By Jennifer Johnson
In November, Eastside Christian Church (Fullerton, CA) moved into its new building, a former Boeing defense site (complete with helipad!). On the same weekend, more than 100 members from Community Christian Church in nearby Yorba Linda joined them.
Community Christian launched 27 years ago as an Eastside church plant, and offered a strong ministry with intergenerational worship and a car clinic providing free auto services to more than 150 single-parent families each year. But the struggling economy, a building located far from its core members, and declining attendance prompted Community Christian’s senior pastor Greg Curtis and Eastside senior pastor Gene Appel to discuss merging.
Community saw the partnership as an opportunity to accomplish more. “CCC is a church with a vision much larger than itself,” its leaders wrote. “We have dreams both local and global that we cannot fulfill with our own resources. Wrapping ourselves with a church that shares our DNA and vision would mean that we could see our dreams for ministry . . . fulfilled.”
Eastside benefited from the merger, as well; its support of Community Christian’s missionaries opened up new ways to make an international impact. “Eastside [had] been looking to increase their support of work overseas to 15 percent of the church’s income,” Community said. “They have also been looking for opportunities in South America. The merging of the two churches will [define] new opportunities for that to happen.”
During a special service in September, Community members met Appel and other Eastside leaders and formally made a commitment to the new partnership.
“We accepted their old charter, invited them to sign a new one and join Eastside, and prayed over it together,” says Jan Lynn, Eastside’s communications director. Community became an Eastside campus in October and began showing Appel’s preaching via video. They held a celebration service at the end of October and moved into Eastside’s new location on the grand opening weekend in November.
“We gave them [CCC members] a tour of the building ahead of time, including the brand-new worship center,” Lynn says. “Gene told them, ‘You’re the first people to sit in these chairs. The Eastsiders haven’t even sat in them yet.’ To which they replied, ‘Gene, we are Eastsiders now.’”