(1949 - 2000)
On December 9th, 1949, a group of 35 people met in Rittman to discuss the possibility of organizing a Southern Baptist Church. The new church was to be located in Wadsworth under the name Calvary Baptist Church. Worship services were held in homes until a temporary meeting place was located in Easton.
Dr. C.L. Nicely of Kentucky was called as pastor in January 1950. Several significant events took place that first year. In February the church voted to change the name to First Baptist of Wadsworth. In March a building lot was located and acquired on South Main Street, and an adjoining house and lot was also purchased for a parsonage. On July 23rd the church again changed its name to Main Street Baptist Church. In September the church received admission into the Whitewater Association of the General Association of Kentucky Baptists. At that time the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio did not exist and Main Street Baptist was the only Southern Baptist church north of Dayton. The first unit of the new building was used for worship on February 4, 1951.
In April 1953 Rev. Gerald K. Ford of Kentucky accepted the postion as pastor. Under Rev. Ford’s leadership the church continued to grow and to be very instrumental in developing Southern Baptist work in Ohio. The church helped to organize the Ohio Baptist State Convention, the State Women’s Missionary Union and the Erie Baptist Association. Seven missionary endeavors were sponsored by the church in different area of NE Ohio. By the tenth anniversary of the church in 1959, member had increased to 203. Rev. Ford resigned as pastor and Rev. K.M. Spickard served as interim pastor from October 1963 until May 1964. Rev. Vernon Cole was called as pastor in May 1964 and served until 1966.
In October 1966 the congregation voted to sell the Main Street property and seek another location. A new parsonage was purchased on Summit Street and the search continued for new property.
In November 1967 Rev. Will Pollard accepter the call to be the pastor. The final property on Main Street was sold in February 1968. In October of that year the church voted to change the name to Ridgewood Baptist Church. The church met under this name for the first time on October 13, 1968 at Overlook Elementary School in Wadsworth.
A Reconstituting Service was held in the Overlook School on December 31, 1968. Seventy-six charter members met with Pastor Pollard along with Dr. Ray Roberts, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Ohio Baptists, former Pastors Gerald Ford and Vernon Cole and Area Missionary Marvin Palmer.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the new church site on Ridge Road on July 27, 1969. The new building was completed in March of 1970 and a Dedication Service was held on June 21st.
Rev. Pollard resigned in July 1974 and Rev. Larry Heskett became the pastor in 1975 and served until July 1976. The church was without a pastor until January 1977. In the interim period the congregation voted to sell the parsonage on Summit Street.
Rev. Alfred Duncan of Bassett, Virginia came to Ridgewood as Pastor in January 1977. The church soon entered a building expansion program to construct a new 7,500 square foot educational building. In July 1977 a Groundbreaking Service was held. Mayor John Henson of Wadsworth spoke to the congregation of the vital role of the church in the community and gave a word of commendation for the new venture of faith. Before construction was finished, the church added a portico drive-through entrance and a new concrete parking lot to complete the project.
A Weekday Early Education (WEE) program was established in January 19080 and continued until approximately 1985. A Nursing Home Ministry was started in the 1980s with Sunday worship service at Magnolia Care & Rehabilitation Center in Wadsworth.
Pastor Duncan resigned in November 1984 and the church was without a pastor for eighteen months. Deacons and lay members assumed responsibility for church leadership and a large portion of the preaching as well as the continuation of mid-week prayer services and all other church programs. The Ohio State Convention and Summit Association also provided assistance with preaching.
In June 1986 Rev. Steve Carter was called as pastor upon his graduation from seminary. That same year Ridgewood commissioned Tom and Diane Pace as missionaries to Africa. Many ministries were established or re-implemented.
In the decade of the 90s a heightened focus on missions continued. John and Luanne Marshall were commissioned as missionaries to Brazil in 1991. Church planting endeavors were started in the Bath-Copley and South Wadsworth areas. Dan Bryant headed the Bath Mission and Rob Thornsbury the mission in South Wadsworth. A mission was also started in the Lodi-Burbank area in 1996 but did not continue.
Rev. Ottis Denney, now deceased, was appointed Pastor Emeritus under Rev. Carter’s pastorate. An Associational Mission has been established in his name for his work as a pioneer in starting missions and new churches in NE Ohio.
The “burning” of the mortgage took place in 1993. In August 1999 Ridgewood members voted to completely renovate the church sanctuary. The renovation was completed just in time for the church’s 50th year celebration on September 12, 1999. About 300 current and former member and friends attend the all-day celebration that included special speakers, music and dinner on the grounds. Many former pastors were present and participated in the worship services.
In March 2000 Rev. Carter retired due to disability. Rev. Charles Whitlock, retired Summit Associate Director of Missions, was called as interim Pastor.