Murray McLellan didn’t grow up in a Bible-believing church or a Christian home. “Where I grew up, you could drive an hour in any direction, and you wouldn’t find a Bible-believing church. There’s only a small number of Christians in this country, and there are whole areas where there’s no gospel-centered church at all.”
This is how Murray, the pastor of Grace Saskatoon, describes the unchurched area of Saskatchewan.
He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and became a physical education teacher in a village north of the city. Murray says he and his wife were happily going through life when God interrupted.
The first Christian he knew was the dad of one of the girls in his class. He would often steer the conversation to spiritual things and ask Murray, “if this bus were to crash and you were to die, what would happen to you?” Looking back, he realized it was the very Spirit of God pressing him at that moment.
“His grace was exceedingly sweet when three weeks later, a church planter and his wife from a nearby town ended up at our house,” he says, “God used that moment in time to open my eyes to the reality of who he is and who Jesus was. I’m so thankful we were saved at this new church plant.” “There’s only a small number of Christians in this country, and there are whole areas where there's no gospel-centered church at all.” —Murray McLellan Click To Tweet
Just three months into his Christian faith, the church planter asked Murray if he’d consider meeting Saturday mornings to be equipped and trained. Their sessions included Bible study, systematic theology, and Greek lessons. It was a great experience being trained within the local church context.
Movements of Grace
Murray and his wife had left for Alberta for some time, but he says, “in the strange way God works, he brought us back to Saskatchewan. This time, to pastor the same church I was saved in.”
They held an “evening of theology” at the University of Saskatchewan, and during that time, many people made professions of faith in Jesus. This movement led them to be more intentional about starting a church in Saskatoon.
“We knew we just couldn’t do this alone,” Murray said, “so we began looking at who we could partner with to see the gospel advanced in our city and beyond.”
With their theological convictions, mission, and understanding of the church’s purpose, they felt they had to compromise when pursuing partnerships. Then God connected them with Acts 29. Murray says, “the more we dug in, the more we realized this is home. This fits who we are with no compromises.”
In those early days, the network was a big blessing and a catalyst for Grace Saskatoon. Being poured into by brothers helped keep them motivated for the gospel and the mission of Jesus.
With big dreams to plant a church downtown, Murray intensely took the time to disciple young men. He saw their passion for the gospel and trained them to become pastors and church planters. They continued to pour into a handful of young men the same way Murray was first poured into.
In 2015, Grace Saskatoon continued to grow. So after a lot of prayer and discernment, they sent out their first plant, Grace Warman, north of the city. Then in September 2019, they sent out another core group to plant Grace Evergreen. “We want to plant churches and make disciples so that more people like myself in the First Nations communities will hear the gospel.” —Sam Whitehawk Click To Tweet
“I love that our vision is to continue planting churches. We don’t want to grow stagnant,” says Sam Whitehawk, pastor of Grace Evergreen. “We want to plant churches and make disciples so that more people like myself in the First Nations communities will hear the gospel.”
The planters and pastors of Grace Fellowship know the needs in Saskatchewan are great. They hope to continue the faithful teaching of God’s Word, making disciples, and multiplying churches for the fame and glory of the One who has given himself for us.