First named Carter’s Valley Baptist Church, it was started as a mission church by Oak Grove Baptist Church in 1966. But membership had dwindled so much that in 1989, Oak Grove asked 22 of its members to leave their church and go to Carter’s Valley to work for two months. At the end of two months, they would come back and send 10 more members. At first, it may have seemed to be an impossible task. However, with much prayer and the strong support of Oak Grove Baptist Church, the mission church gradually grew and became Oak Grove Mission in 1990.
In January of 1994, it became Ridgeview Baptist Church, which now has 758 members. Ridgeview has started several other churches, has an active foreign-missions program and a strong local community outreach. What was once a struggling mission church has become a strong and thriving church that is making an impact on the community and the world for Christ.
How is it possible for a tiny mission church to have such a far-reaching influence today? Pastor Jon Rogers attributes the miraculous growth and success to God’s faithfulness and the faith of the early members.
“First, it was through Christ alone; Jesus had a purpose for this church,” he said. Pastor Jon said that the original members, whom he calls ‘the remnant,’ were a key factor. “From the very beginning, the DNA for Ridgeview has been to get outside the walls to serve and to share the love of Jesus with our community,” he added. That hasn’t changed, as the focus of Ridgeview continues to be outward rather than inward.
“I once heard a pastor say that God is more interested in a church’s sending capacity than their seating capacity,” he said.
Ridgeview has seen several of its members go out to start, or minister in, other churches. The churches include 1Church in Kingsport, New Fellowship Ministries in Church Hill, Circle C Cowboy Church in Morristown, Cross Anchor Cowboy Church in Church Hill, Bass Chapel Baptist Church in Surgoinsville and a Hispanic ministry in Rogersville. Not limited to local missions, Ridgeview has also sent mission teams to 20 different countries.
Dan and Helen Carter were among the first families from Oak Grove Baptist Church who went to help the struggling mission church. Twenty-nine years later, they are still there.
“The reason we stayed was that we felt like there was a need,” Dan explained. “We were also embraced so warmly by those people that we would have felt guilty walking off and leaving them,” he added.
According to Dan, the warm and caring spirit continues in Ridgeview today. “The thing that has impressed me most about Ridgeview is that when you walk into the building, you feel it’s genuine. People are very cordial,” he said. Of the original 22 members of Oak Grove Baptist Church that left to help the mission, 17 remain at Ridgeview.
Ridgeview is active in the community throughout the year. One week during the summer, their IMPACT team serves the community by working 1,000 hours on projects such as painting schools and hosting a dental and vision bus on the church campus. For the past 14 years, the church has hosted a community-wide dinner on Thanksgiving. Feeding around 300 people this year, they also delivered food to those who are homebound.
Every other month, Ridgeview members help to feed the homeless in Kingsport. Each spring, a Rally at the Ridge Car Show is held in the church parking lot where they provide free food as an outreach tool of the church. Dan explained the church’s purpose in being involved in the community: “We feel like it is God’s purpose for us as a church to reach out to people in need, to help who we can, and for people to be saved,” he said.
As Ridgeview prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary during the entire month of January, Pastor Jon said it’s important to remember where they came from and what God did for them.
“We want to celebrate His faithfulness for these last 25 years,” he said. “We are nothing without Him; can do nothing without Him. To Him alone goes the glory,” he added. Luke 1:37 states, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Members of Ridgeview Baptist Church would surely agree with that as they celebrate all that God has done for them.
To learn more about Ridgeview Baptist Church, meeting times or the upcoming anniversary celebration, visit their website at www.ridgeviewbaptist.org or call the office at (423) 357-4631. The church is located at 234 Hurd Road in Church Hill.