Southside Christian Church traces history to 1933

Published 7:22 am Friday, November 15, 2019

Southside Christian Church traces its history all the way back to 1933, according to Mr. Michael Koruschak, the church’s minister.

“In the summer of 1933, a group of Christians from First Christian in Elizabethton established a congregation in the Southside community,” Koruschak stated.“The church was formally organized in 1935, and on Sept. 6, 1936, the new church building was dedicated. In 1958 the building was enlarged and remodeled, and in 1991 the new sanctuary and classrooms was completed. In 1993 the church purchased the old Southside Elementary School building which serves currently as the church’s annex. It houses Sunday school classrooms, meeting rooms for the youth, ministry offices, a small gym and a kitchen. The grounds at the annex hold a covered pavilion with a stage, a fenced playground for the children and a large field used for many church and community activities.”

Southside Christian Church offers numerous ministries and activities.“Our music ministry is led by Phillip Smith (son of John Smith),” Koruschak said.“We have several praise teams leading our morning worship in song and our ministry team also provides special music and various music programs throughout the year.

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“Our junior /senior high youth groups are led by Travis and Dayla Hurley. Activities for this group include summer camps, a retreat, and the annual TCTC Convention in Gatlinburg, as well as weekly study times and special events.

“Our children’s ministry is led by Tim and Cassie Franklin. This group includes children from age two through fifth grade. Their activities also include summer camp, weekly study times, and special events such as an annual Easter egg hunt and a church-wide Trunk-r-Treat event.”

“Our youth and children’s groups have paired with our adults in a “Pray for Me” program that encourages prayer and personal relationship among our entire congregation.

Worship opportunities at Southside Christian Church include Sunday school, 10 a.m.; Sunday worship, 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and Bible study, Wednesday, 7 p.m. Youth groups also meet at 7 p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays. A nursery is provided for Sunday’s services.

“Southside provides many ministry opportunities inside and outside the church,” Koruschak observed.“We regularly support (financially and materially) local missions including ARM (Assistance and Resource Ministries), Second Harvest Food Bank, Food for the Multitude, the local homeless, etc. We have an ‘angel tree’ for nursing home residents at Christmas time, and raise funds or collect items for other missions, local and abroad, throughout the year. Additionally, we provide financial support to overseas missions in Africa, Ethiopia, India, and others.

“Within the church, our members are always active in helping others in need. We have several meal teams who are ready to serve those who may be dealing with illnesses, surgeries, the loss of a loved one, or whatever. We have always known Southside as a ‘working church,’ and even though many things around us have changed, I have not seen a lack of willingness within the church to serve others in need.

“Our church has an annual Senior Saints Banquet for those in our congregation who are 60 and above. We also have an Easter sunrise service and breakfast each Easter, and host a community-wide Easter Egg hunt for our children fifth grade and under. We have varying summer activities to promote community and relationships among families. We have an annual fall event with a special speaker, hayride, and meal for our church family and their guests, and enjoy as a church family an annual Trunk-r-Treat event that is open to the community as well. At Christmas we have a Christmas program featuring our children and youth, and we have a candlelight service the Sunday evening before Christmas.”

Koruschak says his first involvement in church came “when a friend invited me to play church league softball. There was a requirement to attend church two times a month which I fulfilled, and that led to more friendships within the church. One of those friendships was with the youth minister, Fred Johnson, and his wife. When Eleanor and I were expecting our first child, we knew we wanted our children brought up in a Christian environment, and that is when I was baptized into Christ and we began to serve in the church, particularly working with the youth. Fred’s mentoring and a few trips to Johnson Bible College with the teens opened my eyes to a clear calling to ministry. I was accepted at Johnson Bible College at the age of 35. One of the elders at Lake Wales Christian Church (our ‘home’ church) gave me the wise admonition to preach any time, anywhere. Our weekend ministry began the second weekend we were at Johnson and has been full time since then.”

