ELKHART — John Utley took a leap of faith almost seven years ago when he launched a church with 10 other people that would meet at the Ramada. On Sunday, Nov. 3, Radiant Life Church will hold an open house worship service in its new location at the Northern Indiana Event Center.
Utley, the pastor at Radiant Life, said he hopes the church will have a permanent location by next Easter.
“And that’s pushing things,” he said.
He explained that the church has essentially been “mobile” since it began in 2007.
On a Sunday afternoon in October 2006, Utley said he was walking into Walmart with his wife, Susan, when he felt the call to start a new church in the Elkhart area.
“I really felt captivated by God at that moment,” he said. He noticed a “mosaic” of people from different backgrounds entering and exiting Walmart and felt compelled to open a church that would minister to them.
“We have ministered to virtually every group of people,” Utley said, explaining that while the church hasn’t witnessed explosive growth, it has been steady. In terms of the attendees, he says, “we’ve seen that mosaic.”
“It’s children’s ministry that makes a difference,” said Utley, but the most important draw to the church is the combination of interaction and the presence of God. “We really want that every Sunday,” he said, “if that’s what happens every week, that’s what draws people.”
Radiant Life met in the Ramada and eventually contracted with the Grand Event Center, a banquet facility at 2936 Lillian Ave. in Elkhart. Once it became time to purchase a new space, Utley said, the church’s plans were dramatically changed.
Earlier this summer, Radiant Life was intending to purchase the closed Coachmen Industries Inc. headquarters building at 2831 Dexter Drive. “We were sitting down at the table to close the deal,” said Utley, when an IRS lien caused him to decline the deal.
Nevertheless, Utley doesn’t see that as a major setback. In terms of the event center, “We were looking anyway,” he said. “We believe that God was in it all along.”
As a church leader, Utley said that Radiant Life isn’t bent on which venue it meets in. He said, “Our goal is to be the church that God wants us to be — we can’t focus on location.”
Radiant Life Church will hold its grand opening at the Northern Indiana Event Center at 9:30 a.m. For more information contact the church office at 675-0996 or visit radiantlife.us.