Northward Bound

Pastor Patrick Garrett is still fairly new to Immanuel Baptist Church in Blind River, but one thing is abundantly clear: he already deeply loves his church and his community. 

Patrick got his start to life in the “deep south” of the Niagara region, but the north has always had a claim on him. Right from the beginning of his ministry career, he completed an internship at a church in Sault Ste. Marie, and, after serving in the balmy climes of Fergus and Oakville, began his journey northward to Barrie in the snow belt. But while that was in the right direction, God wasn’t finished pulling him northward. From there he was beckoned still further and, in 2018, he and his family accepted a call to Immanuel Baptist Church, Blind River, on the north shores of Lake Huron. While the weather may be cooler, the community couldn’t be warmer. 

“I appreciate the congregation here. The people have been very welcoming to my family—right from the first weekend.”  —Pastor Patrick Garrett

But there were some things to get used to when moving to a small community. One has no anonymity in a small town, which was abundantly evident to Patrick when he attempted to surreptitiously take out the garbage in his pyjamas—only to be warmly greeted by someone he knew. Even so, he enjoys the accountability of being known in the community—and it only continues to grow. He’s already made fast friendships, and the slower pace of life is a welcome relief after the rush of city dwelling. 

The Vision

So what’s his vision for Immanuel Baptist Church? After only a year and a half, Patrick has taken time to get to know his church—and to help his congregation figure out how God is calling them to use their gifts. With an avid appreciation for alliteration, he has outlined his vision as:  

  • Delighting in God 
  • Drawing others into the community 
  • Developing disciples  
  • Deploying people in mission through serving and outreach in the community 

But Patrick’s vision isn’t restricted to the town limits. He’s now a passionate advocate for the north, and wants to strengthen the Northern Assocation and build stronger relationships with other northern churches—and he’s not alone. One board member, Dave Nicholls commented, “The north feels disconnected. They need to connect with each other… and increase connections.”  

Reaching Out

We live in an age where physical distance doesn’t have to mean isolation, and building strong connections over vast geography is possible. And Patrick is a gatherer, committed to bringing people together from across the north, across generations and neighbourhoods, encouraging mutual care, prayer, shared time and meals—building a community of people who love one another, inviting in neighbours to the warmth and fellowship that the Body of Christ can offer. Even in this season of isolation, there are ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and Immanuel Baptist Church is committed to finding them. 

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