In early 1989, a team of thirty adults planted Southside Church of Richmond in Midlothian. For the first two years, the church met in a movie theater in Chesterfield Towne Center where the smell of popcorn accompanied the preaching of God’s Word. In 1991, we moved to Midlothian High School, and then we moved to Swift Creek Middle School in 1995. Through this period, the members learned how to live out faith in community, meeting from house to house, sharing meals, and serving one another.
By the early 2000s, the church purchased land for a building and was renamed KingsWay Community Church. On November 6, 2005, our current facility was dedicated. During this season the church experienced a season of rapid numerical growth, including two church plants in Fredericksburg and Charlottesville.
All of that seemed to come to a crashing halt in 2010, when internal conflict roiled the church. Sovereign Grace Churches, went through an upheaval of its own around the same time and founding members wondered if the church would survive.
In hindsight, the Lord exposed a lot of self-righteousness in our church culture during that period, as well as some significant weaknesses in our local and denominational leadership structures. We were challenged become a more humble people who trust the power of God’s redeeming grace, not the perfection of our public image. We learned how to completely depend on the Lord to take what is broken and make it whole.
Over the next few years, Sovereign Grace adopted a more Presbyterian leadership structure, which significantly strengthened our partnership in fellowship, governance, and mission with other SGC churches. On a local level, our pastors grew in approachability and accountability, our church culture became more Christ-centered and less practice-centered, and our ministry model shifted from being staff-centered to more member-centered.
Around the same time, God graciously began to expand the ethnic diversity of our congregation. All kinds of different kinds of people with various personal and cultural backgrounds found spiritual home in our midst, including a growing number of Latino brothers and sisters.
In the middle of 2015, we experienced another season of sorrow when our founding pastor resigned. The circumstances surrounding his departure were deeply painful. This time, however, the church didn’t scatter. God helped us pull together, learn from our mistakes, and stay focused on our mission to help one another enjoy a growing relationship with God.
We knew from our experience back in 2010 that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more, both in our personal lives and in the church. The good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection isn’t about the glory of man or the perfection of the church. It’s about the perfectly glorious God who saves sinners like us who never outgrow our need for a Savior.
On January 15, 2017, we called Matthew Williams, who grew up in the church and had served as an associate pastor at KingsWay since 2009, to be our new lead pastor.
Our story is inescapably bound up with His story. And because of His story, we have hope – a hope that compels and empowers us to help the people in our neighborhood, our city, and around the world come to know and follow Him.