Jubilee Christian Fellowship at 707 Downie St. is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend, states a press release.
In mid-June 1981, Jubilee Christian Ministries began in a farmhouse south of Stratford. Judy Trudgeon asked the Arnotts if John would be interested in coming to Stratford to teach Bible study. There were nearly 25 people at the first meeting.
After just a few weeks in the farmhouse, Jubilee moved to the Optimist Hall where Sunday evening services were held. The church then moved to Avon Public school, then moving to Shakespeare Public school. The Upper Room at 31 Market Pl. was soon established to give church members a gathering place.
Jubilee Christian Academy was launched in September, 1983 at the Upper Room.
In June 1985, with a pressing need for more room, Jubilee moved to 114 Wellington Street.
That summer, church members worked to transform the former furniture store into a church auditorium and a barren basement into a school facility. This new facility opened the development of the Sunday Church School.
College-level Bible school courses affiliated with the Buffalo School of the Bible started at Jubilee in January 1986.
In June of 1987, Jubilee was invited to join the Association of Vineyard Churches, in response to an application the church had made one year previous. At a special meeting of the congregation, the church changed its name to Jubilee Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Stratford.
In 1987, the church made the decision to build on Downie Street and in 1988, the decision to build low-cost subsidized housing on the adjacent property was made by a newly established board of directors.
Jubilee established its first church in Cambridge in 1989, and the next year, the first meetings of what would eventually become the Toronto Airport Church were held.
In June 1990, the church held its grand opening service in the new facility. In 1996 they joined a new association of churches named Partners in Harvest. At present there are more than 6,000 churches connected to this network world wide. Jubilee changed its name to Jubilee Christian Fellowship in January 1996.
From its inception, Jubilee has been a sending out church, states the press release, sending out short-term mission teams to various parts of the world including the nations of Central America, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Russia, India, U.S., and other parts of Canada.
Anniversary celebrations will include guest speaker Steve Hepden of the United Kingdom, who will make a presentation tonight at 7 p.m. Hepden is a former pastor and itinerant speaker, who has been associated with the church for many years. On Saturday afternoon there will be memorabilia displays set up from 5-7 p.m. and a children's program presentation starting at 5:15 p.m. The evening wraps up with a presentation from Jubilee's founding pastors, John and Carol Arnott, who will speak again on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. A barbecue will follow the Sunday morning service.