New pastor, new vision at Toronto church

TORONTO – The Rev. Luke Hightshue said he was glad to be named new pastor for the North River Avenue Christian Church.

Hightshue, who took the reins from the retiring the Rev. Bob Hanze, grew up in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I became a Christian when I was 19, right after high school,” said Heightshue. “I was raised in the church.”

Hightshue said he attended the Cincinnati Bible University, and “I became ordained after I graduated.

“I got married in 2003,” he continued, adding he met his wife while serving as a youth internship in Caracas, Venezuela.

“That’s where my wife Carol grew up,” he said. “She’s what we call a ‘missionary kid.’ While in Venezuela, our goal was to plant indigenous churches and basically work ourselves out of a job. It wasn’t for us to stay.”

He spent eight years in the South American country before making a change.

“We knew God was finishing with us as (founders of churches),” he said, adding the two had children and “prayed about our options.”

Hightshue said he wanted to work as a pastor in an urban environment, but the opportunity arose at the Christian Church, and “It ended up to be something I couldn’t ignore. I had to follow God – not my pride.”

Hightshue said serving in Toronto spreading his ministry will be his main priority.

“We’re happy here,” he said, adding his children’s names are Logan and Kaylinn. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids. We’re also creating a new vision for the church.”

He said establishment of a contemporary worship service would hopefully attract new members while keeping the traditional service as well.

“We want to be a missional church,” he said.

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