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On September 12, 1993, a handful of adults and children gathered under an oak tree at Valley Forge National Park with the desire to be part of a church community that would reach the area with the good news of Jesus Christ. A few days after that first gathering, God dramatically provided a rent-free facility for the group to use for its weekly meetings. For the next two and one-half years the group, known as the Philadelphia Seeker Project, met every Saturday night for worship and teaching at the Barn on the campus of the Fairview Village Church of the Nazarene. In addition to these weekly gatherings, small groups were formed for the purpose of building deeper relationships with God and one another.
On February 4, 1996, the Philadelphia Seeker Project moved its meeting place to the Audubon YMCA and formed a church called Valley View Community Church. The name of the church tells its story. Valley signifies the church’s vision to be part of a movement of God that reaches the Delaware Valley with the good news of Jesus Christ and serves as a reminder that the group first met at Valley Forge National Park. View recalls how God provided the group’s first meeting place at the Fairview Village Church of the Nazarene. Community reflects the church’s mission to be a community of grace impacting our world through life in Jesus. And Church is the people of Valley View, not a building, organization, or institution.
In the fall of 1996, the church first began to publicize its presence at the Audubon YMCA. At that same time, the church began to hold monthly meetings at the Children’s Learning Center in Newtown to serve those from Valley View living in Bucks County. After a year, the meetings in Bucks County were discontinued so more effort could be placed on the work around the Audubon YMCA. About that time a number of the original families from Bucks County moved closer to the area to continue their help with the church.
In December 1997, the church purchased a burned-out house in Phoenixville. During 1998, the house was renovated with the help of more than 230 volunteers and donations in excess of $80,000. “Operation: Big Old House” was successfully completed and celebrated on April 18, 1999. For years, the house served as the residence for one of the church leaders, a meeting place for various gatherings, and a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
In the summer of 1999, a family whose lives had been impacted by Valley View offered to sponsor a radio ministry in order to expand the church’s outreach. This half-hour radio broadcast called “A View from God’s Word” debuted on WBYN on Sunday night, November 7, 1999. The weekly program aired for a year, proclaiming the truth of God’s Word to the Philadelphia area and bringing a number of families into the Valley View community.
From the beginning, Valley View has always desired to be part of God’s work around the world. In February 2000, the church sent out its first mission team to serve with the Culiacan Project, an outreach to migrant farm workers in Culiacan, Mexico. After that multiple teams from the church participated in this strategic outreach that over the years has seen thousands introduced to Jesus Christ.
In September 2000, the church began leasing an office on Main Street in Collegeville and hired Pat Schell as an administrative assistant to help with the expanding work. The church continued to gather for worship and teaching each Sunday at the Audubon YMCA and to meet in a variety of smaller settings throughout the week. In addition, many from Valley View began serving as leaders with the Young Life student ministry in a number of area high schools.
In January 2001, the church sponsored its first Alpha course, a safe place for those who are just starting to investigate the claims of Jesus. The Alpha course has been a great help to many people in their spiritual journey. In order to accommodate the steady growth of Valley View a second Sunday gathering was added in April 2001. The church now offers two opportunities for worship and teaching, one at 9:00 a.m. and another at 11:00 a.m. The second gathering includes the Valley Kids children’s ministry.
In 2002, the church grew by almost fifty percent with many coming to know Jesus Christ personally and following him in baptism. In addition, a number were sent out to Botswana, China, Ghana, and Mexico following God’s command to take the gospel to the whole world. Each year the church also participates in Operation Christmas Child, an outreach ministry sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, sending hundreds of shoebox gifts to needy children worldwide.
Sensing the need to get more involved with the under resourced in its own area, the church began a Compassion Ministry in 2003. As an arm of the Compassion Ministry, Helping Hands was started to help better care for the needs of those within Valley View. Valley Mids and Valley View High were also added to provide community for a growing number of middle school and high school students.
In 2004, God miraculously provided Valley View with a church building on seven acres of property free of charge! For years the church had been praying for a more permanent facility to use for worship gatherings and other activities. Those prayers were finally answered when nearby Sunnyside Community Church gave Valley View its building and property. In September 2004, the church established its offices there and plans got underway to eventually move the church on site for all its gatherings.
While the process to develop the Sunnyside property continued, 2005 saw an increased use of the Sunnyside facility. The building and grounds provided a wonderful tool for both community and outreach opportunities during the week and still do.
In January 2006, Matt de Montaigne joined the church staff to continue his work with youth and to help with other areas of the church. Matt and his family had been part of the Valley View community for years while he served as Area Director for Young Life Schuylkill Valley. The year also saw numerous people from Valley View board buses and planes to extend the mission of Christ to needy places throughout the country and around the world, including Adam and Tasha Hoover who left in September to serve Christ in southern France.
