I recently visited a church plant project just 15 minutes from London in a commuter town called Potters Bar. With a population of less than 22,000, Potters Bar has many amenities, including the red-brick Wyllyotts Theatre. In the theater’s basement is a small room that serves as a daycare center during the week, but every other Sabbath, it becomes a little church plant called Templeway.
As I entered the room, my heart was warmed to see more than 30 men, women, and children of all races and creeds sitting together at a beautifully laid table, complete with bottles of sparkling grape juice. Delicious aromas of seasonal fare emanated from the kitchen as Pastor Luke Whyte used common vernacular and a touch of humor to retell a Bible story. After singing a song, the volunteer kitchen crew served everyone a traditional British dinner with all the trimmings.
Templeway offers an informal, nontraditional setting. Attendees enjoy listening to Pastor Luke, who creatively communicates deep, meaningful life lessons in memorable ways.
The vision for Templeway began about five years ago when Pastor Luke and Pastor Joel Duntin were still seminary students at Newbold College. Joel and his wife, Sallee, approached Luke with the idea of creating a space where anyone could engage with Christianity and with God. They wanted people of all persuasions and cultures to feel that they could gather together for worship. This idea began to take shape as an outreach ministry called Templeway.
Gatherings began as worship nights when a small group of young people met at the Duntins’ apartment in Newbold and then stayed in touch online throughout the week. This went on for about 18 months, but when Joel and Luke were about to graduate, they found a new physical location for Templeway. They initially thought they would stay near Newbold, but the South England Conference recognized the value of their ministry and asked them to run it from Potters Bar. Pastor Luke and his wife, Remona, already lived in nearby Edmonton, and the Duntins moved to the town in September 2014. By April 2015, the ministry team relaunched Templeway at the Wyllyotts Theatre. Four months later, Joel and Sallee received a call to go to Canada, so the mantle of ministry passed to Luke and Remona.
Templeway appeals to both Adventists and non-Adventists. Approximately 15 percent of attendees are not Adventists, and those who are prefer a community-based church with a more relaxed atmosphere. Jonan and Kelly Mendoza are one such family.
Jonan, Kelly, and their three children have been coming to Templeway since late summer in 2016. Kelly grew up as a cultural Christian not knowing much about the Bible. In the few times she visited traditional Christian congregations, she found them to be too formal and didn’t feel the level of warmth and welcome that she received at Templeway. “I’m comfortable here,” she shared. “Templeway is very warm and friendly. It feels like family; I know everybody, and I’ve never been to a church where I felt like that really.”
Jonan also had a unique journey that led him to Templeway. He grew up a staunch Adventist, but decisions he made along the way led him to marry young and then get a divorce. When Jonan left the church, he felt alienated from Adventism. “I vowed I’d never come back to church,” he said. “But I always had God and the Adventist message in my heart, so I was looking for some way to get back into spirituality.”
He spoke with a mutual acquaintance about Luke, whom Jonan had grown up in church with, and heard about Templeway. He decided to give it a try. “I came here with Kelly, and from that day, we’ve always come back,” expressed Jonan.
Templeway has been the catalyst that helped Jonan and Kelly rediscover the Bible. "Templeway has brought me back to Scripture and helped me start doing spiritual things like reading the Bible with my family." Jonan said. “This church has really brought me back into the fold in a way that I never thought was possible. It’s even brought in Kelly, who has never been in an Adventist church before.”
Because of their experiences at Templeway, both Kelly and Jonan now desire to be a part of a church family. Kelly declared, “I’m here because I want to be here so for me, that’s a win-win situation.” Jonan felt the same way. “For the first time in my life, I come to church because this is what I want to do. If only there were more places like this; it’s a wonderful, life-changing experience to come here.”
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