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Oakmont church expands for youth programs

| Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, 12:06 a.m.

Oakmont-based Riverside Community Church is in the midst of an expansion project to enhance its outreach.

The centerpiece of the $1.5 million plan is the conversion of a warehouse at Third and Archie streets into a multipurpose facility.

“It's going to be mainly for our student ministries and our church offices and other special church activities and our community events,” said the Rev. Bill Ellis, pastor of Riverside, 401 Allegheny Ave.

He said those events will include concerts, funeral dinners and worship services.

“We're brainstorming a lot of ways to use that space,” Ellis said.

The new facility, which is about four blocks from the church and across from the Riverside Park stadium, will encompass about 10,000 square feet. It will be known as the Riverside Community Church Parkside.

Ellis said the $1.5 million price tag, which the church is raising, does not include the $300,000 purchase price of the property. The project does include making renovations to the 118-year-old building where Riverside is headquartered.

Riverside, which Ellis said is affiliated with the Assembly of God denomination, has a membership of 700 to 800 people. It also holds services in space it leases at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.

Ellis said the Parkside facility is important for the church's youth.

“Our youth ministry, Nexus Student Ministry, is pretty much a regional ministry,” Ellis said. “They have kids coming from about 10 school districts. We have about 200 kids a week coming through.”

He said with that number of young people involved in the ministry, the current 2,000-square-foot facility the church leases simply became too small.

“We're hoping that this new space will make it even more effective,” Ellis said. “It will be able to reach more kids.”

The Parkside project includes a new roof, resurfacing the exterior walls and installing state-of-the-art sound and video systems, Ellis said. He said it is expected to be completed in November.

Renovations for the main church building, built in 1895, will include new restroom facilities, an additional entrance way to the parking lot, and incorporating the main and auxiliary worship spaces to provide better sight lines, he said. By moving the church offices to the Parkside facility, space will be created for the children's program in the main church, Ellis said.

“I think this is going to be a catalyst to the next step of growth for us,” he said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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