Fifty years old with no signs of stopping...
The Early Beginnings – 1957 to 1973“After a good deal of prayer and consideration of our position my wife and I agreed that I should try to establish a church in Agincourt. I had leaflets printed and with the help of my wife, went door to door giving out invitations to the service.” These are the words of Rev. Bob Mercer (left), the founding Pastor of what is now Agincourt Pentecostal Church.
“In the late fifties, Agincourt was a sleepy village on the outskirts of North Toronto. There were not many houses and the villagers were said to ‘pull in the sidewalks each evening’ ”.
Pastor Mercer describes the very first service:
On the first Sunday evening over 100 hundred people crowded into the Minor Hall, including some friends from Evangel Temple and Stone. I had invited the male quartet from Stone Church to sing and sing they did. Over and over again they responded to the wishes of the people and we had a wonderful time in the presence of the Lord. We had used tattered hymnbooks that we had been given by People’s Church. The services continued on a Sunday evening basis for some time. I was painfully aware that changes would have to come if the church was to continue to grow. The first item of importance was to find a permanent building, either by renting or by building. We had moved from the Community Hall to a Public School. We were now at a point where we must have a full range of services. We began to look around for a building lot and we found one at Sheppard and Warden for $20,000.00.
There are not many churches that can lay claim to a “Chicken Coup” as their first building (right), but such was the case in 1957 when Pastor Bob Mercer began holding services in the newly purchased church at the corner of Sheppard and Warden Avenues. Listen to him describe the chicken coup in his own words:
We took over the ranch style building on the lot, cleared the inside and commenced to make it presentable for worship. The men of the church went to work and before long we had a sanctuary seating over 100 with Sunday School rooms at the back. For the next three years, I was the Pastor of the church on a part-time basis at $40.00 per week. Our services continued to grow and blessing abounded. I am humbly grateful to God that I was permitted to have a share in this new work. I hope that God will permit me to be around when the church celebrates its fifty years of existence. (Rev. Bob Mercer went to be with His Lord whom He loved and served on June 9, 2002.)
The Pentecostal Testimony featured this new congregation in its July 1957 edition:
AGINCOURT, ONT – The “Agincourt Full Gospel Church” is located on the northeastern outskirts of metropolitan Toronto where new buildings, houses and apartments are springing up every week. About a year ago, Rev. W.R. Mercer, who had been closely associated with the Stone Church, Toronto and a number of people felt the need of a Gospel witness in the Agincourt area. Throughout the fall and winter, services were held on Sunday nights in rental halls and homes on week nights. With the help of Stone Church, which had been interested in a gospel effort in the area for a long time, a choice property at the corner of Warden and Sheppard Avenues was acquired. And this early work did just that – it grew, to the point where in 1963 a new church building was constructed under the leadership of Rev. R.W. Davidson. The church was also renamed “Sheppard Gospel Temple”, and was pastored over the next decade by: Rev. Wayne Halliwell, Rev. Doug Clarke and Rev. Jack Ozard.
The Building YearsThe early 70’s brought new pastoral leadership for Sheppard Gospel Temple with the arrival of Rev. & Mrs. Bert Liira.
“The year of 1971 was one of steady progress and exciting advances… We thank God for spiritual, numerical and financial victories. However this is not the time to slow down. The harvest is great, the labourers are few and the Lord is coming soon. We must labour for Him with renewed vigor and dedication.”
In 1974, the growing congregation of Sheppard Gospel Temple sold their property and moved to a new facility at the corner of Birchmount Road and Huntingwood.
January 1974, Pastor Liira records this: In Psalm 127 we read: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” As we enter into the building program . . . of 1974, it is imperative that we be constantly reminded of the above truth. Let us seek to be led by God in every decision we make and in every step we take . . . Undoubtedly the challenges of this year will require our Christian love, unity, faithfulness and hard work. We must prayerfully occupy until Jesus comes.”
With the change in location, the church name changed as well to “Agincourt Pentecostal Church” and the congregation began to grow significantly. By 1976 the Sunday morning attendance had grown to 250 people.
In January 1976, Rev. R. Stuart Mulligan (right) became the new Senior Pastor.
More growth and more expansion lay just around the corner. Pastor Mulligan writes: “1978 was a year of Decision. By a vote of well over 90%, it was decided to enlarge . . . making 1979 the year of Action”. 1979 indeed, brought with it a major building renovation and expansion, and a dedication of the new and improved facilities in the fall of 1979.
Only two years later it was necessary to begin conducting two morning worship services. With facilities and parking maxed out it was soon decided to consider a new church building.
“We are gripped by a conviction . . . any church that presents the claims of a life-changing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit will find people beating a path to their door.” (Pastor Stuart Mulligan, 1985)
In just twelve years, Pastor Mulligan led the Agincourt Pentecostal Church congregation in its second building program. The property at 2610 Birchmount Road was sold to the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church, and with steps of tremendous courage and faith, in May 1986, Agincourt Pentecostal Church relocated and officially opened their new facilities at the current site of 2885 Kennedy Road.
