Step inside Southeast Christian Church’s South Louisville Campus on a Sunday morning and a dozen young faces behind masks greet you with enthusiastic, glad-you’re-here excitement.
The campus is a unique blend of new members and those who have attended the church for generations.
Robert and Lenora Ott have a long history at South Louisville. He led worship at the church in the 1970s, then started ministry to young adults at the Blankenbaker Campus in the 1980s, and for the last five years, worked with college students alongside South Louisville Campus Pastor Justin Weece.
The Otts were sitting in the Blankenbaker sanctuary last September when South Louisville was announced as Southeast’s 13th campus.
“We were so excited,” Robert Ott said. “We have come full circle. In 1962, South Louisville sent 53 faithful members to start Southeast Christian Church. This year, some 50 key young people chose to go to South Louisville. We began attending South Louisville, thinking we could bridge the gap between older and new members. But what we’ve seen is young people at South Louisville are unleashing the full force of the church. They’re not just attending. They’re serving on Saturdays, handing out food to the community, prayer walking and picking up trash. They are all in. They own this campus. They are unleashed.”
Last Sunday, South Louisville held its first membership class, and Weece was shocked by the number of people who attended.
“I asked our Student Ministry leader to count how many people were in the room, and a few minutes later, he texted me that 53 people came to the membership class,” Weece said. “Little did he know the significance of that number. Rarely have I ever felt God’s assurance as I did in that moment. Our history at South Louisville is so rich, but I believe the future will be even richer.”
LaVon Able was a newborn when her grandmother took her to South Louisville the first time. She remembers details of South Louisville history, pastors, building campaigns and when they sent members to plant Shively Christian Church, Okolona Christian Church and Southeast Christian Church.
She believes becoming a Southeast campus is creating excitement in the community.
“We love all the young people. It’s exciting to see them,” Able said. “And they’re doing such a good job.”
Stella Beck, 72, has been a member of South Louisville for 15 years. The church has supported her through a tough year.
In April, 2019, she and her husband buried their adopted daughter, Celena. Last January, Doug was hospitalized with complications from diabetes, then sent to a nursing home for continued care. There he contacted COVID-19 and passed away Jan. 22. In a third blow, Beck buried her beloved St. Bernard, Rascal.
She comes to South Louisville each week with her adopted son, Mark, who believes Kyle Idleman’s sermons are written just for him.
“We felt so good when we met Justin and Ashley (Weece),” Beck said. “They are young and enthusiastic. They care about the neighborhood, new people and those who have been there a long time. Already a lot of young people are coming. There’s a good family feel.”