Name: Canton Adventist Church
Address: 411 Scott Mill Road, Canton, GA 30114-3808
Services: 10 a.m. Saturdays, followed by 11:30 a.m. Bible study
Worship Style: Contemporary/casual
Average Attendance: 30-40
Pastor: Zane Yi
Affiliation: Seventh-Day Adventist
We are a community that is learning to love God, each other and our neighbors well.
The church was planted five years ago under the leadership of pastor Todd Leonard, with the help of the Woodstock Adventist Church. A move was made to the current location about three years ago.
Yi is an Atlanta native who grew up in Gwinnett County. He attended a Korean church as a child, and began to seriously explore his faith when he went to Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. As he discovered answers in the Bible, he began to help others work through their own questions.
“You grow up around it and you don’t give it much thought. It’s just a part of the fabric of your life,” Yi said. “But in college, you have to make a decision of if you are going to follow the faith in which you were raised.”
After graduation, he moved to Knoxville and worked as director of the Advent House student center at the University of Tennessee for two years. He got married, and the couple moved to California, where he enrolled in Pasadena’s Fuller Theological Seminary. Yi spent a few years serving a church in Van Nuys before he and his wife moved to New York.
His education continued as he enrolled in the graduate program at Fordham University and focused on philosophy. “I was fascinated with the big questions of life. I had studied how Jesus offered answers to those questions, but I also was fascinated in studying ways that other people answered them, too,” Yi said. “I wanted to learn how to constructively bring faith and reason into dialogue with one another.”
After he finished his coursework and his wife completed her job training, they moved to Atlanta. He began to teach philosophy part-time at Kennesaw State University, work on his dissertation and accepted the invitation to serve at the Canton church in May 2011.
The main focus of the Canton church’s outreach is the neighborhood in which it’s located, which Yi describes as culturally diverse with plenty of opportunities to serve and make a difference.
On the second Saturday of each month, a mobile ministry called Forever Fed sets up in the church’s parking lot and serves 125-150 meals with the help of church volunteers. The outdoor event includes a bounce house for kids and a clothing giveaway. The church sponsors an annual community Christmas pageant that features live animals.
Plans are under way to offer after-school tutoring for children and English classes for adults. “We are really looking forward to serving our neighbors and the city of Canton,” Yi said.
Canton Adventist isn’t alone in community outreach. Often partnering with them is Celebration of Grace Lutheran Church, which shares the facility. With the Adventist service on Saturday and the Lutheran worship on Sunday, there’s no overlap.
“Our congregations complement each other,” Yi said. “Our congregation has a lot of young married members and Celebration of Grace has parents of children that have children, so the two communities coming together felt like a big family.”
The churches work together to host Vacation Bible School for neighborhood children, and offered joint Advent services before Christmas.
“What is so unique about this congregation is the spirit of wanting to work with other faith traditions. We really value our relationship with Celebration of Grace,” Yi said.
Aside from the outreach and worship opportunities, Canton Adventist offers home-based small groups in various areas of Cherokee County.
Thoughts from the Pastor:
“Many people today are burned out and cynical about religion, question its relevance, and find the simplistic platitudes that are offered to the difficult questions and challenges of life unsatisfying. I’m so grateful to be part of a diverse, creative, and adventurous community that is seeking to thoughtfully and authentically follow Jesus. We love collaborating with others and warmly welcome all to join us in our journey of worshiping, serving, learning and growing together.”
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