Sunday mornings, students from the world over sharpen their English alongside volunteers at Gateway Church in Winnipeg as part of the church’s English as an Additional Language program.
Why we offer free English classes
It’s long been part of our vision at Gateway Church to welcome the nations. This ministry began after we learned about a similar ministry at Foothills Alliance Church in Calgary. Eleven people initially volunteered at our church and we started in January 2017. Today, we can have up to 50 students every week with about 45 volunteers from across our two congregations.
How it works
We offer free English as an Additional Language (EAL) classes Sunday mornings for beginner, intermediate and advanced students. We have also offered workshops on relevant topics and hosted parties or picnics. We launched a class called Bridges that uses the Bible to teach English, which is now our biggest class. Our plan is to begin offering an EAL Bible study for those interested.
It’s become a really big community. We’ve had about 250 students visit our classes over the past three years, and they’ve represented about 25 nations. We’re very glad to help people learn English, but also to provide a place of refuge – of community and friendship – and [most importantly] a pathway for people to meet Jesus.
How Covid-19 changed things
Because of Covid-19 we relaunched online. We held five weekly classes students could attend before our summer break.
How other churches can do the same
You can learn from other churches like we did. All it takes is being welcoming and friendly, having a good curriculum and a caring team of volunteers, and you will be able to reach many people who would otherwise be unlikely to enter a church’s door.
Thanks to Julia Todd, program co-ordinator at Gateway Winnipeg, for speaking to us.