The families of The Ridge Church - past, present and future.
To those families who were with us in the past, thank you for being a part of God's plan for us; to those families who are still with us, thank you for being part of the journey; and to those families who have just joined us or may join us in the future, we eagerly anticipate God's role for you in His Church.
February 15, 1982, Denton Baptist Association and Woodlake Baptist Church entered into an agreement to sponsor a new work in the Rosemeade area of North Carrollton. At this time, two families indicated a willingness to be the nucleus of the new congregation. The Woodlake Missions Committee was assigned the task of securing a pastor for the new Rosemeade mission. Rev. Carl Elder was called as pastor and began serving on September 14, 1982. On September 22, 1982 Woodlake church voted to purchase a five acre site for Rosemeade Baptist Church.
On Sunday morning, October 3, 1982, the first services were held in Good Elementary School, which is located in Carrollton. There were 67 persons present that morning for worship. Ten new members were added to the congregation on that first Sunday.
First services at the new site on Rosemeade were held January 29, 1984. Rosemeade Baptist Church was constituted May 20, 1984 and formally received into the Denton Baptist Association on October 15, 1984 at the annual meeting. Total membership at that time was 101.
On August 12, 1984, Carl Elder moved on as Pastor of Rosemeade Baptist Church in order to accept a position as a consultant for the Church Extension Department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Dr. Bill Tinsley became the interim pastor. Brother Elder is now assisting other churches in locating and developing new mission sites.
On January 6, 1985 the church called Randy Marsh as pastor. The next milestone in the church's history was accomplished in April, 1986. The church had grown to the point that it no longer needed outside support. The church was now a self-supporting, autonomous Southern Baptist Church.
In December 1995 the Church bought 20+ acres of land at the intersection of the new State Highway 121 Bypass and Huffines Blvd. In May, 2001, construction began for Phase One at 3601 Huffines Blvd., Carrollton, Texas. Building at this site was completed in April, 2002.
Rosemeade Baptist Church changed its name to Vista Ridge Baptist Church to reflect the new location July of 2001.
On August 8, 2003 Pastor Randy Marsh resigned as pastor. The church created two teams to look at interim pastors and a senior pastor. For over a year and half the church was without a pastor. During this time, the church also made a change in the leadership structure and moved from a congregational lead body to an elder board.
In November 2004, the church affirmed the recommendation of the senior pastor search committee to call Jerry Witham as the lead pastor. Jerry started his ministry with Vista Ridge, the first Sunday of 2005, January 2nd.
The first elder board was installed in April 2005. The elder board was composed of: Mark Arnold, Greg Crow, Graham Hagood, Ysavel Medina, and the lead pastor, Jerry Witham.
In the Fall of 2005 the church moved into two partnerships with Nahnum Church (Korean) and International Christian Church (Japanese). Both churches began meeting onsite at Vista Ridge.
One of the first issues the elders addressed was the church’s debt ($4.4 million) and monthly cash flow short fall. As we no longer wanted to be the lender’s slave (Proverbs 22.7) a committee of financial individuals was formed that presented the elders three options: 1) sell everything, 2) sell part, or 3) merge with another congregation.
The following portion of our story was written by Lead Pastor Jerry Witham:
It was a rainy day on January 22, 2006. I was sitting in Starbucks with my good friend and co-laborer Jee-Young, who is the pastor of Nahnum Church. We meet weekly to pray, encourage and challenge one another. On this day we were just about to close our time together and as we stood to leave there was a Dallas Morning News lying on a table that said this on the front page: A drop in the bucket. On the front page it had a picture of people with umbrellas and rain falling. It had been 32 days since rain had fallen, dating all the way back to December 20, 2005. The title referred to the fact that the rain was merely a drop in a bucket compared to the 18 inches of rain we were lacking compared to the normal amount. On that day the front page meant much more to Jee-Young and I. We had just finished praying and talking about Vista Ridge and where we were financially and that we needed a miracle from God to get us out of the financial bondage. Jee-Young and I took that title from the front page as a reminder from God that He is in control and that our current struggle was like a drop in the bucket to Him. We took encouragement this day from knowing that God was in control and knew very intimately our great need and that He could do the impossible (Matthew 19.26). That front page title reminded me of the prophet Isaiah’s words, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust (Isaiah 40.12-15). Who compares to God? Who is like Him? There is none like Him and there is nothing too big or out of reach for Him.” That day I got the newspaper and took it back with me to the office. I cut out the front page and put it above my computer screen on my wall. Surrounding the newspaper cut out is this statement: It is a daunting task to change a place from a bunch of consumers to servants, but we must. This is not a negative statement against our church whatsoever. Instead, it is a constant reminder to stay focused on the goal. Our goal is to equip people for the good work that God has given them to do and that is to make much of God. So, everyday from this day forward I am reminded of two things to constantly be in prayer for and to look to God for: 1. A healthy and Biblically focused ministry. 2. An answer for our financial struggle. This has been the prayer and focus of the Elders and Staff as well.
