Launching into a new year on Jan. 8, Vineland (Ont.) Mennonite Brethren Church celebrated 80 years of community involvement with a service of farewell to VMB and welcome to Southridge Community Church, based in St. Catharines, Ont., who grafted Vineland into their multisite church family.
“Looking ahead, our opportunity lies in the dispersion of the church into the community,” Southridge lead pastor Jeff Lockyer read from Vineland’s 50th anniversary yearbook. “We can be a church that incarnates the love and mission of Jesus for our neighbourhood.”
The yearbook conveys the church’s enduring desire to exist for the community rather than be a refuge from the community. To that end, last spring their leadership board initiated meetings with various local churches currently fulfilling this mission, including Southridge Community Church.
Then they invited Southridge back to further discuss the marriage of the two congregations. They “courted” for three months to determine if their vision and theology supported VMB’s becoming a fourth location of Southridge Community Church. A VMB membership vote Nov. 8 resulted in 79 percent acceptance of adoption by Southridge.
“Churches are adopted for a variety of reasons,” says Lockyer. “In the case of VMB, the people saw adoption into Southridge as a unique opportunity for God to advance his purposes in the community.” The Vineland location of Southridge Community Church will officially launch around Easter 2012. Community members will temporarily join one of the other three Southridge locations (all located within a 30-minute drive) while renovations on the courtyard and foyer are underway to create a more inviting entrance and accommodate traffic flow. However, seniors continue to worship in the basement of the VMB building during the transition.
VMB lead pastor Mark Johnson is now a Southridge staff member; his new role is being shaped with regard to his passions.