While the history of East Gate Alliance Church and its congregation can be seen as its own distinct narrative, it is also very much intertwined with the formation, vision and growth of the International Community of Alliance Churches – in some ways, it is impossible to separate the two! The International Community of Alliance Churches would not have become a reality without the faith and perseverance of the founding members and early leadership of East Gate Alliance Church. And without the International Community of Alliance Churches, it is doubtful that East Gate Alliance Church would have blossomed into the thriving Christ-centered church that it is today!
In 1977, there was only one English-speaking Alliance church in Ottawa – it was known then as the Central Alliance Church (formerly Ottawa Gospel Tabernacle). Some members of the congregation desired to relocate the church from its location on Bank Street, and in October 1977, the congregation voted to buy property on Cedarview Road in the west end of the city. Along with their relocation, they changed their name to Cedarview Alliance Church. However, a few members of Central Alliance Church were interested in planting a church in the east end of the city, and with that vision in mind, they formed a prayer group with the sole purpose of seeking God’s direction.
On a snowy Easter morning, the former members of Central Alliance Church began to meet at Gloucester High School, and adopted the name East Gate Alliance Church, which was chosen to represent the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem through which Christ would enter upon His return to earth. Shortly afterwards, the newly-formed congregation of East Gate Alliance Church voted unanimous to hire Rev. Roy Batchelor as their first senior pastor.
1979 - 1980
A congregational committee of East Gate Alliance Church began to investigate whether they should continue to rent public facilities or look for an existing property on which they could build or expand. In December 1980, East Gate Alliance Church began to rent Quarries Public School, located at 550 Codd’s Road, from the Ottawa Board of Education – the school had been closed for the last time as a school at the end of the previous school year (June 1980), and the building was intended to be disposed of by July 1981.
In March 1982, the Ottawa Board of Education voted at a monthly meeting to sell Quarries Public School by open public tender. Within the next month, the congregation of East Gate Alliance Church voted to submit a bid of $126,500 for the purchase of the school’s property and building. Despite it being a “bargain basement price”, the Ottawa Board of Education voted to accept the bid submitted by East Gate Alliance Church, and in September 1982, the Quarries Public School building and 5.1 acres of land were officially sold to East Gate Alliance Church, entirely debt free.
1986 - 1988
In August 1986, Conrad Neudorf joined the pastoral team at East Gate Alliance Church to serve as an associate pastor, and he was involved with leading the youth and music/worship ministries.
Prior to Rev. Roy Batchelor’s resignation at the end of 1988, a daughter church, Redeemer Alliance, was planted in the suburb of Orleans.
1989 - 1993
Rev. Bruce Jackson joined the pastoral team in January 1989 to fulfill the role of senior pastor, alongside Pastor Conrad who was still serving as an associate pastor.
Prior to resigning at the end of 1992, in order to help plant a church in the south end of the city, Pastor Conrad was ordained and involved in the leadership of a second worship service. After Pastor Conrad’s departure, Rev. Bill Buitenwerf joined Rev. Bruce Jackson to serve as an associate pastor in 1993.
1995 - 1996
In 1995, Rev. Bruce Jackson (and his family) accepted an opportunity to serve in Ecuador and on May 19, 1996, Rev. Bill Buitenwerf began to serve as senior pastor for East Gate Alliance Church. In the fall of 1996, Mike Linnen joined the pastoral team, to serve as an associate pastor. It was also around this time that East Gate Alliance Church first opened their doors to another congregation, the Filipino Community Church.
1998 - 2001
God began to plant a new vision in the hearts of Rev. Bill Buitenwerf and Pastor Mike Linnen. They had been discussing the church property and questioned how they could use it for the kingdom of God – they knew there must be a greater way to impact the city of Ottawa than growing trees! As part of an evangelism campaign, they consulted the 1996 Census and discovered that the area around them was culturally diverse. They began to wonder:
"What if this plot of land could become home for a variety of ministries operating in various languages? What if we could make this property a place where a number of ethnic congregations could work together to reach Ottawa?"
Significant change came to East Gate Alliance Church as the idea of forming an international community was born – this community would come to be known as the International Community of Alliance Churches (ICAC). At a congregational meeting on June 10, 2001, church members voted unanimously in favour of inviting ethnic Alliance churches to join them and share their 5.1-acre property. Soon afterwards, the International Community of Alliance Churches property quickly became home to two ethnic congregations: the Alliance Chrétienne Missionaire de la Capitale and Iglesia Hispana de Ottawa.
2003 - 2006
For at least a decade, Rev. Bill Buitenwerf had it on his heart to reach out to Arabs and Muslims, and upon learning that they formed the third largest people group in Ottawa, his burden for them increased. Bill, alongside a married couple from East Gate Alliance Church, began to pray for guidance on starting an Arabic outreach. In October 2004, the Arabic Alliance Church was launched in order to meet the huge need and impact the Arabic and Muslim people living in Ottawa – this was the fifth congregation that joined the International Community of Alliance Churches.
The later part of 2005 brought Efrem Mesegema and his family to the International Community of Alliance Churches. He and his wife had been praying for a place to meet with other Christians from Ethiopia, and through this endeavor, Grace Church was formed.
