“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations”. (Matthew 28:19)
This great commission which Jesus gave to His disciples in (Matthew 28:19) greatly inspired Sis. Enid Davis, a former Literature Evangelist and self-made bible worker in the Ontario Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She heeded this great commission and contacted the Conference administration and enlightened them regarding her intention to start a church. The Conference instructed her to seek a sponsoring church, and she subsequently contacted Pastor Evert Potgieter of the Immanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church and he endorsed her idea.
She diligently sought and found a place for worship at the Bayview Secondary School. As a result, in July 1988 she launched out in a missionary endeavour and established a lighthouse for God in the Thornhill area of North Toronto, where she was a resident. A Branch Sabbath School was started with approximately 10 individuals. Soon, it became evident that better organization was required in order for the group to function more efficiently. Pastor Potgieter and the Board of the Immanuel Church gave approval for the name “Maranatha Community Outreach” to be adopted by the group, and Pastor Albert Lyle was appointed as the Leader.
In September of 1989, with the assistance of the Immanuel Church and the Conference, the group conducted a short series of evangelistic meetings under the leadership of Pastor Albert Lyle and 7 precious souls were added to the group.
It was in 1989 that a small group of individuals from the Perth Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church became inspired by the Holy Spirit to start a Branch Sabbath School in the Runnymede-Bloor area. The Perth Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church launched 12 Revelation Seminars and this small group of individuals was one of them. It was from this Revelation Seminar that 7 individuals were baptized.
Pastor Steve Cassimy, along with President Rick Bacchus of the Ontario Conference, decided to start a company in the Runnymede area. Pastors that were involved are: the late Pastor Ted McCleary, Pastor Vincent Lue and Pastor John Scott 1. Pastor Scott 1, under the leadership of Pastor Cassimy, was asked to lead out in this Company. Bro. and Sis. Lebert Nisbeth decided to join the Company and it grew tremendously. We were now looking for a new location. Runnymede Presbyterian Church, where we were officially organized, became a full status church, known as Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Scott 1 and Pastor Ken Campbell, with 40 chartered members from Perth Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church.
One year later, Pastor Campbell was transferred to Downsview Seventh-day Adventist Church, and was succeeded by Pastor Stanley McFarlane. Subsequently, Pastor McFarlane was transferred to Guelph Seventh-day Adventist Church, and was succeeded by Pastor Oyeman Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Sis. Davis was still on the move for a more ideally suitable church home for the Maranatha group and God rewarded her efforts by leading her to the Concord Church of Christ where, on January 26, 1990, the group started worshipping at 51 Concord Avenue, in Thornhill. In the interim, Pastor Clayton Stanwick succeeded Pastor Potgieter at Immanuel, and Pastor Lyle was asked to continue his leadership at Maranatha. Bro. John Fray served as First Elder, and held this position from 1990 until 1992.
April 4, 1990 was a momentous day for the Maranatha group, when the Ontario Conference voted the group as a Church Company with a membership of 29. Full church status was conferred on the group on March 30, 1991.
On May 11, 1991, Pastor Barry Hubley succeeded Pastor Stanwick, and served until December 31, 1991. Pastor Dan Dupuis was appointed Associate Pastor on January 1, 1992. His tenure at Maranatha was very brief and he left in March of the same year. At that time we had 57 members.
Pastor Ledford Morris took over following Pastor Dupuis’ departure, and under his leadership the total members had increased to 81 by March of 1993. Sis. Ouila Abraham was appointed as our first woman elder – a move considered progressive by many - and she served admirably during 1993 and 1994.
Our membership declined to 76. By March of 1995, our membership returned to 86, and a year later stood at 90 members. Pastor Mitchell served until March 1, 1998, when our membership grew to 107. He was replaced by Pastor Oyeman Mitchell. At that time, Bro. O. Cliff Roberts was serving as our first elder, and he held this office until 1996. He was succeeded by Bro. Llewellyn Sandy, who served from 1997 through to 1998.
Under the leadership of Pastor Oyeman Mitchell, January 1, 1999 marked another memorable day for Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church when, with bright hope we joined hands, hearts and home with Faith Seventh-day Adventist Church and evolved into Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church. At that time our combined membership was 301, and Bro. Michael Stewart was our first elder until he was succeeded by Bro. Wayne Franklin who served throughout 2000. We continued to worship at Central United Church, 1 King Street in Weston.
In August of 1999, a group of approximately 20 of our Spanish brethrens approached us and expressed a desire to join our congregation. This request was granted, and today this is a vibrant, thriving group of believers whose membership stands at approximately 30 , along with regular visitors on a weekly basis.
Regrettably, in the Fall of 2000 we were asked by our host church to seek alternate accommodation, as they needed their facilities. With due diligence, Pastor Mitchell and his team sought and found a temporary home at 2810 Weston Road, where we resided from January 6, 2001 until July 14, 2001. This accommodation was less than ideal to meet the needs of our growing congregation. In retrospect, this move proved to be an abundant blessing to us, as we had become somewhat comfortable and complacent where we were at Central United Church.
Under the leadership of Pastor Mitchell and his Building Committee the church was galvanized to accomplish what seemed to be an insurmountable task. Rising to the challenge, we came together as a church, pooled our resources, and committed to getting a church of our own. With God’s guidance and His merciful blessings our efforts came to fruition and we procured this lovely facility which we moved into on July 21, 2001. Thus, we are living testimony that with God all things are possible.
Currently, we have over 349 members. With grateful and cheerful hearts, we join the prophet Samuel who witnessed the triumph of Israel over their enemies and say: “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Samuel 7:2) We can truly say that we have come “from the valley to the mountain”.