It’s difficult to imagine now, but the busy corner of Markham Road just north of Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough, was once a wheat field. This was very significant to the small group of believers who, one spring day in 1957, gathered in that wheat field to turn the sod for what was to become the location of Scarboro Gospel Temple (SGT). The founder, Rev. Roy E. Upton, commented at the ground-breaking that many a golden harvest had been gathered there in days gone by, and now they were preparing for another, more precious harvest – a harvest of souls.
The names of 20 families were inscribed on the original charter of SGT’s membership and they began meeting in 1956 in a bowling alley on the property of Bethel Home for Girls at 664 Kennedy Road. Weekly drive-in Sunday services were held in a Dominion Store parking lot, with the services carried by amplifier to approximately 100 cars. Eventually the congregation moved to the McCowan Road Public School. Construction began on the wheat field in May 1957 and the first phase of SGT was completed by October 1957.
At that time the Scarborough area was growing and developing. Houses gradually took the place of open spaces and shopping centres were being built. SGT found itself in the middle of a thriving community and attendance at the church was increasing. Of necessity, in 1963, the building of the main sanctuary – the final phase of construction – took place, seating 500 people.
From the beginning, tithing was a source of financial strength to the church, and giving to missions was paramount. In fact a missions’ offering was taken the day the church was dedicated.
In 1967, building on the foundation of Rev Upton’s ministry, Rev. James Weller became SGT’s next pastor. Under his ministry, Sunday school attendance grew, and soon the church was full to overflowing. Rev. Weller held well-attended summer evangelistic tent crusades on the corner of Markham and Lawrence, and it was during his ministry that SGT became known as "The Church with a Heart."
Rev. Hudson T. Hilsden pastored SGT from 1975 to 1983. His ministry emphasis was the necessity of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, and it was also during his term that the entire facility was renovated. Under Rev. George O. Atkinson’s strong teaching ministry, beginning in 1983, lives were deeply edified, and missions’ giving continued to grow and remained as a priority.
Over the years SGT pioneered three other churches: Malvern Christian Assembly in Scarborough,
Calvary Pentecostal Church in Port Hope, and Markham Pentecostal Church in Markham, Ontario.
Rev. Robert Johnston began his ministry at SGT in 1996. His vision was to pay off outstanding debt, build up the body of Christ and pursue the goal of ‘expanding our borders.’ The debt was retired in just a few short years, and the church continued to grow.
Even with two Sunday morning services, parking was overflowing into two neighboring plazas, and extra chairs filled the sanctuary each week. It had become evident that the facilities could no longer contain the growth that was taking place. So, in 2005, expansion began with the purchase of 11 acres of land at 1250 Markham Road on the southwest corner of Markham at Progress Avenue. This property had long-since been claimed by faith for the new SGT site, and was already zoned – we believe divinely – as a place of worship. God had already prepared it for us and for His Kingdom purposes, and even after over 50 years – it’s still all about SOULS!
And now, through corporate unity and giving, the vision of the pastor, board and church body, Global Kingdom Ministries is a reality!
It's truly a miracle! Hebrews 11:1 says that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". We can now see what we had only hoped for. The prophecy we had received several years ago – "THIS TIME” – has come to pass.
We thank God for the faithful dedication and vision of all our pastors and congregations, past and present. And we praise Him for the countless thousands of souls who have passed through SGT’s doors to be saved, discipled, healed, delivered and baptized in the Holy Spirit, with many thrust out into ministry here at home and around the world. They have given us a great heritage!
We believe God desires for us to take possession of all He has promised and prepared for us. He wants us to impact this world, our city and our neighbours for the Kingdom, and fulfill His plans and purposes. And we are laying claim to an even greater future of ministry and reaching the nations for Christ!