A River Runs Through Him

Pastor darcy

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March 24, 2015

Three years ago, Pastor Darcy Reimer stood on the Squamish River dike, looked at the flowing river  and asked God: “Do you have a role for me here? Should I be in Squamish?”
Reimer had been coming from North Vancouver every Sunday to bike and some of his biking friends asked him to plant a church in town. The river always seemed to him an apt metaphor for God: He can flow into our hearts with unbound love like a raging river.
“You can’t hold back the river. You can’t change its path. It’s such a beautiful image of what faith should look like,” Reimer says, recalling the story of how the River Church got its name.
Reimer decided to go with the wild, unpredictable flow of faith. “I felt a tangible sense of his presence, and that is when the vision to plant this church came,” he says. The River Church started with 10 families and a group of guys, but now there are more than 100 families.
Reimer’s own life is an example of how a church can be a salve for grief and glue for bonding. He grew up in Abbottsford with two other siblings, a mother who was a believer, and a father given to heavy drinking. Church was a part of their life, but it became an emotional anchor for Reimer when he faced what he calls a crisis of faith.
While the family struggled to make ends meet, Reimer also started getting into fights at his school. He would beat up the bullies, who were in his own mind the psychological substitutes of a reckless and overbearing father. The abuse at home had made him angry and in this anger he could see a reflection of his own father. Anger would often give way to fear.
One day, Reimer heard about a youth church group at the Seven Oaks Alliance Church in Abbotsford. He still remembers the unconditional love and acceptance he received from the youth there. “I felt myself and I felt loved and accepted,” he said. He also realised he was more compassionate, generous and loving than he had ever allowed himself to believe or express.
Listening to worship music, writing a journal and being among those who loved led him to embrace a faith-based life. His youth pastor, Blaine Sylvester, started spending more time with him and asked if he would like to teach a youth class.
Reimer had always thought of becoming a mechanic, but his pastors encouraged him to live a life of faith and become a youth pastor. Once he realised the positive impact the church had on him, he decided to enroll in the alliance school to become a youth pastor. After a stint as a youth pastor in Winnipeg, he came to North Vancouver where he was a pastor of Adult discipleship at the North Shore Alliance Church, helping grow faith in families. In his free time, he started coming to Squamish for mountain biking. When his biking friends first asked him to plant a church in Squamish, he said, “Hell, no!”

He loved working for his church in North Vancouver and had no plans to relocate. But the more he came to Squamish, the more he started liking the place. “It began to feel like home to me and it felt like God was beckoning me to come here,” he said. To find the definitive answer, Reimer decided to stand on the Squamish River dike, look at the flowing river and ask God if he should come to Squamish.
At Don Ross Secondary School on Sunday, you will find a cross-section of people: young families with children, retired couples, mountain bikers, etc. The River Church doesn’t have the traditional pews. People sit around a table where they can see and talk to each other. “We want to create an environment where people can know each other deeply and have a sense of belonging,” he says.
And that wasn’t easier task in Reimer’s experience.
People were attending the church programs but never really connecting, Reimer said. He realised that while working as a counsellor in the North Vancouver church. “People would tell me how lonely they were. It seemed like the programs were not meeting their core needs,” he said.
For Reimer, the success of a church didn’t lie in the fact of whether the pews were full or the programs were well-attended. He wanted to find out if the people were growing: “Were they becoming like Jesus, more loving, caring, humble and self-sacrificing.”
To ensure the church members grow spiritually to be role models for one another, the River Church focuses on relationships with Simple Church. Every second Sunday, a small group of people gather to pray and talk about Jesus. It could be 30 people in a group or it could be four or five men who are out on their bikes.
Simple church, Reimer says, enables people to be real and authentic. It’s where people can work out their faith and their doubts as they discuss openly the sermons and teachings of the previous Sunday. “People work out in real time what they have learned on previous Sunday,” he says. That is one reason why Steve Klassen of Bean Brackendale joined the church. The River Church doesn’t smash you over the head with a bible, Klassen says, but rather comes along side and walk with you. “It’s like a confident strong friend who helps you move,” he says.
For the last 10 years they have been with the church, Peter and Claudia feel they have been drawn into a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. “The River has been a place of healing for me in many different ways… emotional healing, relational healing,” says Claudia Weiland, who coordinates a new Alpha course at the River Church, which is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life and the basics of the Christian faith in a welcoming, relaxed setting. Wherever the course is being held, people from different backgrounds with different viewpoints come with one objective: to establish whether Jesus Christ has any real relevance for their lives, Claudia says. The Alpha course meets once a week for 10 weeks and each session consists of a meal together, a talk by Nicky Gumbel (on topics such as ‘Who is Jesus?’, ‘Why did He Die?’, ‘Who is the Holy Spirit?’ etc.) followed by a small group discussion. Every Sunday night, those who come enjoy great food, laughter and learning together in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
There is no question about life or God seen as too simple or too hostile to discuss, Claudia says. Reimer says the River is a fitting metaphor for the church because it invites everyone to dive and not just play where it is safe.
“This is where I discover God’s love and grow in trust that He is good. Jesus invites us to join Him ‘in the river’ ,” Reimer says.


  1. Abbey Friesen says:

    I’m one of Darcy’s Aunt, on Darcy’s mothers side. I think this is amazing.
    I grew up with Darcy& his 2 brothers. I knew from when they were very young, & watched them live their life, that God was there taking them through life.
    Now look at Darcy amazing

  2. Ed says:

    Oh by the way – his father was sober & bornagain again before squamish started