Chestnut Ridge reverses course, stays MBC/SBC
By Allen Palmeri
October 7, 2003
FARMINGTON – Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church may not have a pastor at the moment but the 135-year-old congregation in the Mineral Area Baptist Association has something far more precious — peace with God.
Since former pastor Rich White split the church on July 13 and left to start a new church, Sunday morning attendance has dipped to around approximately 35, according to Mike Counts, music leader. However, Counts said the core group has actually been strengthened, running 25 on Sunday night (up from 16-18) and 18-20 on Wednesday night (up from 10-11).
Chestnut Ridge Deacon Gary Scott said most members felt White misled the congregation about the ongoing legal matters concerning the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and its five breakaway institutions—Missouri Baptist College, Word & Way, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Baptist Conference Center and The Baptist Home. When White spoke of loyalty to those institutions, it was always linked to loyalty to the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Scott said. Counts said they were given false information about both conventions.
"We were told that if we wanted to support these five entities, we had to join this new convention," Scott said. "So everybody said, ‘Yeah, we’ve always done that.’ We were made to feel like we were doing the right thing."
After researching the matter, Counts and Scott were determined to lead the church back into the MBC/SBC fold. Both concluded that they wanted a Southern Baptist pastor behind the pulpit, not one who was going to give ground on important issues like abortion and homosexuality. That led to a vote where Chestnut Ridge went back to being an MBC/SBC church.
"We felt like it was necessary for us to get back to our roots, to go back to what we had always been," Scott said.