Council Approves Permit for Riverview Church at Old Lacey J's Site - Brian W. Jones

Council Approves Permit for Riverview Church at Old Lacey J's Site

Riverview Church Pastor Todd Tolson stands in front of a mural at the old Lacey J's building, the new site for their worship services. Riverview Community Church can officially hold service at the old site of Lacey J's Roadhouse Saloon & Grille at the prominent corner of Magnolia Avenue and Mission Gorge Road...

Last week, the Santee City Council approved a conditional use permit that is necessary for the church to operate in a commercial zone.

The Church, led by Pastor Todd Tolson, began as a family prayer group in 2010 and has met at Cajon Park School since then. They started a lease at the property at the beginning of January and have been working to bring the flock there since.

Riverview will start to two worship services at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Sunday for a congregation of about 200, with the first service happening Sept. 8.

To ensure that church parking doesn't negatively affect existing businesses the applicant and property owner have agreed to a shared parking agreement, which preserves business parking during the week and allows 121 spaces to be used by the church on Sunday, according to the city staff report.

$10,000 in permit fees were paid by the applicant.

Riverview Church is using technology to spread the word, posting audio from their weekly sermons on their website and a podcast available for download.

Here is the text of a statement Pastor Tolson prepared to read to City Council:

Thank you for hosting this meeting tonight, and thank you Travis Cleveland & Melanie Kush for your hard work on this project. I’m Todd Tolson, the Pastor of Riverview Community Church.  I’m a long time Santee resident, and Lord willing, I’ll never leave. 

Riverview started out as an idea at this time, three years ago.  I’ve always believed that God loves variety, which is why none of us are exactly the same.  We’ve all had different growing up experiences, we all have different personalities, and we’re all different colors, shapes and sizes.  And because of that variety, I believe that it takes all different kinds of Churches to reach and care for all different kinds of people. 

I grew up going to Church.  In the Churches I grew up at, we sat in pews.  We sang out of hymnals.  And when we sang Amazing Grace, or the Old Rugged Cross, we were accompanied by a pipe organ and a piano.  I look back on those days with fondness.  And I believe that Churches which still sit in pews and sings hymns have a place in our town.  

But 3 years ago, I asked the question, “What would a Church in Santee look like for people who would never go to the kind of Church I grew up in?”  What would a Church look like that existed where people didn’t have to manage their image, or put effort into trying to look better or more spiritual than they really were? 

What if there could be a Church where people felt safe enough to be honest about their struggles, their hurts, and be open to the hope that God offers through forgiveness of our past, and a purpose for our future? 

And so my wife, Sarah, and I, along with two other families set out to start that kind of Church.  And from our official launch on Easter Sunday, 2011, at Cajon Park Elementary School, to now, we’ve grown to a weekly attendance of 200 of the kind of people I just described! 

We believe in putting community in the Church, and then putting the Church back out into the community.  That’s why we’ve logged more than 1,400 volunteer hours serving our community, whether that was planting trees around the track at Cajon Park, or bringing in and organizing more than 21 tons of food to the Santee Food Bank in the last two years, alongside of Sonrise & Newbreak Community Churches.  This August will mark the 3rd time that we’ve adopted Cajon Park School by cleaning their campus, doing major landscaping projects, helping them get ready for the opening day of school.  This has been in partnership with Pathways Community Church for the annual “School Beautification Day” across all Santee Elementary & Middle Schools. 

By the end of August, we will have donated more than 300 school-supply-filled backpacks to Cajon Park students that come from financially struggling families. 

We love our city. Being able to move from a portable situation, to a permanent location, helps us do what we do well, even better.  But more than that, a home of our own puts us in a place where we can more effectively serve those in our city who need it the most.  It gives us a place to encourage pregnant teens to stay in school, and not give up on their future.  It gives us a place for the working, single Mom’s, who need the help, to learn how to put a budget together so that she can better take care of her family.  It gives us a place to coach the unemployed on how to find the right job for them, and to not give up hope in their search.  

A home of our own allows us to better honor those who volunteer their time to make our city a better place to live.  We did this last November with “Santee Ravens Day”, where Assemblyman Brian Jones and City Councilman Rob McNelis, joined me in congratulating the board of the Santee Ravens, along with every football & cheer coach, in every division, for doing an amazing job with our young men & women. A home of our own helps Riverview do a better job of putting community in the Church, and putting the Church back out into the community. 

Thank you for considering this conditional use permit.