A space to grow in faith: Repair of chapel and gym roofs provide renewed space for students to gather and grow

May 10, 2024 | Alumni & Friends Story, Stories

 For most of us, a roof repair is just a roof repair. Expensive maintenance, necessary and largely invisible. But sometimes, repairing a roof can be a symbol of something more. That’s how RJC President & CEO Ryan Wood feels about the repair RJC did on the school’s chapel and gymnasium in summer 2023.

The roof had served the school well for 60 years, but had started to leak in recent years and was getting to the point where it could no longer be patched. It would sometimes leak directly into the chapel or the gym, posing a risk for slipping or potential damage to the floors or projector. It was time to fully replace it, but the costs came in higher than they had hoped.

Thankfully RJC was able to apply to, and receive, $50,000 in funding from Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s new Special Project Fund. The fund was created when the organization realized it had enough money set aside to maintain a healthy reserve fund, while also funding projects that could benefit the church and related organizations. The funding from MC Sask was crucial in RJC being able to execute the roof repair. “I just want to thank MC Sask for this significant gift that allowed us to rebuild and restructure our chapel and invest in the lives of our youth,” says Ryan. “A huge thank you in that partnership – without the money, we can’t move forward with these projects.”

RJC and MC Sask have a strong historical relationship, MC Sask has been one of the core supporting organizations of the school. But for Ryan it was significant to be able to work together on the repair of the gym and chapel, two of the central spaces where the school community gathers. It was an opportunity to partner with the church to help provide a space for students to connect with their faith. “The chapel is a space where the word is shared. The word is modelled, the word is lived. And we can invite pastors and leaders in Mennonite Church Saskatchewan to partner with us in this strategic investment in the future of the church and youth,” he says, “creating leaders in faith service and peacemaking for generations to come.”

The opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the church and related organziations was also important for Tim Wiens, MC Sask finance chair, who initiated the creation of the Special Project Fund. There are many church-related organizations in the province that would like to do more work and support more people but need financial support to do so, he says. For Tim, repairing the roof of the gym and chapel at RJC is part of helping the school carry on its mission. “If you don’t have a school to put students in, then you can’t educate them,” he says, this funding is “making sure that the school can carry on its impact.”

A crucial part of that impact is helping youth grow in their faith and becoming future leaders. “One of the things RJC strives to do is give students opportunities to lead and explore various parts of their faith journey,” Tim says, “and RJC grads often end up in leadership in the church and provide leadership to different churches.”

Once the new roof was complete, RJC hosted a chapel service to bless the new roof. In addition to the school community they invited the board and representatives from MC Sask. The scripture passage highlighted that say was the passage from John 15 about the vine and the branches. That was an intentional choice to symbolize the interconnected relationships between the school and MC Sask. RJC is a branch, connected to the vine of the church, with students being the leaves growing on the branches. “I think it’s very important to always have the branches feed the vine, as the vine is feeding the branches,” says Ryan. “Being able to partner on these tangible projects gives us an excuse to remind each other of how important we are, and to strengthen and deepen those relationships.”

Photo: President & CEO Ryan Wood, RJC Board Chair David Weiler-Thiessen & Director of Admissions & Development Alex Tiessen with Gary Peters, Sharon Shultz, and Josh Wallace of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan at RJC’s appreciation chapel.