SUDBURY -- Marc Hovingh, the Ontario Provincial Police officer who was killed Thursday in the line of duty, is described by a leader of the church he attended as a loving family man.

Ben Quackenbush is a youth minister at Mindemoya Missionary Church, which Hovingh attended for two decades. Quackenbush said the community is mourning the loss of the 28-year police veteran.

"Anyone who ever met Marc knew he had a big physical presence, but professionally, he never used that to be intimidating," Quackenbush said to The Canadian Press. "His presence was always really calm and peaceful.

His family, which includes three daughters and a son, all young adults, meant the world to him.

The minister said Hovingh's wife is heavily involed in the church and he often helped with youth events.

"Whenever we had special events, he was happy to entertain the youth, taking them out to the woods or in his boat, or entertaining them with some crazy characters or shenanigans," Quackenbush said to The Canadian Press.

The congregation is comforted in their faith and believe Hovingh is in a better place.

Quackenbush told The Canadian Press Hovingh was "liked and respected across the island."

As the community deals with its grief over his loss, several tributes are popping up, including a condolence card collection at the Assiginack area, petition to rename the famous Swing Bridge in honour of the officer, and Wiikwemkoong talk show host Kerry Assiniwe encouraging people to wear blue on Friday to show support.

With files from The Canadian Press, first published Nov. 20, 2020