On November 26, 2016, Ontario Conference of Seventh-day Adventists inaugurated what is believed to be the first congregation for visually impaired worshippers in the North American Division.
Mark Johnson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, and Mansfield Edwards, Ontario Conference president, joined the 25 charter members and other guests for the service held at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Scarborough, a district in eastern Toronto.
Hope Vision Fellowship, as the new congregation is called, fulfills the dream of Charles Thomas, Pat Page, and her husband Ralph, who previously worked for the visually impaired at Christian Record Services, to see a church for the visually impaired in Ontario. With the support of Theodore Sargeant, who has responsibility for disability ministries, and Jakov Bibulovic, church growth director, plans were made to inaugurate the church.
Daniel Jackson, North American Division president and a strong supporter of disability ministries, was happy to learn of the new church and sent a congratulatory letter that was read at the inaugural service.
“Like no other time in history Christians need to recognize their call to God to be heralds of His soon coming,” Jackson wrote. “I am grateful that you have heard His call and that you see His vision for you. I believe that the inauguration of the Hope Vision congregation is a hallmark for Canada for the North American Division.”
Both Johnson and Edwards offered their congratulations. Edwards spoke of his appreciation to Charles Thomas, Pat and Ralph Page, Pastor Theodore Sargeant, and others who worked to make the church a reality.
Sargeant is enthusiastic about the new congregation. “I’m simply blown away by their love for God, and for their trust and faith in Him,” he said. “They are so relaxed with each other, and they do not express any self-pity. They are together as one and want to see others experience what they have found in God. I get the sense that they are not simply content to simply form a new congregation. Their purpose is to lead other visually impaired people and sighted people to Jesus.”
The congregation will meet on the last Sabbath of each month at the Holiday Inn until a more suitable location is found.