Sitting on the campus of Niagara Christian Community of Schools beside the shoreline of the Niagara River in the Municipality of Fort Erie, Ontario, Riverside Community Church has been in existence since the fall of 1977. It was birthed by the support of its two parenting churches, Sherkston and Fallsview Brethren In Christ, and saw a number of these people leave their home churches to start this new work. Riverside began meeting in what is now Belmont Hall, the current library of NCC, and its first pastoral couple to give oversight to this brand new ministry was Pastor Gord and Joan Gooderham.
Riverside's existence began because of a perceived need coming out of Niagara Christian College, as it was called at that time. Not only did Riverside want to reach out to the immediate community alongside the river but it was also committed to providing a church home for those students and staff on campus. The church grew rapidly and charter membership was accepted in the spring of 1978.
As a result of Riverside's goal to covenant with NCC and reach out to their community, as well as its direct impact on its neighbours in the local vicinity, the church saw significant growth - growth which challenged the leadership to begin entering into a building program. In time, the church was assured of a piece of land being set aside on the campus of NCC and thus after congregational approval the construction began. The goal was to plan for a building that would reflect the personality of the church as well as their great distinctive ministry and the result was the present multi-functional building of Riverside Community Church. The strength of the people's commitment was seen in their desire to build the church themselves with the aid of a subcontractor, who became Mr.Leonard Sider. It was during this time, however, that Pastor Gord felt the call of God to leave Riverside after having served the congregation for nearly 10 years of ministry.
In God's own timing Pastor John and Barb Day were lead to Riverside Chapel. One of Pastor John's gifts was the ability to be part of and help lead a building project. Under his leadership a large number of Riverside people joined together after work, on weekends, and on holidays to work on the present facility. Even though the project took a lot longer than was anticipated, everyone persevered. With God's help and a lot of patience on Leonard Sider's part,the building saw its completion in 1991.
Now that the physical plans had been established for the church, the leadership then sought to focus on the direction of the church and where it would head in the future. After searching for and adapting various worship and ministry models, Pastor John Day moved on to another ministry opportunity and God brought a new pastoral couple to the fellowship, Pastor Todd and Kim Lester. They came to with a youthful and outward looking attitude, which God knew was needed at that specific time. As the church began to refocus their ministry, numerical and spiritual growth occurred once again. During Pastor Todd's time a number of significant changes occurred, one of which was the change of the name from Riverside Chapel to Riverside Community Church - chosen to better reflect their position in the community. Niagara Christian College also went through major changes in that time period, one of them being the incorporation of NCC which necessitated the split of NCC from the Canadian Conference of the BIC. As a result, the position as a church was made even more unique as the congregation was in the position of not having a church building that was owned by the conference any longer but rather a building owned by the school.
It was during this time that Pastor Todd and Kim felt called to leave Riverside for West Heights in Kitchener. Again, the church was on a search for another pastoral couple. God answered their prayers and arriving on the scene was Pastor Brian and Liz Lofthouse. Due to the school's population exploding to over 300 students, the new pastor and leadership was faced with another issue of space. The church was back in the same position they were 20 odd years ago with too many bodies and not enough space. God be praised.
To address this growth situation the Board sought with the congregation to plant another church in 2004, under the new leadership of Pastor Jeremy Tyrrell.'The Well' was birthed on Garrison Road in the heart of Fort Erie. Riverside continued to support 'The Well' in many areas in order to see its existence established, but soon was forced to address its own situation of finding another pastor as Pastor Brian and Liz had resigned in the fall of 2005 as they had responded to a call to head back to their previous church in Port Colborne. Thus the church was on the search again for new leadership.
As 'The Well' was solidifying, Riverside needed to bring stability to their own community and rejoiced in finding Pastor Jay and Carolyn Stewart in the spring of 2006.With Pastor Jay's enthusiasm and strong pulpit ministry the church once again was moving forward.
We praise God for His hand of faithfulness as He has watched over His people in all that Riverside has seen and gone through!