A Brief History of Fleetwood International Church
In the early 1980's, the late Pastor Carlos San Luis had just graduated from seminary. He was young, energetic and very enthusiastic to begin the work God had set out for him. Pastor Carlos had a vision and a passion, particularly for new Filipino immigrants living in Surrey where the bulk of his energy was centred. As a result of much prayer, dedication, deliberation, and hard work, thirteen families held their first service in a house in Surrey on November 1981.
After a few months, the thirteen families grew to twenty. With this growth was a need for a larger meeting space. Cedar Grove Baptist Church opened their hearts and their doors. These twenty families now had a place to meet. Cedar Grove Baptist Church also helped us become part of what was then called the Baptist General Conference (BGC), now called the Baptist General Conference of Canada. We are in the district of British Columbia Baptist Conference (BCBC). Shortly after Pastor Carlos was ordained, Filipino Baptist Church (FBC) was born.
In 1982, Filipino Baptist Church saw its attendance increase to seventy-five. Again, the problem of having suitable meeting space arose. The solution to this problem began to take shape as FBC was able to purchase property at 82nd and 161 Street in Surrey. The clearing of this property began in November 1983. The official ground breaking and construction of the building began.
Members devoted their time after regular work hours as well as their weekends to help with construction of the new building. It was an exciting time! Working at the property would regularly turn into a family affair as the workers' families would also come to work, socialize and bring food for all to share. These informal gatherings would later give way to such regular events as Family Camp and the yearly church picnic. After a year of pouring their sweat into the construction of the building, the members would see it completed and dedicated on November 25th, 1984.
Pastor Carlos' enthusiasm only grew as the years went by. His vision also grew and evolved. He soon saw a need to church plant in Oregon, USA. Prior to resigning as FBC's first Pastor, he recommended his successor, Pastor Damaso (Dan) Bautista, who was then residing and working in the Philippines. When Pastor Carlos left Canada in 1986 to begin the work in Oregon, the attendance was at one hundred seventy-five. The people who called FBC their home church waited for more than a year for Pastor Damaso and his family to arrive in 1988.
During Pastor Damaso's tenure at FBC, the church family grew in many different ways. Different ministries and training programs such as Home Builders, Evangelism Explosion, Seven Series, Knowing God and Growing Strong were implemented and a dedicated praise and worship team was formed. FBC sent their first missionary, Warren Fulmore who claims FBC as his home church, to Palawan, Philippines. This growth led in part to the planting of a daughter church, Tri-Cities International Church in Coquitlam. Ten years passed before Pastor Dan moved on to new challenges. He officially resigned in 1998 to work on attaining his Masters of Divinity.
The successor to Pastor Dan Bautista was Pastor Dan Ee. He and his wife Elsie came in 1999 to serve God at FBC. Pastor Dan had a vision to see the people at FBC solidify their spiritual foundation and reach out to other nationalities in the community. The church moved on to becoming a genuine international church which led to the necessary and logical step of a new church name. Thus, after much prayer and discussion, Filipino Baptist Church became Fleetwood International Church (FIC).
Upon Pastor Dan Ee's retirement in December 2005, the church invited Dr. Bernard Mukwavi and wife Anne to come and pastor at FIC in 2006. Originally from Zambia, they had served as pastors and missionaries on three different continents; Africa, Europe and North America, extensively involved in numerous church ministries including church plants, youth ministry, missions and Bible Schools. With his wealth of multicultural experience, Pastor Bernard led the church to grow in its evangelistic and mission focus, and also raised young people in leadership and in the praise and worship teams. Towards the end of 2012, Pastor Bernard felt led to respond to a call to take on BCBC leadership and later resigned as Senior Pastor at the end of Feb 2013.
In the one year of transition, while a committee embarked on the search for a new Lead Pastor, the church continued to reach out to the community. We witnessed significant growth in our ESL (English as a second language) programs, Youth and Young Adults ministries, AWANA and VBS (Vacation Bible School) kids programs. In March 2014, the church was thrilled when Rev. Del Penner accepted the call to lead FIC. Pastor Del and his wife Joyce had spent 20 years in cross-cultural church ministry and leadership development in Kenya, and the past 10 years as Lead Pastor in a BGC church in Langley. As a growing multicultural community of Christ-followers worshipping God, under the leadership of Pastor Del, FIC continues to be passionate about sharing the message of His extravagant love with others in the community and globally.