In 1985, Craig and Laura Sider moved to Oakville, Ontario to start Upper Oaks Community Church with a dream to reach people who had given up on religion.
Strongly supported by the Brethren in Christ (BIC) denomination – an awesome 200-year-old movement rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan heritage with a passion for innovative church planting – they launched on Easter Sunday 1986 and began building a vibrant community radically committed to living and sharing the message of Jesus.
In 1996, after many years of service in Oakville, Craig and Laura decided to accept a leadership position with the BIC in Pennsylvania. That’s when Bruxy Cavey stepped in as Teaching Pastor and a few years later, Tim Day joined him as Senior Pastor. Under their leadership, the church grew by over 35% annually. People seemed drawn in by the irreligious message of Christ that Bruxy taught and the fresh new approach to doing church, which placed a strong emphasis on Home Churches. During those years, the church found new clarity of vision, expanded its Home Church network, re-engineered its Sunday morning programming, and changed its name to The Meeting House.
In 2002, we launched our first regional site in Hamilton, Ontario, where we held a weekly gathering, initially in a school and later in a movie theatre, to watch The Meeting House teaching on DVD. As we caught a vision for what God could do through a multi-site church, we set to work on some goals that helped us focus on what God was calling us to do. This set us on a path that resulted in 5 new sites, 50 more home churches, and establishing a central production site in Oakville which now services all of our regional sites.
In 2007, we set off toward our next set of goals, which included doing a better job of engaging our community through effective communication, expanding our space for spiritual seekers, and investing heavily in both local and global compassion, particularly by partnering with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) which was working effectively in southern Africa. This initiative resulted in 5 new sites, 64 more home churches, and $3.5 million invested in local and global compassion.
In 2011, we followed the call to grow as a community-transforming church to see more people’s lives radically changed by Jesus in our church family, in our communities, and around the world. Our sites continued to grow as disciple-making communities as we sought to personally invite many more new people to the message of Jesus. Additionally, we reached our goal of investing $5 million relationally in local and global compassion.
Today, our vision is evolving. We continue to launch many new sites every year and connect with our extended community around the world. We are well aware that we’re not indispensable to God’s plan but we are excited to see where things are going as we try and live simply, give generously and love freely.
We hope you’ll come along for the ride!