Our History

The Lighthouse Christian Social Services began in 1968 (at that time under the name “Christian Reformed Inner City Ministry”) as a neighbourhood evangelical outreach of the Toronto Classis of the Christian Reformed Church of North America, with the vision of planting a church in the Bloor/Bathurst/Dupont area of Toronto.  The ministry known as “The Lighthouse” formed part of this outreach, at that time consisting of children’s after-school programs and a neighbourhood community centre.  Over the next ten years, while a new, independent church did not develop, a great amount of potential was seen in the ongoing work of The Lighthouse programs, and in 1980, the organization was reorganized and reopened under the name “The Lighthouse” as an agency that provides social assistance and that facilitates refugee and immigration settlement and support.

At the time of The Lighthouse’s reorganization, many churches were beginning to sponsor refugees of the Southeast Asian wars, and later other refugees from Africa and Latin America.  The Lighthouse became instrumental in assisting churches with the refugee sponsorship process and settlement issues – from transportation, housing and health to education, ESL, social services, referrals and friendship.

Many other local neighbourhood programs were developed during the 1980s and 1990s to serve the needs of people on social assistance, seniors on fixed incomes, the “working poor” and those medically unable to work.  These programs included a food bank and an annual income tax returns clinic, which programs exist to this day.

In addition to the social services provided by The Lighthouse, The Lighthouse became an informal spiritual home and meeting place for various groups over the years, including the Vietnamese Friendship Group known as “Hai Dang” (Vietnamese for “Lighthouse”) and two other groups that eventually became independent churches:  the Toronto Chinese Christian Reformed Church and All Nations Christian Fellowship.

While the refugee sponsorship program is no longer a major project of The Lighthouse, The Lighthouse continues to offer support during the refugee determination process (predominantly refugee claimants from Latin America, at present) and to otherwise serve the needs of newcomers to the Greater Toronto Area, particularly immigrants and refugees of Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic descent.

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