Leon Fontaine Obituary, Death –
On Friday, Springs Church officially confirmed the death of Fontaine occurred Nov. 19. The statement said Fontaine was unexpectedly diagnosed with “aggressive late-stage cancer,” and his health took a turn for the worse while he was pursuing treatment. There is a deep void in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him,” the statement reads. “If you ever had the chance to speak with him, you know he had an incredible ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the room. He was one man yet could foster what felt like thousands of relationships while simultaneously running multiple organizations. He set the standard of what a true leader is.” Fontaine, along with his wife Sally was the lead pastor at Springs. The church has two locations in Winnipeg and one Calgary. He was involved with various organizations associated with the church, including president of Springs Christian Academy, CEO of Miracle Channel, a Christian television station in Lethbridge, Alberta. Fontaine was also an author, spoke at conferences, and hosted two shows, The Spirit Contemporary Life and The Leon Show, according to his online biography.
Fontaine was a well-known Christian speaker across the country, but controversies during the COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to the church. A public graduation ceremony for Springs College in May 2021 drew criticism after images were shared online of the unmasked ceremony. The church was ticketed, and at the time, Fontaine released a statement defending the ceremony, saying it was following health orders. At the height of COVID-19 restrictions on Manitoba in December 2020, Fontaine and Springs took the Province to court, calling for drive-in services to be allowed. The request was denied, but a short while later, health orders were amended to allow drive-in services. Fontaine had five children, and five grandchildren according to his biography. Nicholas Greco, Provost of Providence University College, says Fontaine’s prominence in the church’s identity could affect congregation attendance moving forward. “We can’t really tell what will happen with Springs in the future with this transition in leadership but you can imagine that some of the things that would compel people to come to a church is leadership,” Greco said.
In instances like Springs, Greco says leadership roles could be transferred to family. Fontaine’s wife Sally is currently also a senior pastor with the church, and his children are involved with the church. “With this sort of singular identity that is the head of that church, without them being there, do they still find a particular definition?” Greco asks. “That’s really the question that we can ask at this point.” The church’s statement said his family, including his wife, five children, their spouses and nine grandchildren, will “continue to passionately serve and lead the ministries he established.”