North Shore Fellowship Growth Has Been Unconventional

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - by Suzanne Walker

“Everything has been unconventional,” said Gary Purdy upon reflecting on the birth and growth of North Shore Fellowship Church. The 11 a.m. service will be held in a larger church building in the area beginning Aug. 13 because of its quick growth.

Several years ago Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church was “experiencing growth,” so leaders in the church “sought the Lord” on whether the church should “build or multiply.” Gary said the leaders decided to “look for a hole in the city that could be filled by a Gospel centered church.”

The Resource Foundation identified the North Shore area as a place where existing churches were struggling, so there was a need for a new church.

Gary said Lookout Mountain Pastor Joe Novenson unconventionally visited North Shore businesses and churches asking for permission to start a new church in the area.

About two and a half years ago, North Shore Fellowship acquired the former Woodland Church of Christ building, located right off of Frazier Avenue, and began holding worship services. On the first Sunday the church, which holds around 380 people, was full for two worship services, said Gary. “The hunger for a fresh expression of the Gospel in the church was broader than anyone anticipated.”

From the beginning, the vision to “fill a hole” in that region was clear, he said. However, people from all over the city responded.

Soon after worship services began a search committee was formed to find a pastor for the church. Pastor Novenson and other church leaders filled this role for a time.

In the meantime, Gary was heading up Crossroads Ministry at University of Georgia, when a student from Chickamauga mentioned North Shore Fellowship to him. The student also told Pastor Novenson about Gary.

“I had never led a church and I was not ordained in the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America), so I really didn’t fit the grid,” said Gary. However, “out of a favor” to a friend and pastor of the church Gary attended, Pastor Novenson invited him to Chattanooga for an interview.

“To our surprise, things clicked. In a lot of ways it was illogical, but the Lord directed for these things to happen,” said Gary.

In July 2005, North Shore Fellowship became an official church, and in August Gary began to fill the role of pastor.

Since then Gary has strived acclimate to North Shore by building relationship with people. He said the church hopes to reach out to all demographics in the area.

Beginning on Aug. 13, the 11 a.m. worship service will be held in Northside Community Church located deeper in North Chattanooga at the intersection of Tremont and Mississippi Streets. Gary said the pastor at Northside offered to allow them to use the church building because Northside has a small membership but their building can hold 850 people. “It’s very unconventional that another pastor would steward his building.” In return, the North Shore Fellowship congregation plans to do some renovations and repairs on the building.

Gary said he has talked to many people that have “not been turned off by Christ but the church culture.” Therefore he said, the mission of North Shore Fellowship is to “enjoy and embody Jesus Christ to the North Shore area, Chattanooga and the world.”

Through “Christ-centered teaching” and relationships, Gary said he hopes the church will “provide a simple relational organic infrastructure to sustain healthy growth” and establish a “meaningful presence” in the community.

Since the church is young, he said plans to fulfill their mission are constantly being discussed and developed. Gary said the church wants to look to meet needs in the community in a variety of ways. For example, he said he would like to see the church begin helping area schools and educators through after school programs. He also hopes that they can eventually offer counseling and job education programs.

Currently, members of the congregation are assisting Forrest Avenue Methodist with their ministry in feeding the homeless, Gary said.

North Shore Fellowship meets on Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Woodland Avenue. Sunday school classes are also offered during these times. For more information go to www.northshore1.org.


Union Hill Missionary Baptist Honors Pastor Samuel R. Jackson

Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church has been blessed by God with its shepherd, Pastor Samuel R. Jackson and organizers are preparing to honor him for his faithful service and guidance to this flock for 11 years.  In addition, he and his bride of 30 years, First Lady Vivian Evans Jackson will renew their wedding vows. The Union Hill Church family cordially invites each ... (click for more)

Steve Ellison: Memorial Day Remembrances

The Civil War, our bloodiest w ar, gave birth to holidays honoring those who gave there all for their country. In 1868, the United States set aside May 30 th  to remember their great sacrifice. Since 1971, in classic American seeking of self, we have chosen to take a three day weekend by choosing to take a day off from work on the last Monday in May.  Oh, the real Memorial ... (click for more)

Child Bitten By Dog In Bradley County

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a child who was bitten by a dog. While saturating an area in Bradley County, a deputy observed a vehicle traveling on the roadway with a child not restrained and sitting in a passenger’s lap inside the vehicle. Once the deputy approached the vehicle, he noticed a child bleeding which was the result of a dog bite. ... (click for more)

Man Rescued From The Pocket Wilderness On Saturday

Rescue personnel started the Memorial Holiday weekend at the Pocket Wilderness hiking trails on Saturday morning. A man had been camping on the trails with friends Friday night when the accident occurred. They had been gathering branches for firewood when he tripped and fell on a branch which impaled his thigh. With no cell service and having no daylight, the group waited ... (click for more)

Fruit Basket Turnover

I have been teaching for 21 years now, so I’ve been through my share of school leaders. Every one of them taught me something important. Whether it was Don Bishop from Red Bank High School who, after almost 30 years at Red Bank, taught me to invest in the longevity of my career, Wade Kelly who taught me to thoroughly weigh options before making a decision, Gail Chuy who taught me ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Let Me Be Clear’

I have seen a lot of human beings who have gotten themselves in terrible messes in my time and more self-induced agony than I want to recall. Will Rogers famously said, “Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” That’s the truth and if you ever didn’t think that “Politics corrupts,” consider the genius behind the line, “It ain’t long those who get elected … begin to think ... (click for more)