Unionville is a town thirty kilometers north of Toronto. During the mid-1960s, a number of assembly Christians lived in the area and travelled to eight of the assemblies in and around Toronto.
About twenty of these believers got together and were interested in starting a children’s work in the Unionville area. As a result, a weekly children’s meeting was started in a room in the local arena. A good number from the area came, and the work grew and later became well known as UYFBH (Unionville Young Folks Bible Hour). The writer was one of those children and remembers the fun of being in those children’s meetings with so many other kids but also a real conviction and desire to be sure of my salvation and not be “left behind.”
Shortly after the original children’s work, the Christians decided to meet each week in various homes for prayer and Bible study. In 1969, four weeks of gospel meetings were held in the arena by David Adams. No one got saved at that time that we know of, but interest was stirred in the community.
After much prayer, it was unanimous that the Lord had prepared the way for a local testimony to be established and that the Unionville assembly should be formed. Accommodation was arranged at a local school, and in September 1969, twenty-five believers met together for the first time in Unionville to break bread and begin regular outreaches with a Sunday School and gospel meetings each Lord’s day. The weekly prayer and Bible study continued in the homes of the Christians.
In 1970, Bethany Lodge, a long-term seniors’ home was built in Unionville with donations from the Toronto Christians. A need for a gospel hall to be built was discussed. A vacant lot adjacent to the Lodge was for sale for $9,000. Two believers purchased the lot and donated it to the assembly. A Christian builder from the Lansing assembly was able to build a hall at a cost of $52,000 (not much by today’s prices), but with only 25 believers, a mortgage had to be arranged, although many personal donations were given.
The Christians moved from the school to an auditorium in Bethany for a period of time, and then into the basement of the new hall until the rest of the building was completed. It was very convenient for the Christians living in the Lodge to attend. For those that could not attend due to ill health, a live TV broadcast of the meetings was established and made available both in residents’ rooms and in the public spaces. Some who came to Bethany late in life have been saved, baptized and brought into fellowship as a result of these broadcasts and the witness of other residents. An ongoing DVD recording of messages has also been used across the country and overseas.
Over the next couple of years, a few Christians from other assemblies were received and the number increased to about 50. The weekly UYFBH meetings increased and the assembly purchased a school bus to pick up local children. A special week of children’s meetings were conducted with very good attendance, and a contest was held to encourage the children to bring out others as well as their parents. One boy even brought out the mayor and the fire chief for extra points.
But when the light of the gospel is shining and Christian fellowship is growing, Satan seeks to disrupt. In the early 80s our numbers had risen beyond 130, but discontent arose and a number of people and families of what could have been the leading next generation left the company. It was a difficult time, but God preserved the testimony and numbers settled down to a fellowship of just over 110.
In the late 80s there was a need for an addition but a developer had plans to build homes on property twenty feet to the south. The builder gave the elders an exorbitant price to obtain the property, but the Lord intervened and the mayor dictated that the property must be sold to us for a significantly reduced amount or his subdivision was not going to be given approval. That property now accommodates two additions to the hall, many parking spaces, an electronic sign and a gospel tent that has been erected consistently over the years for gospel tent meetings.
From the early days of traditional gospel outreach with tract and Seed Sowers distributions, the outreaches have extended to a Bible based ESL program, an annual booth at the Unionville Festival, a Moms & Tots program and Community Open House BBQs, to name a few. Over the last dozen years, the assembly has been very encouraged with many from the local Asian community joining us on a regular basis multiple times a week with evidence of salvation; they have followed in baptism and a number have been added to the fellowship.
While we heed the Lord’s command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel,” the Lord in turn has brought the world to us, in a way. We are overwhelmed when we see what great things He has done to grow and preserve the testimony to His name in Unionville now for over 50 years.