FINDING OUR NEW CHURCH BUILDING
The following story is written by our Welland Location Pastor, Mike Meinema. We’re excited to share that our Welland Location has purchased a permanent home. Effective November 2017, we will be taking possession of 414 River Road in Welland. (Currently known as the Riverstone Event Centre). Read a bit of the story behind this exciting chapter for our Welland community!
During the summer of 2016, I went through the interviewing process which led to me accepting the Location Pastor position with Southridge’s Welland location. This would mean a move would have to take place for my family, so my wife and I began to look for a new home in Welland. During one of my interviews, I was asked if I already had a sense of what the Welland location might need for the future. I shared that from my interviewing various people about the church, that I discovered people felt that finding a permanent home in Welland was the move that Southridge was ready for so that Welland could have a home base. Ultimately, what people wanted was the chance to have a stronger impact on the greater Welland community, for the sake of serving the needs of our community and sharing Jesus Christ with those who don’t already know Him.
So, I began to pray. Because I was part-time at first, I served here in Welland for half of the week while my family remained at our home in Woodstock until we could find a new home. That gave me lots of time, especially in the evenings, to walk around Welland and pray for the community. My goal was to seek God and His will regarding if our location needed a permanent site or not. I began to sense that God did want a home base for Southridge Welland, so my prayers soon switched to asking God to reveal to us where He wanted our church to be within the city of Welland.
As I looked for a new home for my family, I would spend a little time each week looking at commercial properties to see if anything suitable would come up which could serve Southridge. I also spent time in prayer about any options that came up, but nothing seemed to fit. If I found anything, I would usually drive by later that evening in order to pray outside of that space to seek God’s will for our church. I did this in front of a couple of store fronts and in front of a couple of factories or commercial buildings, but nothing seemed to be the right fit. Some of the options, I shared with my co-worker, Ben Lockyer, and others just felt completely wrong as soon as I pulled up to the site. Soon, I began to pray that God would reveal the building He wanted our church to have.
One afternoon, after not finding any options on the commercial MLS website, I decided to Google “Former Institutional Buildings for Sale in Welland, ON.” Down at the bottom of the page, I found a listing for the Riverstone Banquet facility in Welland, which had started out as a local Lion’s Club hall, and it originally had an institutional zoning when it was first built. There was some information about the facility, the list price and some details of the property, and there were a few pictures, so I printed the website, and that night I drove to see the place. When I pulled into the empty parking lot, I had a completely different feel than I had had at any other place in town. This was an awesome space that had a really nice and large parking lot, with room to grow, and the location felt great as well. I prayed about this building and the property, asking God if this was a space He might consider for us, and then I headed back to my in-laws for the night. The next day, I showed the sheets to Ben, and he saw some potential there too. He contacted the real estate agent who he already knew, and the agent asked how we had found the property. Ben explained that I had looked at a website listing of the property and had printed the page off. The agent expressed his surprise because the property had not actually been listed, and it was not on the MLS yet or anything. The page he had put up the day before had been set up to show the seller what a site could look like when it was time to launch the sale, so he was surprised that we knew about the property at all. We looked for the website again, and could not find it online, because it had only been posted for a small window of time, during which I found it and printed it! I felt like, with a fluke coincidence like that, God was with us and leading us to this property.
We made arrangements to go through the hall with a few people for the next day, at which time a group of four of us saw the building for the first time. Since then, more people from Southridge went through the building with the mindset that this was the right place for our new church building. We struck a deal with the owner, and settled all of the details for a November closing, and all the while the property was never listed for sale on the public market!
For me, this process was Spirit led and is completely a gift from God. I feel so clear that God answered the prayers of many people from our church who were asking God to make it very clear where He wanted us to be as a church. This property checks so many of the boxes of the dreams we had for a building. It is so wonderful to know that God revealed Himself and His desires for our church by providing us with a building that far surpasses our hopes and dreams for what a property can mean for Southridge Community Church and for the City of Welland!
A few pictures of our “soon-to-be” Home: