They didn't think that Peoria needed another church, but they did believe it needed a different kind of church – a church that was relevant to life today and was working to meet the needs of the community in a practical way.
A lot has changed since then, as we've grown in size and have expanded to include multiple services, but the same belief and values continue to guide our church. We believe that church should be a relevant and exciting place where you can meet with God, meet with other people, and get involved in our community.
In 2002, Riverside felt a call to unite churches from all around the area in order to impact the inner city of Peoria. So Riverside created the Dream Center Peoria, which now impacts over 20,000 people a year through many different programs with a focus to “impact families living in poverty, starting with kids and youth.” Along the way, the Dream Center Peoria has seen countless miracles of provision, including the $210,000 purchase of an old YMCA that is now valued at over $10 million.
Riverside’s vision and focus is as clear as it was from day one: "We exist to show you who Jesus is" – as we challenge people to Connect, Grow and Go.
The church is Jesus to a dying world, 24/7. The church loves people like Jesus did, with an unconditional love. It’s a "come as you are” type of love.
As people connect with Jesus, He connects with them through community and worship. The inward experience now becomes on outward expression. The church connects people to Jesus.
The church challenges people to grow closer to Jesus. As we grow closer to Jesus, the reflection of what we see challenges us to change and be even more like Jesus. Jesus changes everything: our walk, our talk, our life, our desires, our passions, our pursuits. If we use Jesus as the mirror, he will show us where we are but more importantly where we need to be.
As we see how Jesus changes and transforms us, we need to the put action to our faith. The message of Jesus is for a world that needs to hear that message. Jesus wants us to go and occupy every street, neighborhood, subdivision, workplace, school, college and home. It's Jesus to the poor, the broken, the homeless. The church physically is also Jesus to the rich, lost, confused, depressed. From the faceless to the famous, Jesus is hope to the hopeless. The church has no borders, no limits to where it can go; Jesus just called us to go. It's a call to action, locally and globally.
We follow Jesus, we teach from the Bible, and we worship God as the creator and ruler of the universe. Through our relationship with Christ, we are healed, renewed, redeemed, forgiven, transformed, loved. It's our passion to share this faith and hope with the world.
Following “whispers of God,” John King and his wife, Letty, packed up their family in August 1993 and headed from England to America where, for seven years, they served a church in Washington, Illinois. However, that was only the beginning of his adventures in America. Always the visionary, always the pioneer, John began sensing “whispers of God” about starting a new congregation in Peoria, Illinois. Today Riverside occupies what was major theater downtown, with about 1,200 attendees each week. Thanks to John’s leadership, Riverside has come to be highly respected and known throughout the city – among local churches, pastors and civic leaders – as a church dedicated to reaching out to the poor and needy. John’s lifelong goal is to see all people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Recognizing that their family is second only to their relationship to God, John and Letty treasure being Dad and Mum to Andrew (and Teresa), Rachel (and Michael Ritchason) and Sheralee, as well as Granddad and Nana to Ethan, Clay and Joy King; Ella, Liam and Benjamin Ritchason; and Vivian Jeffries. John and Letty both gratefully say, “God has kept our family in the grip of His Grace.”