As a church congregation, we can trace our roots back to a Bible study consisting of eleven adults and nine children that met in November of 1997 in the living room of our founding pastor, John Swanson. By mid-January of 1998 these gatherings grew to fifty people. God then provided the opportunity to use a large conference room at the Hospice Care facility on West Memorial Avenue. In June of 1998, the church began meeting on Sunday mornings at the surgery center facility of Dean Clinic.
God graciously caused growth in attendance that summer and opened the door for us to use Marshall Middle School as our new meeting place. We held our first public worship service on September 13, 1998 at Marshall with over 160 people in attendance. Many fruitful years were spent in worship at Marshall, but the setting up and tearing down for worship each week proved to be a lot of work. We began to look for property to purchase during this time and acquired a former church building located on Court Street.
Construction of a new sanctuary was added to the existing structure and on June 26, 2005, a service was held to dedicate our current church home. On that Sunday, Pastor John preached from 1 Peter 2:4-5 which says, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
In his message, he reminded the congregation that God is not present in church buildings any more than he is present at the grocery store or your home. God is present in his people and that our great and glorious God is responsible for building his church. He builds his church using his people – we are the living stones being built up together into a spiritual house and that while having a church building is good and helpful – it is not the main thing. Being built, as living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ,” is the main thing.
After serving God and River Hills faithfully for over 15 years, God saw fit to call our founding pastor, John Swanson, to his eternal home in March of 2013. As we mourned his loss, we prayed that God would lead a new shepherd to River Hills to build on this foundation. So, as a congregation, we began the process of seeking the man that God would have for us as our next pastor.
Since its founding in 1997, River Hills has been marked by gospel-saturated, Christ-exalting preaching. This meant that we sought to find the man with the same gospel focus to which we had become accustomed over the years. In mid-2015, God richly blessed us by leading Pastor Aaron White to our church. We are thankful to God for guiding the process of calling Pastor Aaron and are excited about the years to come as he builds on the foundation laid by Pastor John.
Below is a series of sermons preached by our founding pastor, John Swanson. These sermons are an important step to the membership process at River Hills Community Church.