From news release, 4 February 2020 | Adventists in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, recently opened their first “center of influence” in the province. The Really Living Centre was launched in the fall of 2019 at an opening ceremony with hundreds of church members and guests in attendance from across North America.

A “center of influence” is the term used by missiologists for outreach installations that engage in community service or business activities to connect with the general public who are not interested in religious programs. The Really Living Centre is a 25,000 square-foot (2,300 square-meter) facility that is a community center open to the public several days a week and provides worship space for a local Adventist church.

The newly established center will allow for the expansion of existing local church programs, such as a plant-based-cooking school; free oil changes for single parents; boot camp, summer camps, and drop-in sports nights for youth; and 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, a church elder and founding member.

A center of influence like the Really Living Centre addresses the reality that, in today’s secular society, traditional outreach methods such as a public evangelistic series or going door-to-door are insufficient. Ministering to people’s needs, developing relationships and then sharing the gospel — which was Christ’s method in His time — will make an impact, particularly in urban centers like Hamilton.

Former Ontario Conference secretary Pastor Dan Linrud, the midday service speaker, expressed his joy at seeing the seeds he had planted for such a center 19 years earlier as the founder of Living Word Church (now named Really Living Church) come into full bloom. He described the church’s humble beginnings, meeting as a small group of roughly 25 from the Hamilton Mountain Church in a member’s home.

“That small group of believers wanted to make a difference by being salt and light in the world,” Linrud noted. Thus, he said, 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 allow Jesus to transform them so they could transform and illuminate their communities.

Linrud also praised the church’s current leadership for taking his blueprint, sketched out on napkins at a local fast-food outlet, and making it 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,” Linrud said. “I’m just so proud of what God has done through them.”

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

Linrud and his wife, Verlaine, traveled to the event from Oregon, where Linrud currently serves as president of the denomination’s Oregon Conference. Also present were former associate Pastor Juan Fresse; Pastor Mansfield Edwards, president of the Ontario Conference; and Pastor Mark Johnson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada.

In his remarks, Johnson lauded the Really Living Centre as a model for other 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 the Really Living Centre was “meant to be a beacon of light [in] a community that is overrun by darkness.” He also reminded his listeners that “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.”

News release from the denomination’s North American Division communication department. The photo is of an exercise class at the Really Living Centre.