By Carrie Elsden

A chapter has ended at James North Baptist Church and we are excited to see what the next chapter will bring.  After 29 years of ministry and leadership, Pastor Dwayne Cline has resigned from the church to pursue other opportunities.  Many of you know Pastor Dwayne as a strong visionary for the church and the community.  He loves this community and is always excited to share about the North End in his travels and conversations.  He can often be seen at a local restaurant or grabbing a coffee with a friend.

In his early years of ministry at Hughson Street Baptist (now James North Baptist) the congregation was quite young and Pastor Dwayne in his mid-twenties himself.  Many outreach activities in the community were central to the church and Dwayne partnered with local schools, offered soccer programs, camps and a kids’ club.  In 1998, Dwayne married his wife Aimee and they have been blessed to watch their four children grow and attend local North End schools.

In more recent years, Pastor Dwayne sat on the board for the local health centre, meeting with City leaders, and became a national speaker with Promise Keepers.  When the building of Hughson Street Baptist was outgrown, Dwayne led the way to partner with Bennetto School where services were held for 10 years.  

Dwayne has been a champion for newcomers to Hamilton, including the Karen people, for whom he has helped to provide leadership and mentoring as their church uses the facilities of James North.  He has a heart for the poor and marginalized.  Through his leadership and direction, the church continues to support the community through food banks, Christmas hampers, free and low-cost programs, benevolent ministries, and many more.  

As the neighbourhood has become a more desirable location and gentrification began in earnest, Pastor Dwayne was concerned with the plight of local residents who had long called the North End home, but were struggling to afford the increased cost of living.  As a result, the church re-visioned its building project and under Dwayne’s leadership, partnered with Indwell to create 45 units of affordable housing above the church spaces and offices.  This building, which can be seen at 15 Picton Street East, was built to Passive House standards and uses 80% less energy than a building made to code.  During his time at James North, he has continued to pursue opportunities to engage and support neighbours experiencing difficulty.

On January 29th the church community came together to celebrate Pastor Dwayne and his family and to wish them well in their new endeavours.  James North Baptist Church is in a pastoral search to find Dwayne’s replacement.  As a congregation we look forward to spending many more years alongside the community as we live our lives together, seeing our children go to school together, greeting each other in public spaces and enjoying our beautiful community.