Despite a national effort to get Americans back to church it seems that Peoria is not quite feeling the same immediacy.
Last week we told you about Grace Presbyterian and their new multi-million dollar facility, St. Paul Baptist and their plans to move in to the old Presbyterian facility. Now Riverside Community Church is expanding to accommodate a need.
The sanctuary at Twelve Oaks Community Church has not been this full in years. It is now Riverside Community church, The Oaks branch. This past spring the former church congregation gave them the building for free.
"We probably had about 30, 35 people on Sunday mornings and the building got to be too big for us," said Twelve Oaks Community Church elder, Denny Ackerman.
The elder said over the years members of his former church began to move out of the Loucks neighborhood to outlying communities and they were unable to reach new prospective members in the area.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Twelve Oaks Community Church asked Riverside to take over their retirement community that sits on six acres adjacent the church. The much larger congregation welcomed the offer. This exchange prompted the small church to seek more assistance.
"Maybe after Riverside took over the old folks home, too see if they could maybe help us in reaching the neighborhood here," said Ackerman.
Riverside Community Church The Oaks Campus pastor, Pat Sheets said the offer came at a wonderful time for Riverside as they were already planning to open a Satellite branch in Pekin.
"That is still something we are definitely planning to so. Most likely next year," Sheets said.
The pastor adds with Riverside's regular attendance at 15 hundred, the church discussed building a new larger facility. That would have meant moving outside Peoria, so they decided to open branches to accommodate a growing congregation.
"I think if we continue to meet the needs of the people and stay committed to God, that we will continue to grow," said Sheets.
To keep the feel of a unified church, satellite churches, like The Oaks will have a live worship band but watch a sermon delivered earlier that morning at the downtown Riverside church, on a jumbo screen.
"There have been people commented that they forget after watching the screen for a while that the person's not actually there," said the pastor.
This is just the first satellite church Riverside has opened but with the large crowd Sunday morning, it seems likely the community church will have no problems growing their numbers in other areas in and around the River City.