Ontario Conference’s First Centre of Influence, Really Living Centre, Celebrates Its Grand Opening

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.

On the Sabbath of Sept. 7, 2019, Really Living Centre kick-started its grand opening with hundreds of members and visitors from across North America. The 25,000 square-foot facility is Ontario Conference’s first centre of influence, serving as both a worship space for Really Living Seventh-day Adventist Church and a community centre, open several days a week.

The newly established centre 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, elder and founding member.

            Centres of influence like 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 centres like Hamilton.

            Pastor Dan Linrud, the midday service speaker, expressed joy at seeing the seeds he had planted for such a centre 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. Thus, they followed the Acts 2 model of studying the Word and praying together in different homes, building relationships, and reaching out to the community. Linrud urged all present to likewise allow Jesus to transform them so they could transform and illuminate their communities. 

            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.”

            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.”

            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.”

            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.”

            Let us support Really Living and future centres of influence in Ontario in pointing a troubled world to the hope, healing, and wholeness found only in Jesus Christ and our eternal home.

–Christelle Agboka, Ontario Conference