In the summer of 1999, a team of five families moved to the Philadelphia area to start five separate Churches. Known as the Nehemiah Project, this mission was the beginning of a vision that was started by the following groups:
- North American Mission Board
- Pennsylvania/South Jersey Baptist Convention
- The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- The Greater Philadelphia Baptist Association
When the birth of this vision was made public, Aaron Harvie and his wife Allison, felt lead to inquire the possibilities of joining in what God is doing in Pennsylvania. After going through assessments and praying through the process, they were commissioned and trained to start a Church in Philadelphia area. Throughout this process God began to plant His vision for this Church on the hearts of His people. By the time they moved to Pennsylvania, the purpose of the Church had been established: Riverside Community Church is a body of believers who, through their commitment to Jesus Christ, boldly penetrate the culture of the community in which they live, work, and play with the love of Christ and the message of the gospel so that society, as a whole, will be changed.
With the vision on their hearts and minds, God brought them to Horsham, Pennsylvania. Riverside began small in number, just Aaron and Allison! However, as they began to seek God's face and watch where He was working, doors began to open. They met their worship leader a couple of months down the road. He joined the core group. The three of them began to meet weekly for prayer and Bible study.
Soon afterwards, Aaron began coaching at the YMCA. It was through this involvement that he met the executive director of the YMCA, who willingly offered their facilities for a Tuesday night Bible study. Through word of mouth and God's providence, the core group grew. In March they began planning for Riverside's preview services. Mission teams from Kentucky and South Carolina came ready to serve. They handed out 14,000 door hangers, informing people in the community of our beginnings. They followed up with another 25,000 piece mail-out letting everyone know about a series of services that would be held in April at the new Regal 22 Cinema.
On April 9th, 2000, Riverside had its first preview service. What a morning to remember!! The day before it was a pleasant 75 degrees. The next morning brought a blizzard!! In the midst of fear and doubt, God showed Himself once again. Seventy people joined together for the service, and new relationships were forged. The core group originally had the intention of having services once a month in the summer as they prepared for the official launch in the Fall. However, God had other plans. It was mentioned to them that there was a desire to meet weekly during the summer. Because of the excitement about what God is doing, people joined together to make weekly services possible!
Riverside officially launched as a church on October 15, 2000. The first service attracted 179 people. From this beginning, Riverside grew to average over 250 on Sunday mornings and expanded to small groups and intense study times called Expedition. Riverside then developed several new ministries and brought on two full-time pastors to help meet the needs of a fast growing church.
God has so much in store for Riverside and it's people, and we anticipate the mighty things He is going to do in our midst. Since Riverside began it's preview services, the Lord continues to bring people who are ready to serve and hungry to hear. Our core group continues to grow. The Lord is preparing His leaders. He continues to bless Riverside because He is at work in this community. This is only the beginning of an incredible movement of God. Our prayer is that as Jesus is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself, and transformation will sweep across this community and throughout this nation. We watch with anticipation as to what will happen next. We can't wait to tell you the rest of the story.......
......How amazing is God? The above historical perspective was written by Riverside founder and former Lead Pastor, Aaron Harvie in our churches early years. Since then, God has done amazing things. Riverside has reached out to the world through missions on a national and international scale. We have reached out to the local community through various outreach programs. Through Riverside, God has raised up leaders and planted three churches in the greater Philadelphia area.
In 2012, after serving faithfully since Riverside's founding, God called Aaron and his family back to Louisville, Kentucky. Aaron now serves on the staff at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as the Church Planter Mobilization Strategist through which God continues to use him to build up and train aspiring church planters. Aarons departure is not a setback, it is an opportunity that God is putting in front of us. To this very day, Riverside Community Church continues to raise up leaders and share the gospel. God has a plan for Aaron and his family, and he has a plan for you. We hope you'll be a part of what God is doing at Riverside!