In 1958 a congregation of Seventh-day Adventists were outgrowing their place of worship near Vancouver City Hall at 10th & Yukon. Pastor W.R. Archbold led a five year campaign to build a new church at 5350 Baillie St. 400 members joined the dedication service on February 23, 1963. In the decades to follow a visionary spirit and legacy of serving our neighbours would touch thousands of lives so we celebrate what God has done and continues to do in partnership with the faithful followers of Jesus.
The land purchase, design and build costs for this church totalled $250,000 and continual contributions of this builder generation cleared the debt within 3 years. From the Vancouver Central Church of Seventh-day Adventists many other SDA churches were incubated and launched including the Chinese Adventist church in 1967 and the Richmond SDA Church in 1978. Meanwhile in the ‘mother’ church a large Pathfinder Club was thriving with support from Pastor Jerry Chang and the Zubke family. A group of young adults answered the call to help lay pipes for plumbing the Camp Hope lodge.
Just before its 20th anniversary, the church bought a residence for seniors and opened a daycare in 1982. The church also led a Sabbath worship service on the grounds of the Expo ’86 World Fair. Pastor Bob Tetz launched a Lifestyle line for CJOR in ’84 and ran health focussed booth at the PNE. At its 25 year mark, the church was renovated changing the sanctuary carpet and stage and adding the nursery room on the east side.
Even after members left to launch the Vancouver Filipino and Hispanic churches, membership grew during the 90s following evangelistic series by pastor Jack Nash and a special rally at the Chan Centre featuring North American Division president Robert Folkenberg. This prompted the launch of two worship services Sabbath mornings with support from additional pastoral staff including Colin Griffiths, Marilyn Banford, Brian Wahl, and Don Anderson. Youth at the time were highly engaged in a choir directed by Jessica Okimi. Between 2000 and 2013 the Vancouver Korean church fledged from OAC and pastors Don Kim and Manuel Silva emphasized relevancy and connection to our community by introducing contemporary music, changing the church name to Oakridge Adventist Church, and hosting VBS programs and Block Parties for the neighbourhood.
After celebrating its 50th anniversary Pastor Kumar Dixit initiated another wave of renovations and implemented a livestream ministry which unknowingly prepared OAC for future pandemic closures. Pastor Steve Mirkovich championed innovative health ministry with the Think Green Supper Club and construction of senior-orientated community garden beds adjacent to the parking lot while Pastor Peter Qiu engaged the ever growing mandarin-speaking population. In 2020 Pastor Rhoda Miller became the first female to be endorsed as a lead pastor in the BC Conference.
Over six decades there has been a long legacy of pastors, church staff and committed volunteers who met the unique and turbulent challenges of urban ministry with inspired creativity and sacrifice. Critical shifts and a responsiveness to changing culture helped maintain healthy vitality, growing younger by the decade. Spurred by the mission to invite, include and involve everyone in knowing and following Jesus we pursue a vision to be a welcoming church were the transformative love of Jesus is experienced by all.
Looking forward to the decade ahead “we have nothing to fear for the future, except if we shall forget the way the Lord has led and taught us in our past” (Ellen White)