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The Churches of London Series
Village Green Community Church

Pulled Out of the Rabbit Hole
Meet the Conspiracy Theorists Who are Turning to Christ
London Pregnancy & Family Support Centre is Doing Something Different And You’re Invited to Join In
Change Is Hard to Do!
Three Ways to Handle Change
BookMark - One Wrong Move (BOOK REVIEW)
Reel Review - Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (MOVIE REVIEW)
“Take Me For A Spin”
The Top 20 Christian Music Albums for Spring 2024
Why Does Servant Leadership Matter So Much?
Hospital Data Shows Longer, Costlier Stays for Patients Experiencing Homelessness
Reflections on Aurora Borealis and the Solar Eclipse

By An Interview with Tony Kulpa

London’s Christian community has really done and learned some remarkable things in dealing with the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns. This month I chatted with Jon Korkidakis of Village Green Community Church, and I was excited to hear about the ways they have responded to these challenges.

Please tell us a little about Village Green Community Church.
We just celebrated our 50th year in November, and we’ve been in the same building for about 40 years. We like to say that we’re a church that isn’t so big that you get lost. And we’re very diverse, both in age and in ethnicity.

This is a church that takes change relatively well. We are very resilient around here. Even the older demographic, as much as they would say they would like things to stay the same, has adapted very well to the changing culture around us and the changing demands on the church in the last years.

We are strong in discipleship. Our life groups are all sermon based, getting everyone studying in the same path together. I think it’s a very helpful learning experience, because we’re not all wired the same in how we connect with God, and the degree to which we grow. We’ve tried to create environments where if you really want to dig deeper in the word of God, and want to do so at your own pace, all the different components of the church help facilitate that.

In addition, Village Green is a church that’s really strong in community. When I say that, I don’t just mean internally for ourselves, but externally for the community that surrounds us. I can say honestly that if we disappeared from the neighborhood, the neighborhood would notice. It would grieve our loss. This community of faith has been a lighthouse. And the people here truly care for each other. The joke is that you don’t want to get sick here because you’d be overwhelmed. And that’s in a good way! A very caring community for sure.

This is my 12th year as pastor here, which I still find difficult to believe sometimes. It’s gone very quickly. Before that, I was at a church plant in North London for a number of years. I am one of those rare cases in that I never intended to be in church ministry; I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. I started teaching at Heritage College and Seminary right after I got my degree. I thought that would be the trajectory of my Christian experience, and yet here I am.

What exciting ministries does Village Green Community Church have that you would like to share about?
We have a large contingent of nurses, doctors, a lot of teachers, and also researchers at the university. One such researcher and her team were interviewed by local news stations for their contribution in helping to improve our understanding of the COVID virus. And we have a lot of front-line workers who are making an impact. For example, one of our elders, Jason Snelgrove, works at Mission Services, where he’s really been in the trenches when it comes to dealing with outbreaks. We also work with Ark Aid Mission. There are a lot of people in this community who are physically being the hands and feet of Jesus, even in the midst of the pandemic. We also have a very strong, very active benevolence fund here, and the stories of the people we’ve been able to help has really been incredible. The elders here have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate their care for people, often people not even connected to the church, in a very practical way.

We also have a strong prayer group with a large team dispensing and receiving prayer requests daily. We’ve actually had a number of deaths in our church recently, though none of them have been from COVID, and the care that has been exhibited in the community has been really quite touching.

How have your ministries responded to COVID and the lockdowns?
The way we’ve been able to pivot to the online ministry has been really interesting. We were online a year and a half before the pandemic, so when it did hit and we were forced to be online only, we did not miss a beat. In fact, we have developed a media room that we’re turning into a production studio for videos and podcasts. That’s part of the ministry we’ve been expanding. There’s going to be a lot more online content for people, not just within the church, but outside the church as well. Apart from our sermon-based life groups, I’ve also been doing a series of YouTube studies. Right now we’re going through the book of Acts based on my notes from teaching at Heritage College and Seminary.

We’ve adapted our Sunday morning livestream as well. We stream the children’s program at the same time, connecting them with the same curriculum that they would have gotten here at the church. One of the things our church is well known for is our Soup Sundays, and we’ve managed to adapt that online. We are starting something called the Gathering, where we just give people the opportunity to connect.

Our life groups have done some really inventive things. We had some life groups and youth groups meet outside, in the wintertime, staying distanced but being able to be together. To see that amount of commitment is incredible! And we do “drivebys,” where we plan a time that everyone will drive by someone’s house, on a birthday or something like that, just to wave as they pass. So there have been a lot of inventive ways that people are finding to stay connected.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the London Christian community?
I will say that we are seeing a real opportunity to touch people’s lives that otherwise would not have been touched. I’ve been walking down my street and had one of my neighbors say that they really enjoyed something from my sermon the week before. These are people who’ve never darkened the door of a church, they just know that I’m a pastor. But clearly they watched the sermon online. And that’s just one of many, many stories of what’s happening right now.

Our church is one of those staying closely aligned to the government regulations. We miss being together, of course there’s just something about being and worshipping together, but at the same time I’m really excited for the opportunities that we’re getting right now that we don’t normally have. When we can start seeing some kind of semblance of what we had before, I think we’re going to have a much bigger impact than what we were having prior to COVID. We’ll be keeping the best of what we had before and combining that with the best of what we’ve learned. There are just so many little stories, little celebrations here and there, that make me really hopeful and excited about the future here at Village Green Community Church.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Village Green Community Church
505 Village Green Ave
London, ON N6J4G4 Canada 519-473-5505

About Interviewer, Tony Kupla, Christian Life in London Contributing Editor.

Tony is the second oldest child in a family of 11, and, in his words, “I absolutely adored being the big brother and the “responsible one” in the family. As a result I’ve had a lifelong love of children and of leadership.” Tony has always felt that service lies at the heart of the true Christian experience. Even as a youngster, he was deeply sensitive to others’ needs and hurts, and felt drawn to help. He also has always had a passion for Biblical teaching. More than anything else, he is delighted and excited by exploration and exposition of the universal truths found in Scripture, and the application of those truths in practical ways to problems both global and day-to-day.

It was no surprise that he wound up teaching for most of his career. The first school he taught at was Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In addition to the Caribbean, Tony has taught in South America and East Asia, as well as in Canada. Mostly Tony’s teaching has been at Christian schools, though he also had the notable opportunity to teach at an Islamic school for a few years.

In 2015, Tony completed a Master of Biblical Studies from Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta. He actually started the degree in person and finished it while living and teaching in Asuncion, Paraguay. His specialization was in Biblical languages, especially Greek.

Since 2016, Tony has been a London resident.

“I am excited by what God and the Church is doing here. I have learned so much about the community and the everyday heroes that the Lord is using for great things through the Christian Life in London publication