Baxter’s Ridge Church plans bicentennial celebration

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Inside Baxter's Ridge Church

Baxter’s Ridge United Methodist Church will celebrate its 200th anniversary, Sunday, July 17.

Don Perks, a retired pastor, will deliver the morning message. Special music will be provided by Mark Allen Chapman and local singers. 

The morning service will be at 10:30 a.m. with food, fellowship and music by local musicians to follow. The event will last until 3 p.m.

Special music, thoughts and remarks from former pastors, Charles Kettering, the longest serving pastor at the church with two different appointments; along with 92-year-old Jay Nightingale, who served the church in the 1950s, will conclude the afternoon celebration. Any other pastors or interested persons are encouraged to share their thoughts. 

Baxter’s Ridge began in 1814, shortly after Cornelius Baxter, and wife, Rebecca, moved from Pennsylvania to Harrison Twp. and held Methodist class meetings in their log home. They donated a certain plot of ground (N.E. quarter of Sec. 27 in Twp. 15, Range 6) for a meeting house June 10, 1822. The Baxters are also on record with another deed written June 17, 1837, and filed with trustees named John Kinsey, Andrew Scott, James Baxter, James Rice, James Dirrim, Jonathon Davis and John Peoples. 

The house of worship which was built by volunteers became known as Baxter’s Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church. It served the spiritual needs of the community well into the next century. 

Baxter’s Ridge Church was part of the Carrollton Circuit which included Pleasant Hill and Green. Hill. Early ministers included Rev. Knolls (starting date) 1883; Rev. Holtz, 1894; Rev. W.D. Stevens, 1904; Rev. Clark, 1915; Rev. J.B. Manley; Miss Anna McGhie, 1922; and Rev. M.A. Yorke, 1924. 

During the 1920s, membership dwindled, and the church was forced to close for a time. Due to the efforts of Homer Harsh and other dedicated believers, the church reopened around 1940 with Rev. Kenneth Birney who served until 1945. When they began reopening, they found the church full of black snakes. Irving Kinch, a man who lived in the area, removed the snakes from the church. Rev. Daniel Carmany served from 1945-1947, when Birney returned for one-year. Rev. Victor Edgar took over in 1948.

Several people were involved in the reopening, including Dory and Cora Belle Steele, Harry and Pearl McCort, Verdie Westfall, John Wetzel, Harry and Sophrona Harkless, Clyde and Olive Harkless and Lawrence and Olive Harkless. 

Several ministers served Baxter’s Ridge in the 1950s; C.C. Whetstone, 1952; N.J. Nightingale, 1954; Arthur Williams, 1955; and Paul George, 1957.

Many improvements have been made to the original building, which sits on the original foundation. The basement was dug out by hand. J.K. Cooley and Edith Silliman shared ministering duties in 1961. Enzie Wade took over in 1964. Around 1963, the building was remodeled with much labor done by the members. In 1965, a new addition was made including a restroom and new pews were secured. Other ministers included Doris Madison, 1968; Warren Hayes, 1969; David Rickard, 1970; and Charles Kettering, 1972. 

In 1980-81, a larger addition was added which included two classrooms, a nursery and a second restroom. Jack Lumley took over for Kettering in 1981 and, was the first of many short-term ministers, including Mario DeCarlo, 1983; David Cowles, 1985; Irma Kimball, 1986; Terry McLaughlin, 1988; Deborah Spears, 1989; Ralph Keck, 1990; Gordon Ferguson, 1993; Lee Peters, 1994; Roseann Martin, 1995; and Nancy Cooper, 1996. Kettering returned from 1999-2004 when Sue Snode served until 2010.

Two church members entered full-time ministry, Enzie Wade who served the church in 1964, and John T. Maley. At times, the church was yoked with Union Valley. 

As of July 2022, Richard E. Wallace, Sr. has been the pastor since December 2010.

The old cemetery pays homage to Cornelius and Rebecca Baxter, also. Patriotism abides there as flags wave over graves honoring veterans from all wars since 1812. 

Baxter’s Ridge Church is located at 4006 Jade Rd. NW, Carrollton.

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