The name WATERSHED seemed only natural because of how deeply we
value transformation...moments and relationships that change everything.
You could say Watershed was birthed out of two things: deep relationship and justice. In the late 90’s, the founders and co-pastors of Watershed, Matt O’Neil and Scott Hofert and their wives Donna O’Neil and Taryn Hofert met working together at a non-profit international humanitarian organization in Virginia. While traveling, serving and working together in third-world poverty-stricken villages and cities, the Hoferts’ and O’Neils’ friendship was galvanized. As young 20-somethings, they would discuss their dream of someday returning to the States to work together and somehow serve those in great need who don’t know God. After six years of working in local churches (O’Neils in Florida, Hoferts in Michigan), after much prayer and heart-felt discussion, they decided it was time to take the leap and plant a church together. The O’Neils are originally from Lexington KY, Scott is from New York, and Taryn is from Connecticut, so they were searching for a city representative of who they are: southerners and northerners coming together. Charlotte was an easy choice because of how quickly the city is growing, the lack of non-denominational justice-driven churches in the uptown/urban areas, and all the northern transplants in a southern city! It was the trifecta and they were soon supported by a generous local fellowship of church planters who supported them, took them under their wing and helped us launch in our very first location uptown, Actor’s Theatre. A core group of local Charlotteans began meeting weekly with the Hoferts and O’Neils to gather and pray for what was already becoming a transformational community: WATERSHED. In September 2005 we held our first Transit (Sunday service), and soon after we began meeting, long-time friends Matt and Rachael Shaughnessy, Scott and Kendra Miller, and Steve and Rachael Cook uprooted from other states and relocated to Charlotte to be part of our church-planting team and later become our staff and lead team members.
The name WATERSHED seemed only natural because of how deeply we value transformation…moments and relationships that change everything. We believe in transformational relationships because this church was born out of them. Friendships that went beyond surface level. Relationships that molded us, sharpened us, and back in ’05, collaborated to start this church. And the thread woven throughout all of our passions and interests and history is justice. So, it is only natural that God would allow our now thriving Watershed community to flourish based on Jesus-centric deep relationships and a heartbeat for justice.
The story continues…our staff has grown, our Sunday gathering venue has moved to 800 Everett Place in NoDa, and what seems like throngs of babies have been born in our community, but when you look around you’ll see faces who have been here since Day One. They’re people who know Watershed has never been about programs, a facility or hype - but about two things that sparked this whole thing into existence: deep relationships and justice...all in Jesus’ name.