Since 2005, and even longer for some, many have been in prayer concerning our financial state. We have trusted the Lord to show us His way. There have been options to merge with different churches and ministries along the way. The Branch (Farmers Branch Church of Christ) was one we had engaged with in talks over merging our congregations. Then at the end of 2005 we began the talks of merging with The Art of Family Living. Our first talks started with what would it look like to join the ministries of both to reach the lost and broken in our community. As talks continued, The Art of Family Living desired to help us financially with the potential goal of purchasing our property and for us to continue in ministry together. In January 2007, The Art of Family Living started The Chapel, a church launched at the Vista Ridge campus. The desire was to allow the Lord in His timing to direct what a merge would look like and when. As things moved forward on the financial side with The Chapel, continuing in the direction of potentially buying the property, it was clear that they would not be able to continue toward that goal. This came to the surface on March 13, 2007. There are not words to describe the gratitude we have for The Art of Family Living, their leaders, and The Chapel. We praise God for them.
With our financial need still there and no financial help at this point we continued to pray as a leadership team. On Wednesday, March 14, 2007, the Elders and I met and prayed that the Lord would reveal to us which way we should go. He showed us that we definitely needed to look at selling our current property. Since 2005, we had continued to pray for God’s will and direction. We had people doing studies for us regarding what our options were. We networked and sought God’s best. All the options seemed to point to eventual death of the body. The building might be saved, but the impact on the community and the ministry here would be in great jeopardy. It did not seem wise to take any of the options before us, but one, which was the option of selling. The Elders and Staff saw that as an opportunity to flourish and grow. So we set our direction on doing that, as we continued forward in prayer.
On that Wednesday night, March 14, 2007, we were reminded of Castle Hills Baptist Church because we had knowledge they were perhaps going to have to move and merge with another church because of financial struggles. So we called a member from our congregation that next morning and left a message concerning this church as a possibility for a new site for our church. Now this might seem weird – looking for a place when we still had ours, but we also wanted to be asking the question, “What next?” As we left the message with one of our members he was talking to someone about that very church. He called us back in amazement over the timing and gave us contact information. On that same day, we sent an email to Chris Seidman, the pastor of The Branch, asking if he would like to get together soon. He responded and we set a time for Monday, March 19 at 8 am to meet. Also on that same day we touched base with Castle Hills Baptist Church. The church they were hoping to merge with was Woodlake Baptist Church, who happened to be the church that started and planted our church in 1982. Castle Hills was moving to talk to realtors that next week. We asked them to hold off on that and allow us to come and look at the property and facility. They agreed and we set a date to look at the site on Tuesday, March 20. While all this is going on many are praying. We shared with the church Sunday, March 18, the news dealing with The Chapel exercising their right to terminate their option to purchase our property. We asked the body to continue to pray.
Jerry Witham met with Chris Seidman from The Branch, on Monday, March 19, 8 a.m., and shared with him what was going on. Jerry asked Chris about The Branch’s interest in buying our property. Chris said they were definitely interested. The Branch had had a meeting the previous day concerning their desire to find a second location. God’s timing is perfect! Following that meeting between Jerry and Chris, the Elders were contacted to inform them of the possibilities. That same day Ysavel Medina, our Executive Pastor, and Jerry Witham met Chris Seidman, and an Elder from The Branch over lunch to discuss the possibilities. That night Chris Seidman called and asked if Ysavel and Jerry could meet them for breakfast that next morning at 8 am. That same day Castle Hills called to confirm a viewing of their property that next day (March 20) at 11:30 am. We continued to pray.
Ysavel Medina and Jerry Witham met the same party from The Branch for breakfast on Tuesday, March 20, at 8 a.m. It was at this time that The Branch offered a letter of intent concerning the purchase of the Huffines’ property and facility. Later the same day at 11:30 am the majority of the Staff went to Castle Hills to view the property and facility. It was during that time we felt the Lord say, “Yes”. It was that next night, Wednesday, March 21, that the Elders met and put in place these three pillars to move forward:
1. Wherever we relocate, it must be close in proximity to our current congregation.
2. We must be debt free.
3. We must be able to have six months worth of income in the bank.
We continued to pray and seek the Lord.
