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|Type||Nonprofit Religious Organization|
|Headquarters||Oakville, Ontario, Canada|
|Employees||33 full time (2006, CRA)|
|The Meeting House is part of a denomination called the Brethren in Christ, or BIC for short.|
The Meeting House is a large Canadian church located in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ontario. It was founded in 1985 by Craig and Laura Sider, and was originally known as "Upper Oaks Community Church".
In 1985, Craig and Laura Sider moved to the west end Toronto suburb of Oakville to start Upper Oaks Community Church. They were strongly supported by the Brethren in Christ, and had a passion for innovative church planting. Upper Oaks Community Church launched on Easter Sunday 1986 and began building a congregation committed to following Christ.
Formation of The Meeting House
In 1990, Upper Oaks had a membership of 100 people. As a leadership they asked God for a vision for the next ten years. What emerged was a simple, yet faith stretching desire to be a community that was projected to reach 1000 people weekly by the year 2000. At that point few could envision how this simple dream could become a reality. In 1996, Craig and Laura sensed that the next step for them in serving God was accepting a leadership position with the Brethren in Christ in Pennsylvania. Although the community was sad to see the Siders leave, this drastic change enabled the church to redefine itself.
The Bruxy Cavey years
The church's next development was hiring Bruxy Cavey for the position of Teaching Pastor. He is seen as the opposite of what you would traditionally expect from a pastor, as he will typically sport long hair, jeans and a T-shirt while delivering a sermon. The church had grown to 175 in size and was meeting at Iroquois Ridge High School.
Over the next four years, the church began to grow by 35% a year, finally reaching its goal of 1000 attendees in a single service in December 2000 (notably, exactly as forecast). A large part of their operations was the establishment of Home Churches, as a supplement to the Sunday morning teachings.
The church evolved into a multi-site organization, with the intent of having a location local to everyone in the Hamilton-GTA corridor. Sunday morning teaching (sermons) are broadcast live from Oakville into the Regional Sites, which primarily meet in movie theatres. As of July, 2009, they have established 8 satellite churches. These locations include: Brampton, two locations in Hamilton, two locations in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, a location in Parry Sound and one in Ottawa. On April 12, 2009, their attendance throughout their 9 locations hit an all-time record with 5,990 people.
While Bruxy Cavey is the public face of the church, there are many facets of leadership that are in place.
- Bruxy Cavey is the "Teaching Pastor" at The Meeting House; he partners with Tim Day who serves as the "Senior Pastor" and focuses on implementing the vision and overseeing the staff team. Bruxy and Tim serve as "Overseers" of the church among others that are members of the church that give oversight to all staff and ministries.
- Bruxy and Tim lead the "Management Team" which is composed of the leader of each major department in the church: Weekend Service, Ministry Support, New Site Development, Community Development, Children's Ministries (kid max),Student Ministries (theUNDERGROUND) and Communications.
- Under this banner come all of the staff at each location. Cross-Regional Staff guide the site staff. Each site has a Pastor that oversees the staff and the Community Development (pastoral care, outreach, home church) of the site, some sites have an Associate Pastor. All sites have a KidMax Director, Youth Director, Music Director and Technical Director, some being staff and some volunteer. Each site also has a "Weekend Service Producer", who supports the volunteer teams, as well as overseeing the Welcome Team and FAST (facility and set-up team).
The Meeting House uses secular historical texts and the works of secular historians as well as the bible and Christian historians to get close to the historical Jesus and his message. They make a point of addressing problematic topics such as the inquisition as well as responding to current topics such as The Secret and The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The Meeting House doesn't want you to "check your brain at the door" but rather to investigate, question and dialogue. Most sermons end with a "Q and Eh?"-session where the audience get to ask questions about "anything said or left unsaid". The emphasis is always on the practical application of Jesus' teachings, and Home Church is the format where The Meeting House sees this being lived out.
The Meeting House claims that Jesus came, not to start a new religion, but to shut down religion all together. They define religion as "rules, regulations, rituals and routines you do to get right with God". Jesus wanted to replace religion with relations. TMH claims that relations, with God and with other people, is the meaning of life.
Other centered love
The peace message of Jesus is also central to the teachings of The Meeting House saying "It's always OK to die for your faith. It's never OK to kill for your faith". Other centered love should be the guideline for all Christians.
- Official The Meeting House Website
- Official Podcast Link
- Official Video Podcast Link
- the Underground Youth Ministry