In 2006, the Alliance Chrétienne Missionaire de la Capitale, who had been meeting on the property of the International Community of Alliance Churches for over five years, decided to relocate to a newly purchased building on Innes Road in order to facilitate Sunday morning services for their congregation. While they had a desire to physically build on the property of International Community of Alliance Churches, they had been met with many roadblocks over the years. On December 3, 2006, an inaugural service was held in their new building, and this occasion marked a unique moment in the partnership within the International Community of Alliance Churches – the service began with a sendoff at East Gate Alliance Church, and then a motorcade of worshippers drove over to the new premises of the Alliance Chrétienne Missionaire de la Capitale, where the service continued.
2007 - 2008
Soon after the departure of the Alliance Chrétienne Missionaire de la Capitale, Rev. Bill Buitenwerf reached out to the senior pastor of the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church, Rev. Jack Xie, to see if his church would be interested in joining the International Community of Alliance Churches. The concept of the International Community of Alliance Churches had been first proposed to Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church in 2001 when they were investigating the purchasing land from East Gate Alliance Church, but at that time they were not ready for such a coalition. However, this time around they were very interested!
After many discussions within their own church, the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church began to participate in worship services and other joint ministries within the International Community of Alliance Churches, such as weekly programs for children and youth. They still held their own Sunday worship services in a rented facility near the University of Ottawa, but they began to envision becoming a physical part of the International Community of Alliance Churches campus.
Partway through the year, the Iglesia Hispana de Ottawa relocated to the western side of the city (Ottawa), and a Hispanic prayer and Bible study group sprung up to take its place, under the leadership of Oscar Amaya.
In the fall of 2007, Debbie Macphail joined the staff ministry team on a part-time basis to serve as the Director of Children and Family Ministries. Debbie had previously been working for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board as an educational assistant for children with special needs.
In 2008, after over 12 years of dedicated service to East Gate Alliance Church, Pastor Mike Linnen resigned from his position as associate pastor. He had been presented an opportunity to serve as a missions consultant with the Eastern Canada District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Acknowledging the calling that God had placed on his heart, he (along with his family) moved to Oshawa to begin a new chapter of their lives.
Near the end of 2008, Rev. Jack Xie resigned as the senior pastor of the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church. His assistant pastor at the time, Rev. Paul Mingtao Chen, was invited to fulfill and serve in the role of senior pastor for the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church.
2009 - 2010
Early in 2009, members of East Gate Alliance Church and the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church gathered together to begin to envision and plan an expansion to the existing property of the International Community of Alliance Churches. Shortly afterwards, in April, the congregation of East Gate Alliance Church voted unanimously to support a proposal from the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church to construct a worship hall, along with supporting classrooms and offices and a joint lobby or foyer.
In the summer of 2009, Chris Bebbington joined the pastoral team to serve as a Youth and Associate Pastor. As the vision of the International Community of Alliance Churches was well underway, Chris would not only be serving East Gate Alliance Church, but also the other churches that were a part of the International Community of Alliance Churches.
With much sadness, after of being a part of the International Community of Alliance Churches for five years, the Arabic Alliance Church decided to cease the worship services they had been running, due to waning attendance and commitment. While there remained a committed core of Arabic-speaking Christians, they realized the need to wait on the Lord for further direction.
2012 - 2014
Early in 2012, a site plan was approved by the City of Ottawa for the proposed Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church expansion to the International Community of Alliance Churches property, but it took over a full year for construction to begin. This was due to many unseen roadblocks, which were thankfully overcome by God’s grace and provision.
March 29, 2013 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion, and construction commenced soon afterwards. By the beginning of April 2014, the expansion had been completed, and was ready for move-in! For Rev. Bill Buitenwerf, the opening of the Ottawa Mandarin Alliance Church expansion was a major step towards the fulfillment of the 13-year-old International Community of Alliance Churches dream.
With much deep thought and prayer, Pastor Chris Bebbington resigned as youth and associate pastor at the end of the summer in 2014 to take up a unique opportunity to serve alongside his father, Rev. Mark Bebbington, at Sherbrooke Heights Alliance Church in Peterborough, Ontario.
In January 2015, Burning Hearts House of Prayer officially began as a daily prayer ministry. This prayer ministry was birthed over an extended period of time, during which God was working deeply in Nahia Haddad’s life. Nahia had been feeling the Holy Spirit leading her to start a prayer ministry at the International Community of Alliance Churches, as the Lord had placed Isaiah 56:7 on her heart.
"…my house will be called a house of prayer for many nations."
— Isaiah 56:7
In February 2015, the Lord led the Tigrigna Christian Ministry to meet at the International Community of Alliance Churches – the ministry had been founded the previous year, as a home-based Bible study. Over a short period of time, the Tigrigna Christian Ministry discovered that they easily fit in among the other ministries and churches of the International Community of Alliance Churches.
At the start of the year, Joshua Kahle, who had grown up at East Gate Alliance Church, joined the pastoral team as a youth ministry intern. He was subsequently hired to fulfill the open youth pastor position near the end of his internship.
In late 2015, Jacques Lapointe also joined the pastoral team at East Gate Alliance Church to serve as a pastor of French ministry and pastoral care. He had felt God calling him to pioneer and build a ministry for French-speaking Christians within the International Community of Alliance Churches.