In the mid-90s, three Cambridge residents noticed just how few people in our city were regular churchgoers. These three found themselves imagining a church that might experience powerful, Jesus-centered faith in a way that would make sense to people whose last church experience might have been in their childhood, or never. They contacted several friends and asked them if they’d consider starting just such a church together. And Reservoir Church was born.
Since then, we’ve tried to remain a community that is focused on Jesus, at home in our culture, and accessible to all. We’ve often called this approach to church centered-set. We’ve chosen a center to our faith and community, in our case Jesus. Yet we resolutely seek to eliminate any boundaries or pressures that would encourage groupthink, conformity, or an insider-outsider dynamic. We think this is a big reason why we’ve always attracted such a diverse community.
A Bit of History
Our original team affiliated with the Vineyard association, a group of churches which were known to be vibrant, contemporary and non-traditional, even as they expressed historic faith. The founding name of the church was the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cambridge. In 2015, after two years of discernment, we decided to leave the Vineyard/USA association of churches. The church had grown less connected with this association over the years and felt this affiliation was no longer helping us fulfill our church’s mission to connect all interested people in our area with the love of God, the joy of living, and the gift of community. Specifically, we were experiencing pressure from the national Vineyard offices to limit the involvement of LGBT people in our community, and we were unwilling to do so. In place of that association, we have several local and national partners, including Blue Ocean Faith, a national organization we founded to pursue Jesus-centered faith in secularizing and pluralistic contexts.
Our first public service was held on Easter, 1998, and for several years, we met in cafeterias and auditoriums in the Cambridge Public Schools. In 2004, we were able to purchase our campus in North Cambridge (formerly Our Lady of Pity) and began holding all services at our current location after renovations were complete. In 2007 we launched Reservoir in the City, the arm of our church that works to bring diverse groups of people together to make North Cambridge a great place to live. In 2013, our founding pastors Dave and Grace Schmelzer moved to California to focus on Blue Ocean Faith full-time, and our church named Steve Watson as our second senior pastor.
We continue to be captivated by the prospect of trying to create a practical and fun church that reflects and effectively serves our extraordinarily diverse community. We are also told that people enjoy our contemporary music with a rock or gospel feel; inspirational and relevant teaching; dynamic kids, youth and families ministries; great opportunities to connect with a diverse, inclusive community; and a high degree of involvement in local and world service and partnerships. We also have important and exciting work to do in the months and years ahead. We will continue to build a healthy faith community that is home to long-time churchgoers and long-time non-churchgoers. We are committed to increasing our inspiration and resources to empower you to tell your story, connect with the story of Jesus, and experience God in all of life. We dream of being the first church for hundreds more people who never thought church was for them, and the last church for hundreds of people who never thought church could be so great! We also want to expand the ways we love our city, genuinely becoming the best friend North Cambridge has ever had. And we’re taking a long and strategic view at our impact in the world, with the hopes of planting other churches in environments like ours and investing in God’s good work around the world. We hope that you will be part of our story, and we a part of yours.