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Earlier in May, Rev. Pieter Pereboom opened the doors of the First Christian Reformed Church located on Talbot St, downtown London. This was a celebration to commemorate the grand opening of the expanded church that can now facilitate the growth of their many ministries and services. The two year project was given the acronym The GROW Project which stood for God Renewing Our World. It was a $3 million construction project that combined the best of the old and best of the new architecture.

Apparently, in the early 1990's the congregation had lively debates about the future of the church. Many wanted to relocate to the suburbs while just as many wanted to keep their downtown location. The end result was a decision and a united decision to remain downtown and to expand downtown. Today the church is part of the downtown revitalization plan that brings more people to live, work, shop, worship and enjoy the vibrancy of the city's core.

The GROW committee wanted their design to showcase the best of London and keep with the city's diverse appearance. They considered that London has many restored heritage buildings from the late 1800's and early 1900's. They also valued the fact that London has many modern steel and glass buildings such as the 24 storey One London Place. GROW was successful in their mission to preserve the old and blend it with the ultra-modern. The visitors to the new First Christian Reformed Church do see both: turn of the century architecture of the original building constructed in 1885 and the openness of today's glimmering glass structures.

The project, completed in December 2011, featured the construction of a multi-storey addition including a spacious nursery, commercial kitchen and several large meeting rooms. Also, a major component of the church expansion is a beautiful glass atrium fronting Talbot Street.

Prior to the official section of the grand opening celebration, visitors toured the old and the new, enjoyed an abundance of food and beverages and watched a wonderful slide show of pictures from the church and members of the congregation from many, many years ago. Every few minutes, someone would point to a child in the picture and say, "Oh look! That's me", or another person would say, "There is Mr. So and So."

Those people watching the show and making these comments were adults and not young adults making the experience that much more enjoyable.

There were several members of the congregation and from the GROW team ready to answer questions or proudly show the features of the new and old sections of the church. There was a lot of noise coming from one of the rooms down the hall of the second floor. The area was marked with a big WK and below the initials it said "WONDERKIDS — Jesus is my Super hero". In the room there were about a dozen kids piled up on a couple couches playing video games, another bunch playing on the floor and one lone maybe 7 year old playing at a Foosball table all by himself. I felt bad for him so I challenged him to a game which was a mistake. After losing three games rather badly I was thrilled when his grandmother came looking for him to have his face painted.

Further down the hall was our famous London Town Crier making balloon animals for a long lineup of children. There was also the face painting, games, cookies and Kool-Aid — what more could a person of 7 years of age ever want?

The Town Crier left his balloon posting to announce "Hear Ye, Hear Ye. Everyone is asked to move into the sanctuary for the official ceremony."

Rick Dykstra (the chair of GROW and the lead engineer on the project) was first at the podium. He spoke of the accomplishments and challenges of the project and was extremely thankful to the hundreds of volunteers involved over the two years.

Mayor Joe Fontana then addressed the group about the project being a vital component of the City's revitalization and congratulated Rev. Pereboom and the congregation on the accomplishments.

Rev. Pereboom gave a passionate speech about the church of then and now, and he spoke of the many families that have grown up as part of the First Christian Reformed Church family. He was excited when he talked about how so many of the church's ministries can now expand and, with the 15 meeting rooms, they will be able to work more with the community on various initiatives. He is most proud of the vast atrium that has already become a wonderful gathering place for Londoners of all ages.

In closing Rev. Pereboom thanked everyone for coming to the celebration and reminded them that there would still be a service "tomorrow" on Sunday and he expected to see everyone there.






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