Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada)
Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada began in Louth Township, just west of St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1979 after the public school board decided to close the Fairview Public School in that community. Louth Township had been identified as a possible location for a church plant, so a group of Ontario Mennonite Brethren purchased the school for $81,000, with some assistance in a the down payment from local Mennonite Brethren churches.
The original members came from the Grantham Mennonite Brethren, Fairview Mennonite Brethren and Vineland Mennonite Brethren churches. The first Sunday public service was held 3 February 1980; an official opening of the sanctuary constructed from two former classrooms took place 1 June 1980. The congregation formally organized under the name of Fairview Louth Mennonite Brethren Community Church. It had 49 charter members. It operated without a local pastor until September 1980 when John Eckert, a high school vice principal, was hired on a part time basis.
The original sanctuary proved inadequate, and in late 1982 work began on an addition, which included a sanctuary, basement and kitchen. It was dedicated on 15 May 1983. An additional expansion took place in 1991 with a new youth room, nursery and elevator.
By 2003 the congregation had outgrown its location, and desired to have a greater impact on St. Catharines, especially among the poor and marginalized. It moved to Glenridge Avenue in St. Catharines, where it was renamed the Southridge Community Church. Within the first year it became a host location for "Out of the Cold" (emergency wintertime accommodation), and in 2005, in partnership with Ontario Works, Niagara Health System, and Housing Help, it opened the Southridge Shelter as a year-round homeless shelter with 27 beds for men and eight for women. It also developed services to marginalized seniors, and ministries to single-parent families.
Southridge also developed a vision to become a multi-site church. In 2009 Gateway Christian Fellowship, a 10-year-old church plant in St. Catharines voted to merge with Southridge and became the North End campus of Southridge in 2010. This campus ended prior to 2016. A Welland campus was launched on 8 November 2009 with a focused ministry towards single-parent families. In 2012 Southridge "adopted" Vineland Mennonite Brethren Church as the fourth of their sites. The focus of this campus became ministry to Caribbean migrant workers who worked on local farms.
In 2017 the campuses in St. Catharines, Welland and Vineland continued,
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Esau, Maggie. "New facilities in an old style." Mennonite Brethren Herald 30, no. 22 (22 November 1991): 16.
"Fairview-Louth Mennonite Brethren Community Church." Mennonite Brethren Herald 27, no. 11 (27 May 1988): 52.
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Friesen, Rudy. "Old school keeps its place in community." Mennonite Brethren Herald 19, no. 14 (18 July 1980): 28-29.
"It's been a good year." Mennonite Brethren Herald 20, no. 9 (24 April 1981): 17-18.
Mennonite Reporter (3 March 1980): 14.
Penner, Marge. "Fairview-Louth dedicates new sanctuary." Mennonite Brethren Herald 22, no. 13 (8 July 1983): 22.
Weeks, Stacey. "Congregation closes, joins multisite church." Mennonite Brethren Herald 51, no. 2 (February 2012): 21.
When Your Children Shall Ask: A History of the Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 1957-1982. 1982: 79-81.
Address: 201 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, ON L2T 3J6
St. Catharines Location: 201 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines
Welland Location: Welland Community Wellness Centre, 145 Lincoln Street, Welland
Vineland Location: 3970 Glendale Avenue, Vineland
Denominational Affiliations: Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches
Ordained Leaders at Southridge Community Church
|Chris Fowler (Associate)
Membership at Southridge Community Church
|Richard D. Thiessen|
|Date Published||February 2017|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Sam and Richard D. Thiessen. "Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2017. Web. 22 May 2018. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Southridge_Community_Church_(St._Catharines,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147239.
Steiner, Sam and Richard D. Thiessen. (February 2017). Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2018, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Southridge_Community_Church_(St._Catharines,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147239.
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