Church continues reaching out after 24 years

These cryptic signs will soon appear throughout the area

After 24 years of continued growth and success, some
organizations would be satisfied to rest on their laurels, to
continue following a tried and true formula. But Gilroy’s South
Valley Community Church practices quite the opposite
philosophy.
After 24 years of continued growth and success, some organizations would be satisfied to rest on their laurels, to continue following a tried and true formula. But Gilroy’s South Valley Community Church practices quite the opposite philosophy.

In 1984 Pastors Eric and Carol Smith began meeting with five families in Morgan Hill, praying about how to impact their community for God. Soon, calling themselves South Valley Community Church, they rented space for worship at Gilroy’s El Dorado Plaza.

Continued growth caused a move to Gavilan College for Sunday services. By 1991 they were able to build the present large, modern facility at 8095 Kelton Drive, and in 1995 they opened Pacific West Christian Academy, a K-8 Christian school enrolling approximately 300.

In the past 24 years, the congregation has grown to 1,000 members and has impacted many aspects of life in Gilroy. The key to this success has been the ability to help people see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ still has direct relevance to the lives of ordinary people living today.

Residents of South Valley are invited to attend some exciting events during the next 10 weeks; they are all open to the public and free of charge.

– On Sept. 14 at the 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. worship services, the congregation will celebrate its 24 years of service to God and the community. A 1,200-square-foot tent will be erected on the church’s property, a portable “fellowship hall” which will allow members and guests to mingle, share refreshments and sign up for one of the small groups which are based on residence location (Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Benito) or stage of life (for example: senior citizens, young marrieds, singles).

But the focus this morning will not be on past victories; it will be on preparing for a new program which will run through Nov. 23: 50 Days to Finding Freedom.

– The following Sunday, Sept. 21, the church will highlight its activities in far-flung mission fields, places like Tanzania, Mexico, Italy and Albania. Guest speaker for the morning will be Dr. Casmin Ihegworo, leader of an important ministry in Nigeria. He will accept for shipment back to Nigeria, a 40-foot cargo container full of donated items like an electricity generator, portable x-ray machine, books and clothing.

– Also that Sunday will be the launch of an innovative new church sponsored by SVCC, Incarnate Faith (www.incarnatefaith.com). This ministry, offered on Sundays at 6 p.m., will be held in a cafe adjacent to SVCC. The venture is part of an “emerging church movement,” an effort to share the Gospel of Jesus in new ways to people who find standard churches irrelevant.

Mike Zukowski, former pastor of Student Ministries, will be lead pastor of this group. He will employ arts, various musical styles and narrative messages to develop the spirituality of people who have never heard the Gospel or who have been turned off by traditional Christian worship.

The goals are “to begin rediscovering what it means to follow Jesus, becoming living examples of the mission of Jesus and planting a church in Gilroy that transforms the city through compassion, collaboration faith, hope, love and the ways of Jesus.”

– Sept. 28 will mark the official beginning of the 50 Days to Finding Freedom, an innovative study of a section of Matthew’s Gospel called “The Beatitudes” (5:3-10). In this passage Jesus teaches what people must do to become “blessed” (extremely happy). Each Sunday Senior Pastor Eric Smith will present a message based on one of these verses, for example, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” His emphasis will be to show how each concept can be practically applied to life today to receive spiritual and emotional healing from whatever issues are troubling the individual.

Each week of the program people will be encouraged to attend one of some 50 small groups meeting at convenient times and locations to follow up on Sunday’s theme through a study guide, DVD presentation and discussion. Participants will learn how wise life choices can lead them to the blessedness Jesus taught about.

Nov. 23 will feature a culminating event, one which will celebrate freedom from the unhappiness caused by following poor life choices. Anyone who has issues in life, who would like “help for hurts, habits, and hang-ups” is invited to participate in 50 Days to Finding Freedom.

For more information, call SVCC at (408) 848-2363 or visit www.50days2freedom.com.

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