During Koruschak’s 4-1/2 years at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University) in Knoxville, Koruschak had a weekend ministry in Woodbine, Ky., including two full summers of service there.“Following graduation, I accepted a full-time ministry at Springhill Christian Church in Springhill, La., where I served for a year and a half before being called to fill a position back in Tennessee at Tasso Christian Church in Cleveland. After three and a half years at Tasso, I was accepted as minister at Southside Christian Church, where I have served for nearly 25 years.”

Koruschak describes his preaching style as “rather conversational and with some emphasis on counseling. My goal is to reveal the truth of the Word in a way that people can understand and to which they can relate.”

Koruschak says his favorite Scripture on which to preach is “probably Philippians 1:21,‘For to me, to live is Christ; to die is gain.’ I just love its message that as Christians, we have Christ in the ‘here’ and in the ‘hereafter.’”

The writer of the Pauline epistles is Koruschak’s favorite Bible character about whom to study.“I love Paul!” he said. “I am intrigued by Paul’s notable and visible dislike for the Church when we are first introduced to him. And then, I am so encouraged by his conversion and such powerful love for Jesus Christ and the good news He brings. Paul never forgot his past but always embraced his hope of eternal life with Christ.”

For Koruschak, the easiest doctrine about which to preach is “the plan of salvation that takes us through hearing the gospel, believing what we hear, confessing, responding to the gospel by repenting and accepting Jesus as our Savior, being baptized for the remission of our sins and continuing in the faith. It is spelled out so clearly and powerfully in the Bible.”

Koruschak has traveled to Jamaica on one mission trip outside the United States.“My experience was that the people there were hungry for the Word of God,” he said.“I have also been a part of two mission trips in the United States, Show Low, Ariz., and New Orleans, La.”

Koruschak describes what he believes is the most important aspect of a local church’s ministry in today’s society.“Christ’s direction to us in Matthew 28:19, 20 and again in Mark 16:15 is to go into all the world and preach the gospel,” he said. “You’ve probably heard the saying that sometimes follows a statement like that: ‘And if necessary, use words!’ I believe the most important aspect of a local church’s ministry to the society of yesterday, today and tomorrow is to spread the gospel.

“I think it is important for the church and its members to be visible in the community. Change can happen when others see what a life in Christ looks like, when moral values are lived out in everyday life, and Christ’s teachings are the measuring stick for what we say and do around others in our homes, on our jobs, and wherever we are. If our own personal decisions are made based on what the Bible teaches, those around us will take notice and we’ll have an opportunity to share Christ with others.”

For the past 22 years, Koruschak has served as chaplain to the Elizabethton High School football team.“During that tenure, I have worked hard to form a relationship with the team and coaches that shows them I am accessible to them at any time,” he said.“I have seen positive changes over the years.”

For the future, Koruschak hopes to see Southside “continue to grow in their personal knowledge and relationship with the Lord and to continue the church’s calling to reach the lost and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.“The Lord will take care of the rest!”

Koruschak says his wife Eleanor “assists in my ministry in many ways. She prepares the weekly church bulletin, bulletin inserts as needed, and any other typing tasks she is asked to do. She administers the One-Call program for our church. She is my helper in coordinating details, checking on those who are ill or have needs, and that kind of thing. Eleanor is my biggest supporter and has always agreed with God’s plan for our lives in the ministry.”

The Koruschaks have two sons, Randy (and daughterin-law Vanessa) and Eric (and daughter-in-law Krystal). “Both our children graduated from Elizabethton High School and now reside in Elizabethton,” he said.“They and their families are actively involved in the Christian Church and service for Christ. They have always been supportive members of our ministry and any outreaches in which we are involved, and are a true blessing to us and to others.”

The Koruschaks’ sevenyear-old granddaughter, Aubrey (daughter of Eric and Krystal), is a second-grader at West Side Elementary School.“She is also a student of piano and voice, dance and gymnastics, and is a delight to her grandparents,” Koruschak said.“I recently had the wonderful privilege of baptizing her into Christ. Aubrey has an amazing gift of compassion and I know God will do great things in and through her!”

Southside Christian Church is an independent Christian congregation. For more information about the church, 1610 Southside Road, Elizabethton, e-mail or call 423-542-2234.