125 years ago, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, had a remarkable presence in the urban core of Toronto. Their leaders “tramped the lanes and alleys (sometimes in the dead of night), feeding the poor, praying over the sick, comforting the sad, counseling the frustrated, and encouraging the unfortunate . . . They established the Toronto Mission Union in 1884 which, at its zenith, operated five mission halls, a senior citizens home, a convalescent home and Toronto’s first home nursing service. . . In Bethany Home, people in material, physical and spiritual distress were ministered to at no cost. . . . Bethany Workingman’s Home housed, fed and preached the gospel to ninety men each night.” All this and much more flowed out of two or three congregations. Excerpts taken from Lindsay Reynolds, Footprints (89, 214,290, 330, 332)
Collapse – By 1920, the young church’s strong beginning in the urban core fell into ruin. Historians talk of a broken gentlemen’s agreement but there were also issues of expropriated properties, lack of leadership development and work focused on outside mission at the expense of the church members. Downtown buildings once dedicated to God were given to other purposes, outreaches were gone, congregations were scattered. The Alliance eventually relocated and developed a very effective and long lasting ministry in the suburbs and all across Canada. But downtown, there was nothing left.
The Rebuilding – In 1992, as a new church planted out of First Alliance Church, Stephen and Annette Ford held public meetings in homes and schools downtown. The suburban church was reaching back into the urban core. In 1994, Pastor Bill and Donna Dyck became the leaders of Toronto Alliance Church and have been ever since. In 2002, Toronto Alliance Church rented its own 4000 ft. space at 602 Queen Street (at Bathurst). Ministries in the community and among the needy flourished. Strategic partnerships with other churches and missions developed because the work was large. More staff joined – raising their own support. Increasingly, TAC grew steadily as a church of the community with members from the downtown and surrounding area.
TAC now seeks to rebuild what once was for the Alliance in the early 1900’s. Permanence in the heart of the city, though difficult, is critical to our mission.
Today – The church draws about 150 people on Sundays – fairly young and diverse in make-up. Community Night (Saturday evenings) draws another 150 people from off the street – many of whom call TAC their own. Others connect with us through various off site outreaches in the community.
Ministry staff include several full-time pastors almost all of them raising their support, as well as a part time parish nurse, a number of interns, and some significantly committed volunteers.
With God’s help TAC seeks to be a healthy, worshipping body of believers that is near to the broken, enfolding them into our community life and restoring them to God. We believe passionately that our church, though imperfect, is God’s vehicle for bringing wholeness to the downtown core of Toronto.