Sunday, March 25, we announced to the congregation we felt the Lord was doing some exciting things in our midst and we wanted to gather and inform the body on two nights the next week, March 27 and March 29. We gave a letter of intent to Castle Hills on Monday, March 26, to purchase their property based on selling the Huffines location. We shared with the congregation on Tuesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 29, everything that God had put in motion. We brought before them two motions: 1. Sell the property and facility. 2. Relocate based on the three pillars mentioned above. We also shared that we would vote Sunday concerning these two motions. That next Sunday, April 1, the church voted unanimously to move forward with the two motions. The body continued to pray for the Lord’s leading.
On Thursday, May 10, 2007 the sale of the Huffines’ property and the purchase of our new site officially closed. The Branch now owns the old property and our debt has been paid in full. We now own the old site of Castle Hills Baptist Church.
We began remodeling our new site in Castle Hills (4561 North Josey) in June of 2007 and were able to have our first service on Sunday, August 26. Both Nahnum Church and ICC made the move with us. We were continually excited about our partnership with both these congregations. Kid’s Kingdom continued over at the Vista Ridge site through the 2008 school year.
Fall 2009, it is hard to believe we have been at this location for two years and known as The Ridge Church. During the past two years, God has continued blessing us beyond measure. Kid’s Kingdom is now using the N Josey location and now known as The Ridge Preschool serving families with a two day a week parent’s day out program. ICC has moved to Coppell and Nahnum Church now has the full building on Sunday afternoons.
When we moved to the N Josey location, God lead us to partner with our neighbors: Primrose School of Castle Hills, we share our building and they share their parking; Autumn Leaves Assisted Living Community, we provide Sunday worship; Autumn Chase Apartments, we provide apartment wide fellowship gatherings; and Gospel for Asia, we partner in several ways, not the least of which is with their Jesus Well ministry. We have been blessed to help build water wells throughout India. Each well is built beside a church with a local missionary to oversee and not only provide fresh water, but living water to the people.
In summer of 2011, we were approached by Trinity Valley Church of Carrollton with the question, “What would it look like if we did ministry together?” So during the summer and early fall we met, prayed, discussed, and prayed some more. And on October 23, 2011, God brought our two bodies together to impact the city and the world for His glory.
2012 saw God’s continued blessings as we changed the name of the Trinity Valley Church building to The Trinity Valley Center to utilize the location (near the corner of Old Denton and Frankford Rd) to continue reaching that community and beyond. This has been accomplished by providing some eleven smaller bodies a place to worship and gather. These bodies included groups that use the building for daily, weekly, or monthly gatherings. The groups are composed by four churches: Brazilian Christian Church, Hispanic Christian Church, Living Water Korean Church, and Dallas Grace Korean Church; Classic Conversation Home School, Boy Scouts District Meetings, LINC – ESL (Spanish to English) and parenting classes, Nahnum Church – ESL (Korean to English) classes, Christian Counseling office, Bezeugen Ministries, and Young Life.
The month following Easter 2013 (March 31st) showed the community what a mighty and gracious God we serve! Our Josey location had a fire Easter night a couple or three hours after services. Our main electrical power lines arched and filled the engineering room with heat and smoke setting off the sprinkler system. As fires go, it was small limiting the damage to water and smoke, but destroying the buildings main power grid and putting the building in the dark.
By the Tuesday after Easter, we knew the building would be unusable for at least one Sunday. After praying for direction, we walked across the street to our friend, Primrose Schools of Castle Hills, to ask about the possibility of our children using their building the following Sunday. The schools owner, Tom Chow, didn’t hesitate in offering their help; in fact he made the building available until we could hold services in our building. While visiting Tom, our other neighbor and friend, Gospel for Asia, called as they heard of the fire. They offered to move their Sunday gathering to a smaller room and allowed us the use of their auditorium until we could move back into our facility.
God proved gracious and merciful during the 35 days (4 Sundays) of working with insurance, contractors, and volunteers by: providing us with gathering places; having a new power grid comprising of transformer and breaker system; and our building with a third of it getting new paint and carpet.
We all have heard the expression, “time flies when you’re having fun”. It certainly has. It is hard to believe that January 2016 the church voted to have the elders sell the Trinity Valley Church (TVC) property and use the proceeds to build on the Josey Lane campus.
