It started in 1937. The Lord tugged on the heartstrings of two young women in Langley Prairie, and they responded by holding a sidewalk Sunday. Jenny Gaglardi and Laurene Drury were the first people of what would become Christian Life Assembly, as we know it today.
From it’s humble beginnings, Langley Prairie Pentecostal, as the group of worshipers was called, was able to quickly move into a tiny hall that they rented for $12 a month. The small congregation didn’t hesitate to dream big and act in faith. In 1942, they began holding revival meetings that were the largest recorded in BC at the time. In one instance, they even had to come up with 500 homes for billeting people from all over the region! All this at only 5 years old!
In 1943, the tiny new congregation had so outgrown its rental facility that it was time to move into a bigger one. A building was purchased for $1,200 and they were able to move in. Seeing that the region around Langley needed to be reached for Christ as well, in 1944 , this young church participated in planting churches in Cloverdale, Fort Langley, and Port Kells. The desire to multiply beyond Langley would play a key part of this church to this day.
Over the next 15 years, the church grew and had to add multiple wings onto its building, until they simply ran out of space on the property. It was in faith then, that the church decided in 1961 to build a brand new building, with seating for 600.
The members of the church came together and helped pitch in with construction using volunteer labour. This brought the cost of the new building down from $125,000 to only $40,000. It was also at this point that the name was changed to Langley Pentecostal Church.
It wasn’t long that the congregation quickly outgrew even this new building. Faith brings life!
In 1972, Pastor Leroy Lebeck took on the role of Senior Pastor, and it was under his leadership that again, with the building bursting at the seams, that a second service was added for the first time. Still that wasn’t enough. Even with the extra service, there were some classes that were forced into neighbouring barbershops and restaurants, just so they could have space.
It was in faith again, that the congregation moved forward. This time, with a congregation of only 400, they decided to embark on building project that would in the end seat 1200 people with an overflow of 500 more. This is the same building we have today.
To the observers outside, this was hard to comprehend. Newspapers and reporters across the country, as far away as Toronto and Halifax, ridiculed the church for building such a monstrous building. They were told it would never be filled and many people expected the church to default financially. It seemed like a challenge to the congregation. A challenge that was accepted in faith. The publicity was simply considered free advertising! God’s providence was at work even in this.
Two of the stand out miracles that occured during this remarkable campaign are of particular note. To pay for the property, at the last possible moment, an individual felt challenged to give $50,000 in back-tithes.
At another point, there was an urgent need of $20,000 to be raised or else construction would be forced to halt as the church defaulted. A faith offering was taken on a snowy Sunday in December, just hours before payment was due, and the $20,000 came in with pennies to spare!
God consistently showed his provision for the congregation and their bold act of faith.
In 1978, Christian Life Assembly was renamed with a brand new building. To mark the occasion, the congregation of 400 walked from the old building, into the new one that could seat 1700.
To the surprise of many, within five years, these seats were still not enough – and a second service was added.
Taking the Leadership in 1983, Pastor Don Cantelon brought with him a vision to expand again, not only in physical structure, but also in the scope of programs offered.
It was under his leadership that, in 1987, Sharon Village was built. The sale of homes in the village actually enabled the entire mortgage to be paid off and the church was debt free – and moving forward!
By 1989, merely 11 years since moving in, and with more than four times the size of the initial congregation, the church had outgrown it’s facility. CLA centre was added with music facilities, classes, and offices.
Through the next decade, under the leadership of Pastor Brent Cantelon, and his wife Carina, revival flourished. God moved in remarkable ways in the church and it’s influence in the city.
In 2003 CLA began to expand outside of Langley by adding it’s first campus in Maple Ridge. CLA was now continuing to multiply, adding CLA Coquitlam in 2009, which we were excited to commission as its own autonomous assembly, newly named Resonate Church in January 2017. Recovery Church was added in 2010 and continues to be a viable ministry of CLA. Sooke Campus was added in 2011.
2008 brought a significant renovation to the Langley Campus. The café was added, and the auditorium was remodeled. It was much needed after having been in full use for nearly 20 years. The renovations helped bring some important updates, especially as multi-media began to play an ever-increasing part in corporate worship. Moreover, the seating was increased to be able to hold more than 2000 people with the overflow in use.
The latest chapter in the history of CLA began with the arrival of Pastor Derrick Hamre and Sarah Lee in the fall of 2014. Building on a rich history and a fresh vision from the Lord, CLA will continue to live its destiny by being Living Waters to not only the Community of Langley, but to the world. [clip – Living Water Sermon 18:00-18:19]
It has been eighty years since the beginning. Regionally, Christian Life Assembly has seen the community grow and expand around it. Where farmlands once were, now there are townhouse complexes.
The Lower Mainland has grown in population from 400,000, to 2.5 million. Internationally, since CLA was established, World War 2 occurred, Israel became a nation, The USSR dissolved and twelve Canadian Prime Ministers have come and gone. God has remained constant through it all. As the people of CLA remained with their eyes focused on him, God provided and lead the way.
Through all of this time Jesus has been faithfully building His church. In eighty years of ministry at Christian Life Assembly, thousands of people have heard the gospel and have been born again. Individuals in the hundreds have been filled with the Spirit, healed and restored. Furthermore, millions of dollars have been given to the work of the Lord around the world, churches have been planted and lives have been changed.
Christian Life Assembly has been a people of faith and action. God has done incredible things in our 80 years of history.
Today we are called to a revitalization of our vision and mission; to join God in the transforming of our lives, neighbourhoods, nation and world.
Thank God for the many years of blessing – “May He continually do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine for his glory in the church and in Christ Jesus !”