“I’ve never seen so many young people at a church before”: parishioners talk about why they attend C3, Toronto’s “hipster church”

“I’ve never seen so many young people at a church before”: parishioners talk about why they attend C3, Toronto’s “hipster church”

C3 isn’t your typical church. Its pastor wears skinny jeans, it has billboards that say “For God so loved the 6,” and there’s a noticeable lack of white hair in its congregation. Its fashion-savvy millennial followers have earned C3—part of a global Pentecostal movement called Christian City Church—a reputation as Toronto’s “hipster church.” We stopped by its Easter mass, held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, to ask these 20- and 30-somethings why they flock to its services.

Mark Bone

30, documentary filmmaker, Bloordale
“I think I came to C3 as a really selfish person. The church pushed me and challenged me, in a good way. I’ve learned what it means to serve others and live selflessly. That’s been such a freeing thing. It’s made life so much lighter.”

 

Alyssa Yuhas

33, graphic designer, Bloorcourt
“I’m here for the awesome community. C3 is super open and inclusive, and they don’t let you stay in the crap that you’re in. You’re always pushed to be better—a better leader, better mom, better employee. The church just launched an initiative to buy a house for refugees in the city.”

 

Colin Weidelich

33, construction manager, Moore Park
“I’ve been to other churches in the city, and as soon as I walked into C3, I felt that God was alive. It’s a welcoming community of like-minded people. This past Christmas, we had a Distillery District–style market, and I built some huts with another member who owns a millwork shop. It was pretty cool.”

 

Erica Weidelich

26, executive assistant, Moore Park
“A lot of my friends have been attending C3 for a while, and they convinced me to come. The second I walked through the doors, I felt such a positive welcoming and warm community of people who really care about you.”

 

Greg Fry

29, construction engineer, St. Clair West
“My wife and I moved to Toronto from Calgary four and a half years ago to help get the church started. We believe in empowering people. Our community involves everybody and anybody, but it seems like it’s just the best people. Everyone who comes starts to realize it’s a group full of awesome people, and that they want to be a part of it.”

 

Naomi Cowan

29, singer, Queen West
“I was born and raised in Jamaica and grew up going to church, but when I saw C3 on Instagram and Facebook, it just looked a lot cooler and friendlier. There are a lot of creatives, which is cool. As a Christian, working in the creative industry is difficult, because there’s not a lot of faith in entertainment. Also, at other churches, people seem go to church, then go home and go back to their lives. When I started coming here, I noticed that people were really integrated with each other and legitimately liked each other. Everyone feels like family.”

 

Andrew Daquilla

17, high school student, Upper Beaches
“I’ve been coming every Sunday for two years with my family, and I love how you can use your talents in the church, whether it’s photography or music. When they needed a band, my dad became one of the first bass players.”

 

Celeste Guarino

30, tour coordinator for a children’s choir, Etobicoke
“I’m a dual citizen, Australian and Canadian. I was in New York to work, but when my visa ran out, instead of returning to Australia, I moved to Canada. My husband and I were in Burnaby, but we didn’t really like it there. Toronto is more our scene. We found C3 because friends in Toronto and New York told me about it. I’m drawn to the come-as-you-are community. It’s the kind of community that’s kept me and my husband here.”

 

 

Louis Guarino

29, personal trainer, Etobicoke
“I went to Catholic Church when I was younger, then stopped going for a while before coming to C3. The community is a mix of young and old. There are people who probably used to be Buddhist at some point. Everybody’s had their own life journey, and now we’re all here for the same purpose.”

 

Grace Lin

24, office temp, Etobicoke
“My husband and I are visiting churches. My best friend goes to this church and serves on the kids’ ministry, so we came for Easter to see what it’s like. I did have reservations, to be honest. My dad and my husband are both pastors, so I don’t get to go to other churches a lot. It’s really nice seeing a lot of young people. I like that aspect of the church, but we’ll see at the service.”

 

Evan Gravelle

22, musician, Newmarket
“I started coming here almost four years ago, just after the church started. I had heard about this church that was young and kind of hip. The first time I went, I met some really great people. One texted me the next week, wanted to hang out and was really honest. I’ve stuck with it, and it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”

 

Andrea Crisp

42, life coach, CityPlace
“Even though I’m a little bit older than some of the people here, the church resonates with me and who I am. I feel like sometimes I’m able to help the younger generation, which is kind of cool. The people that I go to church with are my friends and family, so I love being here.”

 

Sam Radicks

28, community builder, The Junction
“I’ve been at C3 for almost four years. When we started coming, there were maybe 40 people. Now it’s massive, and you’re constantly meeting so many new people. We have definitely met lifelong friends here, and it’s cool that you meet the most random people from all parts of the city.”

 

Jimmy Devries

28, photographer, King West
“For people who come from broken homes or who don’t really understand family, it’s so obvious that people at C3 want to build family. That’s what brought me here. People come from all facets of life. It doesn’t really matter whether your opinions on sex, religion and politics differ.”

 

Ahmed Abdullah

29, tech specialist, Downtown
“I’m here to support a friend who’s part of the church. It’s pretty amazing—I’ve never seen so many young people at a church before. Something remarkable has been accomplished.”