For several years, the Sandyville Church of Christ dreamed of a strong New Testament church in the nearby town of Ripley, West Virginia. Then, in 1993, at the men's business meeting, it was decided to begin this work in earnest. They began, first, by getting feedback from the members of the Sandyville congregation. Then they met with leaders of area Churches of Christ so that all would understand this work was being done to help fulfill the Great Commission "to take the gospel to all people."
After failing to find an appropriate place to rent, they decided to purchase property and build a new church building. On December 8, 1994, the deed was signed for a two-acre lot, just one-half mile west of Interstate 77. More than 140 congregations in West Virginia and surrounding states were contacted and asked for financial support and prayers to help this work's commencement. Thanks to generous donations from members at Sandyville and the contacted churches, a $10,000 down payment was made on the land.
The Sandyville congregation felt the next step was that of hiring a preacher for the new work so evangelism could begin in Ripley. Soon, contact was made with a congregation of the Lord's church in Iowa Park, Texas. They were supporting James Rankhorn, a recent graduate of the Brown Trail School of Preaching. The Iowa Park congregation desired to partially support James in a mission work. Plans were made to bring James and his wife Melanie to West Virginia for a visit. As a result of this meeting, James was hired. On the fourth day of March 1995, James and Melanie moved to Ripley and began working to get the congregation off the ground.
April of 1995 was a busy month. Ground was broken for the new building and a Campaign for Christ gospel meeting and door-knocking campaign was held April 10th through the 14th. Since there was no building yet, the meeting was held at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center. We were privileged to have Charles Pugh III as the speaker.
The new building was completed late September and the congregation met in it for the first time October first 1995 with fifty-eight members in attendance. The brotherhood was invited to celebrate the new congregation on October twenty-second with an all-day meeting, which included dinner-on-the-grounds, an afternoon singing, and concluded with brother W. Terry Varner speaking at 3 p.m.
The congregation continued to grow, and we held our first gospel meeting in the fall of 1997. We were supported as a mission work until January 2000. At that point, we were able to discontinue our outside support to become a fully self-supporting congregation. During that same year we began having our spring gospel meeting along with our annual Fall Lectureship and we began helping in small amounts with other mission efforts which included support of a student at the West Virginia School of Preaching.
The work prospered through the following five years. There have been baptisms, restorations, and new members placing their membership with us. At the time of this writing, this congregation has grown to about 105 members. This congregation feels that we have been truly blessed by God. This year in July, we were able to retire the note on the church building.
We will celebrate our 10th anniversary on October second 2005, and, once again, we will have an all-day meeting. It will commence with Denver Haught, formerly of the Sandyville congregation, teaching our morning Bible class. Charles Pugh III will be the speaker for the morning worship service. Then, we will have dinner-on-the-grounds, followed by an afternoon singing. W. Terry Varner will close the day by speaking at the 3 p.m. worship service. We feel very privileged to have these men speaking because of their early involvement with the congregation here in Ripley.
The congregation is now looking to the future and spreading the Gospel to all. God deserves the glory for what has been accomplished through this great group of Christians. The congregation would like to thank all for their prayers and support through the years. Plan to join us for the celebration if you can! In His service, James B. Rankhorn, Rt. 1 Box 137-H, Ripley, WV 25271. (304)372-4526 firstname.lastname@example.org
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