Downtown Victoria

Oak Bay

University of Victoria

Inner Harbor

After moving to North Carolina to attend seminary, Mike took a ministry position at First Baptist Church Jonesboro, GA, from 2010-2018. During this time, he and Sarah met, married, and welcomed two amazing sons into their family. God was working in their young adult ministry, and they enjoyed a wonderful time on staff at FBCJ.

In 2017, Mike began to feel God stirring in his heart, preparing him for a change of seasons. In January 2018, he prayed a significant prayer: ͞God, don’t ever let me get so comfortable that I won’t follow you wherever you lead. If you have a new assignment for me, please show me. Not long afterward, he received a call from Ashley Austin. He shared with Mike what God was doing in Victoria, and how Canvas Church was ready to plant a second campus on the island, this time on the east side of the city in the municipality of Oak Bay. Mike and Sarah agreed to pray about the opportunity and seek God’s guidance. 

Canvas Church started 5 years ago on the west side of Victoria with the intention of multiplying across the city and the island. Canvas Oak Bay is the first of this multiplication process. For 12 months leading up to our arrival on the island, members of Canvas Westshore gathered their family, friends, and co-workers for monthly services at the historic Oak Bay Beach Hotel to build momentum and spread the word of the new church starting on that side of town.

One of the most valuable things you can contribute to the ministry in Oak Bay is your own time.

Would you or your church consider coming on a short-term mission trip to help us with a major outreach opportunity, such as our Family Festival? The cost of such a trip per person is roughly $1500 American (for flight, lodging, transportation, and food). The benefit is great for us and you, as it will give you an opportunity to join God in His work by doing ministry where there are very few Evangelical churches. Plus, Victoria is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities to visit in the world!

You may be in the area (Alaska cruise, vacation, etc.) or visiting close by (Vancouver or Seattle) and want to drop in and see what we’re doing. Please let us know if you will be close to us and we can connect!

Would you or your church also consider a longer-term investment by becoming or sending a summer intern to join us for a several-month, one-year, or a two-year commitment?

Finally, would you consider moving to Victoria to plant your life in this amazing city and work alongside of us long-term? It is a huge step of faith (trust us, we know!), but is infinitely rewarding if this is indeed what God is leading you to do.

If you would like to consider and pray about any of the above options, please feel free to email us at so we can pray alongside of you and answer any questions you might have.

Helping people discover their place in the story, family, and mission of God.

Mike’s family has a long history of planting and pastoring churches in Canada. His great-grandfather, a banker with the Bank of Montreal, planted a church in Prince Rupert, British Columbia shortly after World War II. His grandfather Henry Blackaby, born in British Columbia, later helped to plant 37 churches throughout the province of Saskatchewan. Many of those stories are chronicled in the book and Bible study "Experiencing God". Mike's father Richard pastored a church in Winnipeg for 3 years before becoming president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, Alberta, for 13 years. This is where Mike grew up, and he remembers often hearing about the need for church planters to go and start Christ-centered, gospel-preaching churches across this vast country.

Along the way, God began to confirm their call in many ways, including several people without knowledge of the opportunity randomly telling Mike that the Holy Spirit had told them this year would bring a new ministry assignment into his life, specific answers to prayers for guidance, and even dreams. In July 2017, Mike and Sarah and their boys visited Victoria to further pray and seek God’s guidance on the island. They came with a condensed list of prayerful questions for God to answer. During their time on the island, God gave clear and specific answers to each question they had. After seeking wise counsel and continuing to pray, both Mike and Sarah were convinced that this was the next step in their story.

In January 2018, Mike and Sarah and their boys moved 2,800 miles (4,500 km) from south Atlanta, GA, to Victoria, British Columbia. They immediately began meeting monthly with a small group in Oak Bay who had been gathering over the previous months and continue to take one step of faith at a time as God leads. In the first months of living on the island, they have already seen God’s miracles in confirmation of their new assignment! For more details on the story, they encourage you to email them at God is at work in Oak Bay, and He is calling laborers into the harvest. (Matthew 9:35-38)

Currently, Victoria is one of the most unchurched cities in all of North America. Some have said that Vancouver Island is the second leading center for occult worship in the world and is a very dark place spiritually.

Canada is known for its multiculturalism, which has led to the acceptance of a myriad of religions, philosophies, and spiritualities from around the world. Oak Bay contains a few older historic church builds and almost no Evangelical presence.

The rich history and traditions make for a fairly rigid resistance to change. The spiritual climate could best be described as a mix between a secular “post-Christian” philosophy and an interest in New Age and Indigenous spirituality (encompassed by the popular phrase “spiritual but not religious”). Similar to the rest of Cascadia (British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon), the spiritual love of nature has become a form of religion for many Oak Bay residents. It is not uncommon to find people who believe the seeds of the gospel could never take root in the hard soil of Oak Bay. However, through God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)

Since arriving in January 2018, we have spent the last year continuing to gather for weekly services, building relationships, doing outreach events, and serving in the community. We have since moved locations to the Monterey Recreation Centre, which is right off of the main street in the heart of Oak Bay’s shopping district. Oak Bay is a very established and stable community, so it is vitally important that we build trust and a reputation as part of this community. We have sought to do this by volunteering alongside other volunteers at several community events, and God has opened many doors for us already as the leaders of Oak Bay have slowly welcomed our involvement. The wrong approach for us would be to make a big “splash” as the “new” thing in town. Rather, we have attempted to build their trust and our reputation as a church that seeks to bless and be involved in the community.

As we have built relationships in Oak Bay as well as with members at the Westshore campus, we have prayed that God would bring together a core group that could become our launch team. The plan is to identify this team by January 2019, spend two months meeting weekly with them for "house church" to train and build a unified vision, then officially launch weekly services on March 31st.

We also plan to be a multiplying church that raises up leaders that eventually go and plant other church campuses across the city and the island.

“Canvas Church exists to help people discover their place in the Story, Family, and Mission of God.”

God’s Story: Have you ever watched a master painter at work? A talented artist can transform an ordinary, plain canvas into something meaningful and valuable right before your eyes. As you observe forms taking shape and colours blending together, you begin to see what the artist has in mind for the finished product. The artist is telling a story on canvas.

We are God’s workmanship and our lives are the canvas. Through Jesus, God transforms our ordinary lives into something amazing. We are each an unfinished masterpiece, both presently valuable and a work in progress, and God always finishes what He starts.

God’s Family: God has plans not just for us as individuals but also for us as a community. Our stories do not unfold side by side; they overlap and they blend together, like hues and shapes in a painting. We are part of a larger story. God is at work, blending our unique stories into a greater expression of what is on His heart.

God’s Mission: God, as the great Artist, has a plan and purpose for how His masterpiece will ultimately take shape, and He invites us to join Him in what He is doing in our city. Our lives should display the beauty of God’s grace and workmanship to all those we encounter. Canvas Church exists to help people discover their place in the story, family, and mission of God.