2007 was a year of major transitions for Valley View. In January renovations got underway to expand the Sunnyside building in order to accommodate the Sunday worship gatherings of the church. In July, construction began on the parking lot and the extensive storm water management system. Then on August 12, after more than eleven years, the church met for the final time at the YMCA. Words of appreciation and gifts of gratitude were exchanged with Janet Genuardi, the director of the Audubon YMCA. The very next week, August 19, Valley View celebrated its first worship gathering on the Sunnyside property. After more than three years the church was so grateful to finally be on site.
2008 saw an increased emphasis on the mission of Christ with a greater desire to make a difference in this world. Through initiatives like the Advent Conspiracy with its emphasis on generosity to the needy, the church became more proactive in helping the under resourced. Various clothing, food and computer drives were held, as well as partnering with inner city schools in Philadelphia and Camden. A relationship was also established with the Norristown homeless shelter along with area food banks in Schwenksville and Phoenixville. In addition, many from the church participated in the E100 challenge by reading the 100 most essential passages in Scripture.
As a follow up to E100, many took part in EJesus in 2009, reading and discussing the 100 most essential passages concerning Jesus. To express the better way of Jesus, a team was sent to France in June to serve with the Hoovers. In addition, the Sunnyside facility was used extensively to host two ten-week Alpha courses, a Red Cross Blood Drive, serve as a polling station, and a gathering place for various groups and events. In October, Hub gatherings were started in regional locations as a way to connect with God, others, and the mission of Valley View.
2010 brought lots of changes. On August 29 the church held a huge celebration to honor one of its founding leaders. After seventeen years faithfully serving Christ and the community, Tim Giessler and his family moved on to their next adventure. Following Tim’s departure two members of the Valley View community were brought on staff to help further the mission. Kurt Focht was hired part time to help lead worship and Adam Hoover, back after four years in France, was hired as an intern to lead the newly-formed Element Teen Ministry.
In 2011, the church continued to put feet on its faith by sending a mission team to France, cell phones to Malawi, and winter clothes to Mongolia. Another step was taken with Operation Christmas Child as the church became a Relay Center, collecting over 1,700 shoebox gifts for needy children around the world. In addition, the first Alpha Marriage Course was offered to strengthen couples and Joe Roberts, another member of the Valley View community, was hired part time to co-lead Element.
2012 was a year filled with highlights. In May, Jenni Means of No More Crumbs children’s ministry held a weekend seminar for Valley Kids’ volunteers. In August, an outreach to Eastern University students was initiated. The fall saw many missional opportunities including Humankind Water, the Alternative Gift Market, Operation Christmas Child, Bead for Life, and a team go to Atlantic City with Samaritan’s Purse to aid in Superstorm Sandy cleanup. In December, the third annual JOY event proved to be the biggest and best ever with hundreds of people experiencing the true joy of the Christmas season.
2013 opened with the sale of the “Big Old House”that the church had purchased in 1997. The sale helped to significantly pay down the loan on the Sunnyside property. In April, Valley View participated in the For Pete’s Sake Cancer Walk at Citizens Bank Park. In May, a Garage Sale 4 Orphans (GS4O) was held to raise funds for an orphanage in Haiti. In September, the church celebrated 20 years of God’s faithfulness. And, in December, the property loan was completely paid off leaving the church debt free. It was a banner year of God’s blessing!
2014 was an exciting year of staff expansion. In February, Kurt Focht transitioned from part time to full time. In September, Ben Robinson was hired part time to help lead the Element Teen Ministry. In October, Jill Slawecki was hired part time as the coordinator of the Valley Kids Ministry. Each one was a member of the Valley View community long before they were invited on staff. They are all fully committed to Jesus Christ and to the mission and vision of the church.
New opportunities to fulfill the mission of Valley View were offered in 2015 including Valley Kids Orange Family Experience (FX), Being a Six40 Disciple, Elijah House, and G3 - three ways to give at Christmas. GS4O and the For Pete's Sake Cancer Walk also returned in the spring. In September, the church graciously gave Bruce Carter a three-month sabbatical to get refreshed. And in October, Harvest was held to raise support for the Daily Bread Community Food Pantry.
2016 was a year of increased equipping for Valley View. Elijah House continued its efforts of developing prayer ministers. After a spring teaching series called "Spent," Financial Peace University (FPU) was offered for the first time to help the church better understand and implement biblical stewardship. Stephen Ministry training was also offered for the first time in the fall to equip and empower men and women to provide high quality, confidential Christ-centered care to hurting people. In October, as part of a teaching series on prayer, the church held its first 24-hour prayer watch. It was an amazing experience!
From the start, the leader of Valley View Community Church has been the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the King that we serve. The staff along with the Leadership Team, is responsible to lead the church and to facilitate its effective development according to its mission and vision. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit they seek to advance God's kingdom in this world.
All along, God's gracious hand has been on this work. He has wonderfully led and faithfully provided for Valley View Community Church. God continues to patiently teach Valley View what it means to be a community of grace that impacts our world through life in Jesus. As long as the church continues to follow the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, its future is bright.