Received: 2022-12-06 01:36:18

Please pray for Darlene Gesh's mom, for whom Darlene had to call an ambulance this week. She has very low blood pressure and now pneumonia. There is lots of testing coming up so they are praying for some answers.

Southridge is an incredible story of God’s faithfulness.

Beginning in 1980 with a vision to invest in the next generation, we’ve seen God pass the leadership baton from one generation to another. We’ve seen God relocate us to put ourselves in proximity to marginalized people. We’ve seen God expand our reach across Niagara through some beautiful partnerships.

And we’re seeing God continue to faithfully grow, stretch and use us today.

Southridge is a story of investing in others.

We’ve never been about ourselves.

Opened in 1980 (then called Fairview-Louth Mennonite Brethren Community Church), our church was founded on a desire to be the kind of church where its kids would grow up to know, love and serve Jesus. Prioritizing a number of strategic programming initiatives (including things like Children’s Features, VBS, Kid’s Choirs, etc.), the church adjusted its priorities and preferences to the next generation in hopes of engaging them in faith.

Southridge is a story of generational transfer.

By the mid-1990’s, this investment into the next generation paid off.

Faced with the retirement of its original pastor, instead of looking to a search committee to hire another seasoned leader, the church committed to a deliberate process of “handing the keys over to the next generation”. It identified and invested in a handful its own of younger, inexperienced leaders and supported them in taking increasing responsibility for the direction and future of the church.

Southridge is a story of missional engagement.

After some years of vibrant numerical growth in response to the fresh leadership and their initiatives, the new leadership was haunted by the question,

“If our church suddenly disappeared would anyone in the surrounding society even notice?”

So instead of investing in further expansion at its rural west St. Catharines location, the church moved to within a mile of downtown St. Catharines putting itself in greater proximity to people in need and re-named itself Southridge Community Church to reflect this commitment to serving its community.

Southridge is a story of multi-site expansion, particularly through partnerships.

After establishing the Niagara Region’s largest homeless shelter in its facility, the church continued to grow numerically so it explored becoming a “multi-site” church — functioning as one church but expressing itself in multiple locations across Niagara.

Immediately, the church wondered what the ‘shelter-equivalent’ would be in our new locations, driving us to define each new site by the core contribution and difference it sought to make in its community.

Today, each Southridge location is defined by its unique Anchor Causes — serving the homeless, low-income families and migrant farm workers.

Southridge is a story of “Love Beyond Belief”.

This growing engagement with the poor and excluded has been sensitizing us to marginalization of all kinds.

To promote a greater degree of inclusivity and diversity, we realized that one of the primary sources of division was disagreement over incidental issues, particularly around theology. Growing in our heart to love everyone always, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the primacy of the Bible’s and Jesus’ mandate to love in ways that supersede the non-essential differences that typically divide us, and enhance our expression of unity that Jesus prayed we would exude to the watching world.