History of South Ridge Baptist Church
Information provided by the church
From the September 2007 Newsletter of the Conneaut Area Historical Society
Joan Barnett, Newsletter Editor
On December 30, 1826, eight members organized the Free Will Baptist Church with Reverend Samuel Wise as their pastor. This meeting may have taken place in a schoolhouse then located in the cemetery on Center Road. In 1832, construction of a church building was begun, and in 1837 was finished at a cost of $2,000.
In 1839, a famous conference was held at the Free Will Baptist Church at South Ridge to determine the stand of the churches on the slavery question. At this conference, a minister was denied ordination because he owned slaves and afterward, “the South Ridge church, its pastor’s home and several other homes in the area became stations in the underground railway.” A vivid account of the part South Ridge played in aiding runaway slaves was written by pastor Rufus Clark sometime between 1851 and 1861.
In 1860, a bell forged in Cincinnati was installed. This bell, along with a memorial stained-glass window dedicated to South Ridge’s longest tenured pastor at the time, R.E. Benjamin, are the two remaining articles of the original edifice.
In 1891, the original brick structure was torn down and another structure built which stood until 1963. In 1911, the name was changed to South Ridge Baptist Church and in 1969, the church membership voted to disaffiliate itself with the American Baptist Convention. The historic white frame building was razed in 1963, when an educational building, fellowship hall, and kitchen were constructed north of the site and in 1972, the new auditorium, chapel and offices were dedicated. At the beginning of 1985, another addition of offices and conference rooms was completed.
In 1973, the South Ridge Christian Academy was founded, and a steel structure was erected housing classrooms, kitchen and gymnatorium. At this time, the old Farnham Elementary School and accompanying acreage, which borders the church property, were bought for additional classroom space and athletic fields.
In 1979, the South Ridge Bible Technical Institute was founded and later became Ohio Christian College, granting degrees in 15 fields of study. Also, in 1979,Conneaut’s FM radio station was bought and became another ministry of South Ridge. WGOOJ-FM now serves the area with 24-hour all Christian broadcasting. A Christian bookstore is located on the church property.
The church mortgage was burned on January 2, 1995, and the church became debt free. As of this year, current pastor, Dr. Roger P. Hogle, and his wife, Mottrie, have pastored the congregation for 41 years.