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Church plant seizes opportunity in Catholic sanctuary

QUEBEC CITY, Canada (BP) — In a place steeped in religious history, a Southern Baptist church plant in Canada’s Quebec City is redefining what church looks like for a local community and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ among North America’s most unreached people group.

In 2005, Église Communautaire Mosaïque was founded in downtown Quebec City, Quebec, one of the poorest parts of the city and also one of the most spiritually impoverished places in Canada. With evangelical Christians making up less than 1 percent of Quebec’s population, the native people, called Quebecois, are considered to be the least-reached people in North America, according to the North American Mission Board.

“One of the reasons they are so unreached is due to the negative impact the church had on their history,” said Chad Vandiver, NAMB Canada mobilization specialist. “This history resulted in the unfavorable definition of church the Quebecois have today.”

The Catholic Church dominated the culture, education and government in Quebec until recent decades, leaving behind dying churches and people with a religious history but little spiritual connection to the church.

The vision of Mosaïque is to “revive the church in each community and to be a church in mission (to) incarnate the Gospel through the love, hope and grace of Christ,” said the church’s pastor, Christian Lachance.

In keeping with its vision to be on mission in the community, the first of Mosaïque’s church plants opened in a theatre owned by a local soup kitchen that serves the city’s homeless population. The church grew and planted its second church in the Catholic Chapel of University Laval, where university students began sharing the Gospel in that community and taking the Gospel message back to their homes.

Since Mosaïque’s early days, Lachance said its members also began reaching out to a local Catholic group, eventually leading to a partnership that resulted in an after-school program for local high school students.

“Because we focus on being a blessing in the community, we will be known as good people who are doing great things in the name of Jesus,” Lachance said.

As Mosaïque has grown in recent years, Lachance said the need to expand led to an “amazing opportunity to rent a Catholic church in the poorest neighborhood of all the city, with no evangelical church at all.”

Each Sunday morning, the Catholic church holds its mass, followed by a service led by Mosaïque church members, Lachance said. After one year of this partnership, leaders from the Catholic church offered Mosaïque the opportunity to purchase the building to continue its mission in the community.

Though Lachance said it is a great opportunity for Mosaïque, purchasing the building “is also a surprise we were not prepared for and that represents more than a simple investment.”

The church now has the funds for the down payment but is looking ahead to possible renovations in the future, as well as purchasing a new sound system, Lachance said. Despite these challenges, Lachance said establishing Mosaïque’s presence in a former Catholic sanctuary will allow the congregation to be on “mission like never before.”

“We also could have such a wonderful opportunity to have influence in the Catholic Church beyond our city,” Lachance said, adding that the facility will help Mosaïque’s goal to plant 10 churches in the greater Quebec area by serving as a place to train new leaders.

By establishing a new and growing church in a place once marked by an empty religious culture, Vandiver said Lachance and Mosaïque are “redefining church for the Quebecois in a way they can understand and respond to.”

“He is planting an evangelical church in a Catholic sanctuary in order to minister directly to the historical problem the Quebecois have had with churches…. Never before has there been such a tangible opportunity for Southern Baptists to reach an unreached people group on their own continent through the multiplication of church plants,” Vandiver said.