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

"There Are Some Things I Need To Forget" Is Sunday's Topic At Middle Valley

Middle Valley Church of God announces that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'There Are Some Things I Need To Forget '  in the  10:30 a.m.  service this  Sunday .  This is part of a sermon series titled 'God Is Working With Us.'  This new sermon series will develop the reality that the Holy Spirit is constantly ... (click for more)

Eric Youngblood: A Hidden Election Insight

“The mercy of the world is you don't know what's going to happen.”   I’m wondering today if the veracity of this Wendell Berry-ian utterance might prove a warm shower for strained worry muscles that have been overworked of late.   Imaginations, where the most vigorous worry muscles are housed, especially among the sensitive, the experienced, or the ... (click for more)

Mayor Berke, Lacie Stone Were At Swanky New York City Hotel While Bobby Stone Was Plying The River

Mayor Andy Berke's top advisor Lacie Stone accompanied him on a trip to New York City on April 12-13 and they ended up at a swanky spot where Ms. Stone's husband, Bobby, had taken her before. They sat at the Stones' favorite table.   Bobby Stone, who has accused his wife of having an affair with the mayor, has said that Lacie Stone told him that she and the mayor kissed ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 7; Blaze Ruled Accidental

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire on Saturday afternoon that displaced a family of seven. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 4:11 p.m. and responded to 3308 Dodson Ave. with five fire companies. Captain Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said heavy fire was showing when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. As additional firefighters ... (click for more)

Please, No Short Term Vacation Rentals In My Neighborhood

Approval of the short term vacation rental item on the City Council agenda for Tuesday  will be the next step toward commercializing our residential properties and communities to benefit those more interested in making money than preserving an old, well-established, rich community of like-minded families.    Anything requiring a business license is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Kelly Could Win It

I am neither a sleuth nor an odds maker but I’d say there is about a one-in-three chance that Interim Hamilton County Department of Education Superintendent Kirk Kelly could become the permanent superintendent of our public schools next Thursday. I am assured something squirrelly is happening on our newly-seated school board. It has been seven months since the last superintendent ... (click for more)