially as a young family with small children, we have always felt that our WHOLE family (babies included) could sit and be welcomed to listen to the sermon if they were a little more shy of Little Lambs/ Discovery Zone on certain (or all;) days.
The Chens
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July 20, 2015
Having come from a traditional Anglican Church, I was in awe hearing music when I walked into New Hope Church for the
first time, I heard a guitar, a drum and I was hooked.I love music! I had not at this point even heard the message.
Then I listened to Layne give the message.

Today, I do not recall what the message was about, but I was anxious for sunday to arrive again so I could walk through
the door of New Hope and listen to music and what God and John had to tell me. And so, I found a home for the past 14 years.

I have seen many changes at New Hope, personnel, congregation, but the message has always stayed the same, God Loves Me.
He gives me strength and courage to keep me going each day. John was there for me when my husband and stepdaughter passed
away with 3 weeks of each other, but I knew I was not alone dealing with my grief.
I know that today I am a better person then I was yesterday, because I accept Gods Love for me. ( and I am 17% less judgemental)

I look forward to a few more years ( I hope) attending New Hope wherever we worship.

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July 20, 2015
My story of why New Hope is so important.

I grew up in a church-going, Bible thumping home - we were in the habit of going to church twice on Sundays and at least once more during the week for prayer meetings or youth group activities. I hated church as I associated it with boredom and guilt and being forced to do things I despised.
Sundays we were forced to socialize for those big "invite-some-strange-family-over" Sunday dinners. I, as the oldest girl, often had to do the mountain of dishes by myself as my parents relaxed with the guests.
Sundays we were forced to eat food I didn't like - my Mom didn't make breakfast on Sundays and we had to eat Puffed Wheat, which I hate because it makes me gag. I always went to church nauseated and hungry.
Sundays we always missed the ending of the Sunday Disney show because we had to get to evening church.
I never woke up Sunday mornings eager to experience the second day of every weekend. I always woke up Sundays with a sense of doom and a never-realized hope that my Mom and Dad had overslept. I always woke up Sunday mornings wishing it was Monday.

My high school years were spent at a religious boarding school where we did even more church if that was possible. Once every morning, an additional session every Tuesday evening, plus twice or three times on every Sunday. Then we suffered through twice-a-year conferences with twice-a-day church. By the time I was a married adult I felt I was stuffed full-to-vomiting with the Bible - I was so sick of it and all it represented.

Going to church became even more of a burden - a chore I had to do to maintain my salvation - something you did because it was expected, but everything was so old and false and I just wanted to be done with it. To the chagrin of my mild mannered husband I rebelled and took a 5 year church holiday. I found a measure of relief but there was an underlying sense of loss as well. I didn't miss church but I did miss God.

Then we found New Hope via a relative who had periodically attended. From the first moment I felt like I had come home. I had found many of the things I had been craving; no expectations, no pretensions, no dress code, an open invitation to be involved as much as I wanted to be involved. The underlying theme of God is Everywhere really stuck a chord in my under-developed sense of spirituality.

I was reintroduced to old, well known bible stories and ideas which became new and deeply personal for me. I found time and again that I was experiencing wonder from things I had grown tired of. What I was hearing and seeing on Sundays revealed a previously squashed need to meet God during the rest of my life. NH has awakened my desire (and the tools) to develop my spiritual life.

Community events have always been difficult for me, as a confirmed introvert, but I feel that NH has also allowed me to develop my place in this church's community at my pace, with no pressure or judgment.

The telling event came a few years ago when we woke up late one Sunday morning and needed to make a quick decision about going to church. In a previous life I would have said a quick prayer of gratitude and gone back to sleep. I hate being late (if late is even possible at our church) and it was never a big loss to miss church, but this day I wanted to make the effort - I wanted to go to church. Amazing!

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July 20, 2015
I was thinking about my story for how I came to new hope

I came to visit new hope at the 2006 Christmas coffee house with my friend Mark. It was there that I unexpectedly got recruited by Gary Strom to play piano and sing on a worship team. I soon discovered a very laid back, refreshing, contemporary approach to worship; and in church in general. This was the one and only time that I'd ever experienced a place where the secular world, and the religious world, were married together fluently. I fell in love with this new way of looking at church; without the hypocrisy of organized religion. This was a place I could be real, be myself, and not have to be concerned about being a fallible human.

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July 20, 2015
Like most people the majority of my friendships start at work. Spending 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with people and you start to get to know each other pretty well. One of my friends from work was struggling with her marriage and had a lot of unanswered questions. In our conversations church and God became more and more of focus point. While her experience with church was more limited than mine over time the desire to know more was contagious. In retrospect I believe it was the feeling of hope, and being attracted to a community where seeing and knowing God can provide a lot of answers for life. Our family was not attending New Hope Church at the time. We were at a more traditional church. When she said she would like to come to church with our family deep down I knew that where we attended was not the right place for her and her child. I knew of New Hope but never attended myself. We tried it out ahead of time to see if this was a place where someone new to the faith can learn and be welcomed. It only two Sunday’s and we not only knew that New Hope was a the perfect place to take our friend but it was also the perfect place for our family. That was 16 years ago, and we feel the same way today.
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July 16, 2015
Several times over the past month I've heard a song that we sing at church - Home, by Phillip Phillips - being played in a place outside of Sunday morning; while out shopping, in the car or lounging poolside. Every time it's happened I've smiled at the reminder of how good the vision of our church is and how this whole world really does belong to God and how he truly does speak everywhere! With all the change that's been happening recently, the lyrics of the song have been so timely and encouraging;

"Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home."

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July 16, 2015
Here's my story.

I was widowed 5 years ago and looking for a church closer to home. My son and his wife had begun attending New Hope and suggested I join them as I was getting frustrated trying to find a church that fit for me. The first time I attended there was a song that spoke to my grief and took my breath away. I mentioned it to my son and he said "You know that isn't a Christian song" but God can speak through it. I found that what God had been teaching me in my life was very much what New Hope was all about-finding God everywhere so I am still here 5 years later and three grandchildren have been born to my son and his wife in the last five years so there are 6 of us now attending.

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July 10, 2015
New Hope has become our home. There was a time when I honestly did not think I would ever go to church again. I have found a place to be quiet and listen for God here. I've been taught how to pray and see God in all His places here but not told how to be and act to fit in. And I've been encouraged to speak out and get involved--again, a very big surprise to me. And He has shown me himself in the people at New Hope. They are prayerful and honest and thoughtful. When I was struggling with the idea of church years ago, I remember reading about when John the Baptist was asked if he was the messiah and he just said, no, don't look at me, look over there--and pointed to Jesus coming. That was what a christian community needed to be for us. A home to be ourselves, to use our voices, and be pointed towards Jesus in all the places He is doing His thing in our world.

Also, I love that my kids love Serena Ryder and Eddie Vedder and consider their songs to be "the God songs we sing at church."

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