Gateway Community EPC…
A special moment at the September meeting of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies was the declaration that Gateway Community EPC had reached particular church status. Alleghenies’ newest church is located in Slippery Rock, PA, home to the 9,000 students of Slippery Rock University and 5,000 residents.
Gateway’s first worship service was held on September 9, 2007. The plant met in the old student union on the campus. They now worship in the new student center. Pastor Bob Stauffer (photo right) said, “We joke that the state built us a $170 million facility complete with a Starbucks, a movie theater, a ballroom and a Quaker State restaurant.” He added, “The university has been wonderful to us and that relationship has seen much fruit both practically and spiritually.
Gateway was created out of North Park EPC. Under Senior Pastor Bob Hopper, a conversation began in 2005 about planting a church in an area that had little or no evangelical and reformed witness and where North Park members could be personally involved in the new church plant. Slippery Rock was selected because it was about an hour from North Park and it was a college town.
The original core group included about ten folks from North Park and two couples from Tabernacle EPC who were long time friends of Bob. Two of those couples are still with the church.
When asked about key learnings from the planting experience, Bob said, “Don’t get fixated on owning your own building. Where we meet does have some drawbacks but because of where we meet we can focus on staff and ministry and not buildings.” He added, “Be focused in your outreach. We focus on reaching the university, the community schools and we have a ministry called Hands of Hope to reach out to the urban poor. We have adopted two trailer parks and, under Evangelist Chris White‘s leadership, God has opened so many doors for ministry in the whole county.”