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Ontario Conference Opens First Center of Influence

The Adventist-run Really Living Centre serves as worship space and community center.

Mansfield Edwards and Eden M. cutting the ribbon, as Really Living youth pastor Benton Lowe; lead pastor, Francis Douville; SDACC president, Mark Johnson; and guest speaker, Dan Linrud look on.

Mansfield Edwards and Eden M. cutting the ribbon, as Really Living youth pastor Benton Lowe; lead pastor, Francis Douville; SDACC president, Mark Johnson; and guest speaker, Dan Linrud look on. Photo provided by the Canadian Adventist Messenger.

The Really Living Centre kick-started its grand opening this past September with hundreds of members and visitors from across North America in attendance. The 25,000 square-foot facility is Ontario Conference’s first center of influence, serving as both a worship space for Really Living Seventh-day Adventist Church and a community center open several days a week.

The newly-established center will allow for the expansion of existing programs, like a plant-based cooking school, free oil changes for single parents, boot camp, summer camps, and drop-in sports nights, as well as new programs, such as sewing classes, a smoothie bar, and indoor rock climbing.

“We tried to think of everything — how we can meet not only our needs but also the needs of the community. That’s why we’re here,” said Brenda De Medeiros, church elder and founding member.

Centers of influence such as Really Living address the reality that, in today’s secular society, traditional outreach methods like evangelistic series or going door-to-door are insufficient. Rather, ministering to people’s needs then sharing the gospel — Christ’s method — will make the biggest impact, particularly in urban centers such as Hamilton.

Sabbath Remarks

Pastor Dan Linrud, the midday service speaker, expressed joy at seeing the seeds he had planted for such a center 19 years ago as the founder of Living Word Church (now Really Living), come into full bloom. He described the church’s humble beginnings meeting as a small group of roughly 25 transplanted members from the mother church, Hamilton Mountain, in the basement of church members.

“That small group of believers wanted to make a difference by being salt and light in the world,” he noted. Linrud shared that the group followed the Acts 2 model of studying the Word and praying together in different homes, building relationships, and reaching out to the community.

Linrud also praised the church’s current leadership for making his blueprint, sketched out on napkins at Tim Hortons, a reality. “Pastor Francis and Tina Douville took on the baton of leadership when I left this church, and they are the ones, along with this membership, through whom God has accomplished this amazing vision. I’m just so proud of what God has done through them,” he said.

Francis Douville, in turn, praised Linrud as a “man of vision” while also giving credit to the church members. “I’m surrounded by selfless people who are teaching me how to put God first. The people in this church are absolutely phenomenal,” said Douville.

As he closed, Linrud noted that Really Living Centre was “meant to be a beacon of light [in] a community that is overrun by darkness.” However, he said, “As beautiful and amazing as this building is, as comfortable as the seats are, this is not our final destination. This is not our home.”

Linrud and his wife, Verlaine, made the trek from Oregon, where Linrud currently serves as Oregon Conference president. Also present were former Living Word associate pastor Juan Fresse, also coming from Oregon; Ontario Conference president Mansfield Edwards, who participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony; and Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada president Mark Johnson.

In his opening remarks that Sabbath, Johnson lauded Really Living as a model for other Ontario churches. “We are not saved to be hermits in a cave. We need to be where God’s people are.”

— Christelle Agboka writes from the Ontario Conference; the original article was published on the Canadian Adventist Messenger website.