PAC settling into new home in Neepawa



By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

The pastor of a new church in Neepawa says he is bringing a message of hope and inclusiveness to the community. Stafford Greer, along with several members of his congregation, are planning to open a branch of the Prairie Alliance Church (PAC) in the former Neepawa Funeral home building in mid to late September. Greer, who has been a part of PAC for five years in Portage la Prairie, said that the denomination has a long established history in the province.

“PAC Neepawa is part of the Christian Missionary Alliance, which is just over a 100 years old. PAC itself used to be the Portage Alliance Church but we’ve changed our name to Prairie Alliance Church. We recently celebrated, I believe, 53 years in Portage la Prairie. We started out as a small congregation, but developed as a part of the community as the years progressed,” noted Greer.

The support for Prairie Alliance in Portage la Prairie has grown over the years, facilitating a $ 3 million expansion in 2013 to Westpark Church and School. Those upgrades included a new foyer and multi-purpose space for the church, as well as a 14,500-square foot expansion to the provincially certified school that it operates.

Once that work was completed, the PAC turned its attention to expanding into other communities. Greer said that Neepawa was selected as the first location to establish a new congregation due to it having an importance to the region as an anchor community. He noted that the PAC’s development in Portage had similar origins.

“For a long time that was our longing to branch out to other communities but we really did not know where it was going to be, how it was going to go and when it was going to happen? But as things with Neepawa became a lot clearer, it became obvious that this would be the first spot where we grow,” said Greer. “We have been blessed with a fairly healthy congregation that developed over the years in Portage la Prairie. A big part of that is due to [the city of Portage] being an anchor for so many of it outlying communities. People from across the area come into Portage for commerce, for shopping, medical and so on. So we felt that Neepawa also serves as a rural hub for many of its satellite communities in a similar manner. Combined with the tremendous growth that’s going on in the town, it was a real opportunity. But really, from a spiritual sense, it felt as though God was leading us here. Neepawa felt highlighted throughout the process. Like this is the place we needed to be.”

Greer and other members of the church have spent the past several months transforming their new building in preparation for public services in September. Work has recently slowed down as the group waits to receive additional construction permits. Assuming those permits come in soon, they’ll be working on a coffee cafe, foyer space and auditorium in which to host services. Greer stated that they remain hopeful that they’ll be able to have services begin by September 13.

As for PAC’s efforts to acclimate itself to Neepawa, Greer emphasized that since March, when he, his wife Joanne and their three children moved here, word of mouth about the church has kept growing and more people have joined them. He added that PAC Neepawa wants to be very much inclusive and a part of the community.

“Part of our culture and who we are as a church is one where we really believe that part of any church’s mandate, wherever they are is to makes their town better, regardless of how many people from the town come to their church. We really want our town to think ‘I’m sure glad that they’re here.’ It’s like the teaching of Jesus Christ. He was accepting of all people, whether they followed him or not. As a church, we want to try and embody that as well,” said Greer.  “If people become curious about us as a byproduct of that outreach, great, but it’s not the end all. We just want to bless people. We identify areas, where our work or our support may be a blessing to the town. Whether it’s working with the Roxy and providing a free movie night to families within the region or supporting the Filipino Basketball League or the Neepawa Natives Organization. As a church, we just want to go out of our way to make the town better.”