Excerpts from Press Release – April 18, 1986:
For several years the people who attended Agincourt Pentecostal Church on Birchmount Road have had a problem on their hands. First, where to find a parking spot, then a place to hang their coat, and finally to find a seat in the sanctuary. If they were not on time, their seat would be in the overflow hall. But, those days are over – for awhile anyway. The former 800 seat facility has been replaced with a brand new church seating 2,200, plus a parking lot for 450 cars… In addition to the 2,200 seat sanctuary, one of the largest in Metro, there are spacious facilities for Christian Education, Youth and other church ministries… Reverend Mulligan says: “Above all, the church seeks to be a place of help and blessing to the surrounding community.”
Inscribed on the dedication bulletin of May 4, 1986 were these words “… the people had a mind to work” Nehemiah 4:6. These words from Nehemiah describe well the heart and passion of the people of APC. As a result, the 80s’ and into the 90’s again saw much spiritual growth and advancement. Pastor Mulligan continued to lead this great congregation as the senior pastor until 1994.
APC BOARD OF DEACONS 1986
John Bernhardt, Dan Davies, Carl Hutter, Larry Kokkonen, Peter Sham, Arthur Winsor
1994 – Present and BeyondIn August of 1994, Rev. Keith Smith became the Senior Pastor. The growing congregation was now running 2 Sunday morning services with a combined attendance of over 1600 people.
During the 90’s APC celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 1997 and on April 26, 1998, with much rejoicing and “dancing” we burned our mortgage.
January 1999 – Pastor Keith Smith“One year from now, we’ll be in a new millennium. Although we don’t know all that January 2000 will bring us, we know that the same Jesus who has watched over His Church for 2000 years will be watching over us until He comes. So let’s enter 2000 with confidence.” Our New Year’s Eve services have never been the same since that night of Dec. 31, 1999, where we filled the sanctuary with over 2000 people, and with many special effects and songs of celebration, went into the future with much confidence in God.
With the new millennium came a “New Day in Missions”, a strategic plan to Pray, Give and Go as never before. We also renovated our building, changing our lobby, kitchen and sanctuary to “Make our Facilities a Better People Place". The first years of the new millennium saw the exciting launching of our four Toronto Community Churches. We currently run eight weekend services with an average attendance of 2,400 people.
“After decades of uninterrupted unity and blessing, we can truly say of our church what was said of the Acts church – much grace was upon them all.” (K.R. Smith)
APC has been transformed from a white middle class church of the 1950’s to one of the most multi-cultural congregations in the world. As Pastor Smith often says “most people have to wait till Heaven to worship God with people from every tribe and nation – we just need to show up at a weekend service at APC.”
Not only enriched by cultural diversity, APC is a multi-generational church with each generation contributing to the other - from a thriving children’s program, to an active Young at Heart Seniors group, and every age and stage in between. All of our services are strategically planned to provide ministry for each age group and every stage of one’s faith journey.
At the center of our diversity is a unifying allegiance to 4 non-negotiable reasons these generations and cultures gather together:
- Our Ministry to God - Called to worship & prayer
- Our Ministry from God - Commanded to teach and disciple
- Our Ministry to Believers - Committed to fellowship that cares
- Our Ministry to Unbelievers - Commissioned to reach out
Agincourt Pentecostal Church todayIt is the mission of APC and our Toronto Community Churches to help people of the Toronto area experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to lead people of all ages and backgrounds to become Spirit-filled Christians whose life priority is to daily live and witness for Christ.
APC has always been about the people. Read the history of our church and you can’t help but see the “people of God” - ordinary folks who trusted and believed for big things from an extra-ordinary God. Our APC lineage is overflowing with people who not only believed big, but sacrificed generously and served wholeheartedly. Going forward, by God’s grace, that’s what we’re still about.
Our vision is to lead our Central and Satellite Churches to take further steps to reach people so that when they BEGIN life with Christ they grow as disciples to where they have a sense of BELONGing in our Church family and are ongoingly equipped by Pastors to BE-READY for ministry to others.
And the mission that lies before us, “Christ’s mission” will continue to be about people –people who still need Jesus. Our history has been consistently marked by outreach. Whether the early days of handing out pamphlets by Pastor & Mrs. Mercer, to a strong Sunday School Bus Ministry at Huntingwood, to musicals, outreaches, multiple services, Alpha Courses, mass mail-drops, Short Term Missions Teams, and our Community Connections Bus Outreach, APC has increasingly been a congregation that cares about and strategically reaches out to our community, country and world
In over fifty years we have met in three central locations, built two buildings, completed two major renovations (at Huntingwood) and three minor renovations to our present facility. Presently we meet at four locations with eight services every weekend.