Bayside Church new to Auburn

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Bayside Church has come to Auburn. The name might be more familiar at the south end of Placer County — Granite Bay is home to the first of what is now an ever-growing family of churches. Sonrise Church, currently worshiping at Auburn Seventh-day Adventist Church, is excited to be the newest addition to the family. In taking on a new name — Bayside Auburn — the church previously known as Sonrise has become Bayside’s 10th congregation. The changes are for the better, said Paul Harman, Bayside Auburn leadership team chairman and a seven-year member of the Auburn congregation. “We are really joining resources with Bayside,” Harman said after a Sunday morning service. “Giving up the name is nothing. We don’t worship the name, we worship Jesus. We want people to know it’s a place to change your heart, change your outlook.” The church previously known as Sonrise has been around since 1996, and Senior Pastor Gene Maynard has been with the church the last two years. “Preceding me, Bayside and Sonrise have known each other,” he said following Sunday services. “They just had a good back and forth going on.” Discussion of whether or not Sonrise would make a good Bayside Church began at the start of the year, Maynard said. Jim Holst is outreach pastor for Bayside Church in Granite Bay and is also Bayside’s church plant director, overseeing recruitment, both in planting and adopting churches. The process with getting to know what is now Bayside Auburn began with getting to know Maynard and attending Sonrise services, Holst said. Congregation members in leadership roles were asked to submit surveys on the church’s strengths and weaknesses. “The reality was, they love Gene to death, he’s a great leader, a great communicator, basically all the things we want a congregation to feel about their senior pastor,” Holst said of Maynard. Bayside extended the invitation to Sonrise after determining the two churches shared many of the same values. “We consider it a family and if you adopt somebody in your family you want them to have the same mission,” Holst said. “We voted and said ‘yes’ to them and they voted to say ‘yes’ to us.” Sonrise officially adopted the name of Bayside Auburn in June. Bayside’s Granite Bay church is the first, and largest — an average weekend of services draws 9,000 to 10,000 people — in the Bayside Church family. Bayside’s vision of church planting — opening churches in outlying communities — came from Senior Pastor Ray Johnston about three years ago. “It’s been a very young movement but we’ve been able to see some serious growth,” Holst said. “We’re looking for churches that are similar, not really in style but similar in philosophy and mission,” Holst said. The second largest Bayside is the South Sacramento church, which brings in approximately 2,200 people each weekend. Attendance between the 10 churches is 14,000-15,000 per weekend. Bayside Auburn is the second existing church to take on Bayside’s name — the first was Bayside Placerville — and the rest of the church sites started from scratch, Holst said. Maynard is now among the group of senior pastors meeting twice a month. “Our hope is that we’re all equals around the table and everybody has one vote,” Holst said. “Every one of these pastors has different strengths that they bring to the table. Everybody’s better because of everybody else in that room.” This excites Maynard. “Here’s a chance for two churches — Bayside and Sonrise — to come together and work together in a complementary way,” he said. “What I love about their pastors is the sense of willingness to share what they know. I haven’t experienced that with many other churches. Being able to work in tandem with some like-minded pastors — I like that.” In joining the Bayside family, churches are still able to keep their original structure and identity. “We call them independent, autonomous churches that have our DNA,” Holst said. Maynard shared the same idea. “They wanted to be assured that the important decisions for our church got set here,” he said of Bayside officials. That said, Bayside churches are asked to submit their goals and budget for review, and every church does give to the Bayside name, which can be used as seed money for building future Baysides, Holst said. “Our goal is that we will plant 200 churches on the West Coast by 2020,” he said. “We think the timing is right, and we also feel we have a responsibility.” While Bayside Auburn has thrived at Auburn Seventh-day Adventist Church site, the congregation is anxiously awaiting a move into its own home, an existing retail space located at 450 Nevada St. A series of grand openings are planned in alignment with the move out to Nevada Street, which Maynard hopes will happen in the fall. “We can have our own footprint,” he said. Becoming a Bayside will help the Auburn congregation accelerate its goals, which include community outreach and extending itself to the un-churched foothills population. “I think it’s going to up the excellence in our church,” Maynard said. “I think it’s exciting.” Riley Armstrong, Bayside Auburn’s creative arts director, is also excited about the change. “Here’s what won’t change — it’s a church that is friendly, welcoming, loves people and really wants to be authentic,” Armstrong said Sunday. “What will change — there’s going to be a lot of newness. It’s collecting people and having everyone in the same vision — that’s different. It gives us a good opportunity to regroup and unify again.” Being part of a bigger church family is promising, Armstrong said. “What makes me most excited is that we’ll still be unique, we’ll still be us, and I’m also excited by the anticipation, big or small, that God is doing something here,” he said. Read more about what Senior Pastor Gene Maynard thinks about the change from Sonrise to Bayside means here. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at