The OPC has Christ in common with other denominations, but  like other denominations, has its own distinctives. “We are a confessional denomination— that does not make us necessarily distinct in one sense, because most denominations will say they have a confessional statement. But ours is the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was completed in 1649. We adhere to that, and we believe that it is a faithful summary of God’s Word. Our primary standard is God’s Word, and our secondary standard is the confession.” As a result, Doug will occasionally refer to the doctrinal statements throughout his preaching.

After hearing the heart of the Beamsville pastor for any considerable length of time, his deep love and respect for the Word of God and the history of the faith becomes more and more evident. “I strive to be doctrinally sound,” Doug said. “I strive to remind the congregation that we have received a glorious heritage: two thousand years of church history that we should not snub out noses at. Two thousand years of history is two thousand years that the saints have looked at God’s Word.

“I realize there can be a danger in that you can start to add tradition to God’s Word, and then God’s Word starts to get buried under Christian tradition. But we always go back to the primary source— God’s Word. And when God’s Word is the primary source, and the standards, like the Westminster Confession of Faith, are secondary, then we never hold man-made doctrines above God’s Word.

“Let’s give our brothers and sisters, many of which paid for the good confession with their lives, some credence, and say, ‘hey, they died for something, maybe we should see what that something is, and (find out) what were their insights into God’s Word?”

After calling Conversations Cafe at the corner of King and Ontario Sts. home for some time, the church relocated to Great Lakes last March. “We miss the cafe. We outgrew the conference room, but we loved the location because we’re worshipping, and a good chunk of the community is walking by the door, with our welcome sign on it, welcoming them to worship.”

Living Hope is a church that looks to be outreach-oriented, engaging with the community every chance they can. Be it the Miracle on King St., Harvest Happening, or the West Niagara Fair, the church wants to be a presence. They also look for opportunities to partner with other churches. The recent movie event at Calvary Gospel Church is one such example. As well, last summer local teacher Jim Groff, who attends Calvary, teamed up with Living Hope to do two apologetics classes at Conversations Cafe aimed at teenagers, and open to all teens in the region. The church plans on using Conversations again next summer to do a couple of events once again geared at that age group.

The church has a website ( but more up to the minute news can be seen on their Facebook page ( Services are Sundays at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Pastor Doug Bylsmaof Living Hope, and family

All throughout the Niagara area, there is a silent army of men and women who work, sometimes with little fanfare, at leading the body of Christ to a place of continued growth and maturity. Doug Bylsma shepherds the flock at Living Hope Presbyterian Church, which currently meets at Great Lakes Christian High School on Sunday  mornings. Doug has faithfully served the believers that meet there since becoming ordained as a minister in

2011. The series of events that led him to his ministry with Living Hope.

“I lived in Niagara my whole life,” Doug recently reminisced. “I was born and raised in west-end St. Catharines. We got married and moved briefly to the little country-side town of Wellandport, and we lived there for just three years. But when I sensed the call to ministry, I came to Beamsville. The ministry was in Vineland at the time, but we were looking to go in a westerly direction. So we bought a house, and we’ve lived in Beamsville for almost thirteen years. So I’ve been in Niagara my whole life.

“I think it was about twelve years ago when I felt the call to ministry. I did seminary training— distance learning. I have my seminary degree, but it took eight and a half years to do. And that was because I did it part time and continued to work as a cabinet maker to pay the bills.” While it may have been a challenging eight and a half years, the payoff made it worth it. “This March, it’ll be the four year anniversary from when I was ordained. So it’s a bit of a milestone coming up.”

And all the while, Doug and his wife started and grew their family. Today, the oldest of his six children is 14, the youngest is one. His teenager actually attends the very school his father preaches in every Sunday. The others school-aged kids attend Calvary Christian in St. Catharines. The Bylsmas can’t say enough good things about both institutions. “If people ask, we highly recommend them. We think they’re great school atmospheres.” Both schools have also been willing to work with the family’s finances, which Doug praises God for.

As well, Doug is very encouraged by the environment when he visits. “Love the atmosphere, the ‘feel’ that both schools have. They don’t emphasize one denomination over another. Walking down the halls, playing sports outside of school time… that sort of thing. They really emphasize Christian character. We think that’s excellent, and that’s what we’re really encouraged about with both schools.”

In terms of the ministry that God has called him to, it began as a mission work of another Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sheffield, ON, ten minutes outside of Cambridge. According to Doug, the OPC has its roots south of the border. “It’s a larger American denomination, with 300 congregations and 30 000 members. Here in Canada, it’s very small. We’re doing little mission works, church plants.”


“This March, it’ll be the four year anniversary from when I was ordained. So it’s a bit of a milestone coming up.”


Living Hope Presbyterian Church: an outreach-oriented ministry


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February 2015

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