Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada)

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outhridge Community Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, began in Louth Township, just west of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, 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 on 1 June 1980. It 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. Additional expansion took place in 1991 with a new youth room, nursery and elevator.

By 2003 the congregation had outgrown its location, and had developed a vision to have a greater impact on St. Catharines, especially among the poor and marginalized. It moved to Glenridge Avenue in St. Catharines. At its new location it was called 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 hoped 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.

The church 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.


Braun, Karla. "Church partnership 'remarkable to see'." Mennonite Brethren Herald 49, no. 5 (May 2010): 19.

Braun, Karla. "Expressing common humanity." Mennonite Brethren Heald 51, no. 8 (August 2012): 13

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.

Friesen, Rudy. "Building on long-time ties with community." Mennonite Brethren Herald 19, no. 3 (1 February 1980): 17.

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.

Archival Records

Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg, MB: Volume 570.

Additional Information

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

Phone: 905-682-9901


Denominational Affiliations: Ontario Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches

Ordained Leaders at Southridge Community Church

Name Years
of Service
John Eckert 1980-1997
Chris Fowler (Associate)
Jeff Lockyer 1998-present
Mike Krause 1998-present
Peter Warkentin 2005-?
Rick Zwiers 2005-present
Ed Willms 2010-2012
Mark Johnson 2012-2013?
Tim Arnold 2008-present
Mike Meinema 2016-present

Membership at Southridge Community Church

Year Membership
1980 49
1988 87
1995 116
2005 250
2015 350

Author(s) Sam Steiner
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published February 2017

Cite This Article

MLA style

Steiner, Sam and Richard D. Thiessen. "Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2017. Web. 30 Jul 2021.,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147226.

APA style

Steiner, Sam and Richard D. Thiessen. (February 2017). Southridge Community Church (St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 July 2021, from,_Ontario,_Canada)&oldid=147226.

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