As our story has previously shown, God was working. While we were interviewing real estate brokers, a Korean pastor approached Jee-Young and asked him who to talk with about buying the property. After much prayer and several meeting a purchase price of $1.9M was reached, with the caveats of: 1) we give the other ministries time to find other meeting locations or allow them space and time to continue using the TVC campus, 2) the Korean church (The Great Tree Church “TGTC”) needed to rent the property for a year before purchasing as they were part of the Presbyterian Church (USA)) denomination and were moving to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination and needed the time to make the transition. And 3) The Ridge still had use of the annex and storage buildings at the TVC campus until The Ridge could build at the Josey campus.
Flash forward to July 2017 and the sale was finalized, but not without some issues: 1) TGTC had some difficulty finding a lending institution as they had a brief history of 100 plus members. 2) The bank’s appraiser values the property at only $1.65M as it was 35 years into a 50-year life span and needed foundation work and a new roof. The Denton County Appraisal District had also taken down the value of the property some $200k. 3) TGTC needed The Ridge to hold a second mortgage of $283k for 3 years.
So with $1. 3M in the bank, most of the work with staff and The Ridge Preschool to determine what was needed had been completed and now the elders begin the process of selecting an architect.
The Ridge has hired Wright Group Architects of Carrollton to assess our current facilities, property and needs to develop a plan to meet our needs and compiles with the city building requirements.
Through this process we found opportunities to overcome, among them: 1) cannot build across playground as drainage easement exists, 2) cannot connect two buildings with protective walkway as drainage easement exists, 3) property is zoned for one story structure by city, 4) main underground power lines must be relocated as building is surrounded by power lines, 5) existing building has foundation issues along North and West sides, and 6) building has erosion problem along North side requiring building a retaining wall.
So to overcome these opportunities and meet our needs, the elders:
- Have commissioned The Wright Group to develop plans for building a two story structure in the front of our existing building that connects with the existing building for education space for our preschool and elementary children. This additional space will provide a secure environment for children which limits access to only those needing that access. As well as providing additional room for this and future growth.
- Included in this commission, we are redesigning the existing building to provide: designated space for middle and high school students, designated space for adult education, and upgraded space for our worship center and lobby.
- Currently in the process of re-zoning the property for the two story addition. The application was made April 24th with planning and zoning holding public hearing on June 7th and final approval by city council scheduled for July 10th.
- Currently in the process of having construction documents prepared by The Wright Group scheduled to bid August 1st.
- Submit documents to contractors and award a contract by October 1st
- Provided the construction can be accomplished within our budget, the next steps:
- Will be in the process of having documentation presented to the city for building and other permits scheduled for October 1st.
- Anticipated construction starting December 1st.
October 31, 2018: In Luke 14, Jesus used a story to instruct the disciples about the cost of following him. The story related to building a tower, and the first thing to do would be to figure out how much it would cost and to determine if you had enough money to pay for it.
Earlier in the summer, the elders shared with you plans to remodel our existing building and to add additional education space. This would provide The Ridge with dedicated education space for the whole family to gather at the same time: more secure children space, as well as adult classrooms. The first step in the process was to hire an architect, Terry Wright & Associates. The second step was working through the process with the city to re-zone our property to allow for a two - story structure. We then submitted plans and drawings to eight general contractors to provide us with cost estimates to build this project. Late in September, their bids came in back with costs ranging from $2.4M to $2.9M. If you remember, we only received $1. 3M from the sale of the Trinity Valley property (another $300K is due to us in July of 2020).
Very quickly, we determined there is not enough money on hand to build the project as desired and needed, so we thanked the contractors for their work and told them, we would not be awarding this bid at this time.
June 1,2019: Last October the elders reported on our building expansion/remodeling plans. In short, we put the project on hold because estimates came in higher than the money we had available ($2.5m vs $1.3m). In light of this, the elders asked Pastor Jerry and Ysavel to map out a long-term vision of where we believe God is leading us to help determine facility updates needed to support that vision.
With only the summer months available for remodeling (weekly activities including The Ridge Preschool during the school year), we did not have time to contract design work, obtain city approvals, and engage contractors to make major work happen this summer without rushing the process. Therefore, major remodeling will not take place until the summer of 2020. For this summer (2019), we plan on spending $125k on the following updates:
Finishing the replacement of the aging sound equipment and updating the worship center acoustics
- Painting the interior of the building
- Replacing the existing carpet with carpeting squares
- Replace the foyer ceramic tile with Luxury Vinyl Tile/Plank
- Working with The Preschool to update some of the preschool class rooms
With this news, the elders are praying and considering all our options and ask for your prayers as we seek God's direction and Thank Him that He allows us to be a part of the greatest story of all…His story. And we continue to pray.
To be continued…