Not your nan's pastor: New face of Pentecostal church in St. John's

A new ministry in downtown St. John's is looking to break with traditions of the past.

Jason Normore recruited by Pentecostal Assemblies to find new ways to bring God's message

Jason Normore might not look like a typical religious leader, but he's hoping to build a congregation of community-minded people for a new church in downtown St. John's. (Paula Gale/CBC)

A new church in downtown St. John's is putting a modern twist on religion and spirituality with a young pastor who found God after battling his own demons. 

Local Church St. John's is part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was looking for new ways to relate to those who may see traditional church as outdated.

The church has the choice to either stay in the past and die or learn to just be normal people and move forward.- Jason Normore

To get that idea going, the assemblies recruited Jason Normore, who moved back to Newfoundland with his wife in September after studying theology in Toronto.

Normore, who's from Gander, said he spent years trying to make it as a musician, abusing substances and going through what he calls "bad experiences," before regrounding himself with God.

The Local Church St. John's is just an idea right now. The new long-haired pastor and his wife are looking for community input to move it forward. (Facebook/Local Church St. John's)

He said he felt a responsibility to help others like himself — those who perhaps long for a greater sense of community but felt they didn't have a place in a traditional church.

"The streets are full of people who love the city. They love its heritage and they're deeply concerned about its future," he told the St. John's Morning Show.

"I don't think that's very far from who God is. God has often been painted as this person whose one concern is getting all of us to just leave Earth, go to Heaven and just forget about this place."

Community oriented

Normore said many of the Bible's teachings are actually focused on making your own community and the Earth in general a better place.

"If you read the whole narrative, God is deeply concerned with renewing the Earth," he said.

Right now, Local Church St. John's is just an idea. Normore is looking for input from anyone who's interested. He and his wife are hosting a brunch on Saturday, Jan 27 as a first step.

While it remains to be seen what the church will look like as it evolves, Normore hopes to tap into a desire for real community and relationships that might be missing in many people's 21st-century lives.

"I think culture is at an interesting point in time, where unfortunately the church has the choice to either stay in the past and die or learn to just be normal people and move forward," he said.

"I think all my friends and all of the people we've met downtown are really over the facade of social media and second-hand living through TV or internet — and we're really just looking at what it actually means to be alive."

With files from St. John's Morning Show