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Montgomery congregation diversifies to reach areacomment (0)

March 11, 2010

By Jeremy Henderson

Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight.”

And more and more of them — little children and their parents — are being reached by Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Montgomery, in Montgomery Baptist Association as the ethnic diversity of the congregation’s surrounding community grows.

“Ridgecrest is transitioning, as are a number of churches in our community,” said Pastor Michael Cassity. “We have African-American members now, and there are Hispanic kids in the halls.”

Which is one reason why the church has placed renewed emphasis on local outreach through its Awana and Royal Ambassador basketball programs.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel or anything,” Cassity said. “We’re just taking what we’ve already got going and opening up our basketball team to the community.”

In the past, Cassity said the basketball team had been primarily comprised of church members. Now the church is using the basketball team to help make believers.

“[The basketball program] was never closed off to anyone,” he said. “Now we’re just making it a point to make it more intentional … something we can use evangelistically.”

Adam Cochran, minister of student education, counts the first year of the new approach as a success.

“We had 17 high school kids on our high school basketball team, and we had 12 on our fourth- through sixth-grade team,” Cochran said. “It was the first time for us as a church in a while to actually offer something to the community. It has been able to bring in the kids out of the community that aren’t involved in church at all.”

Likewise the church’s Awana program is venturing into new territory in response to Montgomery’s small, but growing, population of Mezticos, a group indigenous to Mexico who does not speak Spanish.

“Our Awana ministry is by far the strongest thing we have, and we, of course, reach out to the neighborhood kids and our own kids, but we have a ministry with Meztico people, and we pick up about 30 kids in a housing project and bring them to Awana,” Cochran said. “It’s their first time to be involved in a church and learn God’s Word.”

The church is trying to reach Meztico parents as well.

“The kids learn English as soon as they hit school,” Cassity said. “But we’re trying to develop through our association a means to minister to the adults.”

To those ends, Ridgecrest has partnered with nearby and fellow Montgomery Association congregation Hope Community Church, which provides support services — everything from food to tutoring — to people in the surrounding community.

In September, a Korean language congregation, All Nations Baptist Church, began meeting at Ridgecrest.

It’s the new way of things, Cassity said. And Ridgecrest has embraced it.

“We’re celebrating our 60th anniversary, and as we approach that, we’re learning from the past, leading in the present and looking to the future.”

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