Nine years ago, on September 8, 2002, a brand new church launched with its first public service. Having met in homes for a year, first as a Church Plant Team of 8, and then as a Core Group of about 30, the first public service was held at a high school in our town.
Planting this church was a vision of our son/pastor Mark Ford and his wife Kristy. It was a vision shared by my husband and myself. Our participation in this ministry, while inspired by our son, became our own personal calling, clear and surely from God.
That first service was attended by 117 people, the vast majority of whom we did not know, and who did not know each other. From that beginning, God grew a church. Very few of those original attendees are still with us (some are), but what started as a huge step of faith has become a healthy and thriving church family, making a difference for Christ.
Through the years, we have had many ups and downs. God continually reaffirmed our mission, and He saw us through all those hard times, and encouraged us during those times when we wondered if we could go on.
We moved out of the high school at the end of that school year. We have met in numerous locations, but for most of our history we have met in a leased building in a great location in town, our current meeting place, while we await God’s timing to build on 11 acres we have purchased.
Today we celebrated the 9th anniversary. It has been good to remember what God has done. Mark mentioned today that he had been just naive enough to be confident, in those days. But what I remember, clearly, is that his confidence came from God, and from his own belief that he was absolutely following an irresistible call—actually more like marching orders, from God.
After the service, we enjoyed a beautifully decorated cake, provided by our very special Youth Pastor.
Several people seemed to enjoy looking through my Scrapbook of “RiverOaks Church: The First Three Years.”
Our granddaughter Tory and the young man across from her (Jake) were in the third grade when we launched. Our grandson Conner and the young lady across from him (Maggie) were in the first grade. Tory and Jake are now seniors. Conner and Maggie are sophomores.
Pastor Brandon had also secretly suggested that our church folks send words of appreciation that he collected and presented to Mark today in a Treasure Chest. What a blessing and encouragement those words will be to Mark.
Thank you, God, for how YOU have shown yourself so absolutely HUGE in the work you have done through RiverOaks Church. The blessing of serving You is beyond what words can describe.