The history of Renforth Church goes back to 1838. A Sunday school in rural Etobicoke (a population of 84 in 1805) began in the home of Ann Elizabeth Mercer, a widowed mother of three young children. As the Sunday School grew, the group called James Brooks as their pastor and became the Ebenezer congregation (in Hebrew, Ebenezer means “a stone of help”). A few years later, they built Ebenezer Chapel on Burnhamthorpe Rd., not too far from the current location of the church. Pastor Brooks led the congregation for about 40 years, until he stepped down for health reasons. The Baptists of McMaster University (then still in Toronto) kept the church going, until they hired a new pastor.
Through the following years and decades, God proved to be faithful to the Ebenezer congregation. The Great Depression in the 1930s, however, proved to be hard times, and the church closed down for a few years. But a divinity student at McMaster, Edward Dreisinger, saw God’s vision to open up Ebenezer again, and he went into Renforth’s community. God blessed his effort by filling the pews with eager people. By the 1950s, the church had become a genuine community church, and on May 15, 1955, the church decided to formally change their name to Renforth Baptist Church, in order to adapt to the changing culture and urbanization of Etobicoke. With this change also came the building of a new church facility (current building) in 1956-57.
Renforth continued to experience highs and lows, growth and splits, throughout the decades, but there was a remnant who would ensure that Renforth’s doors would not close. As God was faithful to Renforth, they would be faithful to proclaim his good news as well.
By the 1980s and 90s, the church continued to thrive as a community church, but by the beginning of the 2010s, the church had faced a decline, and roughly 10-20 people could be found on a Sunday morning during this period. However, God was not done with Renforth, and He led Rev. Chris Stefanidis to lead this congregation in 2013. Under his leadership, the church grew to about 80 from the remnant. After about six years of faithful ministry, Pastor Chris was led to transition to a new ministry, and Renforth called Dr. Dave Yoon to be the lead pastor.
As we reflect on over 180 years of God’s faithfulness to Renforth, we are excited about the next chapter in the history of this church, and we welcome you to join us in God’s mission to participate in what He is doing in this church and community!
(For further reading on the history of Ebenezer/Renforth Church, you can purchase the book published by the University of Toronto Press here.)