Celebrating 75 years at Ridglea Presbyterian Church
On Sunday, April 22, 2018, in their own unique way, two hundred and thirty-nine members and guests celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Ridglea Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1943, World War II was just ahead. In preparation for troubled times, a plane manufacturing plant was located on a Fort Worth patch of pasture land. Looking for jobs and a new beginning, young families migrated to the area. As the story goes, three Presbyterian pastors were impressed with a need to minister to these families, so they did the logical thing. They climbed a tall water spire near the intersection of Camp Bowie Boulevard and Westridge Avenue and had a look around. They saw a panorama filled with potential, but devoid of churches. They dedicated themselves and that small patch of land to the founding of Ridglea Presbyterian Church. The church was chartered that April.
Seventy-five years later, Ridglea is celebrated for its many deep connections into communities that came to populate that view from the water tower. The church is actively engaged with M.L. Phillips High School, where members tutor and mentor young people navigating life’s challenges. Travelers at the public bus stop are served refreshments on a hot day. Community members are invited in for fellowship over a sack lunch. Members of Ridglea’s Presbyterian Women help church members connect with those in need by encouraging the sharing of resources. This year, they collected warm clothing for community members seeking haven at the Presbyterian Night Shelter.
Rev. Ryan Baer aptly describes the church he has pastored since 2012 as, “A place where people can and do form deep Christian friendships that often span many years.”
During morning service, the church revisited the hymns sung at its chartering service on April 25, 1943. Ringing through the halls once again were “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” and “The Church’s One Foundation.” The arrangements were commissioned and debuted specifically for the 75th Anniversary and accompanied beautifully by brass and cello groups. The choral anthem, “We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight,” was composed for this service by a former choir member studying music in graduate school at the University of Houston.
Over seventy-five years, five installed pastors have served Ridglea Presbyterian Church. In attendance were former Ridglea pastor Rev. Warren Bailey, and Director of Ministry Services of Grace Presbytery, Joanna Kim, who presided over pastoral welcomes. All the charter members of Ridglea Presbyterian Church have entered the Church Triumphant, but their legacy was visible in the smiles during worship that day.
Rev. Baer read from the Book of Acts Chapter 9:1-19, where God calls Saul and Ananias to serve.
A church of long-standing values, Rev. Baer referred to its history as “a congregation that engages in thoughtful Reformed theology, as we strive to do church business decently and in order.” A value for excellence in music is seen in communal relationships with the Fort Wort Worth Opera and musicians at Texas Christian University. “For us,” explains Rev. Baer, “stewardship is not just about finances and budgets, but about living all of life in gratitude for the abundant generosity of God.”
Befitting an important occasion in today’s world, all were treated to grilled chicken fajitas provided by a father-son duo from within the congregation. The meal was topped off with ice cream as only a food truck can provide, and an afternoon of music showcasing secular and sacred favorites from the last seven and a half decades.
Little ones playing on the lawn and a feast of fajitas – what could appear as just another day on the grounds of a Presbyterian church in Texas, was in fact a demonstration of welcome and a testimony to the far-reaching legacy of a church fulfilling its mission.